The Cover Letter Checklist


This Cover Letter Checklist can ensure your cover letter's success


When you have completed the first draft of your cover letter, compare it to the list below. Some of the items on the this checklist refer to content and other items refer to format. You may have even read some of these before. As you review this cover letter checklist, compare it to your cover letter and determine if there are any additional changes that need to be made before sending it – and your resume – to the employer. Yes, this is a bit tedious, but if you want to beat out your competitors, you have to do more than your competitors do and you have to do it better. When your cover letter meets or exceeds employer's expectations, you will know that following a cover letter checklist like this one was truly worth it.

The Cover Letter Checklist

Here goes:
  1. Use the same paper that you use for your resume. They should match. If the papers do not match (or if they are of poor quality), then you might as well not send anything at all. What you are telling the employer is that you are unprofessional and really don't care about decorum or making a good impression.
  2. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. (This is a cover letter checklist MUST)
  3. Keep the cover letter to one page. You are not writing your life story. You are trying to maximize the employer's level of interest in you.
  4. Ensure the name of the person addressed in the cover letter is spelled correctly and check to see if his/her official title is accurate. This, of course, goes back to proofreading. No one likes to have his/her name misspelled and in a situation like this, it could make the difference between the reader continuing to find out why you are such a great person or tossing all of your paperwork in the trash can. (This is also a cover letter checklist MUST)
  5. Demonstrate that you have researched the company by including some information in one or more of your sentences. For instance, if you are in marketing and the company has increased its share of the "XXX" niche in a segment of the market, speak to that. Make the words on the page attractive to the reader.
  6. Sign the cover letter with a blue or black ink pen. This is an old standard, but it is still true today. If you have a choice, go with blue. Do not rock the boat just to be different. In some cases, being different gets you excluded.
  7. Use clear and concise sentences. Be professional, but also conversational. When writing, pretend you are speaking to someone face to face, but assume you have the time to make a presentation without being interrupted. Let your words flow - just do not let them flow without direction. Stay focused. Be sincere. Be authentic.
  8. Sell yourself. This is not a license to use "I" at the beginning of every sentence. What it refers to is the use of active language to engage the reader in wanting to know all about you. Generate excitement. Let the reader discover what makes you an ideal candidate, but lead them to the natural conclusion that they need to meet you and find out more. (This is also a cover letter checklist MUST)
  9. Ensure your cover letter is an original and not a photocopy. Print it on a laser or inkjet printer. Copies are a waste of time. It reflects poorly on you and it sends a clear signal to the prospective employer that you did not care enough to create a letter specifically for the them. Each letter you send should be a specialized document. It may be your only chance to reach a particular employer. If you make a negative first impression, you have almost no chance to meet the employer face to face.
  10. Use the traditional business letter format. Please avoid getting cute in the hopes of standing out. Let your words stand out as they create a picture of your abilities and accomplish- ments. If you use an unusual style for the letter format, it may rule you out of the running before the reader ever gets a chance to know you at all.
  11. Explain anything in your resume that might concern the employer, such as gaps in employment history. Be brief with your explanations and spin them in the best possible light. Be honest and the employer will respect you. If you present yourself in any other way, it will be evident. If not on paper, then certainly in the interview process. Integrity always wins.
  12. Identify the specific job for which you are seeking to be hired. If you let the employer guess what position you are seeking, they will probably guess something that you weren't expecting, so make it clear for them. State in the cover letter what it is you are wanting to do for them and how it will benefit them to have YOU do it rather than anyone else.
  13. Request an interview and let the employer know that you will follow up at a certain time on a particular date. Most people need someone to tell them what to do. That sounds crass, but it's true. Very few people are born true leaders. Some people are trained to be leaders. Even if you count both of those classes of people, it adds up to very few when compared to the general public. SO, take the lead and ask for an interview. You have nothing to lose. Refrain from getting pushy. Simply state that you would like to meet face to face to further discuss the mutual benefits of a potential working relationship. Add that you will follow up in a few days to ensure your letter was received. Simple and it works.
  14. Grab the reader's attention and hold on to it. Be positive and enthusiastic. Show the reader why you are better than the other candidates seeking the position. Make it clear that you are a problem solver, take initiative and are a person of action.
  15. Focus on the employer and what you can provide for them. Word your statements so that you speak to the employer's needs and not your own. If you tell an employer that you prefer to work alone or that you hope to advance within the company faster than most people typically advance, expect to be ignored. Be dynamic and express your desire to work for the company, but avoid using the "I" word.
  16. Quantify your accomplishments rather than rehash them. Instead of saying you helped your last employer's distribution center organize its processes, state "HOW" you helped them do this. Be specific and use numbers whenever possible. It means more. It is relevant. It is definable. Your statement might read, "Increased efficiency in the distribution center which resulted in a 15% reduction in employment costs. That is a measurable difference. It is easier to relate to and employers are always looking for people who can make quantifiable improvements. (Another cover letter checklist MUST)
  17. If you fold your cover letter and resume, put the cover letter on top and fold them in thirds. It is much better, though, to mail them flat in a larger envelope. Your resume will look better than the others from the start because it won't be creased. Everything matters. Nothing is too small to overlook. Do not underestimate the power of a professional presentation.
  18. Keep a copy of the cover letter for your records. It is also wise to track the letters and resumes you send out. Keep a copy of everything including newspaper clippings or other job-related information. Create a file for each of the positions you are seeking, especially if you are sending out a lot of resumes. It will save you a headache or two down the road.
Hopefully, this Cover Letter Checklist has given you plenty of helpful information to which you can compare your cover letter. Although a cover letter checklist cannot ensure you get a great job, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Make sure that all of your personal marketing materials are of the same high quality as your cover letter and employers will certainly take notice.
Tell others about this great Cover Letter Checklist



If you are finished reading the Cover Letter Checklist, click here to read a great Cover Letter Guideline

Follow this link to an article which helps you create a Great Cover Letter

For Ten Cover Letter Tips, read this article and ensure your cover letter is as great as it can be


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