You want your cover letter to grab your reader's attention and stand out from the crowd. And to do this, you'll need to make moves other candidates won't. You'll have to say things that others don't have the courage to say, and you'll have to skip some of the tired, overworked gestures that everyone else will make.
But remember—there's a difference between positive attention and the kind of attention that can hold you back. While you separate yourself from the herd, make sure you're doing so in a way that will get you hired, not tossed aside. Watch out for the common attention-getting blunders below.
The standard job search—and in fact, much of the professional working world—is full of posturing, fake smiles, meaningless rituals, and empty words. But if you think you're the first young person ever to recognize this, think again. And if you think your employers will be impressed by your attempts to cut through this nonsense, reexamine your strategy.
Phrases like "I would describe my accomplishments, but you can just find them by researching me online," or "I may not have a lot of fancy credentials, but I'm honest and I work hard," are not as refreshing as they may seem. Play the game. Just play it better than everyone else.
Calling out the company for its mistakes and shortcomings
Your target company has problems, there's no doubt about this. And the company has plenty of needs, starting with a specific empty position they're trying to fill.
From your point of view, you represent the solution to many of these problems and the answer to many of these needs. But be careful how you frame this. Even if you're the hero about to swoop in to fix everything, nobody likes to be insulted. And nobody likes to have their past failures or organizational weaknesses pointed out in a reckless or disrespectful way.
Making too much of a distant social connection
Use your contacts, and if you've met your reader in the past or you share a mutual acquaintance with her, don't hesitate to mention this fact. But if this is a third degree contact or a very fleeting encounter, don't overplay your card. And don't pretend you have a strong friendship with this person if you don't. Just mention your connection briefly and then move on.
Peppering your letter with empty zazz
Enthusiasm is terrific, and all employers sit up and take notice when they encounter applicants who really, really, really want the job. But it's a good idea to express your enthusiasm using words, not exclamation points. Share concrete examples of your relevant accomplishments, and explain exactly why you and the company are a great match. Use solid details, narratives, and hard numbers. Speak, don't yell. Avoid italics and all caps, and don't assume curly fonts or colored text will give you a leg up.
An Effective Cover Letter Speaks for Itself
Ideally, your cover letter will stand out from the crowd on the strength of your accomplishments alone. But you may need a little extra tweak to set your credentials apart from those of a dozen other applicants. Visit LiveCareer and explore the site for guidelines and formatting tools that can help you find the inside track and leave your competition behind.