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Cover Letter Casualties - Proof, Proof, And Proof Some More

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsCover Letter Casualties - Beware Of Ego Overkill, Proof, Proof, And Proof Some More, No Room For Excuses In The Cover Letter

Proof, Proof, and Proof Some More

Job Seeker's Story

Darryl had been with the same company for 18 years as an Electrical Engineer when he was laid off. After he got over the initial shock, he began to send out résumés and cover letters in response to online job postings he discovered on Monster and CareerBuilder. Darryl felt fortunate that he lived in a big metropolitan area where the demand for electrical engineers was plentiful. He was sure his job search would be over in a matter of weeks.

Here's one of the cover letters that Darryl penned:

Re: Your electrical enginere position

I have attained 18 years of experience as a electrical engineer with the Amce manufacturing company. There have never been any complainants about my word and I have always gotten pay raises. I feel that reflects well on my abilities. I do not have any wage stipulations, however I feel that salary could be negotiated consonantly with my experience.

I consider myself a motivational individual, with a purposeful attitude having the ability to be flaxable and adaptible to any new opportunes with ease and determination.

Please contact me as soon as possible regarding this postion. Thank you for your time.

Three months later, after having sent out hundreds of résumés accompanied with cover letters similar to this one, Darryl was still searching.

Job Seeker's Stumble

Although his qualifications were stellar, Darryl had inadvertently harmed his chances of being considered due to two simple mistakes: typographical and grammatical errors.

Job Seeker's New Strategies

Employment reviewers have extremely low tolerance for grammatical errors and typos. In fact, even one error of that nature could be enough to throw your application out of consideration, no matter how well-qualified you are. That may seem unfair, but the reality is reviewers use this initial benchmark routinely to screen out the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of applicants for a single position. Using clearly defined benchmarks, such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling, makes their job of narrowing the field of candidates much easier. After all, who would want to hire someone who was so careless? Isn't the quality of the cover letter and résumé a direct indicator of the care that person might give to his or her job?

To avoid being eliminated in the first round due to simple language errors, consider these suggestions:

  • Proofread—And Then Do it Again: It would seem with spell-check that the possibility of typos should be non-existent. However, if your typo results in the creation of a real word, instead of your intended word, that typo will not be flagged. For example, Darryl said, “There have never been any complainants about my word.” when he meant to say, “There have never been any complaints about my work.
  • • In addition, Darryl misspelled the job title for which he was applying ([BGEIN BOL/ITAL]engineer[END BOLD/ITAL] instead of [END BOLD/ITAL]engineer[END BOLD/ITAL]) in the reference line of the letter. This is one of the first things read in the letter. Typos are unacceptable anywhere in the letter, and having a typo occur in such a prominent place virtually ensures your application will be screened out. Altogether, Darryl has a total of 13 grammatical errors and typos in his cover letter of 105 words!
  • • Pay attention to spell-check, but do not rely on it to catch every mistake. Proofread your cover letter by reading it out of order; start with the bottom paragraph, instead of the first. That alone may allow you to pick up mistakes you might not otherwise notice.
  • Say it Simply: If complex language is not your natural style, refrain from using it. Trying to impress reviewers with “big words” can misfire, especially if you are not using them correctly. For example, Darryl said, “I do not have any wage stipulations, however I feel that salary could be negotiated consonantly with my experience.” Obviously, Darryl meant to say “negotiated commensurately with my experience.” Perhaps a more straightforward approach (such as “I would be happy to discuss salary at the time of the interview”) would have been more appropriate and less likely to cause language difficulties.
  • Ask Others to Proof: Whether you consider yourself adept in the English language or not, have someone with a good sense of grammar and spelling check your cover letters. We often do not catch our own mistakes. Unfortunately, all it takes is one to jeopardize your application. If you belong to a job search group or know other job seekers in your network, you could offer to reciprocate proofreading for each other.

Do not skimp on proofreading. After all the time and effort you put into creating a résumé and cover letter, sourcing a job lead, and responding to it, isn't taking care to ensure flawless application materials really a sensible return-on-investment?

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