I saw this article in Fast Company that offered a comical look at the process (we can all use a laugh during the job search!). A few things that stuck out to me are:
1. “Don’t play Mad Libs. If you found a cover letter template online, odds are, so did a half million other people. Ditch the fill-in-the-blank format and tell your own story, in a way that only you can. You’ll stand out, if for no other reason than your letter isn’t completely cookie-cutter.”
I couldn’t agree more. This is a way to let your personality shine through. So do it and catch their attention with your own voice – in a professional and unique way.
2. Make yourself real. Add an anecdote about yourself that relates to the job or the company. In a few sentences you can make an impression and be memorable.
From my own experience I would add these as well:
3. When at all possible try to find a name of someone to send it to, look on LinkedIn for the Director of HR, or other higher up person in HR. Or the manager of the department you are aiming for if that is known. It just separates you from others.
4. I have always preferred when people send cover letters to me and add bullet points in the middle with specific reasons they are a fit for the job I posted. Keep it concise and targeted to the job and how you can help them.
5. You shared with the reader the skills you have, but perhaps in one sentence or bullet point specifically spell out what that knowledge/skill set will mean for them (i.e. since I know this I can save you this, or make you this, or increase profit x% etc.).
Those are the items that get my attention!
Bonus tip: Read it aloud to see how it sounds and if it flows. Plus, have someone else take a look at it for errors. You have probably memorized it at this point and might not catch an error.
.: Matt, Archer Executive Search Group