Cover Letter Attention Grabber

Entertain this idea for a minute: a three sentence cover letter. If you’re thinking yeah right, think again. A three sentence cover letter could potentially be the best cover letter you ever write.  For the rest of this article, transport your mind to a place where cover letters don’t have to be stuffy, robotic, and just plain boring. It’s about time you write the cover letter you actually want to write. Here’s how you can get on your way to an attention-grabbing cover letter that represents your authentic self.

1. Add some humor

Make someone laugh. They’ll probably remember you better. You can be a little self-deprecating or employ a funny analogy. Think about this: who are some of your favorite colleagues? Probably people who don’t take themselves so damn seriouslyand have the ability to bring some levity to the team. Who wouldn’t want that on their team? Show you can bring your awesome skills and awesome personality.

2. Be very specific

Do not send a generic cover letter. Repeat: DO NOT send a generic cover letter. They can be spotted a mile away and are as fun to read as they are to write. Try your very best to find a name you can address your letter to. A name is one of the most effective ways to make the letter feel more personal.

3. Cut the length

It doesn’t need to be so long. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. If you’re starting to feel like you’re writing for the sake of writing, stop. Cut the fluff. Don’t be intimidated if your cover letter doesn’t fill the entire page—there’s no rule that it has to be one full page. Quality over quantity is especially pertinent here.

4. Show how you can solve specific problems

Saying you’re a ‘problem-solver’ is about as helpful as explaining your preference for chocolate croissants over regular croissants. Don’t tell them about your amazing problem-solving skills. Explain the details of a particular problem you were key in solving and how exactly you employed your skills to solve it. Better yet, if you know the company has a particular problem you could help solve, outline how you can help solve it.

5. It should visually match your resumé

The heading of your letter should correlate with your resumé, the font should be the same, and the paper (if you’re printing it) should also be the same. Your cover letter is part of a pair, and this pair should be visually consistent.

6. Keep the design simple, clean, and easy to read

Read: no distractions. Stick with the classic fonts in reasonable sizes. No need to mess with the margins.

7. PDF, always

If you’re submitting a cover letter online, it should always be sent as a PDF file. Always always! We all know there is something just so unreasonably frustrating about trying to open a file that isn’t compatible with your computer. Your cover letter should never provoke technological frustration. That’s bad juju before someone even reads it.

8. Thought about using a template?  

This is an especially good idea if you’re already using a template for your resume. In fact, if your resume is templated, your cover letter absolutely should be too. A template is a great way to get some structure going. It can help make a big, blank, white page a little less intimidating.

9. There’s more to Etsy than handmade jewelry

Etsy is a fantastic place to purchase resumé and cover letter templates. They often come in a bundle, and there are myriad design choices to browse. There’s an option for every personality. Here’s a few to consider:

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When you apply for any job, the very first tool you will use to grab the attention of employers is your cover letter. (Yes, there are of course companies that are so big they don’t have time for cover letters. But plenty of hiring managers at small and mid-sized companies do read them, myself included.) A cover letter highlights the reasons you are the best person for the job and how you will benefit the company. It also demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate your objective. That’s why the opening lines of your cover letter are so important. You need to hook the employer so they want to continue reading and learn more about you.

There’s no one right way to open your cover letter, but there are a few techniques you can try to make your letter stand out. Here are five ways to write the opening lines of your next cover letter:

1. Job Title & Accomplishments. This is a very common and effective way to start out a cover letter. The idea is to get straight to the point and impress the employer with your background. Use your most impressive and most relevant accomplishment stories to explain your worth.

Example: As a social media coordinator for Company X, I manage many digital media outlets. By implementing new social media marketing tactics, in the past year, I have doubled our audience on Facebook and tripled our followers on Twitter.

2. Excitement Means Dedication. Another approach is to begin your letter by expressing your excitement for the job opportunity. If there’s a job or company you’re particularly enthusiastic about, it’s great to say so. When a potential employer sees you’re excited, this translates into how motivated and dedicated an employee you would be. This makes them want to find out if you’re as qualified as you are eager.

Example: I was excited to find an opening in human resources with Company Y because your work with y (be specific) has been important to me for a long time. I am the perfect candidate for this position because it combines my experience with human resources and y.

3. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords. When applying for a larger company where you know an applicant tracking system will be used, a smart idea is to make your opening lines keyword-heavy. The right keywords will make sure your cover letter gets read, and will immediately highlight many of your most relevant skills.

Example: Written and verbal communications are two of my strongest areas of expertise. Through my years of experience in public relations, I have perfected my skills in social media, media relations, community engagement, and leading a team. It is the combination of these skills that makes me the best candidate for your public relations manager.

4. Network Ties. If someone in your professional network is refers you to a position, company, or specific hiring manager, the best approach is to use this right away in your cover letter. Name-dropping your mutual contact will provide the employer with a point of reference to go from. They’ll be interested to see why your referrer thought you’d be a good fit for the job.

Example: My name is Jane Doe and recently I spoke to your communications coordinator John Smith, who informed me about the opening in your IT staff. He recommended I contact you about the job because of my strong interest in the field.

5. What’s in the News? Another unique option to impress employers is to demonstrate your knowledge of current events in your opening lines. Look for recent news about the company you’re applying for and tie it into the job opening. Explain why the news item makes you think you’d be best for the job.

Example: Recently, your company has been highlighted on The Huffington Post and Forbes because of your partnership with Charity Z. After reading those articles, I became inspired to seek employment opportunities with your company and was happy to see an opening for an administrative assistant. As someone with vast experience in that area, I would be the perfect candidate for the job.

With all of these options, it’s important to tailor your entire cover letter to your specific experience and each individual job description. A personalized cover letter is essential to prove your qualifications and will be more likely to result in an interview. Start making changes to your next cover letter.

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