What I think about “generic” cover letters

Often people who ask me to write a cover letter for them tell me they want the letter to be “generic” so they can use it to apply for many positions. Why is this not a good idea?

First, many employers don’t even bother to read cover letters. They know from experience that most cover letters are glorified form letters that simply state the job seekers qualifications without referring to specific company needs. I wouldn’t want to read one of those letters myself.

However, if someone has taken the time to find out exactly what would help a potential employer’s business grow, expand, or save money, that letter will get attention.

Here are some tips to make sure that your cover letter will get noticed.


Embarrassing your kids can reap unexpected rewards

Last week while shopping with my daughter for a homecoming dress, I began to talk with the sales associate outside the changing room. How did she like her job? How did she get hired? What did she enjoy about working there? My children hate it when I approach perfect strangers like this, but we had a great conversation, and I found out that she was friends with my other daughter’s boyfriend. One thing led to another and the next day my daughter met with the manager for an interview.

How to find a job when you have a job

You are nervous. You have seen the news and realize that long-term security with any company is no guarantee. Perhaps your own company is undergoing a belt-tightening or you have heard rumors of “company restructuring.” In any case, you believe that now may be a good time to investigate potential opportunities with another company.


Do employers still offer severance packages?

In the past, many if not most employers have offered some sort of severance when laying off employees, particularly if companies have gone through restructuring or downsizing. Although not legally required, it has been a general practice of many employers to offer at least one week of pay for every year of service. These days, I am finding that more employers are often handing an employee one last paycheck for days already worked, then escorting them from the premises.


Should I lie on my resume?

Today I learned about a new website which for a fee, will fabricate job history, degrees, and references for a résumé. Their justification? “A résumé is not a legal document.” They even provide an answering service if a potential employer wants to follow up with a phone call. I was astonished that any company would be so brazen to attempt this outright illegal activity, and even more astonished that people are actually buying it!