Written by the SOJC Writing Central Team: Rachel Harbison, Claire Sigler and Aly Brandt.
A well-written cover letter could be all that it takes for a future employer to notice you. A good cover letter should be a perfect complement to your resume and provide a little more detail about you. Below are a few simple tips and tricks to truly make your cover letter stand out to your prospective employers.
- Research the Company
Instead of sending the same cover letter to each company you apply for, edit each one and make yours more personal. Mentioning a company’s values and goals and how they align with your own is a great way to make a cover letter feel more personalized. Use the first paragraph to write a personal anecdote that relates to the company culture; this will help get you noticed and your cover letter read!
- Elaborate on your resume
Keep your resume to a page or two. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to really go in depth about the skills you possess as a result of your work experiences; be sure to explain how they will benefit you in the future. Try not to expand on too many positions in your cover letter. Instead, elaborate on your more applicable experiences — ones that will really stand out to employers. Don’t be afraid to make your cover letter more of a story and explain when you learned a new skill or when your skills came in handy at another job or internship.
- Pay attention to the skills and qualifications necessary for the position
Do your research and find out what skills and qualities the employer is looking for to fill that position. In your cover letter, hit all the key qualities that you possess and that fit what they are looking for. Talk about why you want to work there and what makes you the ideal candidate for the job, but focus mostly on what you can offer the organization. In the end it is all about what you can do for them!
- Get creative with your word choice
Your cover letter is not supposed to be an exact replica of your resume, so don’t feel like you must mimic your word choice. Get creative with your writing and explain your experiences in a different way so as not to seem too repetitive. Remember, your cover letter should express your personality and explain to an employer why you are the right fit for their organization. Highlight the things you are most proud of and passionate about so that you stand out from other applicants.
- Edit ruthlessly for grammar
Have multiple people read and critique your cover letter for any grammatical errors. Mistakes will make you look lazy and that you lack attention to detail. There is no such thing as reading it too many times! Don’t give employers a reason not to hire you.
Keep in mind that employers have different opinions. You will most likely receive contradictory feedback and it is ultimately up to you to decide what is best. Check out some of our favorite tips and tricks: Forbes, TheMuse, Canva.