Cover letters are often the least favorite preparation part for job searching and applying. You may have your resume sleek and bullet-pointed perfectly, and you might feel confident about interviewing. But, for some, the cover letter feels like a tedious, time-consuming beast.

What makes a good cover letter? What do employers and hiring managers want to read in a cover letter? How can you make yourself stand out but not sound too self-promotional?

At One Tech Staffing, we hear you!

So, we compiled this list of helpful cover letter-writing suggestions that can make you pop on paper without too much agonizing on your part.

1. Deviate From Your Resume

Don’t restate what’s already listed on your resume! Resumes have their own rules and standards, so instead, use the space in a cover letter to expand on the details.

If you showed on your resume that you worked for a tech startup, use your cover letter to briefly explain a problem you solved while there. Or illustrate the more intangible aspects that make you right for the job, like how that leadership conference you listed on your resume taught you how to negotiate a big sales deal that brought in a 10% jump in revenue for your company.

If you’re switching careers and think your resume might not immediately show how qualified you are for a job, use the cover letter to quickly explain why you’re shifting careers and how your former experiences have prepared you for this new one.

2. Know to Whom You Should Address Your Letter

Try to avoid the dreaded “To Whom It May Concern” openings. Hiring managers always appreciate when a candidate has done their research and addressed their letter to them specifically.

Google search, check the company’s website, or ask a contact within the company to whom you can address your letter.

Or, if all else fails, you can even email the company and briefly explain that you’re applying to the company and wondering whom specifically to address the cover letter.

3. Open With a Memorable Line

We often want to start a cover letter with a line like, “My name is so-and-so, and I’m applying for Position X at Company Y.”

Scratch that. It’s a waste of space because a hiring manager should already know your name and what position you’re applying for from your application.

Plus, it’s a boring line!

Instead, open with something that sets you apart from other applicants, like providing a relevant anecdote, a quote that describes you as a professional, a personal tagline, or a personal mission statement.

4. Explain What Problem You Solve

What problem in the company would hiring you solve? That’s the essential question your cover letter should address.

If a company is hiring a new CAD designer, it suggests they want to improve their design to build productivity capabilities and seek more talent and fresh perspectives to make that happen. That’s the problem you can help them solve, so that’s what your cover letter should focus on.

What skills and talents do you have that this company could benefit from? Remember to keep the focus of your letter on how you can help the company.

While it’s tempting to write about what you love about the company or why you want to work there, zoom in on what you can give them that makes them better.

5. Focus On the Job Description

As you write and read through your cover letter, keep checking to ensure your writing pertains to the job description. Each sentence should show how you would solve a problem for the company or excel in this position.

If you catch yourself spiraling off on tangents, overexplaining an anecdote, or listing qualities that aren’t specific to the job, cut them out.

6. Mimic the Company’s Tone

Along with seeing how well you can perform on the job, hiring managers also use the cover letter to determine how well you understand and would fit into the company culture. And they figure this out through your tone.

The hiring manager may not see you as a good fit if your writing is formal and corporate-like while the company is more laid back and conversational. So, do your research.

Nowadays, it’s easy to learn the tone and vibe of a company by reading its website, checking out its social media presence, and looking up other online resources about them. Then match their tone in your cover letter.

7. Keep Your Anecdotes Short & Sweet

It’s a great idea to use anecdotes as examples of what you can provide a company or as references to how you problem-solve. However, make those little stories super short, like three sentences max.

Highlight a skill, describe how you used this skill, and explain what the skill offered a company or what it proves about your work ethic. That’s it.

8. Give Stats About Your Work

Numbers often look good and quickly prove your point. Use statistics to show off your accomplishments instead of vague arguments.

Instead of saying you were successful at engineering solutions for more farms to utilize solar power, write with numbers: “I developed a solar power infrastructure that allowed 35 farms in Minnesota to decrease their reliance on grid systems by 68%, which proves…”

Not only does this make your achievements stand out, but it makes hiring managers want to know more and can lead to a perfect follow-up interview question.

9. Avoid Soft Skills & Jargon

Vague professional-sounding phrases, like “team player,” “leader,” “self-motivated,” “people skills,” etc., aren’t memorable and won’t help you stand out. Either find unique language to describe your skills or add specific examples demonstrating your self-motivation.

10. Use Relevant Hyperlinks

Hyperlinking to an online portfolio of your work or a personal website can be a great way to showcase your skills and provide evidence of how your work has shaped former companies you’ve worked for. But limit how many hyperlinks you provide to no more than three, and make sure they are the most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Also, add context around the hyperlink so a hiring manager understands why you put it in your cover letter and makes them interested. For example, after mentioning an effective CAD design, add that the project can be found in your online portfolio and include a hyperlink.

11. Eliminate Emojis, Emoticons, Images, & Clipart

The title says it all. No matter how relaxed a company may seem, they still have professionalism. Keep images of yourself and your cute cat, funny emojis and emoticons, and random clipart from cluttering your otherwise streamlined cover letter.

12. Split Up Your Text

Paragraphs are your best friend in a cover letter. No hiring manager (or anyone, really) wants to read a wall of text with no paragraph breaks.

With some positions having many applicants, employers may not even read your letter or consider you if your text doesn’t look inviting.

You want to ensure your points and achievements are readable or even scannable quickly, so keep paragraphs to only three or four sentences.

13. Make It Short & Readable

Similar to splitting up your text to make it scannable, your whole cover letter should fit on one page. That’s it. Hiring managers will likely not flip the page or keep scrolling through a long letter, so keep it all to 300-350 words.

Also, one page of tiny 8-point font doesn’t count. Your font style and size should encourage someone to read your letter, not deter them.

Stick to legible fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Garamond, etc., and stay true to accepted font sizes.

14. Re-read & Edit

Always re-read and edit your cover letter, even multiple times. It’s tedious but crucial. Read it out loud and listen for clunkiness, bad grammar, typos, irrelevant tangents, and boring language.

Then have a friend, an associate, or someone you trust to read it, too. Even if you think it’s in perfect condition, another set of eyes will likely find one typo or suggest a more concise phrasing for one sentence that will make it fully pop.

Make Your Dream Job Your Real Job With One Tech

Cover letter writing doesn’t have to be agonizing when clinching your dream job. Write yours in no time and feel confident with One Tech Staffing’s tips and tricks! Our mission is to make you stand out as a job seeker and connect you with companies that can benefit from your talents.

Submit your resume to us today, and let us help make that dream job come to you. Or scroll through our job board to see who’s recruiting right now, and contact us when you see a position that’s just right for you!