How To Write Cover Letters That Stand Out (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 22, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Cover letters are an important part of a successful job search because they can help you showcase your unique skills and abilities. An informative and interesting cover letter can create a lasting impression on a hiring manager or potential employer. If you’re interested in learning how to write cover letters that stand out from other candidates, it’s helpful to know what an outstanding cover letter looks like and what you can include.

In this article, we explain what comprises cover letters that stand out, describe how to write this type of cover letter and offer a template and example to help you prepare your own.

Cover Letter vs. Resume
Image description

Cover Letter vs Resume
Cover letter:

  1. Formatted like a business letter

  2. Explains your interest in and qualifications for a position with specific examples

  3. May either be optional or required by employer

Resume:

  1. Reverse-chronological, functional or combination formatting options

  2. Summarizes your relevant experience and achievements

  3. Commonly required when applying for jobs

What are cover letters that stand out?

Cover letters that stand out are well-written documents that attract the attention of hiring managers or potential employers. These cover letters are unique or interesting in a way that makes them different from the letters other candidates submit. Writing a cover letter that stands out is a significant step in the job search process because if you impress a hiring manager with your cover letter, they may be more likely to invite you to interview for the position.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

How to write cover letters that stand out

A well-written, unique cover letter can help distinguish you from other job candidates. Here are the steps you can follow to write a cover letter that stands out:

1. Expand on your resume

Your cover letter is an opportunity to convert some of the bullet points on your resume into more detailed explanations of your qualifications. Cover letters are typically a full page long, so you have room to provide additional information that can help outline your job history or describe your unique skills. Instead of simply copying and pasting information from your resume, be sure to include new information in your cover letter that elaborates on your skills and experience.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

2. Customize your letter to the specific job

You can customize your cover letter for the particular job to which you’re applying. Hiring managers usually read dozens, if not hundreds, of cover letters when looking for a new hire. Using specific language can help you attract the hiring manager’s attention and 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.

Related: How To Write a Personalized Cover 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 highlight your personality through your tone, vocabulary and any personal traits you choose to share. If you’re an outgoing, confident and enthusiastic person, your cover letter might use an energized tone and lots of action words. If you’re 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’s also important that your letter demonstrates your professionalism for the role. To accomplish this, you can address your letter formally, use professional vocabulary and maintain a consistent cover letter format. 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. Write concisely

Your cover letter is most effective when it’s 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 appreciate any effort you make to condense your letter and make it easier for them to find and read the most important information quickly.

Related: Q&A: What's the Ideal Cover Letter Length?

6. Edit before you submit

Proofreading is the final step in writing a successful cover letter. A clean, accurate cover letter with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors can highlight your attention to detail. If you take the time to read your cover letter carefully and edit it for mistakes, hiring managers are more likely to perceive you as professional and capable. If possible, ask a friend or family member to read over your letter and offer suggestions for corrections.

Related: Cover Letter Checklist: What To Review Before You Submit

Template for cover letters that stand out

Here’s a template to help you write a cover letter that stands out:

[First name], [Last name]
[Phone number] | [Email address] | [City], [State] [Zip code]

[Date]

[Company name]

Dear [Name of hiring manager, HR manager or other staff member],

My name is [your name] and I’m applying for the [job title] position at [company name]. I’m pleased to tell you that I believe my recent work experience and my [specific skills, goals or accomplishments] 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]. My greatest accomplishment while working with the [previous company] team was [your most impressive professional accomplishment].

Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m confident my [specific skills] and [previous experience] make me an excellent candidate for the position of [job title] with [company name]. I look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss my qualifications in more detail.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Related: ​​Cover Letter Template (With Tips and Examples)

Example of a cover letter that stands out

Here’s a full example of what a cover letter that stands out can look like:

Elizabeth Ellis
(333) 444-5555 | elizabethe10@email.com | Sioux Falls, SD 

May 3, 2022

Dear Edward Jackson,

My name is Elizabeth Ellis, and I’m delighted to be applying for the open paralegal position at Craft & Johnson's. I’m sincerely interested in this role because I believe my experience and personality are well-suited to the firm's strategy and how the team interacts with clients. I’m confident my legal experience and exceptional attention to detail make me a strong candidate for the paralegal position.

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. In addition, my excellent analytical and time management skills allow me to work on multiple cases at once to improve productivity.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I believe my background in financial law and robust understanding of legal analysis can make me a valuable asset to your firm. I look forward to meeting with 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.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Ellis


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