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The Cover Letter: Is it Your "Blind Spot" In Searching For a Job?

Aug 5, 2008
After working for days creating my resume, I'd carefully constructed my employment history with an eye to grabbing my prospective employer's attention with what (I hoped) would be my spectacular accomplishments. I went over it repeatedly, looking for mispellings and typos, trying to find places where I could "word things" better.

Finally, after two weeks, it was ready. I sent it off to the printers to have it printed professionally on the best stock of paper available. When it came back, I decided it was beautiful in every way. It was ready, and I was ready to get the job.

I dashed off a cover letter: "Dear Sir or Madam, I read with interest your job opening and as you can see from my attached resume..."

I carefully inserted the whole package into an expensive business envelope, addressed it and sent it off.


A few years ago an employer would send you a reject letter if he/she weren't interested (or impressed) with your resume. Many times today, however, you get no response at all.

In my case, I did get a response. I heard something that sounded like a yawn, followed by the crinkling, shredding noise paper makes when it's been wadded up and thrown in the wastebasket. That was followed by the deafening silence of no further response.


Once again, I was left holding an empty bag wondering what had gone wrong.

I'd spent so much time on my resume and had followed every rule in the book. I'd emphasized my accomplishments; I'd clearly shown, line-by-line, my experience and education; I'd put it on top notch, professional paper; I'd been respectful and confident.

I was clearly qualified for that job, I felt, and I should have at least gotten something back, if it was only a reject letter.

Time passed. My phone was dead. My mailbox was empty. I chafed to call Human Resources to find out if they'd even received my resume, just barely holding myself back from flipping open my cellphone. The fine print in the job advertisement: "No Phone Calls Please" made me feel muzzled -- not given a chance.

What happened? I asked myself over and over again. I had no answer; not even a clue.


It's hard to look into your "blind spot". After all, that's what a "blind spot" is...a place where you can't see...a place where you don't look, and would never consider looking. In my case, and in the case of many job seekers, the "blind spot" is the cover letter.

In preparing the application package we send off to employers, most of us spend the least amount of time on the cover letter. Often we regard it as more or less of a formality...a sort of a "window dressing" to the resume. But in actuality it's the first thing the Human Resources person sees...and IT CREATES THE FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOU.

If it's pedestrian, if it's boring, and, what's more important...

If it shows no relevance to the job you are applying for, you will stand a very good chance of having your resume tossed without even being looked at. This is particularly true in this job market, where HR has stacks of resumes on her desk for every open position.


Today's job market is a tough. If you are out of work, or think your job is "on the line" and have been updating your resume just in case, you are wise to realize that there are tens of thousands of job seekers like you out there, many of them with higher education and more experience.

Competition is fierce. HR's desk is going to be stacked with resumes, and she is wading through them one by one, looking first at the cover letter of each. Over and over again she will read, "Dear Sir or Madam, I read with interest..."

Trust me, that phrase is repeated ad nauseum.

And not a single one of the cover letters will actually address the job at hand, or attempt to show WHY the candidate is the best person qualified for it.


If you are scrounging a cover letter example off the Internet and changing it a little here and there or using some "stock" example tucked away on your desktop, you are carrying a sort of job seeker's version of malaria. You've got a "diseased" cover letter that you repeatedly call up to produce the same results: no job offers.

There's only one way to stop sabotaging your job search campaign. Get rid of your old, overused cover letter. Begin a real study of cover letter writing skills and what it takes to make your prospective employer "sit up and take notice" of you and your background. Discover how to compel her to take that next step...to read your resume...and the step beyond that... to call you for an interview.

Excise the disease, start over, and your phone will be ringing off the hook with invitations for interviews with employers eager to hire you.
About the Author
Visit "How To Write A Resume" at http://www.resumewriting.how-to-zine.com/ for Resume examples, techniques, and tips, and "Is Clever Cover Letters A Scam?" at http://professional-cover-letters.com for a review of a new breakthrough strategy in writing compelling cover letters.
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