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The Cover Letter: Tips to Make You Stand Out (In a Good Way)

The Cover Letter: Tips to Make You Stand Out (In a Good Way)

By Anindita Basu Sempere

With a few mouse clicks, it’s easy to send dozens of job applications at a time. Of course this means recruiters and hiring managers will receive dozens, if not hundreds, of responses to every listed position. First impressions matter more than ever, and your written application is your chance to make a good one.

As the director of a tutoring company, Anindita Basu Sempere has read thousands of cover letters and resumes. The applications that stand out demonstrate the candidate’s attention to detail, professionalism and research.

The following tips will help you do the same:

Follow instructions to the letter. If a resume and cover letter are requested, send exactly that, no more and no less. Hiring managers are looking for potential employees, and demonstrating your ability to follow basic instructions helps.

• Address your cover letter in a way that is either gender-neutral or gender-inclusive. “Dear Sir” is not acceptable today given that two-thirds of Human Resources professionals are women.

• Use your cover letter to show you have done your research. While you may be applying to multiple positions and have the same general description of your background and experience, you should include a few sentences about the company and why your experience fits that specific position.

• Follow the conventions of standard written English. Be creative in creative work, not in a professional exchange.

• If your resume includes an objective, make sure the objective matches the position.

Pay attention to filenames, especially if you have multiple versions of cover letters and resumes. In most cases you’re applying online, and hiring managers will notice attachment names.

Read your cover letter aloud or use your computer’s voice over mode to read it to you. Spell check will not catch all errors, and if you’ve been revising or reworking a letter, you’ll begin to gloss over what’s actually there and substitute what should be there.

Anindita Basu Sempere is the Executive Director of The Writing Faculty, an online tutoring and eLearning company offering expert writing instruction to students of all ages.

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