As a Life and Career Coach, I often work with clients who are not the biggest fans of writing cover letters. By this, I mean they more or less loathe the idea.
It’s a disdain I completely understand. After all, most of us were brought up to be believe that it’s impolite to talk about ourselves, let alone write a one-to-three paragraph essay detailing our greatest attributes and affinity for being a “team player.”
But the fact remains that your cover letter is often a critical factor in determining whether or not you get an interview. Therefore, your ability to skillfully craft a mini manifesto is essential if you want to score a sit-down with HR.
So today, I want to share with you my #1 tip for writing a spectacular cover letter – one that gets the attention of your ideal employer, separates you from your less-deserving competition, and earns you that coveted face-to-face interview for your Dream Job.
Talk About What You Can Do for Them
Years ago, when my husband and I were living in South America, a man approached us as we were walking down the street, carrying few items in his hands. He told us a story about how he was going through rough times and asked if we could help him out. We told him sorry, we’re unable to help, and he walked away. A few minutes later, I realized that one of the items he had in his hand was a wallet, and that my husband actually needed a wallet! Crazy, right? Had this man approached us from a different angle – by talking about what he could do for us (sell us a wallet, in this case) instead of asking us to do something for him – he would’ve made the sale. And my husband would’ve had a way to carry around all his dolla bills.
I tell this story not only to lament this instance of poor salesmanship, but also to illustrate a common trap we can fall into as job seekers. All too often, we waste precious white space talking about ourselves and neglecting to highlight what we can do for the employer or company.
Of course, your cover letter serves as means of introducing yourself to your potential boss, and should include some personal information not covered in your resume (such as why you’re a good fit for the role, what initially attracted you to the position, etc.). But it’s equally important, if not more, to identify and capitalize on what you, dazzling professional that you are, can do for him or her.
Do this by researching your target company and learning every single thing you can about it. Find out when they were established, read their mission statement, look up their employees on LinkedIn, look at their photos, read the personal bios they’ve written on their website. The more information you acquire, the better you’ll be able pitch yourself for the role. Plus, once you get that interview, you’ll be super prepared due to all of your research.
Once you sit down to write your letter, avoid beginning every sentence with “I”. Incorporate what you know about the company with your skills, and tie the two together. For example:
You mentioned on your website that (company name) is committed to small business growth, and that to-date you’ve helped over 150 small businesses in the Chicago area. As someone who comes from a family of small business owners, I can really appreciate your efforts in this regard.
By doing this, you’ve not only given valuable information about your personal background, you’ve also shown your future employer that you’ve done your homework and aren’t just blindly applying for any ole’ job at his/her company.
Remember, a business seeks new employees because they have work that needs to be done. Use your cover letter to show your would-be boss how you can fill their needs, and not the other way around. ♥
Having a hard time writing you cover letter(s)? I can help! Fill me in on how I can assist you here.
Do you enjoy writing cover letters, or would you prefer to never write one ever again? Comment below! ↓↓