A resume is formulaic-you have your GPA, extracurricular activities, internship experience, etc. - easy enough. But, what about your cover letter? This is the opportunity to show your creativity, personality (and perhaps make up for a mediocre resume). We at CM went into the job market to see what real employers looked for in a cover letter.
“We get tons of applications every year and oftentimes, the resumes we get are very similar. The management doesn’t have time to offer 100 candidates a spot for an interview, so we use the cover letters to narrow down the applicants. What I look for primarily is passion. If I don’t get the impression that you are excited about life and your work, I don’t want to hire you. Our business is about customers feeling like they are being taken care of, not being sold a service that they don’t really want. Passion is what makes us successful.”
Stacie R. > Regional Corporate Manager > Enterprise Car Rentals
Another thing to consider is expanding on some of the accomplishments you feel were not expounded upon in your resume.
“A lot of times I just don’t understand some of the things people have on their resume. They put on these acronyms and job titles as if I am supposed to know what those mean. I went to a great school, but I didn’t go to your school. It’d help if potential employees went into some detail about the highlights of their resume to give me more of a reason to want to hire them.”
Dick S. > Owner> Pacific Coast Imports
One final approach to making your cover letter stand out is to think outside the box. Depending on the industry, some HR representatives might find it refreshing to read a letter than isn’t stale and overly formal like a standard-format cover letter might appear to some.
“Most of the time, I hate reading resumes and cover letters. They’re usually not stimulating and seem contrived, as if I am going to be impressed that you have had an internship in banking since you were a freshman in college. Sure, that might prepare you for the work we are going to ask you to do, but chances are you won’t be someone I particularly want to work with. Show some personality. A guy I hired last summer ended his internship early and was a lifeguard for the second half of summer. That totally blew me away. He seemed fun and energetic, still serious about his career but open to taking risks. That’s the type of person I enjoy working with. And the cover letter is where you can demonstrate those qualities about yourself. “
Monica. G > Associate Portfolio Manager > JP Morgan
These are few tips for delving into creating a cover letter. If you can’t think of anything right off the bat, begin by explaining what you think is best about your resume, making sure to clarify anything that wouldn’t seem obvious to a stranger. Then consider what makes you stand out as a person, maybe touching on an experience you had that shows an admirable quality of yours. And at the very end, re-read your cover letter and think to yourself “Do I sound like a unique, fun and passionate potential employee?” Then adjust your letter accordingly. A polished letter will do wonders for your application overall, which will take you one step forward to landing your dream job.