CV Improvement Tips

How to catch a hiring manager’s attention with your cover letter

Written by mrafeeq · 6 min read >

A cover letter in a job application is not simply a way of showing your intent to apply for a vacant position. It is a bridge between you and the hiring manager’s decision to read your résumé or curriculum vitae (CV). The absence of a cover letter indirectly tells employers that you are not as interested as you portray. If you cannot be bothered to write one, they cannot be bothered to read your CV.

Employers also look for “personality” when they screen applications. A cover letter represents yourself; therefore, it must project the kind of person you are. Leave the details of your experiences in your CV; make your cover letter connect the employer and you. Below are some tips that will help you make a stand-out cover letter.

1. Know what you want to do

Have an explicit knowledge of the type of job that will give you fulfilment, both personally and professionally. Go beyond salary and other job-related perks and privileges. These are intrinsic factors why we seek employment. Career advancement, a great work environment, opportunity to learn and improve and flexible working hours are some factors that can arouse excitement on your part. These are important because you will convey your personality and why the job is essential to you when you write your cover letter.

2. Apply to jobs that appeal most to you

One common mistake of job-seekers is to send as many applications as possible with the thinking that the more CVs sent, the better the chance of getting at least a chance to be interviewed. At times, this thinking borders on desperation. Unfortunately, this also leads to the creation of generic cover letters that lack personality.

Setting your sights on vacant positions that elicit excitement on your part propels that drive that will make you say, “I want this job”. It will motivate you to put in your best effort to prove that you’re the right person for the position, and that attitude will reflect in your cover letter. Then, instead of conveying despair, you will be able to write a letter showing enthusiasm about the prospect of being hired.

3. Do your homework

Know the company that you are planning to apply to. Understand their mission and vision, what they want they do and what they want to achieve. Learn about the specifics of the position you are applying for. Gone are the days when cover letters talk mainly about applicants. Hiring managers today look for prospects that will fit in immediately. Knowledge of the company will help you craft your cover letter specifically for the company’s needs.

Another way to show due diligence in applying for the job post is to know the hiring manager’s name. At times, this information is included in the job ads; if not, use every means possible to obtain that name. In addition, addressing your cover letter to the person who will read it creates an impression that you are serious about having a conversation compared to the generic “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Ma’am”.

4. Start your letter with a strong, attention-grabbing statement

“I’m writing you because…” (and versions of it) is no longer effective. It is sure to get your application straight to the trash bin. Instead, open your letter with bold statements like “Two years of creative experience is what I can bring to the table!” Then talk about the company and how your knowledge and skills fit into the general mould. Likewise, don’t try to be funny or ridiculous.

5. Be specific

Do away with phrases like “I’m the best person for the job”, “I’m a team player”, and the like. Employers have read those a thousand times, even from the most unqualified applicants. Instead, refer to your previous experiences and use them to explain why you are the “best”. For example, cite specific examples of a team player and relate these examples to the job requirement. Better still, mention the previous accomplishments that brought you success in your last job.

6. Keep your letter short, but information-laden

Employers prefer to read cover letters that are short but meaningful. Always keep in mind that hiring managers read hundreds of them. If you can capture your essence in just a few words, do so. The rule of thumb is not to exceed one page. Let your CV talk about the details of your previous experiences; highlight a few points in your cover letter that will encourage the reader to look at your CV.

7. Tailor-fit your cover letter to the company you are applying to

If you have several prospects, don’t create a “one-cover-letter-fits-all” application. You may use the same format mentioned above, but make sure each is written specifically for each company. Never recycle cover letters. The employer may see multiple similar standard template letters. This will put him off

8. Proofread and edit

This is a critical facet of written communication, especially when an opportunity is on the line. Employers do not require that you write a grammatically correct and spelling-error-free letter in their job ads, but they will surely notice if you commit such mistakes. A well-written letter free of grammar and spelling mistakes is also not a guarantee that you will receive an invitation for an interview but riddled with errors, you’ll never even get a chance. Always have someone read and edit your cover letter.

9. Include all the information asked for in the Job Description

Include all the information and answers to questions that have been asked in the Job Description. E.g., if the employer has asked for two references, do not include 10. If he has asked for Visa details to verify work authorization, do include them. If the employer has asked for a project’s total cost in the case of freelancers, when you respond with an hourly rate, do also include how many hours you would require to complete a particular task. This will give the employer an idea of the total cost involved.

Use humour

Humour is something almost every cover letter lacks. Do a better job for a potential recruiter and stand out from the competition in a few short sentences. One note here: pay attention to what type of company you apply to. You’d have better humour than a conventional bank if it were a trendy startup. Sometimes use humour whenever suitable use it to attract the job applicant. You can even change the title of an interview to the letter and use it to attract people. For example… I know you had wanted a detail-oriented, concentrated, and highly social associate.”

Tell a story

The best way to show why you are qualified to do a job is to use Show/Tell Methods. Should one repeat their qualifications in an essay you wrote about how you apply for jobs in real life? It may seem simple to qualify a person on the spot, but ultimately it is how successful one’s job is in practice. Find some good examples to show your skills. For example, when I was a personal banking professional in 2006, we had a breach in our network, and our accounts were compromised. I contacted them to direct them to get their funds back.

Show your connection to the company.

Always talk about your individual experiences at the company. Showing you have been in business for a long time should help craft a cover letter. Hiring managers enjoy knowing that the candidate knows the company well. The only way to illustrate is to describe a personal experience. For example, I know you are fantastic customer support, have a friendly repair team, and be there whenever your computer goes down.

Talk about relevant accomplishments.

Instead of saying: Incorrect I was trained as a saler” Say: Correct “I won the Sales Associate of the Month title all five years while I was in my earlier job. Also, consider your achievements included in your resume so that you can put your skills to work in the real world.

Add a slogan

A great slogan can convey what your employer values. It’s a short statement that can be written in a letter in the far-left corner or italics at the bottom of your cover letter. The slogan helps to make a memorable impression on the employee. Try incorporating your motto into some memorable slogans. 

Can I use Dear Hiring Manager on my cover letter?

How should I begin my resume and cover letter on the right foot? There are rules how you should follow whenever you write cover letters. Does this person name me? Tell me the gender and preference for the verbs in both girls’ genders. Dear Mrs and the mother, do the following letters as directed on the note? If all fail, simply writing the hiring manager’s name is acceptable. Avoid informal greetings to the most extent.

Be Confident

Tell me the best one. Never make the last word. Do not worry too much because it can appear to make you oversimplified. Try something similar and say, ‘I look forward to hearing from you.’ This gives you confidence showing you’re looking for the job and know everything it takes. Don’t be too sure — it might make you seem more qualified to handle the job.

Cover Letter Templates

If you don’t want to make a cover letter from scratch, consider using our free templates. Remember to personalize the cover letter for every job you apply to. Attention to an added value within the company and emphasize only skills relevant to the role you applied for.

Conclusion: Writing a cover letter is your way of building a connection with a prospective employer. It will create that “first impression” that will urge the hiring manager to read your CV and possibly schedule an interview. Make each sentence in your cover letter excite your future employer about you; make them want you to join their company. If you’re going to get noticed, make sure you stand out in the “right way.” We’ve provided a few tips that will help you do just that. Have any of these worked for you? Please write in the comments below. You can even download our professionally written cover letter samples which can be helpful in your job search.

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