Cover letter examples and tips to make you stand out
We’ve all been there… the process of finding a job is exhausting. Among so many capable jobseekers, how can a professional stand out? In my experience, a unique cover letter can go a long way.
Where a resume is a chronological outline of a candidate’s career and capabilities, a cover letter presents the opportunity to show off your personality and drive. This combo should build a strong case of why the hiring company should take a chance on you.
But while many roll their eyes at it, a cover letter is still a valuable tool for small and medium companies to screen candidates. As a project manager at Andromeda, I receive lots resumes from professionals, and I always wonder how they’d adapt to the team. We’re a small company, so skill is as important as character. In fact, if I receive resumes from two equally qualified candidates, I will favor the one that sent a genuine cover letter.
If I get a letter that begins with “To whom it may concern” that’s automatically a turn-off. To me, a cover letter should be more than just a one-size-fits-all professional bio. So, if your cover letter looks just like your resume – but narrated – you’re missing the point. To me, a convincing cover letter articulates how a candidate plans to become an asset to the company and help them achieve their business goals.
A good cover letter should also be easy to read. As it turns out, a good narrative sparks interest, so storytelling is key. A compelling message relies on the choice of language and rhythm. Doing it right takes practice, so following a base structure helps. I should know because I’ve helped friends navigate a job hunt – and it ain’t easy to get started. This is why I decided to put together this guide to tackle your cover letter.
Tips for making a great first impression
So, what does a persuasive cover letter looks like? It’s a unique document, customized to a certain job opening, at a single company. In other words: no copy-paste. The cover letter is the opportunity in your application to use emotion. Highlight your ingenuity and determination… Get inspired!
Use your own voice
Avoid using a stiff tone that comes across mechanical and unauthentic. Pick a writing style that sounds like you, but that’s not too casual. The key is to mix great energy with professionalism in your cover letter. Similarly, pay close attention to the words you choose, as they can make your letter harder to read. Limit difficult words to make your text more conversational. Also, use key words where they make sense, not “just because”. Same applies to trendy buzzwords!
Pitch yourself right
Your first paragraph should be short and impactful, like a firm handshake. Start by introducing yourself, leveraging your elevator pitch. Indeed.com has a great article on how to write an elevator pitch. Think about “What unique value can I bring to the table?” And, if you can enrich a conversation by bringing diversity to the team, make it known!
Follow this with a second short paragraph about how you feel about this job opening. Here you can describe what benefits this job could bring you, for example how this opportunity impacts your career growth. However, don’t exaggerate because you may come across insincere, and therefore kill the whole vibe. Don’t worry too much about detailing your professional skills in this section since you’re already submitting a resume. Use your cover letter to get your personality and energy out there.
Learn about the hiring company
The body of your cover letter should articulate how you plant to become be an asset to the company – not the reasons why this is a good job for you. Start by breaking down the job description. For each requirement think of a short anecdote about how you have solved problems using that skill or expertise. Above all, explain how you can be absorbed into the team.
Research the hiring company’s track record, their philosophy and culture, their client base, or awards they’ve received. Explain why you think this company is remarkable in the paragraph before ending your letter.
For your last paragraph, close with a compelling call to action, thanking them for the opportunity and inviting them to get in touch with you if they have any questions.
Get extra points for addressing the cover letter to the recruiter or the head of the department you’re applying to. It may seem like a small detail, but personalizing the letter establishes a relationship between you and the hiring manager.
No typos allowed! Proofread and get feedback
Aside from spell and grammar check, get several eyes on your cover letter before you send it out. Have a peer or friend make sure your point gets across and that there aren’t errors in it.
Big Plus: Now you’re prepared for a job interview!
If you play your cards right, you’ll get a callback, and what you’ve prepared will be useful during your interview. Writing a custom cover letter requires learning about the hiring company. Additionally, it sheds a light on the department you’re applying to, and other peers you may end up working with. All this research reduces stress during your interview, allowing you to speak confidently – as you were already part of the team.
Getting on a recruiter’s shortlist
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Furthermore, your determination to get this job should be tangible, and writing a customized cover letter proves it. Use short sentences and don’t overcomplicate your story. Avoid ego-trips and be selfless, because it’s all about how you can help the company. Aim to leave a great impression to whoever comes across it!
And remember, the job hunt journey will come with ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t fit a certain description or didn’t get the job this time. Keep a positive mindset while you navigate the hiring landscape. You can do this!!