Before you apply, establish a relationship with the hiring manager.
Because when a hiring manager already knows, likes, and trusts you, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as they read through your résumé.
But what if you’re applying online or long distance without knowing the hiring manager or don’t have any mutual connections?
Then you need to be sure your cover letter is stellar.
Unfortunately, a lot of candidates treat the cover letter as an afterthought. However, I recommend you invest some time and energy into making it sing, because a solid cover letter is probably the best chance you’ll ever get to tell your story. Give some context to your résumé and give yourself an extra advantage over the other candidates by doing so. (Especially if you're sending your résumé to someone who doesn't yet know, like, or trust you.)
So – how do you write a solid cover letter?
First, you have to understand what the hiring manager needs to read for them to realize you’re an A-list candidate. Second, you need to include one very specific sentence – in just the right place – that clearly communicates something you bring to the table that ~75% of candidates do not.
It is vital to highlight your skills that most applicants don’t have. Don’t doubt yourself or second guess your abilities just because you don’t have a “super hero” power. You can always use your past experiences and how you were able to overcome difficult challenges at work - whether it involves dealing with big clients or coming up with a resolution to solve a valuable problem in the office.
Get a piece of paper and evaluate your strengths and skills together with your work experience in the past. Match them with the job posting (or job title) that you’re interested in. Know how to highlight your skills that will grab the attention of this hiring manager.