How to make your cover letter unique

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Your cover letter is your first impression with a company, even before an interview occurs. There is some debate among job seekers now about the importance of cover letters, now that email and online applications have replaced postal mail. However you apply for a job, though, a cover letter is still very important, and making yours stand out from your competition is equally important. So how can you make your cover letter unique, without looking desperate for attention? Here are a few guidelines to writing an effective cover letter that presents your personality in a way that sets you apart from the competition.

Don’t use a template : The most effective way to write a unique cover letter is to avoid templates or form letters. Not only will the reader be aware that you’ve put some thought into your introduction this way, but it will also open you up to different formats that will allow you to express your thoughts in the most concise manner. Maybe you want a bulleted list of keywords at the top, or you have particular experience in an aspect of the job, and want more time to explain – don’t pigeonhole yourself into skipping it because it doesn’t fit a pre-made template.

Make the cover letter appropriate for a quick scan : Sure, you want to tell a potential employer all about why you’re the best, but chances are the HR staff doesn’t have time to read 50 individual cover letters. Make your letter easy to digest with a quick 5 second eye scan. Include your skill set in an easy to read bulleted list at the top, or format your letter with the main points in bold text. People start skimming when they hit a block of text, so tell their eyes where to go. Make sure they can see all the most important information within 5 seconds of opening your email.

Remind them that this is just a highlight of your full resume : The point of the cover letter is to tell the employer at a glance why they ought to bother looking at your resume. So don’t forget to remind them that it’s attached.

Include links to your information in a clickable format : You may not have your own website, but you probably (and should) have a LinkedIn profile. Even better, you may have a work appropriate, or industry related blog. Use these to let employers get to know the real you. Let them see that you’re an expert in your field by sharing a blog you’ve created, or an article you’ve written. Let them get a glimpse of you that’s deeper than the resume. This is important though, make any links clickable. They probably won’t bother typing in a URL.

Make your text catchy, just in case they do read it : If you have interested an employer enough that they read your full cover letter (keep it short, though), then make sure that what you do write is well written. Aside from making sure it’s grammatically perfect, make it an interesting read, too. Add a bit of humor, or a clear opinion about something. If your cover letter is just rote information, then it’s no more informative than your resume.





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Written by Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CPRW - Visit the website to hire executive resume writer Erin Kennedy, CERW, CPRW

Erin is an internationally renowned certified resume writer specializing in professional and executive level resumes and career services.

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6 Responses to “How to make your cover letter unique”
  1. Jeff says:

    I couldn’t agree more–the interview is the most important sales call of your life, whether you’re in sales or not, and it’s all about showing how you and your skill set can benefit the company. That’s why it’s important to view your resume as a marketing document, rather than a job history. Another great way to show that is by bringing a 30/60/90-day plan to the interview. It spells out how you’re going to be able to jump into the game within the first 3 months.

  2. Back says:

    You still need a cover letter if you apply for a job via the Internet. Online letters do not need to be as lengthy as traditional ones, but the elements should remain the same. Use professional salutations such as “Mr.” and “Ms.,” and always include your full name, telephone number and mailing address. Appearances aside, what really matters in a cover letter is what it says — and that it generates enough interest to draw people to your resume. Use the guidelines above to make sure what you state in your letter delivers exactly the message you want to convey.
    .-= Back´s last blog ..Sometimes- Bankruptcy Debtors Just Get Lucky- Chapter 7 Debtor Keeps Non-Exempt Car =-.

  3. Fox says:

    Whether you’ve written one or one hundred cover letters in your lifetime, they can present enough challenges to make you dread the process each time. It’s for this reason that many people resort to the “carbon copy” cover letter as opposed to creating an original one for each job application.

  4. jimmy says:

    Cover letter has to be unique but no one knows how it should be good for employers.
    .-= jimmy´s last blog ..Take a Break Get Out for a While Do Something for Yourself =-.

  5. Julia Baker says:

    Oh ! Having been in a situation on many occasions where I have been the receiver of applications, that cover letter is the first and foremost important aspect of the application. It provides the first impression and as we all know, that is the lasting impression. It is important to create a snap shot of who and why and where you hope to devote your skills.

  6. Trevor says:

    The single most egregious cover letter faux pas is not doing th absolute minimum — finding out to whom to address the letter. I have had recent grads, people with master’s degrees and folks with 20 years’ experience send me a “To Whom It May.” It gets either the instant wastebasket treatment or, depending on my mood and workload I respond with a nasty form letter.

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