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Tips For Job Seekers
The Cover Letter Checklist


Subject Areas

Writing Style

  • Limit the average sentence to 10-20 words. If the sentence is longer, either shorten it or split it into two sentences.
  • Keep every paragraph under five lines.
  • Begin each sentence, wherever possible, with powerful action words.

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The Basics

  • Address the letter whenever possible to a particular person (preferably a person who does the hiring). Make sure you have spelled the person's name correctly, and that you have the individual's exact job title. 
  • Personalize the letter for the reader to show that you have researched the company.
  • Put your strengths and skills into your own words. Use sample letters to guide you, but don't copy them exactly.
  • Show energy and enthusiasm.
  • Show the employer what you can offer the company, and support and amplify your résumé.
  • Give concrete examples of your abilities and skills.
  • Use concise, positive and direct language. Don't be flowery or overly formal.
  • Balance between friendliness and professionalism.
  • Rely on information that is relevant to the job you are seeking.
  • Clearly ask for the next step in the process (such as permission to contact the employer by phone).

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Contact Information

  • Contact information (your name, address, zip code, and personal telephone number) should be on every page.
  • Do not include your business number unless absolutely necessary.
  • If the letter is more than one page long, number each page and bind it together with either a staple or a paper clip.

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  • Do you state why you are writing (to apply for a job, to set up an informational interview, etc.)?
  • Do you tie the letter specifically to the job and/or the company?
  • Do you address relevant points such as your skills that are specific to the job or items discussed at the interview?
  • Is your most relevant experience prioritized in the letter in a way that strengthens it?
  • Have you omitted references to why you left your last job? (use the letter to sell, not to justify)
  • Have you omitted all references to salary (unless requested)?
  • If you've indicated your education, is it relevant to the job?
  • Have you omitted irrelevant job duties?
  • Have you mentioned contributions and achievements, as well as problems you have personally solved during your career?
  • Have you guarded against being vague by eliminating all irrelevant information?
  • Is the letter long enough (and short enough) to attract the reader's interest?
  • Have you indicated that references are available and omitted long lists of names and addresses?

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Correspondence Tips

  • Use standard business style format and 8-1/2" x 11" paper.
  • Type all letters.
  • Make an original letter. Never photocopy it.
  • Make all paragraphs approximately the same length.
  • Never send a résumé without a letter.
  • Check carefully for grammar and spelling.
  • Do not use exaggerated praise of the employer or desperate-sounding phrases.

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