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Most everyone knows the three most important things in real estate are (in no certain order): 1) Location; 2) Location; and 3) Location. Those of us who write know that there is an equally important trifecta for writing. The three this time, in order of importance, are: 1) Rewrite; 2) Rewrite; and 3) Rewrite. This goes for any piece of prose one plans on publishing, even if that manuscript is only an employment resume cover letter. And, especially if that cover letter is for a writing-based opportunity, such as a reporter or an assistant editor.

A big part or rewriting includes proofreading and editing. I like to think I cover that part pretty well, too. In fact, I recently sent a cover letter for, as coincidence would have it, a telecommute assistant editor position for a men’s magazine based in New York City. So, what I did was proofread, edit and rewrite that sucker no less than six times. I wanted it perfect. Then, confident that it was ready to go, I attached my resume and sent it off.

After shooting it off, I read the copy that went to my SENT: folder. I quickly realized that, what I did not do (what I should have done) was have someone else read it for me. And guess what — there in the next to the last paragraph, the paragraph answering the ad’s request for what I thought would be interesting articles, I saw this: “It would be nice to see an article about guys about imperfect who are comfortable in…” Wow.

I was hosed. No doubt about it. I followed up with a letter acknowledging my error, but I knew by then that I was sunk. I couldn’t expect to earn a job as an assistant editor if, throughout my entire cover letter, I espoused my attention to detail and careful editing. The employer would no doubt be going in another direction.

It happened. What can you do? Competition for writing and editing jobs is fierce. Even more so, I would guess, for telecommute opportunities. For me, that means I’ll present an even stronger letter next time. In the meantime, I’ll just keep rewriting.

How would you handle finding a mistake in a cover letter; especially one for a writing opportunity?
Do you think one grammar error is an end all for a cover letter?
Please add a comment and let us know!