Resumes & Cover Letters

5 Steps to a Killer Cover Letter

Written by Peter Jones

Cover letters remain a hugely important part of the job search game—no matter what your friends are telling you. And yes, we know it’s the hard part. We know writing might not be your strong suit. We know the competition is stiff. But still, you usually have to write one, and it should impress.

Don’t throw away what could be your best opportunity to charm the hiring manager. Rather than waste your time (and your employer’s time) with a total stinker, laden with clichés, take the time to really showcase everything that’s best about you. Here are five steps to crafting a cover letter that will help you stand out from your peers.

1. Wow ‘em from the start

Grab them with your opening line, and draw them in. Make it so good that the hiring manager can’t help themselves but read the whole thing—without skimming. Use fresh language. Tell a story. Show your personality (but don’t get too cocky; remember to keep it professional) and set the tone for the rest of the letter.

2. Be specific

Pick 3-5 points you want to highlight that prove you are a perfect match for the job description. Show you’ve listened to what they need, then show them you are it. Tell them specifically what you would bring to the job, and why you’re the only one qualified to do so.

3. Be personal

Blend the personal and professional so they’re seamlessly woven into one narrative of your competence and sparkle. If there’s something about you that didn’t quite fit in your resume, but which makes you just perfect for this position, emphasize it here. Make sure to tie your sharing into the job itself. A personal story about saving a cat doesn’t make much of an impression for a data entry job.

4. Stick the landing

You don’t have to go for the hard close to make the lasting impression. In fact, if you’re too brazen with your insistence of being the candidate of their dreams, you might put off the hiring manager. Try instead to emphasize how much you’d love the opportunity to meet with them and display how your skills and experience could be a real asset to their company.

5. Get it into the right hands

Put your cover letter both in the body of your email and include it as an attachment. Try to find a real live human’s email address, whether an HR manager or a connection-of-a-connection, and craft an informative subject line. Make sure if you’ve been referred by someone in your network to include their name up front.

Finally, his send, sit back, and see whether you succeeded in nailing your cover letter and getting your dream interview.

About the author

Peter Jones