7 tips to make your cover letter stand out
January 28, 2014
Writing cover letters may not be everyone’s favorite task, but they can make or break an internship or job application. Instead of just being a chore, a cover letter can serve as a snapshot of a student’s skills and personality — valuable assets that a company is looking for. Michele Plante, career services coordinator for FAA, weighed in on these seven tips for writing a memorable cover letter.
1. Customize your cover letter based on the job
“The most important thing is to write a different letter for each application,” she said.
Companies can tell if an applicant is using a standard cover letter instead of one written for a certain job. It is important to highlight the skills that are most relevant to the position at hand.
2. Do research on the company
Anyone applying for a position should be well-versed about what the organization or company does, what the work environment is like and other major details. It is necessary for a student to know what he or she is applying to and be knowledgeable about the company during an interview.
3. Make sure to respond to the specific job listing
“You want to make it clear to (the company) that you are replying to the ad and that you’re really delivering to them what they need,” Plante said.
She recommends making a checklist of the job qualifications and tasks, and checking them off while writing the cover letter.
4. Do not just create a carbon copy of your resume
“Some people make the mistake of just repeating their resume — you’re basically handing in two copies of your resume,” she said. “It also says that you’re not a good communicator.” So instead of just saying “I have great communication skills,” make sure to demonstrate those skills by describing your experiences and accomplishments.
5. Think about it as a conversation
Talk about yourself by using stories and giving specific examples of your experiences. For example, if the job ad asks for experience in research and communication, describe a research project you did in class and talk about how you presented it. These stories show your personality and may single you out from several other qualified candidates.
6. Talk up the organization
“Tell them how much you like their company and why. Don’t tell them what their company is; they are familiar with their company already. Instead, emphasize what you both have in common,” Plante said.
Explain what led you to apply there and why you believe their company stands out from the rest. This shows that you have done research and that you are enthusiastic about the position.
7. All work experience can be applicable
“I’ve had a lot of students tell me that in their job interviews, interviewers have said they like to see experience with sales or waiting tables, because it shows the student has dealt with customers before, which can translate to client experience later in their career,” Plante added.
So don’t dismiss a job in a restaurant or in retail just because you believe it is irrelevant.
Reema can be reached at [email protected]