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Tips for Job Seekers
Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Carefully reading your cover letter and checking for some common mistakes will help ensure that all the hard work you put into it will be noticed. Some common mistakes are:

  • Forgetting to enclose your résumé. This may be obvious, but it's very important. Make sure you enclose any materials you mention in your cover letter such as a résumé, transcript, writing sample, etc.
  • Typographical errors. Edit your work very carefully. Use the "spell check" function on your word processing software (if you are using a PC) in addition to checking your work. Nothing turns off an employer more than sloppy cover letters or materials.  The most common typographical errors are:
    • Misspelling of the employer's name or title in the address, greeting, or on the envelope.
    • Forgetting to change the name of the company each time it appears in the application or body of the letter.
    • Applying for one position and mentioning another position in the body of the letter.
  • Inaccurate information about the company. Make sure to verify any information about the company you intend to use in the letter. Be specific when you tie the information to your skills. Do not attempt to snow the employer by stating you are familiar with the company when you don't have specific information to back it up.
  • Inappropriate tone. Always use a positive manner. Make sure the letter strengthens your candidacy. It might help if you had someone else read the letter as well.
  • Unrelated Career Goals. Personalize each letter for the employer. Show a genuine interest in the position. Remember that the employer is interested in what you can do for the company.  Every part of the letter should support the purpose for which you are writing. If you are applying for a position as a sales representative, include only the experience you have that pertains to that position.
  • Emphasizing a lack of experience. Do not call attention to your shortcomings in a letter. You should only emphasize your strengths. Focus on your skills, experience, and ability.
  • Misrepresentation. Never, ever misrepresent your experience or skills in either your cover letter or résumé. If it is discovered, it is grounds for immediate dismissal. If you have achieved something, say so, but do not exaggerate to the point of misrepresenting the facts.
  • Anecdotes. Your cover letter should be written with a serious, professional tone. Using anecdotes cause you to run the risk of not being taken seriously.  Keep it polite and respectful.
  • Sounding desperate. Your cover letter should make you sound determined -- not desperate. Don't "beg" for the position.
  • Demanding statements. Never demand something of the employer in a cover letter. A common mistake is to say "I'm looking for a position that will adequately challenge me." The employer will have the impression that you expect to be put into a position that meets your needs, not the employer's.
  • Wrong pronouns. Use the active voice. Speaking in the third person in a letter is disconcerting to an employer.
  • Gimmicks. Most employers prefer a simple, well written letter to a gimmicky type product.
  • Messy corrections. Make sure you include all pertinent information. If you forget to include something, type the letter over. Don't add a supplementary note. It will make you appear lazy and unprofessional.
  • Form Letters. Mass mailings are not always the best way to find a job. They also don't allow you to personalize each letter and résumé. Tailor each letter you send to the position, and demonstrate your interest in and familiarity with the employer.
  • Personal Photos. Photos are completely unprofessional unless you want to enter modeling, acting or broadcast journalism.
  • Personal Information. Do not include data such as age, gender, marital status, race, religion, or any other personal information unless you feel it directly pertains to the position you are seeking.
  • Inappropriate stationery. The only universally accepted stationery colors are white and ivory. Using different colors is not always the best way to get an employer's attention.
  • Forgetting to sign your letter. Don't forget to sign your name at the end of the letter. This personalizes it for the employer. Sign in blue or black ink -- do not use a script font on your PC to sign your name.

Tips For Job Seekers 

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