Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Work

How To Make Your Cover Letter Pop

So, you’ve found your dream job listing; you meet all the qualifications, your resume is updated, the formatting is impeccable, and you’re ready to hit the “apply” button when you see it… the company wants you to submit a cover letter. While it may seem stressful, don’t fret—this is just another opportunity for your application to stand out from the rest. Here are eight do’s and don’ts of cover letter writing that will make your cover letter pop!

Do:

Research the Company to Which You’re Applying

It’s super important to research the company you are applying to before writing a cover letter. While it’s always a good idea to tailor your resume to the type of jobs you’re applying for, your cover letter should be even more personalized than that. Instead of writing about every skill you have, try focusing on a few that the company mentions in its job listing. Honing in like this will allow you to go more in-depth when covering these skills and appeal to the recruiter. It will also show the recruiter that you not only thoroughly read the job listing but understand what it will take to work in this position and for this company. 

Follow Letter Etiquette 

A cover letter is just that: a letter, and it’s important to format it as such. In the top left of the page, include the full date written out, the snail mail address of the person to whom the letter is being sent beneath the date, and then beneath that, address the receiver by writing the traditional “Dear XXXX.” You should also end the letter with a sign-off by writing “Sincerely, Y/N.” If you’re unsure how to properly format a letter, a quick Google image search can help you out. 

Keep It to One Page 

Though it may be tempting to go on and on about your skills and qualifications, keep your cover letter to one page. If you don’t think everything will fit on one page, write what you want and then start cutting things out until it does. This will help you get to the heart of what’s essential for the recruiter to know about you at this stage of the application process. Remember, you want to provide just enough information to paint a picture of who you are and what you can bring to the company; if the recruiter thinks you’re a good fit, you can share more later on in an interview. 

Have Someone Else Look It Over

This goes for any document you write, but definitely have someone you trust look over your cover letter before you send it out. Ideally, this person will pay attention to small details and have experience successfully writing cover letters. You never know if that typo will cause your cover letter to be pushed to the wayside and someone else may help you spot those little mistakes. It’s also helpful to get a different perspective; that paragraph you thought made perfect sense might actually need a little tweaking. If you don’t personally know someone you trust to give you solid feedback on your cover letter, you can always make an appointment to take it to the career services center on campus.

Don’t:

Put in a Title

As I mentioned before, a cover letter is a letter, and letters don’t have titles. While it may be tempting to put one at the top of the page, refraining from doing so will help you keep a knowledgeable and professional image. Instead, just dive right into an introduction of you and your skills.

Use Too Many Buzzwords

While including buzzwords from the original job listing in your cover letter can be helpful, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Pick a few strong words from the job listing to include in your cover letter, but only if it feels authentic to you and your skill set. A recruiter will be able to spot your phoniness from a mile away if you’re only using buzzwords to butter them up. Instead, use some of those buzzwords as launching points to showcase your skills. 

Repeat Information From Your Resume

You’ll likely be sending your resume and cover letter to a recruiter at the same time and there’s no sense in saying the same things twice. Rather than simply repeating what you put on your resume, use the cover letter to explain and expand on information from your resume and to let a bit of your professional personality shine through. 

Tell the Recruiter Your Skills

This may sound counter-intuitive, but try not to tell the recruiter your skills in your cover letter… instead, show them! The age-old writing advice “show, don’t tell” is especially important when writing a cover letter. For example, instead of writing “I am adept at organizing events,” try something along the lines of “In the fall of 2022 I organized a charity fundraiser and successfully raised $5,000 for XXXX charity.” The latter is much more compelling and proves your point without the recruiter being expected to take your word for it. 

Writing a cover letter doesn’t have to be scary. Try to think of your cover letter as an extra opportunity to make your application stand out from the slush pile. I hope these tips help prepare you to write more successful cover letters and achieve all your career goals!

Emily is a graduate student at UCF earning her MFA in poetry. She has lived in Orlando, Florida for the past 3 years with her partner and cat. When not writing or editing, she can be found playing the Sims and eating frozen pizza.