How to Set Yourself Apart With Your Cover Letter

Cover letter

Do you include a cover letter when you send out a resume submission? There is much debate on the importance or relevance of cover letters. Some professionals believe they are vital, while others don’t bother to write them.

Cover letters increase a resume’s chance of receiving a Five Star rating by 29%.

Think of a cover letter as your opportunity to make a first impression on a recruiter or hiring manager. It can be a written introduction you use to set the stage explaining why you are an ideal candidate for a job.

After many people understand the value of a cover letter, a level of apprehension or anxiety can develop about knowing what to say in the document. How do you present yourself? What should the layout be? How long should the letter be? While there are many benefits to submitting a cover letter, sending in one that is riddled with errors and misspellings can do more harm than good. The best cover letters generally provide an overview of your background in one page. Knowing how to spruce up the document can help you be remembered. Here are some ways to set yourself apart with your cover letter!

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Customize it

A common mistake life science professionals make is to use one standard cover letter for all of their job applications. The key is to have one cover that you customize based on the position you are applying for. You should mention the specific job title and the name of the organization each at least once within the letter. This lets the reader know you cared enough to create something unique for them by putting in time and effort. If you’re applying for a job with a title that you’ve never held or in an industry you’ve never worked in, think about adding a sentence that explains your interest in the new area.

Make a connection to the organization / company

Another way of editing a cover letter so that it’s memorable includes making a connection to the organization. You can simply include a sentence or two about what you admire about the company. What is the organization known for nationally, regionally or in your city? Doing some research on the organization’s vision, mission and/or values can also be beneficial. Pointing out an alignment in your personal life with the company can help the hiring manager see you as a good cultural fit on their team.

Demonstrate your impact

It’s not enough to identify with the organization in your cover letter. While that’s a good start, which can put you ahead of other candidates, it doesn’t demonstrate what you have to offer. Mention three to four of your key accomplishments or top contributions in positions that translate to the job being applied for. If you can’t think of that many accomplishments, including examples of your transferrable skills (that you would use in the new role) is another compelling way to show your impact. What have you done in the past that would be pertinent to the targeted job?

Make it easy to scan

An unwritten rule in recruiting is that people are usually not reading your cover letter and resume word for word. They are generally glancing over the documents in about ten seconds or so. When many professionals learn this, they can become dejected and negative about putting a lot of time into the writing process. The secret is to provide a document that is easy to scan for important information and highlights your value. Often, if the reviewer finds interesting points when scanning they go back and read more of your cover letter. Utilizing a layout that includes bullet points and the proper spacing between paragraphs, assists in the readability of your letter.

Sending a cover letter with your resume can improve the odds of your submission being reviewed. To make sure you get noticed, customize your cover letter with the position you want and include the name of organization. Incorporating ways to make a solid connection to the company can also help you be remembered. Demonstrating your impact with bullet points of major contributions and achievements sets you apart from others. Finally, using a visual layout that is easy to scan for information is the best strategy to draw attention to certain areas. Based on what you’ve learned, what tweaks can you make to your cover letter?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. ( She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

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