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6 Tactics to Get Your Cover Letter Noticed

Cover letter and CV expert Martin John Yate has some advice on how to make your cover letter stand out from the other applications.

The cover letter sets the stage for the reader to accept your CV, and therefore you, as something and someone special. Cover letters are especially important for hiring managers, who use cover letters to help 'sell' candidates to their clients. 

With that in mind, here are 6 tactics to help you get your cover letter noticed: 

1. Address Your Target by Name

Your first step is to grab the reader’s attention and arouse interest. Approaching employers directly is one of the very best tactics for getting job offers. Whenever you can find the names of any one of the titles involved in the recruitment and selection cycle, approach them directly and address them by name.

2. Make Your Letter Readable

Your customer, the reader, is always going to be distracted, so your letters need to be easily readable, focused, clear and brief. Your letters should be succinct as well as both friendly and respectful; they should never be unfocused or pompous. Your cover letter should mirror the fonts and font sizes of your CV, giving you a coordinated and professional look. Hardly anyone in a position to hire you is still young enough to read 10-point fonts comfortably. I recommend a minimum of 11- or 12-point font sizes. Applying these rules is easy to do and yet easily overlooked; but paying attention to the details pays dividends in any job search.

3. Emphasize Your Personal Brand

All the job search letters you send- and yes, that includes every email- are part of the packaging that captures you. If your written words look good, carry a succinct, relevant, readily accessible message, and show you to be a professional with a clear sense of self, you’re well on the road to establishing a viable professional brand. When your actions differentiate you from others, your standing as a candidate is improved.

4. Continuity in Written Communication

To ensure continuity in written communications:

  1. Make the font you employ for contact information and headlines in both your CV and your cover letter the same
  2. Use the same font you choose for your CV’s body copy for the message in your letter
  3. Use the same font choices for all your email communications. Smart idea: set the chosen font as your default email font
  4. Make the font you use in your written communications consistent with the font you use in your email and other online communications
  5. Get matching paper for CV, cover letters and envelopes. Sending your cover letter and CV by traditional mail is a great way to get your CV read

5. Be Succinct and On-Message

Time is precious. Recruiters and managers won’t waste it on a letter that rambles. Your letter should always reflect a professional whose CV has something to say. The letter doesn’t sell everything about you; that’s the CV’s job. Rather, it positions you for serious conversation, demonstrating that you grasp what’s at the heart of the job, leaving your reader wanting more.

6. End With a Call to Action

Just as you worked to create a strong opening, make sure your closing carries the same conviction. It is the reader’s last personal impression of you, so make it strong, make it tight, and make it obvious that you are serious about entering into meaningful conversation. Your letters should always include a call to action. Explain when, where and how you can be contacted. You can also be proactive, telling the reader that you intend to follow up at a certain point in time if they have not contacted you.

Finally, send all the important communications twice- in both emails and traditional letters. If nothing more, your communications get read twice, which increases the odds of you being noticed.