In today’s competitive job market, having a perfect resume sometimes isn’t enough to get the job you want. To grab the attention of employers and show them why you’re the best person for the job, you need a killer cover letter that communicates your passion and skills.
Here are 8 tips with examples to help you write a killer cover letter that sets you apart from the competition:
1. Write a compelling introduction
Your cover letter’s introduction is your chance to pique a hiring manager’s interest to learn more about what you can contribute to the company.
To do this, your cover letter introduction should give a quick overview of your past accomplishments while conveying your interest in the position.
Here’s a list of what to include in your introduction paragraph:
- Title of the position you’re applying for
- Name of the company you’re applying to
- A short summary of your past experience and why it makes you the perfect candidate
- A statement of your intention to apply
Here’s one example taken from a restaurant manager cover letter:
2. Show that you can help the company achieve its goals
To really make yourself stand out, show employers that you’ve done your research and understand the company’s vision. Use your cover letter to demonstrate how you can help them achieve their goals.
Whether the company is intending to expand its services and products or is eyeing new markets, make sure you portray yourself as an essential part of accomplishing those goals.
Take a look at this example from an applicant with international networking experience applying for a US-based company looking to expand into Asia:
This paragraph works because the candidate shows that they’ve been successful in establishing new international business relationships. They then connect that experience to the current business goals of the company they’re applying to work with.
3. Demonstrate that you’re a perfect culture fit
Besides having the necessary skills and experience to be able to excel in the position, hiring managers also want to know if you’ll be a good fit at the company.
Read the job description carefully, check out the company’s website, and have a look at their social media. Is the language used professional and straightforward, or more relaxed? Adapt the tone of your cover letter depending on what you find out through your research.
For example, you could:
- Mimic the tone they use
- Display an interest in activities organized by the company outside of work
- Use a professional cover letter template that matches the style of the company website
- Find out if the culture is more collaborative or competitive and highlight relevant traits
4. Don’t just repeat what’s on your resume
A common mistake applicants make when writing cover letters is to simply restate the information on their resumes. The best cover letter complements your resume by adding context and personality to your application, not just repeats your qualifications.
However, that doesn’t mean you should never talk about the information listed on your resume. In fact, your cover letter is the perfect chance to show what you’ve learned from the experiences mentioned on your resume.
Below is an example of a typical bullet point found in the work experience section of a resume:
Responded to an average of 40 customer inquiries daily via phone and email
And here’s how to expand upon it to make it suitable for a cover letter:
Communicating with an average of 40 customers on a daily basis taught me to think on my feet and to adjust my language depending on each customer’s level of computer literacy. It also allowed me to put my conflict resolution skills into practice.
5. Make your cover letter unique
While it might be tempting to send out the same cover letter to multiple companies, it’s something you should avoid. Hiring managers can tell which candidates have put in the extra effort to tailor theirs to the job posting and which candidates have sent them a generic cover letter.
A killer cover letter provides insight into your reasons for applying to that job specifically, showcases your skills, and highlights your personality.
Here are a few tips for writing a cover letter that grabs attention.
- Include a short anecdote that explains why you’re interested in this particular company
- Talk about how your values align with the company’s mission statement
- Demonstrate that you possess the most highly sought-after skills listed in the job description
If you’re applying for a position that requires imagination and creativity or if the company has a casual office culture, feel free to show some originality and humor in your cover letter as well.
6. Highlight specific accomplishments (with hard numbers)
Your killer cover letter should bring attention to a few of your most impressive relevant accomplishments from your career.
If the hiring manager thinks you might be a good candidate, you’ll get the opportunity to go over the rest of your work experience in detail in an interview.
To increase the impact of your cover letter, make sure to quantify your achievements whenever possible. Here are three examples of how to use hard numbers to your advantage:
Under my leadership, the team surpassed sales targets by 10% for five consecutive months.
On average, 18 out of 20 daily clients rated their experience as 5 out of 5 stars.
After I joined as an English teacher at Westview High School, 60% of my students raised their grades by a full grade or more.
You can also list particularly important accomplishments in the form of bullet points in between your body paragraphs to make them stand out.
7. End with a killer call-to-action
The last step in writing a killer cover letter is writing a memorable closing paragraph.
This is your last chance to leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager, so make it count by reminding them why they should hire you over every other candidate.
A killer cover letter closing paragraph should have:
- A short summary of the skills that would make you an asset to the company
- A “thank you” to the hiring manager who took the time to read your cover letter
- A request for an interview
Here are two great examples of how to end a cover letter:
Thank you for taking the time to review my application. I believe my analytical skills would be of great benefit as an accountant at Deloitte. I look forward to further discussing what I can bring to the company soon.
My past experience as a retail associate has given me the tools necessary to provide excellent customer service. I am very motivated to put these tools to use and further Centene Corporation’s goals. Thank you for your time, I look forward to discussing my skills and experience in more detail at an interview.
8. Proofread it before you send it off
Spelling mistakes and odd phrasings can make you appear unprofessional and hurt your chances of landing a job. Spell checkers are helpful tools, but they’re not always reliable. Set aside time to proofread your cover letter to ensure you catch any errors.
When proofreading, be on the lookout for these mistakes:
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
- Repetitive language
- Irrelevant information
- Missing information
- Incorrect names
- Inconsistent cover letter fonts, spacing and margins
It can be difficult to spot your own mistakes. If possible, enlist a friend or family member to read through your cover letter as an extra precaution.
Killer cover letter example
Still not sure what a great cover letter should look like? Here’s a killer cover letter example written by a teacher to give you an idea of how to format yours: