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3 Ways to Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out

Even though you’re back at school and knee-deep in homework, clubs, parties and boys, it’s still important to stay ahead on job and internship applications, whether for this semester, next semester or for summer. While it may seem like there’s a specific formula for the perfect cover letter, when a hiring manager is on the fence between hiring two similar candidates, there are a few things will give you the edge in an applicant pool. Check out these tips if your cover letter needs a little spicing up!


1. Tell a Story

Josephine Yurcaba, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, interned at Condé Nast Traveler this past summer. Josephine said she used her strong writing skills to her advantage when putting together her cover letter for the internship application.

“I treated the letter like an article, and I wanted to pull the reader in,” Josephine says. “I opened with an anecdote on how I became familiar with the company (‘In the dead of a North Carolina summer during a two-hour horseback ride’), and then name-dropped the contact I have at the company. It used both my writing skills and the fact that I had networked, which is what you need to be successful in the current journalism world.”

Telling a story is not only creative and unique, but it puts more of a personality behind whatever candidate is just on paper. It could hook hiring managers enough to want to learn more about you, and maybe eventually hire you!

2. Tell The Employer What You Can Do for Them

A lot of people make the mistake of filling their cover letter with reasons why the job or internship would help them, give them valuable experience or give them a new knowledge base. But what employers prefer to hear is what you can give to them. They know their position will help you—that’s why you’re applying for it! Telling and showing potential employers what valuable experience or knowledge you could bring to them is much more what they’d like to hear, because they’re looking for how you would be a good asset to their company.

You can do this in a variety of ways, but a great way to do so is to share an anecdote of an experience you had or task you completed that pertained to their line of work. You can even include an experience you had in a unique club that you’re part of that could be applicable to working there.

3. Be Concise

Though it’s important to be creative with your cover letter, don’t let that prevent you from being succinct and to the point. No matter how interesting and creative your letter may be, employers won’t enjoy reading it if it drags on for longer than necessary.

Vicki Salemi, author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York and founder of the Boot Camp for College Grads, said it’s important to stay short and sweet with your cover letter.

“There’s no need to have a two-page cover letter or even one that is several paragraphs,” Salemi says. “Get to the point; be direct and straightforward. State who you are, what makes you unique (and distinctly you!) and why they should consider you.”

The important thing to remember is to keep your cover letter creative, but not too over the top. Anecdotes or details that stray too far from the point you’re trying to get across will make the cover letter — and you as a result — seem fluffy. Vicki Salemi says, “Grab the reader’s attention, but be short and sweet and to the point.”

After that, you’re golden! And once your cover letter is ready to go, check out these awesome NYC-based internships for the fall!

Gabriella (Gabbie) Cirelli is a first-year student at UNC Chapel Hill from Andover, Massachusetts. She is currently majoring in Journalism with a minor in French. She loves running, shopping, reading, writing, and travelling, and finding new blogs to follow. She hopes to study abroad in France during her time at UNC, as well as (hopefully) score tickets to a UNC- Duke basketball game!
Quinn Cohane is the Product Manager at Her Campus. She develops new features for Her Campus's web properties, including HerCampus.com, HerCampusMedia.com, HerConference.com, and CollegeFashionWeek.com, from initial conception to final installation. She collaborates with the Client Services team to implement custom landing pages, content hubs and sponsored content for client campaigns. Quinn also works closely with the Chapter Development team, training new team members on using Her Campus's content management system and leading the onboarding of new Campus Correspondents, national writers and bloggers, and national interns. Additionally, she oversees technical support for Her Campus and the uploading of national content. Quinn first joined the Her Campus team as a remote intern in February 2010; her past roles include Production Associate, Digital Media Manager, Chapter Advisor, and Study Abroad blogger during her semester in Copenhagen, Denmark. She graduated Cum Laude from Bowdoin College in 2013 as an English major and computer science minor. A native of Scarsdale, New York, Quinn enjoys attending theater and dance performances, traveling the world, reading, the beach, and apple crumb pie. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @quinncohane.