Cover letters are an important element of a successful job search. Crafting an informative and interesting cover letter can help you make a lasting impression on a hiring manager or potential employer. If you are interested in learning how to write cover letters that can help you stand out from other candidates, you will need to know what a successful cover letter looks likes and what you should include. In this article, we will explain what a cover letter that stands out is, discuss how to write one and offer a template and example.
Read more: Cover Letter Samples and Templates
What is a cover letter that stands out?
A cover letter that stands out is a well-written document that catches the attention of a hiring manager or potential employer. Cover letters that stand out are unique or interesting in a way that makes them different from the cover letters that other applicants have submitted. Writing a cover letter that stands out is a significant step in the job search process because if the hiring manager is impressed by your cover letter, they are more likely to invite you in for an interview.
How to write cover letters that stand out
At a minimum, your goal is to write a cover letter that fulfills its purpose and meets industry standards. However, you can go a step further and craft a document that helps set you apart from other job candidates. Here are the steps you can follow to write a cover letter that stands out:
- Expand on your resume
- Tailor your letter to the specific job
- Show your personality
- Be professional
- Be concise
- Edit before you submit
1. Expand on your resume
Your cover letter is an opportunity to convert some of the bullet points on your resume into more detailed sentences. Cover letters are typically a full page long, so you will have room to provide additional information that can help explain certain job history entries or expound on a particular skill. Instead of simply copying and pasting information from your resume, be sure to include new information in your cover letter that elaborates on the brief overview you presented in your resume.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing
2. Tailor your letter to the specific job
Next, you should tailor your cover letter to suit the particular job for which you are applying. Hiring managers usually read dozens if not hundreds of cover letters when looking for a new hire. Filling your cover letter with generic, non-specific language will not help you catch the hiring manager's attention or interest. When writing your letter, consult the job listing and the company's website to find relevant keywords you can include in your cover letter. Additionally, be sure to address your letter to a specific recipient and to mention the company by name throughout your letter.
3. Show your personality
One of the most effective ways to make your cover letter stand out is to allow some of your personality to show through your writing. You can show personality through your tone, vocabulary and any personal details you choose to share. If you are an outgoing, confident and enthusiastic person, your cover letter might use an energized tone and lots of action words. If you are reserved, hard-working and team-oriented, you might use a more traditional tone and focus on your past professional accomplishments.
4. Be professional
While showing personality in your cover letter can certainly make an impact, it is also critical that your letter be professional and appropriate. To accomplish this, you can address your letter formally, use professional vocabulary and maintain a consistent structure. Be sure to avoid colloquialisms, idioms and slang which can be distracting for your reader. Maintain a pleasant, polite tone throughout the letter and make your paragraphs and fonts consistent.
5. Be concise
Your cover letter is most effective when it is efficient. This means cutting out any unnecessary words or repetitive sentences. One way to make your cover letter stand out is to fill each paragraph with highly relevant and purposeful content. Hiring managers will appreciate any effort you make to condense your letter and make it easier for them to find and read the most important information quickly.
6. Edit before you submit
Proofreading is the final step in writing a successful cover letter and is arguably the most important. A cover letter that is filled with spelling mistakes and grammar errors is likely to hinder you from qualifying for jobs. If you take the time to carefully read your cover letter and edit it for mistakes, you are more likely to be perceived as professional and capable. If you need to, ask a friend or family member to read over your letter and offer suggestions for corrections.
Cover letter template
Here is a ready-to-use template for a cover letter that stands out:
[Your phone number]
[The date your letter is submitted]
Dear [Name of hiring manager, HR manager or other staff member],
My name is [your name] and I am applying for the [job title] position at [company name]. I am pleased to tell you that I believe my recent work experience and my advanced educational background both make me an outstanding candidate for this open position.
My previous role as a [previous job title] at [former employer's company] was both enlightening and informative for me. As a [job title], I was responsible for [list of primary duties]. I also helped the team by [list specific contributions you made while working in the previous position]. I enjoyed working for [previous employer] because [list what you liked about your previous job]. I believe my greatest accomplishment while working with the [previous company] team was [your most impressive professional accomplishment].
Aside from my work experience, I also learned important skills while studying [your major] at [name of college, university or trade school]. While attending, I earned a [degree] in [major] with a minor in [field of study]. I earned a [specific GPA] and graduated in [number of years]. Outside of class, I also served as [a leadership position] and participated in [club, sport or organization]. I decided to pursue a career in this industry [after I spoke with an advising counselor during my sophomore year, etc.].
Thank you for your time and consideration. I am excited to meet you and learn more about [company name] and the [job title] role.
Cover letter example
Here is a full example of what a cover letter that stands out can look like:
May 3, 2019
Dear Edward Jackson,
My name is Elizabeth Ellis and I am delighted to be applying for the open paralegal position at Craft & Johnson's. I am sincerely interested in this role because I think my experience and personality are well-suited to the firm's strategy and how the team interacts with clients. I have previous experience at a law firm, and I was an accomplished law student. I would be most appreciative if I could learn more about this position and what you are looking for in a paralegal.
In my five years of experience with Casey and James, I was a valued member of the legal team on a number of high-profile cases, most of which involved the company's highest-paying clients. I became skilled in client consultations, evidence filing and trial preparation, all of which required integrity, attention to detail and commitment to excellence. I am proficient in discussing case strategy, negotiating settlements and assisting lead attorneys. I have particularly strong analytical and time management skills.
I believe that my background in financial law will make me a valuable asset to your firm. I look forward to meeting you to learn more about the paralegal position and share more about how I could be a beneficial addition to your firm's team of professionals.