Before you even begin to get in the door, you make a first impression when you send a cover letter for a job opening. On the one hand, you should keep it professional. On the other, there’s nothing wrong with letting a little of your own personality shine through so yours doesn’t sound like the hundreds of other generic cover letters the hiring manager gets. So how do you balance both and help yourself stand out from the crowd?


  • Avoid the formula.

It’s so easy to simply write one letter and change the name of the company for each one you write, but that practically guarantees that you’ll come off sounding formulaic. Make sure to include specific keywords from the job description in your letter (which also makes it more likely to get pulled by cover letter-reading software programs that companies use). You might also want to make a specific reference to the company itself by mentioning a newsworthy article or a specific reason why you want to work there. And make sure you send it to a specific person – finding out the hiring manager’s name shows you’ve taken that extra step.


  • No cliches!

Do yourself a favor and look up some of the most overused phrases that candidates tend to add to their cover letters so you can avoid them. How can you find different ways to show them who you are? Make sure you do show them by using an example or two in your cover letter. You also want to look at how you open your letter – again, consider first impressions. Rather than starting with, “I am applying for the position of X, figure out a “hook” that tells them who you are. Perhaps you begin by telling them briefly how your childhood lemonade stand was your first foray into sales or open with an anecdote about looking up the company and getting inspired.


  • Watch your tone.

Look at the industry and company you’re applying to. Do they seem corporate and formal, which warrants a more traditional approach? Is it a marketing company known for its out-there taglines? Go a little more off the beaten path. You want the tone of your cover letter to match theirs; this also helps show them that you would fit in with the company culture. Always keep it professional, however. This means no errors and a focus on why you want the job (the point of writing in the first place). And always keep it positive.


Consider your cover letter your first chance to show a potential employer who you are and why they want you. For advice on writing your next one or for any job seeking needs, work with PrideStaff.


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