Cover Letters? We’ve Got You Covered
A cover letter is your time to shine. Basically, it is the company giving you a chance to introduce yourself, show that you have conducted research on your desired organization, and that your skills will benefit this particular company. However, you have an extremely limited amount of space to impress a recruiter and he/she also has an extremely limited amount of time to read your letter. So, how do you make sure your cover letter stands out, and how do you keep recruiters hooked?
Let’s start with the basic elements of a cover letter. You should be vaguely familiar with the general lay out of this letter, but if you aren’t, no need to worry, we got you covered.
Start your cover letter by addressing it to the right person. We recommend that you to put time and effort into finding out who the hiring manager is. Trust us, even if the person reading your letter is not the hiring manager you found on the company’s website, it is better to address your letter to this person. Avoid phrases like ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’. A recruiter will translate this into ‘I wasn’t that interested in your company, and may or may not have copy-pasted this letter’, which is not the look you want to go with.
Moving on to your opening paragraph, consider writing a personable, inviting paragraph. You don’t want to write something like ‘I am writing to apply for (job position) at (firm)’. Your recruiter is not likely to think “how thoughtful of the applicant to remind me about what I’m reading!”. Don’t worry if you’ve written a letter starting like this before, we’ve all been there. Let it sink in for a second and continue reading, in the next section we will discuss opening your letter in an inviting way more in-depth. Practice makes perfect.
In your main paragraph you want to highlight your skills, achievements and how you will be able to apply these to this particular position. Additionally, you want to always include proof of your skills from your past jobs. However, the goal is to advocate that you’re more qualified than all the other applicants, not just to show that you’re qualified. So avoid sentences as ‘I am a born-leader, hardworking and especially skilled at analyzing data, exemplified by my past role as data analyst intern’. Instead, try something like ’If you’re looking for someone who can follow orders to the T and doesn’t like to rock the boat, I’m probably not the right candidate. But if you need someone who can dig in to data, see what’s working (and what’s not), and challenge the status quo, let’s talk (The Daily Muse).’
Finally, in your closing paragraph, briefly recap your strengths as a candidate and include your contact information. Make sure this information is right. Also, before hitting the send button, read through your document several times to make sure it does not include any typos. If you feel confident about these first basic elements of your cover letter, let’s move on to some tips on how to make your cover letter the most beautiful fish in a sea of applicants!
Tips on how to make your cover letter stand out
- What makes you You? What are you passionate about?
In a sea of applicants, what will make you memorable is staying true to yourself. Don’t portray a perfect version of yourself (a little brushed up version of yourself doesn’t hurt at the end of the day) but try to portray who you really are. Avoid saying something like ‘I don’t work well in teams’, as this is something that will be a prerequisite in almost all job positions. Nonetheless, however silly a perk of you may sound, stay true to it. The next extract of a cover letter illustrates this really well: ‘When I was growing up, all I wanted to be was one of those people who pretend to be statues on the street. Thankfully, my career goals have become a little more aspirational over the years, but I love to draw a crowd and entertain the masses—passions that make me the perfect community manager (The Daily Muse)’.
Many companies are looking for someone who is truly passionate about what they’re spending most of the time out their days on. If your dream company is looking for someone who is passionate, energetic or enthusiastic (this can be found the job description), write about why you’re so excited to be part of the team!
- Why this Company?
Similarly, many companies want to hire people who already love their brand. Studies amongst recruiters have shown that stories told in cover letters are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone. If you’re applying to a job at Nike, tell them that you’ve been running in Nike sports shoes your entire life, pushing your boundaries while taking the gold medal at your local marathon. Remember to be specific and genuine when telling a company why you love their products.
- Talking about your Accomplishments
The unfortunate reality of the job hunting process is that there will be a lot of others - similarly qualified - applying to the same job. So, it is really important that you’re able to separate yourself from the crowd. A great way to stand out in your cover letter is to highlight for example an accomplishment you’re proud of. Another way is to talk about specific helpful character traits for the job or an impressive skill that boosts your productivity, this will quickly show how you stand out among other applications. A fun example of this: ‘You might be wondering what a 15-year veteran of the accounting world is doing applying to an operations role at a food startup like ZeroCater. While I agree the shift is a little strange, I know you’re looking for someone who’s equal parts foodie and financial guru, and I think that means I’m your guy (The Daily Muse).’
- Humor or Creativity
We’ve now provided you with some fun example extracts from real cover letters. Recruiters will like it if you show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, so try and find a writing style that suits your character best. However, always make sure to do your homework before sending your cover letter. Learn everything you can about the company and the recruiter to make sure whether or not they’ll appreciate you not taking yourself too seriously and adding some flavor to your letter. If they do, it’s a great way to make them smile and contact you. If they don’t? Better luck next time! It’s all about staying true to yourself, being creative and having fun. Of course, while researching your desired company study their company culture and try and find a match with your personality. But our main advice is to keep in mind that recruiters are also people, make your cover letter memorable and adding a little humor can brighten up anyone’s day.
Good luck and have fun writing your cover letter!