The Resume

Stand Out: Create a Tailored Cover Letter

For a job seeker, every moment is valuable. It is tough to move past the reality that a job application can take up to two hours to complete, and there is only a slim chance that the organization will follow up with you.  It is a frustrating experience that happens all too often — and sparks the question what can I do to make my cover letter and resumé stand out?

“Standing out” boils down to a well-articulated message coupled with a professional and enthusiastic tone.  You are not going to get this through a free, downloaded template. The impact will only be successfully made if the cover letter is personal and tailored to the position you are applying for.

The next time you apply for a position, consider writing your cover letter first.  Some people complete the application first, then write their cover letter and refresh their resumé. This is because uploading the cover letter and resumé tend to be the last step in the application process. Instead, consider capitalizing on your enthusiasm for the position and compose your cover letter first.

When writing in the moment, you will notice that your first couple of drafts are lengthy and overflowing with excitement and solid reasons for why you are the best candidate.  Allow yourself to ramble for a bit.

When you feel like you have captured all of your qualifications for the position, go back and fine-tune your work. Be sure to connect three qualities/skills that you have to three requirements listed in the job posting.  As you move through the editing process you will find yourself trading in generic phrases for real, demonstrated work experiences. For example, “implemented projects” changes to “was a member of the Oracle implementation team”. Also, overused phrases like “highly organized” and “attention to detail” become obsolete as they are implied in your writing.

By developing a tailored cover letter, you will stand apart from other candidates as your letter will be personal — and by completing it first, will ensure that you capture your natural excitement for the position. Rely on your words to stand out, and be sure to proofread, proofread, proofread.

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