Job applications are rough. You can spend hours just finding the right jobs to apply for, and then it takes even more time to fill out each job application. Since it takes so long to apply, it’s important to find a way to stand out, to make those hours spent looking up positions and filling out job history worth it. One way to do that is with a stellar cover letter.
With so much of the job search going online, the cover letter is a great place to show your potential employer who you are as a person, and how your unique experience and personality make you the right pick for the job. Here are a few tips to make your cover letter stand out.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a brief (three paragraphs or so) summary of why you’re the best fit for a position. This is where you can introduce yourself and show that you’re more than just another applicant.
- Cater Your Cover Letter to the Company
If you want to stand out, you need to write a unique and specific cover letter for each company you’re applying for. Nothing loses a hiring manager’s attention more than a basic cover letter template. They see hundreds of applications a day, so they can tell when you haven’t put in the effort to customize your response for their company.
Research the company online and get a feel for their branding and culture. If the company prides itself on 100 years of history and every page of their website is filled with pictures of people in suits, injecting too much humor into your cover letter probably isn’t the best idea. But if they have a casual dress code and plenty of humor on their site and marketing materials, it’s probably fine to add a bit of humor to your cover letter. Just make sure to keep the general tone professional (you wouldn’t want to joke about alcohol, politics, or religion, and you should keep humor to a sentence or two here and there rather than making the entire cover letter a round of stand-up comedy).
- Your Cover Letter Tells a Story
The best cover letters are stories that show you’re the perfect one for the job. You don’t need to say “I’m the best for this job because ____” or “You should hire me due to ____.” Your resume already has all of that info. Instead of just telling the hiring manager why you’re the right fit, use your cover letter to show how your unique history and life experience make you the perfect fit for the job.
For instance, let’s say you’re applying for an administrative position. Instead of kicking things off by saying you have a proven track record of excellence working at X, Y, and Z companies, start by writing about what administrative work means to you. Maybe it was something you used to do for your parents, something you dreamed of doing as a kid, or just something that’s always been a part of your life. Weaving a personal story into your cover letter can help you stand out from everyone else that only talks about the facts.
- But Don’t Make the Story All About You
So now that you’ve got a great way to blend your cover letter with your own personal story, it’s important to make sure that story connects back to the company. In the end, your story should connect your skills, experience, and personality with what the company is looking for in an applicant. If you spend too long talking about your childhood, you’re going to lose the hiring manager’s attention.
Show that your personal experience has led to you acquiring the skills and know-how needed to succeed at the position. Mention your top three or so achievements in your cover letter, but leave the rest for your resume. You still want statistics and facts, you just want to make sure they aren’t all you have to show.
And that’s that! These tips should help you create a cover letter that helps you stand out from the rest. All that’s left now is to have a pal or family member proofread the document to get rid of any pesky typos or grammar mistakes. After that, it’s time to send it in. Good luck!
Do you have any other cover letter questions? Let us know in the comments section below!