Updated: Apr 30, 2019
There’s plenty of advice out there on how to write a professional cover letter to make the best impression. But sometimes it comes across as overly formal and impersonal. You don’t want to be too casual but adding a touch of your personality can make you stand out in a competitive
Two ways to make your cover letter sound more human and allow your best personal qualities to shine through:
1. Use a confident, conversational tone
Have you noticed that cover letter templates are often weirdly formal? When would you ever say, “To Whom It May Concern” or “It would be my pleasure to meet with you at your earliest convenience.” Pretty much never, right?
Hiring managers are human. They have a lot of power over you at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you should speak to them like you’re an 18th century servant. Their goal is to find a new colleague who will fit into their company culture. Give them a true impression of what they can expect, right from the cover letter.
Let’s look at a typical cover letter introduction and then an alternative.
Please accept my application for the position of Sales Coordinator. As requested in the job posting, I’ve summarized some of the experience and accomplishments below that would make me an excellent fit for the position.
As an avid baseball fan and college softball player, I was thrilled to see a Sales Coordinator position open up at the Lexington Legends. Here are a few of the reasons why I’d be a great addition to
In the second example, it feels more like you’re talking to a peer, which projects confidence. You’re also starting with an enthusiastic reason why you’d like to work there.
See the difference? Try reading your cover letter to make sure it sounds like you. You’ll quickly notice if it feels awkward.
2. Tell a memorable story
Many cover letters include bullets with highlights from your resume. But truthfully, if you did a good job on your resume, the hiring manager should be able to glean everything they need to know in a quick read-through. The cover letter is prime real estate, so take advantage to write something they’ll actually enjoy reading.
Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. When you consider the number of applicants you might be up against, it pays to be memorable. It might even give you the edge over someone with similar experience and education.
A Sample Cover Letter with a Story
I went to my first baseball game, the Cincinnati Reds, when I was five years old. My entire extended family came. We took up a whole section! I’ll never forget that rush of seeing the field the first time, being surrounded by all the people I loved, and happily eating peanuts. As a Sales Coordinator, I can bring that enthusiasm for a great night out at the game to everyone I encounter, helping to sell group events and season tickets.
Doesn’t this sound like someone you’d like to meet for an interview? They’d be a breath of fresh air, getting the rest of the team excited about their jobs. That’s a big differentiator, even if they don’t have as much sales experience as the next person on the list.
Hopefully these examples have given you some ideas for how you can show a bit of personality in your next cover letter. Just remember – don’t overlook the fundamentals. Make sure you proofread and match your skills to the job description. Get that down first, then add a dash of you!