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Cover Letter Checklist

All job search letters serve as an example of your written communication skills, your understanding of professional business etiquette, and your enthusiasm and qualifications for a particular job. Also, they provide additional opportunities for you to make a positive impression on a prospective employer. Take the time to draft them and make revisions; they must be free from spelling and grammatical errors. Well written, strategically timed letters can impact a successful job search outcome—they are that important!

This checklist is a guide to identifying the fundamental elements of a cover letter:

  1. Proofread your letter for errors and complete the self-review checklist
  2. Have a peer, faculty member or professional review your cover letter – include position description for his/her review

Example cover letter (PDF)

Research

  • Demonstrate that you reviewed the position description and company website to identify your qualifications, skills,and abilities for the position/organization
  • Address why you are interested in the organization as well as why you are a fit for the specific position
  • Follow all directions in the posting, including references, letters of recommendations, special essays, if applicable

Introduction paragraph

  • Identify the position for which you are applying and describe how you heard about the opening
  • Specify if you were referred by a specific person and note that person by his/her name, if applicable
  • Briefly highlight why you are interested in the job and organization
  • Be creative and catch an employer’s attention quickly

Body paragraph(s)

  • Identify your strongest and most relevant qualifications, skills, and abilities; clearly state how these apply to the position
  • Incorporate keywords from the position description to demonstrate a strong match
  • Elaborate on why you are interested in the position, organization, industry and/or location
  • Describe the experiences in which you developed relevant qualifications, skills, or abilities; provide clear examples that capture the reader’s interest to review your resume. Tell a story about your experience; do not just repeat your resume
  • Discuss how your skills and experience relate to the job description of the position in the 2nd paragraph
  • Discuss how your soft skills and personality relate to the qualifications of the position in the 3rd paragraph

Closing paragraph

  • Thank the reader for taking the time to read your letter
  • Reinforce your desire to work for the organization and your fit for the position
  • Identify next steps and describe how you will follow up with the employer in a specific time frame

Closing and signature

  • End with a formal closing, such as Sincerely, Regards, or Best regards; Be sure to put a comma after your closing
  • Your full name goes on the next line if you are submitting online or through email

Format

  • Stay within one page; two page cover letters are not necessary
  • Do you have your contact information listed on your cover letter? You should have the same header on your cover letter as your resume
  • Target your letter toward a specific employer and use keywords from the job description and/or the organization’s mission statement/values
  • Does your cover letter use the same font and font size as your resume? Consistency is important and noticed
  • Have you addressed your letter to a specific person? Call or research online to find the appropriate name and title if necessary

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