Many job seekers struggle with their cover letters, but writing a good cover letter is a skill that can be learned and perfected. The time and effort will pay off, because a well-written cover letter can increase your odds of getting an interview.
If you're wondering whether your cover letter is the best it can be, make sure you can answer "yes" to the questions on this checklist:
* Does your cover letter have a strong opening paragraph, communicating your job target and key strengths within the first few lines of text?
* Does your cover letter conform to a standard business letter format? (See our cover letter samples.)
* Is your cover letter addressed to a specific individual, if the name is available?
* Does the body of your cover letter express how you would benefit the employer if you were hired?
* Do you avoid starting every sentence with "I" or "my" so you can focus more on the employer's requirements and not your own?
* Do you demonstrate your expertise by using industry-specific language? * Do you include examples of your accomplishments so employers can see you have a proven track record?
* Is the content engaging and relevant to hiring managers' needs?
* Is the cover letter succinct, containing just enough information to entice the reader to review your resume?
* Did you include all information that was requested, such as a job reference number, employment availability date and salary requirements?
* Is the content unique? Did you avoid copying text from your resume verbatim?
* Does your cover letter sound genuine? Does it reflect your personality and make you seem likeable and approachable?
* Did you proofread your cover letter to ensure that it's free of spelling, grammar, syntax and formatting errors?
* Does the writing style and design coordinate with the resume, such as by using the same font and layout style?
* Did you provide an easy way for employers to contact you, such as a direct phone line and email address?
* Does your cover letter end with a call to action, confidently requesting an interview?
* Did you remember to sign your letter if you're mailing a hard copy?