Study Abroad Corner

Cover Letter 101: How to have a stand out cover letter?


In my previous posts, I already covered how to have a stand out resume. You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE. This post is dedicated on how to have a stand out cover letter.

While your resume acts as a summary of your education, experience and accomplishments, your cover letter highlights 1 or 2 particular experiences and accomplishments that relate to the position that you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, discuss your prior experience in the marketing field and the contributions that you made in your cover letter. If you’re applying for a management position, write about your experience managing a team, the skills that you learned and the challenges that you faced. Your cover letter should be able to convince recruiters that you’re a qualified and competent candidate. Having a stand out resume and cover letter will get you to the next step: the interview round.

Sample cover letter

Source: Hue La

What to include in a cover letter?

  1. Your name and address – Remember to match it with the format of your resume
  2. The date that the cover letter is written
  3. The name and company address of the person your cover letter is for – If the name is unknown, use Recruiter or Hiring Manager
  4. Introduction: State the position that you’re interested in, where you heard about the opportunity and briefly introduce yourself (usually your year and major)
  5. 1-2 short paragraphs on your experience, what you’ve accomplishments, what have you learned, how do they relate to the position that you’re applying to, and how you can help the company
  6. Conclusion: Summarize your qualifications and restate your interest in the position

Tips on how to have a stand out cover letter

  1. Use consistent font and format for both your resume and cover letter.
  2. Find out the name of the recruiter that you’re writing to. If the recruiter’s name is unknown, address it to “Recruiter” or “Hiring Manager.”
  3. Don’t use bullet points. A cover letter is supposed to be in paragraphs format.
  4. Don’t make your cover letter too long, keep it to 1 page maximum. Your cover letter should have only have 3-4 paragraphs, each with 4-5 sentences. It should be concise, clear, and convincing.
  5. Only focus on highlighting 1-2 experiences and the impacts that you’ve made. Don’t just list all your experiences and accomplishments since you already did that in your resume. Don’t copy exactly what you stated in your resume but instead elaborate on your experiences.
  6. Read the job description for the position that you’re applying to and make sure that your cover letter covers aspects of it. Use similar adjectives and verbs from the job description in your cover letter to highlight your skills and accomplishments.
  7. Sell yourself and make yourself stand out! What did you accomplish? What did you learn? How will you contribute your skills and knowledge to the company that you’re interested in? Why should recruiters hire you? Recruiters want to know these important factors. Save discussing how the position and the company that you’re applying to can help you grow for the interview. Instead, focus on explaining how YOU can help the company. Recruiters will pay more attention to a cover letter that explains how the applicant can help them rather than a cover letter that states how the company can help the applicant.
  8. Proofread, proofread, proofread! Ask your friends, professors and career counselors to help you proofread your cover letter and provide feedback.
  9. Make sure that your cover letter is free from spelling and grammar errors and slang words. Spell check in Word is a very useful function, but don’t just rely on it. Actually go back and read the cover letter out loud. The spell check function can help discover words that are spelled incorrectly, but it can’t really identify grammar errors (e.g. their skills vs. there skills, the market size vs. the marker size).
  10. Be sincere and show your interest and enthusiasm for the job.
  11. Always submit your resume as a PDF file instead of a Word file to prevent your format from being messed up.

Hope these tips help! Good luck with your cover letter!
For tips on how to have a stand out resume, click HERE. For tips on how to ace an interview, click HERE.

COMMENT BELOW! if you have any questions or additional tips to have a stand out cover letter!

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Hue La

About Hue La

Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.

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