65 Tips to Help Your Cover Letter Avoid the Shredder

It’s no secret that one key to successful cover letters is to thoroughly check for loose ends in your so called “finished” cover letter. In an uncertain job market, can you afford to be less perfect than your competition?

Your Cover Letter Must be Written to Beat The Odds

Did you know that your chances of facing a full time, professional career interviewer is as low as 9%? Why is this fact critical?

That leaves nearly 91% of untrained or semi trained interviewers. Are you facing someone who was just “elected” to interview you? This “volunteer” will most likely see your cover letter for the first time at your interview. Have ever heard a fellow worker say, “I got stuck interviewing someone today”? I have – a number of times – even by follow employers. This is life. Think about it.

For a nonprofessional interviewer, you can be a disruptive annoyance. So your cover letter must do double duty; sell you all the while avoiding any excuses to wash you out.

This means if you ignore minor details such as mixing the wrong fonts, a nitpicking or annoyed “interviewer”, more interested in form than substance, may feed your cover letter to a shredder.

Why Checklist Madness Opens Your Mind

Typically, when marching through checklists, especially ones that lump similar ideas, you may turn into a mindless, inattentive zombie, where one predictably questions leads to mechanical answers. Checklists are boring by nature because they hunt down mistakes you never made. 🙂

The check list below is intended to jar you, to disrupt your comfort zone, to dislodge you logic, to make you think and force you to rethink your thoughts.

If you are convinced, or even please with yourself, that you wrote an effective, focused cover letter, be careful. Becoming convinced about anything can lead to self-deception. A checklist can help you avoid this trap.

Miss correcting an item? Forgot to remedy an issue? Kiss your interview goodbye! Sloppy does not get invited to job interviews, or even worse, pass one!

6 Easy Steps to Help You Use This Cover Letter Checklist For Instant Feedback

1) Print out this article. Then place it next to your cover letter and…

2) Read each checklist question. If your cover letter passes, put a check mark at the beginning of the question.

3) Not sure? No check mark.

4) You found a booboo? I suggest yellow highlighting the entire question.

5) Read through the entire list before making any corrections. This should give you an idea of how much work you have to do. Ask yourself, “Is there pattern to the bloopers?” Are they causing confusion, loss of clarity?

6) Now, go back and correct each question.

Repeat steps 2 through 6 until you sit smugly with your “finalized” cover letter in hand. You must recheck your list after each new correction because you may have introduced a new “bug” or loss of clarity.

Once your checklist is clean, that’s it! Then…

Don’t forget to answer the last question!

Big Tip:

No list is complete. As you read the checklist questions, do other questions come to mind? Should one popup, write it down, NOW; before you forget. This is critical. Do not move to the next question until you have done so. Questions that you think you’ll remember can drive you to crazy when trying to recall them later.

Cover Letter CPR Checklist But Don’t Call 911

o Are all addresses and names spelled correctly?

o Are the contact and company’s names correct?

o Are using 6th grade language, easy to understand?

o Are you bringing a copy of your cover letter/resume/portfolio resume 格式 to your interview?

o Are you using matching quality paper for your cover letter and resume?

o Are you using professional fonts that scan easy? Arial? Courier, Times New Roman?

o Are your paragraphs too long?

o Are your paragraphs too many?

o Have you read your cover letter out loud? Does it make sense?

o Are your telephone and cellular phone numbers correct?

o Did you avoid generic letter salutations? Dear Sir? To Whom it May Concern? Dear Occupant? 😉

o Did you avoid summarizing your resume?

o Did you check your math for mistakes?

o Did you check all your quotes for accuracy?

o Did you check and double check that you addressed the letter to a specific person?

o Did you double-double check that the address on the envelope is to the right person?

o Did you enclose your resume?

o Did you follow the employer’s specific ad instructions or guidelines?

o Did you give your letter to one or more friends to proofread? How many? Be honest.

o Did you include your contact information on all items?

o Did you keep a copy of the cover letter for your personal records?

o Did you mark your reminder calendar to follow-up as promised in your letter?

o Did you postmark your letter? Stamp?

o Did you printout your letter and look at your letter format? Ugly?

o Did you read your letter backwards to check for mistakes? I did it with this article. Effective but not foolproof.

o Did you request an interview?

o Have you read your cover letter out loud? Does it deliver your message?

o Did you run a spell and grammar check? Rerun them with every change?

o Did you sign your cover letter? Resume? Other? Black or blue ink?

o Did you tailor your cover letter to a targeted position? Enron?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *