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Cover letter mistakes that could land your application in the trash can

By Sean R Parker

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 10:35 a.m. MDT

Seven common cover letter mistakes could keep you from getting a job.

Jason Olson

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Seven common cover letter mistakes could keep you from getting a job, according to U.S. News.

1. Don’t start with “To Whom it May Concern:

The head of the department doesn’t necessarily do the hiring. Find out to whom the letter should really be addressed.

"My recommendation is not to use a salutation at all but to use a subject line," Louise Kursmark, the author of "15-Minute Cover Letter," told U.S. News. "Salutations are work-arounds that don't work very well."

Applicants can also call the company directly to ask who to address the letter to.

2. Check your spelling:

Its and it’s are not the same thing. Avoid misspelling names. Have someone else double check your spelling.

3. Avoid writing an impersonal form letter

While a rough template can save you time, don’t rely too much on it. Write about how you can specifically help that company.

4. Go on the offense:

A cover letter is no place to explain weaknesses. Stick to your strengths and talk about employment gaps or the lack of a degree later.

5. Keep it short:

A two-page cover letter is much too long. A couple of paragraphs and possibly some bullet points are sufficient, Kursmark told U.S. News.

6. Don’t use big words:

How you speak shows more intelligence than how many complex words you can use.

7. Don’t be overly casual:

How you talk can also convey your level of professionalism. You’re applying for a job, not making weekend plans with your friends.

EMAIL: sparker@desnews.com

TWITTER: @SeanRParker

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