Cover Letter Checklist: 7 Steps to Better Cover Letters

The cover letter should be part of your presentation to a hiring manager whenever you apply for a job. Through cover letters you can "speak" directly to the hiring manager and create a more tailored presentation of your background to better prove why you are well-suited for their open position. Generally cover letters should be three or four paragraphs long and no more than one page.

Here are seven things you should do when you write a cover letter.

  1. Create a professional business letter format. Include your name and contact information at the top of the letter and match the style and font used on your resume. Stick to traditional fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, and Tahoma.
  2. Address the letter to a specific person when possible. It is always better to address the letter to a specific person. If no name is listed on the posting, try calling the main number of the company to find out who the contact is or ask someone in the human resources department. You won't always be able to uncover a specific name; but when you do, some hiring authorities will be impressed by the extra effort you took to find out who the appropriate contact is.
  3. State the reason why you are sending the letter. If you are applying to the job via a job board or company website, be sure to reference where you saw the job posted and include the job title and job number if there is one. If a friend or colleague referred you for the position be sure to mention that in the first paragraph of the letter. Referred candidates frequently stand a better chance of getting past the initial screening process.
  4. Discuss a current important business condition that is relevant to your reader. Let the hiring manager know that you understand their industry, competitors, and business problems. Making this connection helps elevate your candidacy and builds trust with the reader.
  5. Explain how your skills match the job requirements. Review the job posting closely and match as many of your job skills to the requirement as possible. You can even create a two-column format that lists the company's job requirements on one side and your skills on the other side to make the match more obvious.
  6. Ask for the interview. Be proactive in your letter and let the hiring manager know you plan to follow up to discuss next steps in the interview process.
  7. Proofread the letter. Typos on a cover letter are just as bad as typos on a resume. After you write the letter, proofread it a few times, put it down, and then proofread it again later. If possible ask someone else to proofread it as well.

For additional resources on cover letters, check out 'Cover Letter Magic' or '15 Minute Cover Letter.'

Be sure to review the AOL cover letter samples as well.


Barbara Safani

Barbara Safani

Editor

Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, has over fifteen years of experience in career management, recruiting, executive coaching, and organizational development.

Barbara partners with both Fortune 100 companies and individuals to deliver targeted programs focusing on resume development, job search strategies, networking, interviewing, salary negotiation skills, and online identity management.

She is the author of Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips For Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future and #JOBSEARCHtweet and her award-winning resumes are featured in dozens of career-related publications.

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CBeTa

100% agree with Tony D.W. I live in IRL but the situation is the same everywhere. When emp-ers get 300-400 resumes, they even do not look to your COVER LETTERS.

January 19 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

12-02-2010 @3:54PM
Nathan said... Your "joke" had a false premise by adding the $2 to the $27, which is nonsense. It wouldn't matter if you were a college graduate or not, you will not reach a valid conclusion/answer if the premise is wrong. There is a lot of value to college and you do learn a lot. There are things you could learn in college that you can't in the real world. Your problem is you have developed a bias against those who went to college, because they have something you lack, and you are taking it out on them in your hiring decisions.

Hey Nathan: Maybe you should re-read the "joke" again. The Nuns started
out paying $10 each They each got back $1 dollar. Answer: the romm cost $25 plus a ($2 tip divided by 3)which cannot be done evenly.
Where did you get Adding $2 to $27?
I guess my other "comment" did not get through.
I've been retired for over 10 years. My nephew now owns my old company.
I had over 400 employees who were paid a excellent salary with the best benefits I could buy.
Oh, and I did go to College later on in life. I actually knew more of
my trade in the Aerospace Industry than what was being taught in the
classroom. I had "hands" on experience and the tricks of the trade, which
is not taught in the classroom. I knew more about Metals than the Professor did by far and actually taught him many things.
Fours years of Alcoa History, seven years of Reynolds Aluminum (Instruction),
Two years NY Tech, One year Ohio State University. All passed easily.
Currently I am learning Constitutional Law as a private student (as a hobby) in my second year.
I guess some people, such as yourself, does not know a "joke" when he see's one. Lighten up & Smarten up..... Remember, ALL THESE COMMENTS ARE RECORDED
ON RECORD. YOUR FUTURE EMPLOYER MIGHT READ THEM!

December 03 2010 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dan's comment
QVW

I got the $27 + $2 from what you wrote and I quote, "This meant that each Nun paid $9 dollars each for the room. 9 x 3 = 27 plus the 2 dollars the bellhop boy kept = 29...WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER DOLLAR from the original $30 dollars???"

Your answer to your "joke" is wrong. It has nothing to do with the $2 not being evenly divisible. Two pennies in 0.66 * 3 = 1.98 or one penny in 8.33 * 3 = 24.99, does not cause a dollar to be unaccounted for. The problem with the "joke" is faulty arithmetic and logic. How can you expect those you interviewed to know the simple answer, if your answer is wrong.

There are many ways to learn, and to gain skills and knowledge. It would make sense for you to know a lot about an industry if you spent a lot of time in it. However, you still hold contempt for college education and berate it because you never got a chance to go when you were young. You only went to confirm your predrawn conclusions about college, while refusing to recognize any merits.

December 03 2010 at 5:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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December 02 2010 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ice

Wonderful suggestions! Now I know what i should do. Thank you very much.

December 02 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
a. c. liles

Many of the inequities and lack of respect for the worth of individuals began 25 years ago when many corporations handed management responsibility over to the "me-first" generation. I feel badly for today's workers who never will experience the genuine "win-win" partnership between owners and employees that once made America the world's best place to pursue a business career.

December 02 2010 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tron

People actually need to be told to proof read their letter? If someone has to be told then they don't deserve the job. Make sure to brush your teeth for the interview and wear your underwear on the inside of your pants.

December 02 2010 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cmamajane

Hey Steve R., maybe you're not getting any bites because God is ticked off with your disrespect towards Him. I sure wouldn't help someone who was constantly damning me.

December 02 2010 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob

Make it illegal t BUY anything made in China!

December 02 2010 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

I interviewed for a position a few weeks ago for a manager position at a diesel engine plant. I have the background and years of experience. The girl that interviewed me, during the entire interview she ate potato chips from a bag and wiped her hands on her pants as she talked to me. Not too professional if you ask me.

December 02 2010 at 6:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
D

Even the oldest profession has been outsourced in this country.

December 02 2010 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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