Think of your cover letter like it’s the first page of a book. Most hiring managers only scan a cover letter for a couple of seconds before skipping to the next one. You want your cover letter to grasp the reader's’ attention right away in a way that makes them want to keep reading.
1. Introduction is everything
The most important key to an attention-grabbing cover letter is the very first sentence. You want your opening sentence to catch the reader’s attention. So it needs to be interesting. One way to do this is by starting with a professional anecdote. It hooks the reader and gives your cover letter some personality.
Here is an example for a Flight Attendant position at Delta Airlines:
- “I have always been a dreamer. When I was four years old, I dreamed I would grow wings like a butterfly. Then when I was 7, I dreamed that I would invent the very first flying car. Now I am older, and I realize those dreams weren’t exactly achievable (yet), but my passion for flying has never left me. For me being a flight attendant isn’t just about the job, it’s being able to work and achieve my dream of flight every single day. So, I told you why working for Delta Airlines is perfect for me, now let me tell you how I can be an asset to Delta Airlines.”
2. Add a slogan
A slogan should express the value you bring to an employer. It’s a brief statement that can be placed under your name at the top of your letter in the far-left margin, or in italics at the bottom of your cover letter. This type of tagline helps to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager.
Here are some examples:
- For a web developer: “Creating secure, user-friendly websites for all of your business needs.”
- For a sales professional: “Closing sales, overcoming challenges and crushing quotas.”
- For a customer service rep: “Showing customers that you care, it’s only fair.”
- For a recruiter: “Helping talented individuals find the job of their dreams.”
3. Be confident
Showing confidence in your cover letter shows an employer that you believe you have what it takes to do the job you are applying for. Don’t end your cover letter with a phrase like, “I hope to hear from you soon”. Instead, try something like, “I look forward to hearing back from you”. This shows confidence. You want the job and you are qualified to do it, so act like it but don’t be over-confident. Being overly confident can make you seem "overqualified".
4. Be true to yourself
You want your cover letter to show who you are. You want to give the reader an idea of how you will be a great culture fit for their company. Show a little bit of your personality in your cover letter, add some humor.
Would you want to read through over 100 cover letters that all essentially say the same thing? No, you aren’t a robot, and luckily, robots don’t read your cover letter, humans do. So, don’t be afraid to show your humanity.
5. Find the addressee
Do everything you can to find out who will be reading your cover letter so that you can address them directly. If your cover letter is addressed, “To Whom it May Concern”, then you have already made your first mistake, and you haven’t even gotten to the actual letter.
If the name isn’t listed in the job posting or in an email that was sent to you, go to LinkedIn. Look up the companies name and try to find the person who is responsible for doing the hiring for the position you are applying for.
If you can’t find it there, try calling the company and asking for the hiring manager's name. If all else fails and you can’t find an actual name to address your cover letter to, default to “Dear Hiring Manager”.
6. Do your research
Researching the company you are applying for is vital. Personalizing your cover letter with information about the company shows that you want the job. You want to make it evident that your resume is tailored to the company you are applying for.
Hiring managers automatically assume that you are going to send off the same resume and cover letter to every job that you apply to. Don’t just use the name of the company a couple of times. Use keywords from their mission statement and explain why you will be an excellent fit for the company, not just the position you are applying for.
You can also use information from the job posting to show how your skills and achievements align with what they are searching for.