Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6 "Don'ts" For Cover Letters

In one episode of the show Seinfeld, George Costanza is rejected for a job simply because he has a piece of spinach stuck between his teeth, highlighting how much employers value first impressions. To avoid being like George, job seekers must ensure they wow hiring managers the first time they have contact with them.

This attention to detail is important not only for job interviews, but also for the cover letter.

Your job application is most likely the first contact you will have with the hiring manager. Even before he reads your resume, the employer will begin to formulate an impression of you based on your cover letter, so it's important that you don't make any mistakes. Below are six examples of things you should never do in your letter:

  • Don't open the letter with "To whom it may concern." This sounds impersonal and implies that you didn't do any research. If you are not able to get the name of the hiring manager, or the organization simply won't provide you with the name, you can open with "To the human resources officer."
  • Don't neglect to say for which position your are applying. Most nonprofits hire for multiple jobs at once.
  • Don't send your cover letter until it has been thoroughly proofread. Remember that not all typos are caught by your word processors' spell check (i.e. confusing "your" and "you're).
  • Don't focus on what you want. Instead, focus on what you can bring to the organization.
  • Don't send a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Every application you send should be customized based on the organization for which you are applying.
  • Don't be desperate. Avoid mentioning how many applications you have sent so far, as this will make the employer wonder why you haven't been hired yet.

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