In a competitive job marketplace, the tiniest detail can move one job seeker ahead of dozens of others who are more or less equally qualified.
After all, when hiring managers choose one candidate from a pool of fifty resumes, they aren't choosing the only acceptable contender and saying no to forty-nine losers—instead, they're sifting through fifty excellent people, all of whom could potentially help the company. But they can only say yes to one of them, and they'll choose the one that happens to have some minor extra spark that sets their application apart.
Here are a few small cover letter details that can help you become this person. Sometimes managers don't even realize how much they appreciate these details until they encounter them.
1. Show genuine interest in the company. Note that the keyword is "genuine." Just a sentence or a single phrase can make it clear that your letter is tailored and personal and not part of a mass mailing. But if the phrase you chose has just the right tone and reflects interest in some aspect of the company that appeals to you—and only you—that's a plus. All applicants are attracted to high salaries, free parking, and onsite gyms. But not all applicants recognize and appreciate a company's unique marketing plan, it's specific research focus, it's charity outreach efforts, or it's clever recent product rollout.
2. Demonstrate relaxed confidence. Be the candidate that will easily find a job elsewhere if not here. Needy, desperate, and demanding aren't such terrible qualities in a cover letter, and managers see them every single day. Most of the time they're accepted as expressions of eagerness and commitment. But if you want—rather than need—the job in question, this will come through in your tone, and reviewers will stay focused on what you can do for them, rather than the reverse.
3. Pack lots of information into a short letter. This means getting rid of abstractions, clichés, useless nouns, buzzwords, and fluff. Don't call yourself a "hard worker." Just describe what you'll help the company accomplish (with your hard work) once you're brought on board.
4. Say thank you. End your letter on a note of gratitude rather than expectation or demand. Thank the reviewer for his or her consideration and invite her to take the next step: Review your attached files or contact you to arrange an in person interview.
5. State a clear task that you and you alone are uniquely qualified to help the company tackle. Will your unique set of talents help the company expand into a new market? Will you be able to energize teams as a new supervisor? Will your contacts and connections help the company establish a foothold in the local community? What can you specifically DO for this organization that nobody else can?
Smart Cover Letters Set the Stage for a Long-Term Relationship
Managers love to feel like they're reading a letter from a real person rather than a robot, and they love to feel like a relationship between the applicant and the company will be both rare and mutually beneficial. Keep your letter warm, specific, and personal. Visit LiveCareer for templates and industry-specific samples that can help you accomplish this goal.