It starts with the salutation. Don’t settle for “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern.” Do your research. Google or LinkedIn can often find you the name of the hiring manager. This will set you apart instantly as someone who goes the extra step.
You want to work for this company, so tell them why.
Your first paragraph should mention the name of the company and why you want to work there. Again, Google can give you a pretty fair impression of the company’s values, their reach, or anything else that might compel you to work there. Maybe there’s a newspaper article that discusses the company’s growth or their policy of helping employees to grow. Be sincere; if this company can offer you the opportunity to live abroad because of their strong international presence, say so.
Be enthusiastic without exaggerating. Calling yourself “the best candidate for the position” is probably not going to get you very far, even if you believe it’s true; everyone else is making the same claim.
Communicate what you bring to the table and why you’d make a great addition to their team by writing like a CEO:
C = Challenge – Think of a challenge you faced or problem you had to resolve. A certain amount of seriousness is required; they don’t want to hear about deciding what shoes to wear.
E = Execution – What action did you take? And what skills did you use or develop in the process?
O = Outcome – What was the result of the action you took? What was the value to the organization?
Ask for the interview and explain EXACTLY when you’ll call to follow up. Then put it on your calendar, and FOLLOW UP.