On Monday I posted six tips for writing cover letters when looking for a job, and there’s three more I’d like to share.
Remember in that post how my re-write of the letter landed a phone call within 30 minutes and an interview the next day? Well the report I got back from the job seeker was that they’d closed off applications — but opened them again after reading the letter and the resume.
The letter got the employer’s attention, and the applicant’s relevant skills got the interview… a good combination. That turned into a short-listed second interview — so it shows how important your first impression is — get attention and really show-off what’s important to the employer.
That part’s really important … as a copywriter, I’m always telling clients (and remembering to write myself) from the perspective of the prospect: it’s all about what’s in it for them, about their emotions, about what benefits they’ll get.
That applied too when writing your cover letter.
Three More Cover Letter Tips
So here’s three more cover letter tips if you’re looking for a job …
1: Raise and answer potential objections
The reason to do this is so you help control the answer — don’t leave any potential issues hanging for them to answer, that way you won’t get the chance to explain and turn the objection in your favour.
Let’s say the employer lists they want someone with 5 years of PowerPoint experience, but you’ve only got 2 in PowerPoint and 5 using another software presentation program. You could do two things: (a) highlight your combined 7 years of experience in creating persuasive presentations (still showing your competency with presentations and using PowerPoint); or (b) show how with just 2 years, your presentations have helped a sales team increase their close rate from 18 per cent to 37 per cent (specific improvements in results).
Even if your skills don’t match exactly, show how what you do have is still a benefit to your potential employer.
What if you have no experience in a particular software program? Let them know … and still show how you’re a benefit because perhaps you’re a very fast learner of new programs (give an example) or that you’ve used an equivalent program and understand the related theory and concepts. For example, a home builder could use several tools (some easier than others) to build a home — because he or she understands the building concepts. Give me the best tool, and it won’t necessarily help me, because I’m not a home builder. So, in the same way, show how you might understand a concept (eg a billing system) without necessarily understanding the particular software.
2: Assume The Sale
If you and the job are a good match, be confident about it! Include wording in your cover letter that helps show you think you’re a good fit and helps them already imagine you as an employee of the company.
For example: “As you’ll discover when I’m part of your team, …. …. ….” and then list relevant skills and abilities that match what the employer is seeking.
You’re writing to highlight the assumption that you will be part of their team, putting you in the picture.
This positive thinking also helps keep you fresh and in focus when you’re writing, so it helps you write with personality and to not be boring!
3: Your Call To Action — The Employer’s Next Step
Of course, this should be a no-brainer — but it can be overlooked!
Make it clear how to contact you. Be specific and don’t assume they’ll jump to your CV to find your contact details. Put them in the sentence of the cover letter.
So, instead of “I hope to hear from you”, be more specific:
“NAME, I am keen to meet with you to discuss how my experience and knowledge can effectively contribute to your company. To arrange a suitable appointment time, you can contact me on 000 000-0000 or 0000 000 000.”
Shows you’re looking forward to a meeting, and also gives clear, specific instructions with a relevant contact number (here I used a landline and a mobile/cell number).
You can see too from the sentence above that this cover letter would use the name of the person you’re writing to.
You of course found that out, didn’t you?
Personalise your letter to a real person where you can! If they’re the HR Director, find out their name.
Do your research: the company, the person you’ll be meeting. That shows initiative and interest — you’re not treating them “just like another job application.”
Put the name of their company in the body of your letter, along with their name.
Show that your letter is ONLY written for them. Show them you care about their company (because they sure do!).
Summary of Job Cover Letter Tips
Okay, here’s all of the tips together in a mini-checklist …
- Personalise your cover letter
- Don’t be boring: show your personality
- Use the cover letter to match relevant skills to what the employer is looking for
- Use their language/wording where possible to describe your skills and abilities
- Show how you solve their problem (it’s all about their needs)
- Read your letter out loud to check that it flows well
- Raise and answer potential objections
- Assume the sale: put yourself in the picture
- Make sure you have a specific call to action: what the employer should do next
That’s now 9 tips for you from a pro copywriter to help you find a job … I hope you put them to good use!