Employers see countless cover letters everyday so you can probably (begrudgingly) understand why they might not be very impressed with one that is generic, at best. That begs the question: How do you make an eye-catching cover letter?
A great cover letter has nothing to do with flashy colors or designs and everything to do with presenting your skills and experience in a unique way. By thoughtfully writing your introduction rather than working from a template, you are much more likely to impress the hiring manager and, as a result, increase your chances of getting an interview.
Here are seven ways to make your cover letter stand out from the crowd:
- Avoid generic greetings: Addressing the hiring manager by her name and title demonstrates that you are both motivated and resourceful.
- Be concise. Limit your letter to no more than a couple of paragraphs. Remember, the only information you need to include is why you are applying for the job, and a short explanation of your career skills.
- Customize your accomplishments. You should highlight particular skills based on the type of job for which you are applying. For example, you should play up your interpersonal skills if you are applying for a Director of Development job.
- Demonstrate your value. Saying that you are the best fundraiser in the country is less effective than specifically explaining situations that make you the best.
- Avoid demands. It’s never a good idea to make specific demands, especially if they are salary-related, in your cover letter. Save these discussions for when you are actually given a job offer.
- Address concerns. Are there unexplained employment gaps in your resume? Address these in the opening of your cover letter.
- Don’t exaggerate. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Employers will always have a way of finding out if you are exaggerating your claims.