Cover Letters - Part Two - Make the Connections

Posted by Amanda Wencel on Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Cookie cutter cover letters are a surefire way to get your resume overlooked.  It is so important to write a new cover letter for each and every job that you apply for, and specifically tailor your information to answer:

• Why you are interested in working for the company, and what makes you a good fit.
• How your skills and experience specifically match the requirements of the job that are listed in the posting.
• How you stand out from your competitors.

A great way to start is to read through the job posting and underline or highlight everything you believe you possess.  Star the listed requirements that you don’t possess, and make notes about what transferable skills you have that can cover the gaps.   Then go on the website of the company and read through their mission statement, vision statement, information about their product(s)/service(s) and careers to identify the description words (adjectives and adverbs) that they use to describe the type of employee they are looking for.

In marketing terms, the words you have highlighted are ‘trigger’ words and using them in your cover letter, if you believe they describe you, hooks the reader’s interest. This is a powerful way to set your cover letter apart from the majority of letters employers will receive.


What to include in the first paragraph:

Use the first paragraph to catch the interest of the employer.  “Successful marketers target their message directly to the needs of the purchaser…identify what the purchaser wants and needs.”*    In this case, the purchaser is the employer and you are marketing yourself to them.

Look the company up on LinkedIn, their website or the news and find recent issues surrounding the company.  If there has been positive news, draw recognition to that.  For example:  “It came to my attention through my research that your company won an award for customer service.  Through my own personal belief that strong service is of utmost importance to building company loyalty, I recently received a recognition award for Best Customer Service Rep in 2015/16.  I feel that my values are directly connected to those of your organization.”

If you don’t find news that you can relate to, use your trigger words that you identified earlier in order to position yourself to show how you match with the values or mission of the company.  For example: “In researching the values that XYZ Company upholds in their business operations, I believe that my professional values are very much aligned with these company objectives.  In particular…”

Second paragraph:

The second paragraph speaks to your skills and achievements, which match the requirements stated in the job posting. Identify 4 – 5 key skills or areas of expertise required to perform this job successfully and give personal examples of the requested criteria. Write specific examples of how you will assist the potential employer to make or save money, improve productivity and effectively contribute to a team.

Closing paragraph:

In this paragraph, indicate your enthusiasm for the job and desire for the interview. Go back to the information you highlighted on the company website and include one or two of the ‘trigger’ words.  Be sure to also leave a statement of how they can follow up with you, i.e. “I can be reached at 555-5555 to set up a personal interview, and I look forward to sharing more about how my experience fits your requirements for this exciting position!”

Here are some sites that offer tips for catching attention with your cover letter, as well as some samples to draw from:

https://www.themuse.com/advice/31-attentiongrabbing-cover-letter-examples
https://www.thebalance.com/best-cover-letters-a-z-list-of-examples-2060172
https://www.workitdaily.com/examples-start-cover-letter/

* Barbara Moses, What Next?  The Complete Guide to Taking Control of your Working Life, (DK Publishing Inc.: 2003) p. 204.

 

Stay tuned on my business Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ContactCoachingTraining/ and LinkedIn https://ca.linkedin.com/in/contactcoaching for more valuable employment advice!

 

 


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