How to write a standout cover letter

How to write a standout cover letter was originally published on College Recruiter.

When applying for jobs, cover letters are an easy way to set yourself apart from the crowd and help you move on to the next round of consideration. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should write your cover letter in the same way everyone else does it.

To stand out, you need to give employers something that they can’t find in everyone else’s application —and that means putting together a cover letter that’s tailored to the specific position you’re applying for.

Take a look at this article on how to write a standout cover letter and get started creating your own letter today!

The importance of a cover letter

When looking for jobs, first impressions matter. And sure enough, a professional resume builder can help you create a resume that leaves a lasting impression. But a compelling and well-crafted cover letter will take your application to the next level, giving you an edge against the tough competition. That is why recruiters suggest that, in your cover letter, immediately highlight your strengths and sell yourself. This will grab the reader’s attention and increase the chances of moving to the next round.

While it is true that cover letters aren’t always required, they are still an essential part of the job application process. In today’s job market, a great cover letter is more important than ever. It is your first chance to make a good impression on a potential employer – so it’s worth taking the time to make sure it’s perfect.

7 Main parts of a standout cover letter

Cover letters may have different content, but they all need to have some important elements to serve their purpose. Ideally, they must follow a certain format to keep information organized and easy to identify by employers.

Below are seven sections that cover letters should have to meet employer expectations:

1. Header

All cover letters have a header that includes your contact details. Applicants usually follow the same header for cover letters to ensure consistency. Regardless of the format, it must include your name, phone number, address, and email address. You may also include links to your social media profiles or portfolio that contain information relevant to the position you are applying for.

2. Greeting

This is the first part of the cover letter that allows you to stand out from other applicants. So, if possible, research the name of the hiring manager to show them that you are serious about your application and that you have put thought and effort into it. You can easily find this information within the job post or on the company website.

3. Introduction

This is the first paragraph of your cover letter. It should contain basic information about yourself and why you want to apply for the role. Mention the job title you are interested in and give an overview of why you are best for the position. You can also mention where you found out about the job posting and why you decided to apply.

4. Qualifications

In this part, you can highlight your work history, skills, and qualifications. This gives the employers an idea of how you can be beneficial to the team. Give some relevant details from your resume, and emphasize your job experience. You can even include stories about relevant scenarios or projects that demonstrate your skills.

5. Goals and values

Here, you may show that you have understood the company’s mission and demonstrate how your goals are aligned with theirs. Share that you aren’t just perfect for the job, but you can also blend in with the team, bringing a positive vibe to the entire workplace.

6. Call to action

This paragraph summarizes your interests and skills. It should also suggest the next steps on how to proceed with your application. Don’t forget to thank the hiring manager for reviewing your application.

7. Signature

Finally, end your cover letter with a professional closing sentence and your signature. Some appropriate phrases to include are best regards, respectfully, with thanks, and sincerely.

Top qualities and skills to include in your cover letter

No matter what industry you’re trying to break into, it helps to have all your bases covered when it comes to your cover letter. The cover letter is one of the most important parts of your job application, as it’s the first thing hiring managers will see in your application package and the only part that’s guaranteed to get a read. Including these qualities and skills in your cover letter will help make sure you stand out from the competition:

1. Leadership

When it comes to qualities and skills to include in your cover letter, leadership is always a great choice. Employers love seeing that you have the ability to take charge and motivate others. To show that you have leadership skills, discuss a time when you led a team or took on a leadership role. Give specific examples of what you did and how your actions made an impact.

2. Time management

If you want to get ahead in today’s business world, time management is essential. No matter what job you have, being able to manage your time well will make you more productive, efficient, and successful. To be a strong candidate for any position, you should mention that you are great at prioritizing tasks and working efficiently to meet deadlines.

3. Teamwork

Whatever industry you’re in or what job you’re applying for, teamwork is always an important skill to highlight in your cover letter. Being a team player shows that you can work well with others and that you’re not afraid to take on new challenges. It also helps when it comes time to working out problems together as a group.

4. Communication

Strong communication skills are essential for any job but especially important for a customer service role. You’ll need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with customers, answering their questions and addressing their concerns. Good communication skills also come in handy when you are faced with difficult situations. You’ll need to be able to stay calm and professional when things get heated and clearly explain the situation to the customer.

5. Flexibility

One of the most important qualities employers look for in a candidate is flexibility. Being able to adapt to change and handle unexpected challenges is a critical skill in today’s ever-changing workplace. Describe how you have adapted to changing circumstances at work, including changes in workflow, team members, deadlines, or instructions from management.

Here are some questions to guide you in showing that you are a flexible team member:

  • Have an internship that required you to wear many hats? Talk about what skills you gained through this experience (think creativity, problem-solving, time management).
  • Did you take on projects that required new skills? Did these projects allow you to expand your knowledge of an industry or topic?

6. Initiative

One of the most important qualities to highlight in your cover letter is initiative. Hiring managers want to see that you’re the type of person who takes the initiative and doesn’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do.

Here are a few examples of how you can show initiative:

  • Volunteering on an office project,
  • Arranging a company dinner,
  • Proposing ideas at meetings,
  • Organizing conferences, or
  • Managing projects independently.

7. Honesty

Honesty begins when you’re writing a cover letter. It’s important to be honest about your qualifications and skills. After all, you’re trying to convince a potential employer that you’re the best person for the job.

Honesty shows that you’re confident in your abilities and that you have nothing to hide. Plus, it’ll help build trust between you and your potential employer. After all, if you were dishonest in your resume or if you lied during an interview, what’s stopping them from catching on?

It may seem like honesty is a natural part of any profession, but not many people practice it. Don’t be afraid to list every quality and skill that makes you perfect for the position!

Common mistakes when writing a cover letter

One of the most important pieces of your job application is your cover letter. It’s your chance to make a lasting first impression and convince the hiring manager that you’re the right person for the job. But writing a great cover letter isn’t always easy.

To help you get started, here are some tips on how to avoid common mistakes:

Too formal

Depending on the job you are applying for, being too formal can make or break your application. For instance, if you are writing a cover letter for a renowned firm, then formality is of the essence. But if it is a creative agency you are going for, it may be worth trying to take an informal approach.

Too informal

On the contrary, being too informal can also be perilous. Being too casual or personal may give the recruiters a message that you are not serious about your application. Of course, a conversational tone is ideal, but if you choose to go this way, be sure that you stay professional in some aspects.

Using a template

Using a cover letter template can be efficient and quick. It also allows you to apply to different jobs quickly. But using a template cover letter may suggest laziness or imply that you are not giving effort for that role.

Talking a lot

Unless what you are talking about is necessary for the role you are applying for, there are things that you just have to leave out. Recruiters are often in a hurry, and they want to get an overview of who you are. Yes, it is good to include interests or hobbies. But if you feel they won’t get you the job, just skip them.

Bragging

Nobody likes people who keep on bragging, not even hiring managers. And the challenge with writing a cover letter is that you need to sell yourself and show off what you can do to land your dream job. However, there is a fine line between confidence and bragging. If you are confident in your HTML skills, simply say you know HTML. As much as possible, avoid making claims that you are an expert in Java or that you have unparalleled leadership skills.

Writing an essay

Keep it short and sweet; they don’t need your life story. Also, avoid phrases like I’m desperate to work with you! and You can count on me.

Not proofreading

Proofread, proofread, proofread! Spelling errors and typos can cost you an interview.

7 Tips to consider to create a cover letter that will land you your dream job

When you’re applying for a new job, your cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression. Here are some tips on how to write a cover letter that will get you noticed.

  1. Start by introducing yourself and briefly mentioning what you are currently doing, the company or organization you work for, and any other pertinent information.
  2. Think about what type of position you’re applying for and tailor your cover letter accordingly. If you’re applying for an administrative assistant position, then mention in your cover letter that you have experience with administrative tasks like answering phones and booking flights. If the company needs someone who can work weekends, mention in your cover letter that you have availability during those times and can come in early or stay late if needed to work around the office schedule.
  3. Share something specific about the position and explain why it interests you.
  4. Outline your most relevant skills and qualifications in bullet points.
  5. Be enthusiastic about the company and role—again, be specific about why this particular opportunity interests you more than others out there right now.
  6. Include a paragraph detailing what makes you unique as an applicant: Maybe it’s because of your excellent communication skills, or maybe it’s because of the customer service training courses that you have taken in the past.
  7. Customize your application materials to each company: The hiring manager doesn’t know who else might be applying for this position, so they need information about why they should hire YOU specifically. Include what makes YOU stand out from other candidates and why they should invest their time into interviewing YOU as opposed to just anyone else who applied.

Summary

A well-written cover letter can be the difference between landing an interview and getting your resume tossed in the trash. Your cover letter should not only showcase your strengths, but it should also explain why you are the right fit for the job and why you deserve to be invited to an interview.

A cover letter accompanies your professional resume when you apply for jobs, so it’s essential that you include only the best information about yourself and your work history in order to snag an interview. However, there are some common mistakes that job seekers make when writing their cover letters, and if you’re making them too, then you’re missing out on opportunities to get the job offer you want. Also, you have to ensure that you include some important qualities and skills in your cover letter to increase your chances of getting called back.

–Dahlia Keen is a certified professional resume writer with over 20 years of experience in the field. Dahlia specializes in career coaching, job search assistance, and professional resume writing. Dahlia is a regular contributor to Resumekit.com, a site dedicated to helping job seekers build an attractive resume.

By Dahlia Keen - College Recruiter
College Recruiter
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