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Free Cover Letter Pitfalls

Oct 25, 2007
It seems so simple. You do a quick search for free cover letter samples, find one that looks good, make a few changes, and send it to your potential employer. Now you just have to sit back and wait for the phone to ring, right? That is probably not the way it will work. If that is your strategy, you may be waiting for quite some time for that phone call. The bad news is that free resume cover letters are not good enough to land the job of your dreams. The good news is so many other people use them that with a little work your resume cover letter can really stand out from the crowd.

The problem with free resume cover letters is that they are everything you are not. They are generic, lifeless documents. They were never intended to be used as they are written. They are only meant to be an example. Fortunately, with a little work you can avoid the free resume cover letter pitfalls that so many others fall into.

The first, and probably the most important thing you need to do is personalize the cover letter. Find out who is going to be reviewing your letter, and address it to them specifically. "Dear Hiring Manager" is a line that appears on all the other cover letters. The person reviewing the cover letters will be more likely to notice their own name, and will stop for a second look.

Make sure you address the specific skills and qualifications needed for the job. You need to keep your cover letter to no more than one page, so you will not have room to mention everything. Pick several items you feel are the most important, or where you feel you are the strongest, and write about them. Make sure you tie your qualifications directly to the needs of the company. Let them know how you can fill their need, and be a benefit to them.

Ask any successful salesperson what separates them from the average salesperson and they will tell you, the key is asking for the sale. The same is true for you. Don't close your resume cover letter without asking for an interview. This is one of the biggest pitfalls people fall into. They talk about how they are qualified for the job without actually getting around to asking for it. There's power in asking.

After you have asked for the job, be sure to let the hiring manager know when and how you will be following up. When that day comes around, make sure you do what you said you were going to do.

Throughout your resume cover letter, make sure your passion and life shine through. You need to convey the message that you are truly excited about the opportunity. If there are parts of your past jobs that you loved doing, say so. "I have a passion for helping young people learn" is much more interesting and exciting than "I am qualified to teach". You are trying to convince someone that you are the best person for the job. If you ca not muster a little excitement about it, why should they be excited about you?

Make sure your cover letter is free of spelling and grammar errors. With the checkers built into most word processing software, there is really no excuse for mistakes. What message does it send to the company if you ca not take a few extra seconds to run a spell check? When you run your grammar check, set it to check for sentence fragments and passive voice. You want your sentences to be bold, not passive.

After you've completed your spell and grammar checks, re-read your cover letter out loud. This gives you a chance to find and correct any remaining errors. If there are any parts that sound confusing, or don't convey the message you want, this is your chance to fix it.

This is your chance to yell "Look at me!" You have to be your own cheerleader. No one else is going to do that for you. You have got one chance to get your cover letter read. Don't blow that chance by using a free resume cover letter sample. Write your own letter that shows what an exciting person you are.
About the Author
Mario Churchill is a freelance author and has written over 200 articles on various subjects. For more information on free resume cover letter checkout his recommended websites.
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