As you launch into the job application process, you’ll be besieged on all sides by well-meaning covering letter advice, most of which will probably sound the same. No matter what industry or position level you’re pursuing, of course you’ll need proper spelling. And you’ll want to avoid insulting your reader or drafting your letting in crayon. But since your competitors are likely to follow these same general guidelines, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for details that can actually help you stay a step ahead, not just keep you in the running. Here are a few tips that can provide your letter with a little extra touch of class.
- Rack your brain for contacts and connections. Before you write, especially if you know the exact name of the person who will be reading your letter, think carefully about what you and this person may have in common. Did you attend the same university or work for the same company at some point in the past? You don’t have to discuss these details directly or state them outright in the letter, but it’s a good idea to know about them before you begin to write.
- Think carefully about the kind of person your reader will be looking for. Visit the company website and get a feel for the culture of this workplace. Do these employers present themselves as fun and innovative, traditional, bold risk takers, or leaders in the field? Think about how their established tone fits with your credentials and your message.
- Be human. Throughout your letter, remember to stay focused on what these employers are looking for, not what you need…but what you need is still important. And allowing your passions and personal goals to work their way into your self-description won’t hurt you as long as you stay awake to the context. If you were introduced to this field by your grandfather when you were a child, or a fascinating conversation in a classroom ten years ago, it won’t hurt to share this. Stay on message and don’t ramble, but let employers know something about who you are.