Most people view a cover letter as an unnecessary evil. That’s unfortunate, because sending a cover letter can be the key to getting a foot in the door at a place that you want to work. Think about it: would you rather get a call back from a job that you didn’t apply for, or would you rather not work for a company that you don’t think is right for you? Well, it’s the same with a cover letter. Yes, you might get a different answer, but you won’t know unless you try. That’s all it takes.
When it comes to getting hired, humans have a tendency to focus on the big picture rather than the details. For example, when a hiring manager receives dozens of applications for a single position, they’re going to skip over your resume and cover letter and move on to the next applicant. However, if you send the exact same resume and cover letter but you use a different name, she might remember you. Moreover, a cover letter is more than just a formality; it can actually help you get the job. So, how can you make sure that your cover letter stands out? Here are some tips of what to include.
In a perfect world, every applicant would receive a personal letter from the hiring manager thanking them for their interest in the position. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, so don’t expect to receive a handwritten letter from a hiring manager simply saying “thank you for your interest in [job title]”. Instead, find out who the decision-maker is for the position and write them a personalized letter. If you do happen to receive a handwritten letter, even if it’s not from the hiring manager, it will still likely mean a lot to you.
Make sure that your cover letter is written in a professional manner. Use correct grammar and format. Make sure that your spelling and punctuation are perfect. Remember: a cover letter is a professional document, so take the time to make sure that each part is done properly. If you are taking the time to write a cover letter, it means that you’ve taken the time to properly research the company, so make sure that everything is done appropriately.
The letter should fit the position that you’re writing for. For example, if you’re applying for a data entry position, don’t send a cover letter that’s too corporate or serious. Instead, find a way to make the cover letter enjoyable to read. Use action-oriented verbs and keep things interesting. If you want to stand out, give the hiring manager something new to think about. For instance, maybe you’re the best candidate ever to apply for a data entry position, but the fact that you’re a female brings new meaning to the term “quirky.” In that case, you might want to consider including something about your hobbies or a unique story about yourself.
The best cover letters are concise, but don’t be afraid to go over two or three sentences. Keep it to one page at the most. Make sure that your letter isn’t more than a few paragraphs, or you’ll end up with a cluttered page. Moreover, don’t write a novel; it won’t make you stand out.
To The Point
Use this line to introduce yourself and your application in the first few sentences. For example, “Hi, I’m [your name] and I’m applying for the [job title] position at [company name]. I believe that my [relevant skills/experience] are a perfect match for the role. I appreciate you considering me for the position and look forward to speaking with you further.” Remember: a cover letter is not a place to sell yourself, but rather, a place to introduce yourself and your application without rambling. Ideally, you want to keep the letter to the point and not go on for more than two or three paragraphs.
You want the letter to go to the point directly to the point. For example, if you want to apply for a marketing role, but the hiring manager is in charge of human resources, you’re going to want your letter to go directly to Human Resources to avoid having your application get lost in the shuffle. Or, if you’re a data entry position and you don’t want your application to go unread, you might want to send it directly to the hiring manager’s inbox.
Make sure that your letter is very specific to the position that you’re applying for. Think about the last time you were applying for a job. Chances are, you read an article or two about the company in the news or went on the company’s website to get more information. When you apply for a job, the hiring manager isn’t going to have the luxury of researching your background extensively. So, make sure that everything in your cover letter points to the specifics of the role that you’re applying for.
Finally, make sure that your letter doesn’t go out of style. Technology shifts and people change, but the way people interact with each other doesn’t. That’s why letters written in 1917 still work in 2019. Even if the company no longer exists or the position has been updated with graphics or templates, make sure that your letter is written in such a way that it can be repurposed for future use.
As you can see, there’s a lot that you can do to make your cover letter stand out. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to send the same letter to multiple companies. In that case, you’ll be certain to get multiple responses, and it’s also likely that some of them will be impressed enough that they’ll remember you.