Cover Letter Checklist: What to Review Before You SubmitNovember 23, 2020
Cover Letter Format
1. Date and contact information
2. Salutation or greeting
3. Opening paragraph
4. Middle paragraph(s)
5. Closing paragraph
6. Letter ending and signature
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Proofreading your cover letter
Here are seven tips to take your cover letter to the next level:
1. Verify everyone’s contact information
Triple-check both your contact information and the information you have for your potential employer. Whether it’s in your header, your signature, or both, make sure your phone number and email are correct, that no numbers or letters are transposed, and your email address is accurate. If you have one, include a link to your professional website or portfolio. Once you’ve confirmed all of your information, review the company’s contact information, verify the spelling of their name (this may mean including “Inc.” or “LLC” if applicable), and double-check the company’s address.
2. Confirm that you’re using the right greeting
Start by checking your tone — is it professional or more casual? Your choice of greeting will depend upon several factors, such as whether or not you know the hiring manager personally, if you are being referred by an employee, the type of job for which you are applying, and the overall company culture. If you aren’t sure, opt for the more formal “Dear.”
If you’ve located the name of the hiring manager and are addressing them by name in the greeting of your cover letter, double-check the spelling of their name before you send the letter.
Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter
3. Make sure you’re sending the right letter
Chances are you’re applying to multiple jobs, so you probably have several cover letter drafts. As you are reviewing your cover letter, make sure that it’s referencing the correct position and the correct company throughout.
Because variations of your cover letter can add up quickly, it’s a good idea to clearly label and organize each version. This will make it easier to reference previous versions when you want to reuse portions of various letters in new versions, improve future iterations or restructure your template altogether.
4. Pick your keywords wisely
Once you’ve completed the steps above, then move to the body of your letter. Make sure that you have cross-referenced keywords in the job description with your cover letter and aligned the language. You undoubtedly have a number of different talents, so find the best ways to state your skills and use the same keywords that the company uses in the job description. Many companies use software called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). ATSs review and qualify applicants based on job description keywords, then rank each applicant within the company’s database. If your keywords aren’t aligned specifically to the job description, you might not hear back.
5. Choose the right file format
It’s best to stick with file formats an ATS can easily parse. Choose .doc or PDF formats to ensure your file will be easily read by the system. Neither of these is the default option when you’re saving a document. To choose the file format for your cover letter, click on File, Save As, and find the “Format” field. From a dropdown menu, you can select .doc or PDF.
6. Check length requirements
Check the application form to see if there is a specific word limit for your cover letter submission. If not, a general rule is that cover letters should be no more than a single page long, consisting of three to four paragraphs that underscore why you are a qualified job applicant — without repeating your resume verbatim. State why you are interested in the specific role, include targeted professional information, satisfy any directions listed in the job description, and demonstrate an understanding of the organization.
7. Proofread and proofread again
Once you’ve made it through all the steps listed above, it’s crucial that you proofread your cover letter so you don’t miss spelling errors, typos, or other details that can undermine your efforts. Reviewing every detail taking the time to get it right demonstrates a commitment to excellence that any hiring manager will appreciate.
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