Reach Employers: Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

Who says we’re all supposed to use the same template for sending out cover letters? Recruiting managers don’t want to read them! Tips to help change your game up a bit and hopefully inspire some positive action. Written by Juliet Rocco

Last year, I took a required course for business majors that helped us develop proper cover letters, thank you notes, dress for success, etc. After completing the course, I realized the standard letters I was sending out were not generating much response.

My resume was good, my writing was free of grammatical errors, and I knew exactly what I wanted. So why wasn’t I getting any responses?

The Problem: HR managers and recruiters read lots of cover letters exactly like those templates everyday. I should be lucky if they even made it past the first sentence because on a scale from 1-10, the originality of my letter was a 2.

The Solution: After sending out about a dozen letters, I decided to take matters into my own hands and trash the existing letter. From now on, I was going to send out something much more personable and useful. After the letter was sent out to potential companies, I received responses within days!

Have a standout cover letter:

  • Keep it short and to the point: Less is more. Internships.com only allows 1000 character letters to be submitted in a cover letter when applying online. Think about the most important things that are not already included on your resume. What exactly are they looking for in an applicant as far as skills? Include a current project  you are involved in or software you are using.
  • Use creative words: Recruiters see “motivated” and “hard worker” more times than you visit Facebook. Try words like spark, imaginative, vibrant, active, and upbeat. You want something that is going to jump off the page and make an immediate impression with them. Keep your words simple. Trust me, they read enough to know when you looked something up in a thesaurus!
  • Social media presence: Give them the information they already want to see. You don’t have to link to your Facebook if you have privacy settings, but link to a Twitter account, blog, or portfolio. This showcases what you know online and how well you communicate with others.
  • Reach a human: Before you write “To whom it may concern” or hit the “apply” button, try and find the name of the person in charge of recruiting and contact them directly.
  • Include company name in letter: Nothing says more generic than a cover letter without the name of the place you’re applying to. Write a very specific sentence about why you can mesh well with them.

Takeaway: If you’re applying to a more creative field, you have options that can easily make your letter stand out from the rest. Take advantage of this creative liberty and express your true personality. They’re not hiring a robot. They want a real, genuine person who seems relatable.

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