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.
Then they move on to the next one.
You want your cover letter to grasp the reader's attention in a way that makes them want to keep reading to the very last word.
1. Introduction is everything
The key to an attention-grabbing cover letter is the very first sentence.
You want your opening sentence to catch the reader’s attention.
In other words, 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 seven, 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 tagline helps to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager.
Below are some examples of taglines for several industries.
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.”
Spend some time thinking about the value you would bring to the company.
Try working that into a personal slogan that is unique and memorable.
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, as this can make you seem "overqualified."
4. Be true to yourself
You want your cover letter to show who you are.
You want to demonstrate that you are a real person and 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 in places where it would be applicable.
Would you want to read through over 100 cover letters that all essentially say the same thing?
No, you aren’t a robot. 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.
This way, you can address them directly.
If your cover letter is addressed, “To Whom It May Concern,” 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, go to LinkedIn. Look up the company's 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, call the company and ask 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.
So, demonstrate that this is not what you are doing.
- Don’t just use the name of the company a couple of times.
- Use keywords from their mission statement.
- Explain why you will be an excellent fit for the company overall, 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.
Cover letter templates
If you are not interested in crafting a cover letter from scratch, you can also think about using a cover letter template provider.
While templates can be great tools to get started, remember that you are going to want to customize your cover letter for each job you apply to.
Focus on adding value to the company, and only highlight skills that are going to be relevant to the role you are applying for.
Good luck landing that dream job!
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