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This is a huge mistake and it s a job candidacy killer! Sample cover letters are meant to be guides not templates. Taking a sample and using it word for word or slightly altering it and replacing the names with your own is an absolute waste of your time and a sure-fire way to not get hired! Why? Because doing it this way completely ignores the purpose of a cover letter. Cover letters are the personal part of an otherwise impersonal document the resume. Your resume is a list of cold hard facts. Your cover letter gets to speak on a more personal human level and to sell you properly it absolutely needs to be personalized.
What a Sample Letter Can t Do You do not have much opportunity to give any hints of your personality in a resume; after all it s just a recitation of your education and work experience. In today s competitive job market many people share similar certifications and occupational backgrounds; what sets them apart is their work ethic personality and yes; even passion for the job! Prior to the interview your unique qualities can only come through in the accompanying letter. A generic sample just isn t going to give the employer an idea of what sets you apart from the hundreds of other job applicants vying for the same job.
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Remember your cover letter is a sales letter and the product that its selling is you! Submitting a cover letters that you haven t written yourself will get you nowhere because it will be blatantly obvious that it s a form letter that you ve just tweaked a bit. So what should you do with those sample cover letters then if not copy them? Use them as inspiration. Use them to give your brain a jump start when writing your own cover letter. If a phrase sticks out at you as being very effective then use it. Just don t treat the sample as a template to copy. You re far better off understanding what goes into a good cover letter yourself so that you can write your own winning cover letter than you are just copying someone else s that you hope is good.