3 steps to make your cover letter stand out and land you a job

3 steps to make your cover letter stand out and land you a job

Make no mistake, a cover letter can make or break a successful job application. Yes, some hiring mangers go straight to the CV and don’t take the time to read the cover letter, but what most hiring managers seem to agree is that they do not value cover letters like this…


To whom it may concern,
I am applying for the role of… as I feel I have the skills you are looking for.
Please see my CV enclosed/attached.
I look forward to hearing from you
Mrs. A Bateman

A cover letter is an opportunity to connect with a human being. Yeah, I said it! A human being. Not an email address or an avatar on LinkedIn or Twitter. A human being. A hiring manger is someone’s mum, dad, brother, sister. They have feelings and emotions and have been in your shoes themselves in the past. Too many job seekers forget this during their job search. It is fantastic opportunity to connect with them on an emotive level. If you are not sure what I mean have a think about this.

Have you ever met someone who just talks AT you about themselves? You stand there politely listening, smiling and wondering when they are going to show any interest in you… even the smallest amount. They continue dominating the conversation by telling you how fabulous they are and you desperately make your excuse to get as far away from them as possible. I occasionally meet people like this socially and in business. I once came out of a networking event with nineteen business cards, yet I had only given out twelve. That means seven people gave me their card, but didn’t ask for mine in return. This still happens on occasion. I don’t warm to people like this, I don’t connect with them via social media and I bin their card at the first opportunity.

‘If we want someone to be genuinely interested in us, we have to show we are genuinely interested in them’.

In order to make sure your cover letter is exceptional and build rapport instantly with a stranger, I would advise you follow these steps:

1. Tell them why you picked them

Remember you are at a party and you don’t want to be the guy talking about yourself. Show you are interested in them first. No employer wants to feel like you have sent off 50 applications, hoping something sticks (even if that is the case). Don’t pick something from their website and just repeat their mission statements or values. You don’t need to tell them about their business. They work there. They know about their business. Talk about something you particularly love about their culture, services etc… and tell them why. Not just what — why. Maybe you have had an experience as a customer or supplier. Be creative, but most importantly be emotive and keep it real.

I have never met a hiring manager or business owner who doesn’t enjoy being flattered, as long as it is coming from a genuine place of substance.

2. Tell them why they should pick you

Now you can tell them why they should pick you, but only after you have told them why you picked them.

Don’t just tell them you are suitable; tell them why you are suitable and maybe add a short quote from a referee. I graduated with a marketing degree and studied purchasing behaviour. I learned how advertisers and marketers use positive customer experiences to sell products/services. When I joined the recruitment world as a graduate, I understood very quickly that recruitment is a sales process. One person (whether it be the job seeker or the employer) is buying the other.

We have these ‘positive customer experiences’ and they are called references, but are used at the end of the sale process!?! It isn’t such a concern now we have the recommendations tool on LinkedIn, but I still don’t think job seekers push their recommendations enough. Your references and testimonials are your greatest sales tool, so use them and input a quote from the best one.

3. Tell them how much you want it

I hear people every week tell me how disappointed they are following an unsuccessful application. They tell me how much they really wanted that job, but when I read their cover letter there is nothing to suggest that is the case.

We often want to give the opportunity to the person who wants it the most. The person who will own it the most. The person who will work hard and remain loyal through the good and the bad times. Not necessarily the most experienced guy, because he may have failed to convince us he wanted it and will probably be looking over our shoulder constantly for the next big pay-check. The person with the most relevant experience doesn’t always get the job on that exclusively.

I know building rapport over an email isn’t easy, I’ve worked in sales long enough to know that, but as always I’m sending tons of lovely thoughts with this article and I hope it adds value.

More reading:

5 tips to polish and proofread your CV
Why does job hunting strike fear into the heart of even the bravest hunters?
Job seekers: How do you stand out from the crowd?
How to stay positive during your job search


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