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Food for thought: a typical hiring manager will receive on average 50 resumes and cover letters per job posting. When it comes to standing out in this crowd, you have to go beyond the basic resume and cover letter template that you can find online. We provided you with tips to stand out on your resume (6 Tips to Get your Resume Noticed in 6 Seconds), so here are some tips to complement your resume and showcase your unique value in a cover letter.

Steps to Format a Stand Out Cover Letter

1. Revisit the Job Description

Copy and paste the job description and organize each of the bullet points into sections. You may end up with 3 – 5 sections of what the job will entail. As an example, one section might relate to communication because most employers look for candidates with excellent written and verbal communication skills, ability to work effectively with others, and relationship building skills with customers and colleagues.

2. List Bullets with Examples

Once you have your sections completed, take the 3 categories with the most bullets and develop stories and examples from your background to support each section. Make a complete list of your accomplishments and the results you brought to each job. This list can be maintained for future cover letters and interview examples. Choose your best stories, results, or examples to describe each section.

3. Fill in the Cover Letter Format

Now that you have your 3 categories written out with what makes you a great asset based on the requirements of the job and the supporting examples, fill in the rest of the cover letter. Usually, a cover letter is formatted as a professional letter with 5 paragraphs. The first paragraph is the introduction that sets up the rest of your cover letter and expresses your enthusiasm. The next three are the category paragraphs from the previous steps. The final paragraph is your closure to re-emphasize your enthusiasm and the best way to contact you. Your cover letter should be no more than a page and should not reveal everything about you. This is just to generate interest, so the hiring manager will want to learn more in an interview.

Other Cover Letter Assets to Include

  • Shout Out – At the very beginning of your letter, shout out an accomplishment, leadership experience, or advanced skills that could aid you in the job. If you start out by saying you are “interested in the Business Development Specialist position,” it won’t grab their attention until you start talking about your relevance to the job. Instead, include something like “I know my experience securing business and developing relationships with high-profile automotive and tech clients would make me the perfect match for the Business Development Specialist.” This not only grabs their interest, but also initiates the conversation of what makes you an asset to the company.
  • Statistics – Every employer or hiring manager has one thing in common. They understand numbers. It’s important to every employer to hire a candidate who will produce and increase their numbers. Include results with numbers. For example, if a hiring manager sees “increased sales by 25% within 6 months,” it will be seen as impressive. Just make sure that the statistics you include are true.
  • Company Contact –Addressing a cover letter as “Dear {Company Name}” or “To whom it may concern” is very generic and doesn’t capture the reader’s attention right away. Take a few minutes to make a call to the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager involved in the job posting, so you can include their name in the cover letter. This also allows you to further your research specifically on the hiring manager.
  • Research – When you do research about the company, include some facts in your cover letter to show that you are doing your homework. It’s important to find information that relates to your background, strengths, or the reason you would be an asset to the company. Make sure to do more than just a quick glance at their website. Do a little more digging and personalize the information you find to relate back to you. Don’t just copy and paste information from their website.
  • Go-Getter Idea – If you got the job today, where would you start? Do you have ideas for your potential position and company? If so, include an idea that would interest your potential employers. Every employer wants an employee with a go-getting attitude.

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