Editor’s note: Did you know? AKHIA is hiring. Today’s Brew offers some tips on how to get our attention.

Writing cover letters is one of my favorite pastimes. Strange? Maybe. But it’s an art form, and a well-written cover letter can lead to great things.

Some employers go as far as to say that they don’t even read them and are even frustrated with applicants who submit cover letters. Others say they are absolutely required and applicants who don’t submit one won’t even be considered. But, I say that unique and well-written cover letters are absolutely essential if you’re applying for an agency job or internship. Here are my five strategies for writing that winning cover letter.

Be yourself: Before you start writing, think about who you are in work mode and pick a few keywords. Are you super serious and professional? Do you have fun while you work? Are you a jack-of-all-trades? Are you passionate? Are you a collaborator? Or do you prefer to work on your own? Do you work fast? These topics can serve as general themes for your cover letter.

Tailor cover letters to each company: Thoroughly research the companies you want to apply at, so you can find a good culture for you¾and so you can tailor your cover letter to each company.

If they’re a fun place, show your personality. If they’re very professional, then you need to focus more on your professional side. But, it’s still important to not stray too far from who you are as an individual and as a professional—your cover letter should be both true to yourself and true to the company you’re applying for.

Focus on you, not your stats: Your school, your major, your current/past job—those are your stats. But, try not to lead with your stats. Your resumé shows your stats, and your cover letter should tell a deeper story about who you are and what value you can add.

Instead, if you want to show your passion, tell a story about how you pulled an all-nighter for a project, how you write your own blog about marketing or all the conferences you attend. Don’t just say you’re passionate; prove it.

First sentence/intro paragraph: This could be the hardest part of your cover letter, as it has to be interesting enough to stand out from the rest of the stack. The perfect intro meets these three goalss:

  • It’s true to you
  • It’s true to your company
  • It’s a sentence that has not been read before

If you can do that, your company will likely keep reading. And, if you have the necessary credentials, you might just be invited in for an interview.

The 60-second test: A lot of applicants are now exploring nontraditional cover letters with videos, social tactics or even the old-fashioned mailing something interesting. These can be tricky, as some employers simply want a written cover letter to evaluate all candidates similarly. And, sometimes mailing something bizarre can have a negative effect. Most people don’t want to open a mailed package from someone they have never met.

But, if you do pursue that route, my advice is to make sure you won’t have compatibility issues, and to keep your message to 60-seconds (about the length of the average cover letter would be).

Robert Doll is Copywriter at AKHIA.