How to make your job application cover letter stand out from the crowd

Try using these tips to spark the interest of a recruiter who may have perused hundreds of similar applications

For many job hunters, the cover letter can be one of the most boring parts of the job application process and is often just a token gesture; however, this may lead to missed opportunities. An interesting cover letter can make you stand out and be noticed. Try using these tips to spark the interest of a recruiter who may have perused hundreds of similar applications.

Apply for the role, not the company

This may appear an obvious tip, but a significant proportion of applicants will tailor their application to the company in general. Dan Geiger, the recruiting operating manager at Buzzfeed, has been told many times how great Buzzfeed is; however, he would rather hear enthusiasm for the role on offer. Pitching for the job itself demonstrates you can pay attention to detail, which may be one of the key skills required.

Ensure your letter has a clear flow

The application itself, or your CV, is the place to share your experience and achievements, with your cover letter needing to fulfil a different brief. A strong idea is to work on compiling a narrative and making your letter have a clear beginning or introduction, a middle, and an end or conclusion. The founder/chief creative scribe at Brooklyn Resume Studio points out how much potential and cultural fit can influence hiring decisions; for example, a story in your cover letter that specifically shows how you can benefit the company could really help.

Start strong

The job you are applying for should be clear from the email subject or title, so do not start by stating the obvious. Instead, try to grab the recruiter’s attention immediately by sharing an anecdote that shows how and why you are a great candidate.

Resolve their problems

A common mistake in cover letters is to focus on how the job will help the candidate, as opposed to how they can benefit the company. By researching some of the issues the business is currently facing – try reading relevant news or even arranging a chat with other staff at the company – you can identify the ways you can help. This method is great to show you understand the challenges the company faces and that you are prepared to work hard.

Do not assume

Following on from the tip above, ensure you do not make any assumptions. As an outsider, it is all too easy to believe you have diagnosed the issues; in reality, you may be wide of the mark. Sensitive issues in particular may be hard to identify, so try to be sure by talking to multiple staff if possible.

If you are unable to ascertain the exact challenges faced by the company in question, talk through what you would do for it. Donna Svei, a recruiter and professional CV writer, terms this an ‘opportunity letter’ and recommends detailing times you have gone above and beyond and how you could do the same in the role you are applying for.

Write the perfect cover letter and start the process to get your ideal job. Good luck!

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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