Killer Secrets to Get your Cover Letter Noticed

Imagine you are reading your favorite news site. Which headline would get your attention first?

Hero Saves Family
Toddler Saves Family with Sesame Street Safety Lessons

If you’re like most people, the notion that a toddler could save his or her family with sing-a-long information they learned on Sesame Street would get you to at least click and scan the article.

Your cover letter really is no different. Inundated by hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, hiring managers and HR professionals are awash with applicants. Many, even great applicants. So what can set you apart in the sea of other job hunters? Steal a few tips from our journalistic friends:

Tip 1: Headlines.

Just after your greeting (Dear Mr. Smith), before you start the body of your cover letter, include a bolded headline. Some ideas might include:

  • Three reasons I am the candidate you are looking for:
  • I know five ways I can immediately make impact during my first 30 days on the job.
  • [Name of Contact],  said I was the best intern he’d ever hired; would you like to see why?

No matter what your headline, though, make sure you deliver on its implied promise. If you say there are three reasons why they should hire you – give them three reasons.

Tip 2: Graphical Elements.

People are visual creatures. We learn not just through text, but how our eyes engage the content on the page or screen.  Simple things like:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Subheadings
  • Whitespace

Go a long way to getting a weary HR manager to actually “read” your cover letter.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to name drop. But it better be real. 

This is where using your network can come in handy. If your brother-in-law is a well-respected manager at the firm, then don’t be afraid to use in your cover letter “John Smith, the director of Operations, recommended I contact you based on his experience and knowledge of my background.” (This of course assumes you ask John if it’s ok.)  Go as far as considering to “bold” this sentence in your letter as well.

Getting the attention of a Hiring Manager or HR professional has never been more difficult. But using just a few of these tips can be just enough differentiation to get your foot in the door.
Image courtesy of “iosphere” /

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