In this article, we share 10 useful tips to make your cover letter stand out from among the rest. The biggest takeaway? Make the cover letter emphasize both why and how you are a good match for the company and job. Connect your experiences and skills with their job description and company mission statement to show them that you are the exact candidate that they are looking for.
Are you trying to write a winning cover letter for a job application? Skip the templates and generic formats and draft a letter that wins over your potential employers by focusing on the following strategies:
1) Address It to a Specific Individual
In the salutation of your letter, you’ll want to address your letter to a specific individual, rather than creating a generic opening such as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Take some time to figure out who is handling the job applications. You could research and find the hiring manager by searching on either the company website or on LinkedIn.
2) Catch Their Attention
Your cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to catch your potential employer’s attention. Rather than opening with something generic like, “My name is Jane Doe and I am applying for your XYZ position,” try to craft a catchy opening to make yourself stand out from the rest. Here are some types of introductory sentences:
- Open with light humor
- Start with a quote you like that ties well with the rest of your letter
- Open with an achievement (“As a marketing professional who has increased company ROI by 34%, I was excited to see this marketing manager position.”)
- Mention someone who referred you (“I knew this job would be a great fit the moment John Smith sent the description my way and encouraged me to apply”)
- Start with a story that specifically connects you with the job (but keep it brief)
3) Try Not to Simply Repeat Your Resume
The cover letter is not an opportunity to take your resume and turn it from bullet points to paragraphs. Instead, use it as an opportunity to provide more detail behind some of the aspects of your resume.
Take a chance to give a little more detail behind some aspects of your resume. Consider taking one or two bullet points from your resume and telling a brief story around them, showing your employer how that experience helped you produce results for your company.
4) Emphasize Relevant Experiences & Skills
One of the most important tactics to use when drafting your cover letter is to use specific keywords from the job description. Many companies use an ATS service which scans cover letters, looking for those keywords.
But even if the company does not use ATS, this strategy is an effective way to show the company that you are the exact candidate they are looking for.
5) Avoid the Autobiography
Keep in mind that this letter is not your autobiography. Try to make this less of a narrative about your life and career and more about showing how your experience and skills make you an ideal candidate for them.
6) Show Results You Have Produced
Employers aren’t as interested in you as they are in what you can do for them. One of the best ways to show them this is by explaining the results you have produced for companies in the past. If you have statistics, even better. For example, you might mention that you exceeded sales quotas by a certain percent or increased your company's ROI by a certain amount.
Even if you don’t have specific numbers, you could still show results you have produced. For example, you might share that you helped to implement a more efficient database to track customers to save your company time and money.
7) Explain How You’re a Great Fit for the Company Culture
Hiring managers are not only interested in how you are a great fit for the job, but they also want to know if you would be a great match for the company in general. You can strengthen your resume by explaining how you are a great fit for the company. One effective way to do this is by researching them on their website (especially their About page). Are they casual? Formal? What’s their company mission? Take a moment to explain how you feel you are a good fit for the company.
8) Stick to Under a Page
While it’s important to consider the elements listed above, keep in mind that you want your letter to be short and sweet, preferably half a page but no more than one page.
9) End The Letter Strong
As you wrap up your letter, take a moment to re-emphasize (briefly) why you are a good match for the company. You might also want to give them a heads up that you will follow up in a week or so if you haven’t heard back from them. This is also a fantastic place to reiterate your desire to work for that specific company.
10) Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
We can’t emphasize this enough: proofread your letter. An error-filled cover letter appears unprofessional to potential employers and shows them the kind of work you’d produce for them. Take some time to proofread. Have a colleague or friend look over your letter and offer feedback. Use grammar services such as Grammarly to help you identify any errors. Read your letter out loud to make sure it flows.
As you draft your cover letter, keep in mind that you want to emphasize both why and how you are a good match for the company and job. Connect your experiences and skills with their job description and company mission statement to show them that you are the exact candidate that they are looking for.