What Goes in a Cover Letter?

Make sure you can answer “yes” to the questions on this cover letter checklist.

What Goes in a Cover Letter?

Cover letters are easier to write when you have a checklist.

Many job seekers struggle to understand what goes in a cover letter, as well as cover letter format, but this skill can be learned and perfected. You don't need to go rifling through cover letter examples in the hopes of finding the secret formula. You simply need to convey what makes you appropriate for the job, the value you could bring to the company, and why you'd be a great cultural fit.

Sound daunting? Relax. The time and effort will pay off, because great cover letter content can increase your odds of getting a job interview.

These simple tips show you what goes in a cover letter so that your job application stands out. Meantime, make sure you can answer “yes” to the questions on this checklist:

Cover Letter Introduction

  • 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?
  • Is your cover letter addressed to a specific individual, if the name is available?

The Body

  • Does 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 cover letter content unique? Did you avoid copying text from your resume verbatim?
  • Is the content engaging and relevant to the job description?
  • 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?
  • Does your cover letter sound genuine? Does it reflect your personality and make you seem likable 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?

Closing Paragraph

  • 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?

Now, What About Your Resume?

Now that you have a better understanding of what goes in a cover letter, writing one will be less intimidating than you probably expected. Having strong cover letter content is a great way to introduce yourself to potential employers. But what about your resume? Could you use some help making sure it's looking good? Start off with a free resume review from Monster. We'll get back to you quickly and let you know the ways you can improve it. Get your assessment today