Cover letters may seem like an unnecessary formality, but the truth is that it’s your first (and sometimes only) opportunity to make a first impression. It’s a great place to show off your personality, expand upon your experience and explain anything that your resume might not. Below are a few ways to make your cover letter stand out:
1) Show off your personality
Let’s face it: most people’s resumes look the same. Smart people have added a little design element, but when you’re applying online, many times, it’s plain text and without much extra. But a cover letter is a great place to separate yourself from the pack. A great cover letter will start out with a name (not just “dear sir/madam” or “dear hiring manager”). This shows us that you did your research to find out who is in the HR department! A great cover letter will use a little humor to get our attention and to keep us reading. A great cover letter will also tell a story. We don’t mean literally, but it will use the elements of a great story to keep us hooked.
2) Expand upon your experience
Your resume is a great place to list your title, dates of employment and a little bit about the tasks and duties you’ve mastered. However, your cover letter can tell us about your passion and what you’re seeking in a new position. Maybe you’ve been a manager but you’re ready for a director position. Tell us about how your previous positions have prepared you for more. Tell us the values and traits you have that make you an excellent director candidate. Do you lack a little experience? Then you’re going to love our third point.
3) Explain anything your resume might not
If you lack experience, but are totally enthusiastic about our company and the position, tell us! We know what it’s like to be working toward a new career path and needing some on-the-job training or work. Another example of something you can address in a cover letter is breaks in employment. People take breaks from full-time employment for various reasons: maybe taking care of a child, a sick spouse or parent, to go back to school, etc. A cover letter is a great place to tell us why you took time off and what you did with that time. Don’t shy away from these issues; they’re bound to come up in the interview process anyhow!
Did you know that 30% of our new hires are from current employee referrals? When one of our team members vouch for you, it says a lot! Current employees are a great source of information when it comes to how to apply and what to expect, too, so don’t be afraid to connect with them on Linkedin (and in real life) to get tips.