You’re done with classwork, but now you have another challenge—getting a job. Once again, it’s probably a first—and you thought you were done with those. You may have had jobs before, but this time you are looking for a professional job that may start you on your life’s career. Your job application has to be very good, and that includes writing a stand out cover letter, your first impression.
Certainly you can look at cover letter formats and follow them to a tee. But, if you write according to formula and you make it very correct, your cover letter has the chance of ending up like so many others, maybe even forgettable. That won’t land you an interview.
Rather you want to stand out. Here is some advice for being a bit different.
Add personality – Perhaps you could be light in tone, with a bit of humor—just a touch, or refer to an anecdote. Tone might sound a little like this: Although this is a bit scary, asking for my first professional job, I am excited to be venturing into new possibilities. And, an anecdote might emphasize an experience you had: My first job, as you will see, was camp counselor. That was a job that tested me. I found it hard to chase after 25 kids under 12, but it taught be how to multi-task and organize ahead of time before disaster at the diving deck.
Highlight your abilities, with a twist – Maybe you are a person who pays attention to detail. Let them know through exposing a hobby: One of my skills is following the details of things. I love to cook; it’s a hobby, but it is a pleasure not only for the food but also for the exactitude of measurements and timing.
Tailor your personality, skills and experience to the job – One cover letter should never do. Always research the job you are applying to and make sure you try to discover what type of person with what skills are needed to fit the job. Then make the cover letter you write relevant. If you should not be a bean counter for this job, perhaps your cooking story will be about how you throw out the recipe by times and experiment, showing how creative you can be. Or, the anecdote you share about your past experience may not be about that first camp counseling stint but about your last job where you learned how to increase the Facebook presence for a company.
However, never stand out in a bad way – Don’t overdo, don’t make it too friendly—as you can assume nothing about a reader you have never met–, don’t go on about yourself but about how you are a good candidate for this job, and don’t be incorrect. Always spell check, and use good grammar and proper punctuation. Then proofread it again.
Good luck. Sell yourself in all good ways, but don’t forget to show a little of you as a person, and make yourself distinct.