The right cover letter requires much balance. A balance between individualization and professionalism, storytelling and credential listing, all while trying to look appealing but not desperate. It’s very much like a dating profile or movie review – all trying to convince a person (the potential date, moviegoer, employer) to do something (date you, see a movie, hire you) while hitting home key points and not revealing too much too soon. Here are some unique tips on crafting the cover letter:
1. Use an unlikely anecdote to relay a skill in an interesting way
For an internship I did at Grub Street, Boston’s creative writing center, I wrote in my cover letter that my marketing experience at the time was informing and spreading awareness on drug abuse to incarcerated women at the Suffolk County Jail with nothing more than a trifold poster board and some pamphlets. I made a point that “knowing your audience” never rang more true. Even if you don’t have traditional training or expertise in a skill you can modify what you do have experience in to showcase the desired skill in a refreshing way.
2. Don’t address a person unless you’re sure that person will be the one reading it
Know whose hands your cover letter will end up in. Whether that’s the recruiter, human resources director, or the employer themselves, don’t throw any name in. It’s better to go with “Dear Hiring Manager” in that case.
3. Incorporate “you” more than “I”
Speak more on the company/organization or the job position than you do on yourself. Count the number of times you use “I” in your cover letter and cut those times by half. Make it about them – the reader will notice a different tone, a more likeable and considerate person rather than someone who is retelling their life story. Serve yourself to them on a silver platter – “If you believe my skills are a match for your position then you may contact me at …”
4. Don’t use a template; customize a cover letter for each unique position
There are so many cover letter templates on the Internet, but challenge yourself to write your own. The script is all the same and when you are using jargon or language you are not comfortable with it will show. Be conversationally professional. Be unforgettable in a good way.
5. Reuse strong verbs from the job description
Mirror the language use provided in the job description. If concrete verbs like “utilize” or “coordinate” is used repeat those in your letter. Subtle repetition shows you’re on the same page as the recruiter and makes you sound more like a peer rather than a candidate.
Angelica is a fourth-year nursing student with a minor in English hailing from New Jersey. She has studied or worked in all the major Boston hospitals. Angelica is also a columnist for The Huntington News and enjoys writing creative non-fiction.
Image source: Cat Typing