How to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

Simple Steps for Writing an Impressive Cover Letter

One of the hardest things about writing a cover letter for a job is that you can spend a lot of time and effort writing a perfect letter but not know if anyone is going to read it. Writing a good cover letter is work. You need to make sure it’s well written, shows the employer why you’re qualified, and doesn’t have any glaring errors that could cost you an interview.

What’s the best way to get your cover letter noticed when the employer has a ton of them to look through? There are some quick and easy steps that you can take to write a cover letter that will impress the hiring manager.

Take a look at these tips and see which ones will work best for you. Even a few small changes can make a big difference.


Watch Now: 7 Ways Your Cover Letter Can Get You Hired

17 Quick Tips to Get Your Cover Letter Noticed

1. Choose the right type of letter. Before you start writing a cover letter, be sure that you’ve chosen the right type of letter. The style will be different depending on whether you’re writing a letter to go with a resume, inquiring about job openings or mentioning a referral.

2. Find a contact person. If you can find a contact person for your cover letter, you will be able to personalize it, and you’ll have someone to follow-up with to make sure your letter gets looked at.

3. Include a referral. It’s worth taking a few minutes to see if you know anyone who can refer you to the job. Check your LinkedIn network and your Facebook friends to discover anyone who works at the company who could refer you. If you find someone, here’s how to ask them for a referral.

4. Choose a basic font.  Pick a font that’s easy to read. Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri work well. Review these tips for selecting a font size and style for your cover letter.

5. Keep it short and simple. Cover letters don’t need to be long. In fact, all a lengthy letter will do is make the reader’s eyes glaze over. A few paragraphs are plenty, and your letter should never be longer than a single page. If your letter is too long don’t use a smaller font, edit and cut words instead. Here’s how long your cover letter should be.

6. Leave plenty of white space on the page. Another way to improve readability is to include spaces between the greeting, paragraphs, and your signature. It’s much easier to read a well-spaced letter than it is to skim one that is hard to read because there’s too much information crammed into too little space.

7. Match your cover letter to your resume. Choose the same font for both your resume and cover letter and your application will look polished and professional.

8. Make a match between your skills and the job qualifications. One of the most important ways to get your cover letter noticed is to make a clear match between the job requirements listed in the help wanted ad and your credentials. Don’t expect the employer to figure it out. Here’s how to match your qualifications to a job.

9. Highlight only the most relevant information from your resume. Don’t use your cover letter to rehash and repeat what’s in your resume. This is an opportunity to focus on the specific skills and attributes you have that will benefit the employer. Review the difference between a resume and cover letter for more information.

10. Customize your letter and show the employer what you have to offer the company. It’s not worth sending a cover letter that isn’t customized. This is your pitch to get an interview, so take the time to personalize your letter, mention a referral if you have one, and share your strongest qualifications. Here are tips for writing a custom cover letter.

11. Use a T-Shape for you cover letter. A T-shaped cover letter lists your experience and the employer’s requirements, typically in a table after an introductory paragraph and above the closing. Here’s an example to review.

12. Use bullets. Using a bulleted list is another option for getting information noticed in your letter. Paragraphs tend to blur together, but bullets draw the reader’s eyes to the content on the page. Make sure each bullet point is short and starts with an action word. Review tips for including bullets in a cover letter and an example of a cover letter with bullets.

13. There are some things you shouldn’t include in your cover letter. It’s not necessary to include personal information. Never include salary requirements unless the employer specifically requests that you do. Don’t mention how you left your last job, especially if you were fired. Keep your letter focused on the job for which you’re applying and keep it factual. Here are 15 things not to include in a cover letter.

14. Close your letter with how you will follow up (if you have a contact person) and include your contact information so it’s easy for the employer to get in touch. Then add a closing and your name, and you’re almost done. Here’s a selection of closings that work well for cover letters.

15. Check for typos and grammatical errors. Don’t click send or upload before you have taken the time to carefully proofread your letter. Grammarly is a terrific tool for making sure that your cover letters are perfect. Read it out loud and you may pick up some more mistakes. Also, check out these tips for proofreading your cover letters yourself.

16. Include an email signature when emailing cover letters. When you email a cover letter, be sure to include a signature with your name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile URL if you have one. That will make it easy for the recruiter to get in touch with you.

17. Email it to yourself to be sure the formatting is perfect. There’s one more thing to do before you send your letter. Email a copy to yourself for a final check. Make sure the formatting is as you want it and proofread it one more time.