How To Sell Yourself In A Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Feb. 23, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

When sending in a job application, cover letters are your chance to show off your personality and why you’re a great fit for the position. It can be difficult to strike a good balance between talking about your qualifications and adding some personality and flavor to your cover letter.

Making sure your cover letter shines is a great way to make your job application stand out and get noticed by hiring managers. So many of the cover letters and applications that pass through hiring teams are bland, so taking the time to perfect your cover letter can really impress hiring teams.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of cover letters, why they’re important, a few tips for making sure your cover letter stands out, and a sample cover letter. Keep reading and you’ll be ready to send in the most impressive cover letter.

What Is a Cover Letter?

Cover letters are a chance for you to explain your skills, experience, qualifications, and culture fit a little more in-depth than you can in a resume or job application form. Employers typically ask for you to submit a resume and a cover letter, plus answer a few questions relevant to the position when you apply for a job.

Cover letters aren’t always required, but it’s always a good idea to send one in as long as the job posting doesn’t explicitly state to not submit cover letters.

The letter should follow a standard professional letter format with a header and a sign-off, but other than that you can include whatever you think is appropriate.

Most people start with a short intro about themselves and why they’re applying to the job, then the body is mostly about how they’ve used the skills listed on their resume in previous experiences.

The most important part about a cover letter is that it gives you space to communicate whatever you think recruiters and hiring managers have to hear about you.

If you’re extremely passionate about the company’s cause or think that your professional experience fits the job description perfectly, you need to communicate that in your cover letter.

Resumes are great for a quick snapshot of your skills and experience, but cover letters let you dive deeper and share things that aren’t on your resume.

Why Are Cover Letters Important?

Cover letters are an important way to highlight how your unique blend of experience and skills matches the job description’s requirements.

There’s an idea that cover letters are useless, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, most people don’t take advantage of cover letters and just repeat what’s already written on their resumes or in their job applications.

In these cases, cover letters aren’t being used to their full potential and can be seen as redundant.

To really get the most out of your cover letter, you need to include experiences that aren’t on your resume or explain your work history, plus add a little bit of personality.

Since cover letters are more open-ended than resumes, you get a unique opportunity to really sell yourself to an employer. They can be especially helpful if employers don’t require you to fill out questions when submitting your application.

Cover letters are also a chance to show off your personality and help the employer determine if there’s a culture fit. These days, companies look for new hires who will not only contribute their skills to advance company goals, but also help them create a welcoming and vibrant company culture.

Finding ways to include personality in your cover letter can help you stand out and prove that you’d be a great culture fit.

Tips for Writing a Winning Cover Letter

While there’s no sure-fire formula for writing a winning cover letter, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your letter stands out. Here are a few tips to help you get noticed and write the perfect cover letter every time:

  • Switch it up. When you apply for a new job, you should write a new cover letter. Not every job description and company is the same, so it’s best to edit your cover letter to specifically address each job posting and company.

    Tailor the experiences you talk about to the job description and make sure you sell yourself for that specific job and company.

  • Focus on the opening. Cover letters are often dull, so to really put your best foot forward you should make the opening extra interesting.

    If you can pull your reader in from the beginning, you can make a great impression. If you want to make your opening extra attention-grabbing you can start by:

    • Showing off your passions

    • Connecting with the company

    • Telling a story

    • Writing a belief statement

    • Highlight a mutual connection

    • List your accomplishments

  • Avoid rewriting your resume. Cover letters get a bad rap since they often repeat what’s already written on a resume. While you can’t avoid repeating some things on the two documents, it’s a good idea to make them pretty separate.

    Use the opportunity to spice up what’s on your resume and go in-depth about your responsibilities at a previous job or talk about how you ended up in the industry.

  • Keep it positive. You should always have a positive tone and show that you love what you do. Talk about your favorite professional experiences or what you loved doing in past jobs.

    Being able to show passion for your field will help you get noticed and make a good impression.

  • Make it personal. If you can find the name of the hiring manager, you should personally address them in the salutation.

    Start your letter off with “Dear [hiring manager],” so you can show that you did your research and you’re more engaged than the average applicant.

  • Talk about potential deal-breakers. Sometimes you might have something on your resume that would give an employer pause, so cover letters are the perfect time to try and calm their worries.

    If you have gaps in your work history or anything that might make you a less-than-ideal candidate, you can talk about what happened and convince them that it won’t be an issue.

  • Leave your education behind. If you’re a few years out of school and you have your education history on your resume, you don’t have to detail your education. Only bring up your college or advanced degrees if it’s particularly relevant to the job.

  • Go short and sweet. You might think that the more you can pack into your cover letter, the more impressive it will be, but you should go for short and sweet.

    This way, you can show the most important parts of yourself and show employers that you know how to be concise.

  • Find job keywords. Job postings usually use certain keywords that are related to the skills employers are looking for and the responsibilities that they’re looking for someone to fill.

    Adding some of these keywords to your cover letter and talking about how you demonstrate them is a great way to align yourself with the job description and impress hiring managers.

  • Highlight what you can do for the company. Often people write cover letters to express why the company is the best fit or what the company can do for them. Instead, you should focus on what skills and expertise you can bring to the company.

    Find ways to make yourself invaluable to the company and sell them in your cover letter.

  • Pick the most relevant examples. Cover letters can get lengthy when you try to include everything that might be useful for a hiring manager to know. Instead, focus on what’s most relevant to the job description and the industry of the company.

  • Bring out stats. Whenever you can use numbers and stats, you have a chance to impress hiring managers. Instead of explaining that you boosted sales, find a number that expresses that better, like “increased sales by 125%” to give proof.

Sample Cover Letter

We’re going to show you a sample cover letter that will stand out from the rest of the applicants’ letters. You can use this as a starting point to make your cover letter the best it can be.

Dear Mrs. Smith,

As soon as I learned that ABC Tech was hiring, I knew that I had to apply. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved working with computers. That has followed me into my professional life and I am passionate about connecting people with their perfect device, starting with my first job at ABC Tech’s New York City location as a sales associate.

My extensive history in sales for tech companies uniquely positions me to excel with ABC Tech. I have worked in consumer-facing tech sales since 2009 and have worked in managerial positions since 2016. My first job was with ABC Tech and I understand the catalog extensively after working with you and keeping up with your new product releases.

In response to the responsibilities that were listed on the job description, I have:

  • Experience in customer-facing sales positions

  • Experience with customer service

  • Managerial skills

  • A proven record of exceeding sales goals

  • Award-winning leadership skills

I am eager to hear back from you. If you have any questions about my skills or qualifications, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.

Sincerely,
David Baum

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

Find The Best Job That Fits Your Career

Major Survey Entry Point Icon

Where do you want to work?

Related posts