Many people take hours perfecting their resume but only a few minutes creating a great cover letter. That’s because cover letters are fairly boring. They have a very set structure that most people need to follow, and most of the words are decided for you – with the introduction sharing where you found the job, the conclusion telling the person to call you, etc.
But you’re competing with hundreds – sometimes even thousands of other applicants. That means that you need to take advantage of every inch of cover letter space that you have available to make sure they are impressed, and that they want to call you in for an interview. That includes making sure that your cover letter stands out in some way from the hundreds of boring cover letters that these companies receive.
What Makes Your Cover Letter Unique
There are often stories of amazing cover letters that break all convention – cover letters that follow no cover letter rules, and wow employers with their unique style and form. If you have a great idea for a cover letter, go for it. But there are risks as well. Many hiring managers expect you to follow cover letter convention, and breaking from it may turn some employers away unless you do it perfectly.
Luckily, even if you follow cover letter template convention, there are still ways to help you stand out.
Cover Letter Convention To Follow
- Use Bullet Points
Using bullet points in the second paragraph of your cover letter is a minor formatting change that can make a big difference. Bullet points break monotony. If you’re listing achievements or reasons to hire you, bullet points make them easier to find, follow, and scan in a way that a paragraph does not.
- Integrate Numbers Where Applicable
Similarly, text blends together, but numbers stand out. Choosing achievements that involve numbers can help make sure that hiring managers have something impressive to skim your cover letter for.
- Write Casual But With Strength
One of the most common mistakes that people make when writing a cover letter is trying to “sound smart” – using words that people think sound professional, but do not sound like a normal person writing. It’s okay to have a bit of flair in your writing, as long as you also sound confident, capable, and ideally use the right words that will impress the employer.
- Add a Portfolio or Link
Use your cover letter to give them more to read and make them want to read more about you. If you have an excellent LinkedIn, or a link to an online portfolio or press releases about your achievements, these may be excellent additions to your cover letter because they get the hiring manager to continue to read about you.
Also, don’t forget the little best practices – such as finding the hiring manager’s name and writing it to them, rather than “to whom it may concern.” You’d be surprised how many applicants will skip these little details, thus helping you look more impressive to the hiring manager.