Here are five ways to start a cover letter that will guarantee yours stand out among the rest.
1. Add a quote
Before you start rummaging through the archives of your favorite quotes site, let me add that you should not take a quote from just anywhere. That is, using a famous quote such as one by Einstein or Gandhi is generally inadvisable. For example, if your cover letter starts with, ‘Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means– Albert Einstein’, followed by an assurance that as a person and employee you live by those words, then there are two problems. The first is that there is no way to validate that statement. Just because you like a quote, relate to it or even aspire to it, does not mean that you can verifiably embody it. The second problem is that it almost oversells you as a candidate. Remember that hard facts will always supersede flowery language in any piece of business writing. In contrast, if you use a quote that was used to describe you or your work from a manager or a colleague, it provides persuasive support to your case.
The Do's and Dont's of Cover Letters
2. Highlight your achievements
Start the letter with your latest and greatest achievement. For example, ‘As a Communications Director for x company, I managed the marketing and public relations operations for an organization of 500+ employees’. Buff yourself up within reason. Do not make exaggerated claims about being the most important person in your previous or current position. Also be careful not to accidentally degrade your previous employer or workplace in an attempt to prove your value as an employee. If you are a fresh graduate, then your degree should be your starting point and you should discuss what you learned from your study and how it has prepared you to do the position you’re applying for.
3. Start your sentences with keywords
The aim of cover letters is to achieve two things. The first is that your cover letter should demonstrate fit, and the second is that it should motivate the reader to consider your CV. In order to show that you truly fit the job, you should make sure your cover letter is rich with keywords. Take the time to study the job description and required skills and use keywords that are sure to grab the attention of your prospective employer. For example, ‘I am a senior graphic designer with extensive experience in designing, branding, marketing and project-managing.’ Again, if you have no previous work or internship experience, then consider projects and tasks you have had experience in outside the work environment.
4. Write down what you can do for them
A lot of cover letters fall into the trap of focusing too much on what a position at x company will do for the applicant’s career, when x company is just as, if not more, interested in what the candidate will do for them. Tackle your opening paragraph by focusing on key points in the job description. For example: ‘Delivering substantial value to my clients has been the focus of my work for the past five years’, ‘Cultivating relationships and collaborating through team-work are two of the things I do best’, or even ‘’My colleagues and former employers would best describe me as a ‘team player’ because…’. Remember that for every claim you make, you have to give a real-life situation in which you’ve applied the skill you are claiming to have.
6 Seconds.. Is The Time Employers Spend On Your CV
5. Let your personality shine through
While your cover letter should not look like a script for stand-up comedy, it is A-OK to be a little relaxed in the way you phrase it. One of the best things about cover letters is that they allow you to express yourself in a way that the rigid structure of a CV does not accommodate. Adding a dash of humor in your opening lines and throughout your cover letter (remember that less is more) will ensure your reader thoroughly enjoys reading your letter.
All that’s left to do is open that document and get typing. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t forget to check out Bayt.com’s free cover letter guide and remember that you can always get a professionally written CV and cover letter by experienced writers and get all the work done for you. Sound off in the comments below about how your job search is going and, as always, good luck on your journey. We, at Bayt.com, are cheering on from the sidelines and wish you all the best.
By Dalia Larissa Abu-Sharar
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