Three attention-getting tactics for cover letters
Your cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager or a recruiter sees. Here are three ways to capitalize on this chance to shine.
Hiring managers and recruiters can receive hundreds—or even thousands—of applications for each open job. Typically, they can spend only a few seconds scanning a candidate's cover letter before moving on to somebody else's. So if you're looking for a job, your cover letter has to capture a reader's attention right away.
According to career coach Evelyn Salvador, author of Step-by-Step Cover Letters, one way to get an employer to really notice your cover letter is to infuse it with personal-branding elements, such as a slogan, testimonials or a mission statement. “Each of these elements is optional, but it might just be the thing that makes your cover letter stand out from those of other candidates," she says.
Salvador has specific tips for using one (or all) of these elements:
This brief sentence or phrase can be placed under your name at the top of your letter, in the far-left margin or in italics at the bottom of your cover letter. A slogan should succinctly encapsulate the value you bring to an employer—if you need help crafting a slogan, look to language in the job posting or on the employer's website for inspiration.
Salvador's examples include:
- For an elementary school teacher: "Helping students take positive steps toward their future"
- For a sales manager: "Meeting challenges, overcoming obstacles and closing sales"
Stating what others have said about your performance adds credibility to the information you provide in a cover letter. Testimonials can include excerpts from letters of recommendation, customer thank-you letters, vendor satisfaction letters, performance reviews, internship summaries, staff memos and other commendations.
A mission statement
This element should be succinct and clearly state what your mission is, specific to your career goal—it could describe what you plan to do or have done, what you believe in or why your profession is important to you—or another statement that demonstrates the value you'll bring to the employer.
Salvador's examples for a teacher and sales manager include:
- "Each step a child takes in his life has an effect on his future. I would like to help students take positive steps by creating an educational experience conducive to learning."
- “If the customer is happy and you are making a sale, it's a win/win. I believe in making customers happy."