3 tips for writing a cover letter that stands out

(Copyright 2010 Sasaha Bell/Getty Images/Flickr RF)

(Copyright 2010 Sasaha Bell/Getty Images/Flickr RF)

The San Francisco Bay Area job market is one of the most competitive in the country. It houses some of the world’s biggest names in technology and attracts applicants from around the globe. Aside from having a strong resume, job seekers need to make their cover letters shine. Here are three tips that will help your cover letter stand out from the pack.

Be specific
Don’t address the cover letter to: To Whom It May Concern, sir, madam, hiring manager, or recruiter; doing so tells the person screening for the position that you didn’t take the time to properly address the letter. In many cases, the person handling the recruiting is listed on the job announcement. And if the name is not listed, look it up on the web or call the company to get it. LinkedIn is also a good way to get a contact name for a cover letter. It may take a few extra steps to find out who the hiring manager is for a specific opening, but doing so will give your letter a nice strong start.

Limit recycling
It’s perfectly fine to reuse excerpts from previous cover letters—especially if a certain letter helped you get a job. However, ensure that at least 50 percent of the content is new. Each job application is unique and cover letters need to be customized as much as possible. The section to draw out in a cover letter is how the skills you are currently using at your most recent job could be put to use in the role you are applying for.

Brevity is beautiful
Cover letters do not need to be long. In fact, the more concise, the better. A good range is anywhere between 150-200 words. The goal of a cover letter is not only to highlight items from your resume, but to also express ideas and feelings that are not part of a traditional resume.

Cover letters are an introduction and making them as polished as possible will give you a great head start.

Belo Cipriani is an award-winning author, former staffing professional, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University. Learn more at BeloCipriani.com.

Belo Cipriani