What makes creating an attention-grabbing cover letter challenging is that you have to do it in style while staying within the bounds of formality, professionalism, and all the conventions of cover letter writing.
In this article, you’ll find seven practical tips for creating an attention-grabbing cover letter. By applying these tips, you’ll be able to craft a professional and engaging cover letter.
1. Write a compelling introduction
Your cover letter’s first sentence is your opportunity to make a good first impression and state that you’re interested in the job opening.
It’s also your first chance to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to keep reading.
The tired and overused introduction, “I am applying for the position for XYZ,” won’t impress employers.
Your opening statement should do three things:
- Show your interest in the role
- Show you have what it takes to perform in the role
- And show it in style
In the above example, the opener offers a kick: “I am here.” The phrase is rarely used when starting a cover letter, but it still sounds professional and engaging.
Also, the candidate describes their expertise as “seasoned,” which indicates proficiency, and the number of years of experience backs up this statement with proof. This cover letter opening is sure to impress readers and force them to read on.
2. Use tasteful humor in your cover letter
A touch of humor on your cover letter helps to make it stand out because it draws the reader’s interest and enables your personality to show through. Additionally, readers will remember your engaging humor amid the dozens of other applicants.
What if your sense of humor doesn’t come out naturally? No problem! After you’ve completed your letter, look back over each part of your cover letter and brainstorm ways of adding humor.
Is there an opportunity in your opening or ending statement, or perhaps in the way you describe one of your accomplishments?
Here’s an example:
I increased our social media followers by 10,000% (a less impressive number when you originally only have 120 followers).
This example achievement proves social media proficiency while providing information on the context. It also shows the candidate is grounded in reality. Most importantly, it offers a humorous element.
3. Find the addressee’s name
Scourge the earth if you have to, but you must find out the name of a person to address your cover letter to.
Start with the job posting. Job ads often give you the name and email of the person responsible for handling incoming job applications.
If not, go through the company website and its LinkedIn page. Search for the team members of the department you’re applying for. Find out the name of the department head if you can’t find the hiring manager.
If nothing pans out, if you know anyone at the company, they might be able to help you with the information. If you come up empty, reach out to people at the organization on LinkedIn and form new connections to get that information.
If all else fails, call the HR department and politely ask for the name of the hiring manager. If you can’t get the contact details from HR, call the company’s customer service department.
4. Do your research about the company
The more you know about the company, the more information you can use to make your cover letter targeted and personalized.
You’ll also get some good material for adding humor to your letter. Maybe the company or department names their employee of the month “Ninja of the Month.” With that, you have valuable information to personalize your cover letter and add a bit of humor to it.
You could add something like this to the opening sentence of your cover letter:
If you’re searching for your next Ninja of the Month, look no further.
Another benefit of thorough company research is that you might be able to find out recent challenges the company is facing, which you could solve with your skills, particularly if you have similar experience. Mention these experiences in your cover letter to boost your chances of landing the job.
5. Demonstrate your confidence
Confidence in a cover letter is like salt and pepper in a dish; those simple flavors make most of the magic happen. Add the right balance of salt and pepper, and you have the perfect dish!
You need an ideal balance of confident words and phrases in your cover letter. For example, use plenty of action verbs. Start your accomplishment statements with strong action verbs such as “developed,” “created,” “carried out,” “transformed,” and “performed.”
Also, quantify your past accomplishments. Hard numbers make your cover letter achievements pop out and make you appear more confident.
Here’s an example of a quantified bullet point:
6. Keep it concise
Brevity and precision make for a powerful cover letter. Dive right into the crux of the matter, referring to your interest in the job.
The second paragraph should conclusively show why you’re the right fit for the job without adding irrelevant details. Use your most significant experience, skills, and accomplishments to make your point.
After the second paragraph, add a bullet list of your targeted accomplishments with hard numbers. Choose ones that resonate closely with the tasks you will perform at the prospective job.
Last, when the hiring manager is considering calling you for an interview, make it easier for them by including an impressive call to action.
How should you make a call to action attention grabbing? By adding humor or personalized details.
For example, you might write this:
It’d be great to share with you my plan for solving the problem that you’re facing for moving your legacy system to the cloud. And, just so you know, I’m not afraid of heights!
7. Use a striking cover letter template
It’s helpful to start with a cover letter template. Only after you have gained a sufficient amount of experience creating cover letters will you feel comfortable with creating cover letters from scratch.
It’s advisable that you browse the large selection of cover letter templates available online and choose the one that fits your needs.
Be mindful of the impression you want to make with your cover letter’s appearance. Also, keep in mind industry nuances. Some industries and professions are more formal than others. A colorful cover letter template isn’t a suitable option for a senior accountant role.
Another widely accepted practice across industries is using the same style and format for both the resume and cover letter.