There are two important things to remember about writing a job application cover letter: Cover letters (1) add your personality to your resume and they (2) must be genuine.
Job searching has become big business and Internet tips to "make yours stand out" from the flood of applicants soon become cliche, trite and mere stratagems. While there are some significant modifications to correct form for cover letters and resumes that develop over time--like replace the formerly advised list of references with the phrase "References available upon request"--that are important to incorporate, there are also trendy fads that don't make you stand out but rather peg you as a fad follower. Being genuine in your cover letter and resume will help prevent this perception.
Cover letters (a single page of two to three paragraphs) show the potential employer how you might bring your experience and expertise to their company and to that job in order to advance the goals of the company and to get specific tasks and projects and objectives accomplished in the way the employer desires. Your resume tells your background, credentials and experience; your cover letter tells how you can use those qualifications (i.e., your background, credentials and experience) to advance the employer's aims. Here are some elements to consider:
- Personalize your cover letter in some way, e.g., a cogent comment about a development in the industry or in the company or the mention of a current employee who gave you the job referral or relate your interest in the job to a personal event or experience.
- In a couple of sentences, describe your experience but don't reiterate your resume, instead personalize the disparate facts in your resume: draw the facts in your resume into a picture of "you" and your ability.
- Relate your experience to how you furthered the company's goals in previous employment (or how your took advantage of your education to advance your effectiveness as a new career worker): e.g., "I managed the branding reorganization project with the results that I reduced the potential cost of the branding change by 12 percent and that, after the new branding launch, we gained a 6 percent increase in market share."
- Describe how you envision your skills and qualifications advancing the aims of the company to which you are applying. To do this, you must know something about the position you are applying for, about the company, and about how you actually can successfully fulfill the job for which you are applying.
- Your last sentences should express courtesy by thanking the potential employer for considering your application, then state when you will be in contact about the job. This approach has been somewhat less common in the US than it has been in other countries, like England, though it has been used for some time: e.g., "I will contact you in three to four days to set an interview time during which I will be happy to answer your questions about my qualifications and about how I can contribute to CDNY Company."