Three More Cover Letter Tips For Job Seekers

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).

Reminder …

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 …

  1. Personalise your cover letter
  2. Don’t be boring: show your personality
  3. Use the cover letter to match relevant skills to what the employer is looking for
  4. Use their language/wording where possible to describe your skills and abilities
  5. Show how you solve their problem (it’s all about their needs)
  6. Read your letter out loud to check that it flows well
  7. Raise and answer potential objections
  8. Assume the sale: put yourself in the picture
  9. 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!

Twitter vs Rollerball

Did you catch any of the CNN/Ashton Kutcher Twitter race at the end of last week, as they both raced to one million followers?

Was it just me, or was anyone else reminded of the movie Rollerball from the mid 1970’s — the violent, full-contact “sport” on TV set in 2018, where as things got more gory, the ratings soared?

The follower numbers, jumping 1000’s per hour… is Twitter the 2009 web equivalent of mass crowd behaviour? Voyeurism? Do one million people really want to hear what Ashton Kutcher has to say? Or are they fascinated by the “drama” and drawn in like motorists who slow down to check out a car accident on the other side of the road?

Or is it, as in the speech Kutcher gave when he hit the million mark first, about media democracy, public control of what is reported, without the filters of the big networks? The “new guard” of information publishing, uncensored and in our control?

I’m sure many theories will come forward over coming months.

Six Cover Letter Tips For Job Applicants

Gotta say I’m feeling quite chuffed this morning … yesterday, I re-wrote a cover letter for a job application (not for me, but for someone seeking full-time work).

Today it was used for the first time … one email, one job application — 30 minutes later, the company called and offered an interview for 10am tomorrow!

Even in this economic climate, the good jobs are still there to be had if you apply proven copywriting skills to your application.

The comment back about this particular letter: of 160 applicants, it was “the best letter he’s ever seen”.

Always makes me feel good to help someone get a job they’re after — at least to get the attention of employers to get an interview. So far all the letters I’ve done for jobs have gotten an interview for the applicant — only about a dozen, but I’ve helped each of them stand out.

Of course though it’s their skills that I’m highlighting, to make the letter as relevant as possible to match the job… I’m simply making sure it gets the right attention.

Six tips for your own job cover letter:

  • Personalise each cover letter. Use the name of the company and the person you’re writing to in your letter. This makes it look much more like you care about what you’re writing, not just some generic cover letter.
  • Don’t be boring! If you can, avoid the “same old” style of letter writing that everyone else uses. Still be careful, and make sure it is business orientated. But use words that are more lively and active, not something that starts off like “I’m writing in response to the job application in XYZ newspaper for the ABC role.” You don’t also want to appear arrogant, eg avoid “Your job search is over, here I am!” .. but instead, something that shows you’re excited about the prospects of working for the company and you’re ready and able to be part of their team.
  • Relevance: Be very specific about matching your skills to the duties they’ve outlined. Focus on the few main things they’re looking for and show how your skills suit the role
  • Be clear in the language you use — if they want someone who has a “can-do” attitude, use those words in your cover letter (so long as it is congruent with your attitude!)
  • Show how you’ll “solve their problem” — how your attitude and skills takes away any problems they’d potentially have in that role because of your skills and abilities (so they can get on with running their company)
  • Before you send your letter — read it out loud and make sure it “flows” okay. If you stumble over any parts, re-write them so they’re clear.

Hopefully, that helps get you the attention of your future employer in the same way as it did for the letter I wrote yesterday!

Social media millionaire

Wow, what a fascinating little social media online adventure.

The CNN Breaking News vs Ashton Kutcher race to be the first to reach one million Twitter followers.

Ashton Kutcher — part of the self-described “new guard” of media — hit the million mark just a few minutes ago — tragically, I watched it live. Here’s his post just seconds after reaching one million followers:

Kutcher hits the million mark

aplusk Twitter count

And with CNN Breaking News used television to push towards their million followers, Kutcher went live on the internet via Ustream TV to keep talking to his fans, watching the countdown and also helping promote a non-profit cause helping fight malaria (to which he donated US $100,000 as the Twitter follower winner):

The champagne flows live on internet TV as Kutcher wins the race

And the champagne flowed in reaction to the win. CNN Breaking News of course covered it, falling just under 1,700 followers short in the race!

CNN Breaking News announces win by Kutcher

An interesting little episode in the life — and power – of social media!

Still Not Convinced Twitter Is For Business?

Twitter is one of those growing online phenomenons that still has some users wondering what its business application really is.

To me, the brilliance of Twitter is that it is another “media” platform: a way to communicate your message — to a super-targeted audience, because it’s 100 per cent opt-in — “tweople” on your list (Twitter people) have subscribed to read what you post (they’re your “followers”).

The Twitter bird

In that way it’s similar to opt-in email, but acts more like SMS, because the messages reach users’ Twitter accounts both on the computer and on mobile/cell phones or other internet enabled devices.

It’s simply a micro-media messaging platform within a larger media (the internet).

And it’s popularity is growing fast. It’s still not up there with Facebook, who passed the 200 millionth user mark in the last few days, Twitter is only around the 9 to 10 million user mark (so there’s plenty of room for growth)… but it has definite potential for businesses, especially with “early adopter” customers.

There was a story in the papers just today talking about Twitter’s first millionaire — the race between CNN Breaking News, Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears to reach 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. As of posting this article, their numbers are 960,506 for CNN Breaking News, 943,888 for Kutcher and 927,817 for Spears.

The 3-horse Twitter millionaire race

(Just in the 3 minutes checking their profiles, each of them gained 70 to 100 followers!). And yours truly the humble author has only 215 followers in TOTAL at the time of writing! Kutcher has gained over 24,000 followers since the story was published at 12:33pm today, less than 11 hours ago. CNN picked up over 12,000 and Britney over 13,000 new followers too).

I imagine the “winner” of the race will be declared in the next day or so, given the media interest — and I see from another Twitter user I follow (@WarrenWhitlock) that CNN is giving a prize to entice followers (update: so is Ashton Kutcher, for the millionth follower, if he outdoes CNN Breaking News).

Warren had a very nice way of putting it:

CNN offered (me) a prize for following them, but I follow you because I like your tweets.

Nice!

Interestingly, aside from the Spears twitter account which itself follows 77,547 people as of writing, the Kutcher and CNN accounts both follow less than 100 people (just six in the case of CNN and 72 for Kutcher). So their own Twitter feed of updates from followers is quite small (and would be easy to follow, unlike Britney’s, which would be overwhelmed by “noise” with so many other tweople being followed).

Email vs Twitter

Here’s four difference between email and Twitter, in Twitter’s favour:

Firstly, the size of the message — Twitter is limited to just 140 characters — it’s like just receiving messages a little bigger than an email Subject Line (even smaller than the 160 character limit on an SMS).

Secondly — and one major reason for the growth in followers on Twitter accounts — everyone on Twitter can see who follows you, and who you are following.

So, if you’re “one of the gurus” amongst your raving fans, very likely, because they want to be just like you, they’ll also follow the people you follow.

Thirdly — while people are more protective these days of their inbox, it doesn’t yet seem the case with Twitter, it’s easy for them to follow you because they’re in full control: they choose when to follow you — they choose when to unfollow you, there’s no need to rely on an “unsubscribe link” that you put in your emails. You can’t also send html like with email, so you can’t track “reads and open rates”, although you can see from spikes in traffic and referrer logs when users follow a Twitter link to go to a web page.

So that user control is a strong benefit to your followers.

Fourthly — reading Twitter messages is usually a “virus free” experience — although Twitter accounts do get hacked and like emails, links can be malicious and should be treated carefully (here’s an example of a Twitter “worm” virus at work just in the last few days).

Gaining Followers

Also, there’s a raging debate amongst Twitter users about following people just to get them to follow you back (and build your own list of followers — some people think it’s good Twitter etiquette to follow back, but not all users agree) — to the extent that some Twitter utilities let you follow masses of people in the hope of picking up some of them as your own followers (and they you stop following the ones that don’t reciprocate — and sometimes start/stop incessantly).

Personally, I like the idea of natural, organic growth in followers — you follow me because you’re interested in what I have to tweet about, not simply because you want me to follow you, and this is your way of getting my attention.

Also, some people have twitter pop-up every time one of their friends adds a tweet — it pops up like an automatic instant message or announcement of new email — but to me that’s a severe interruption of my day. I control when I view Twitter, and it’s only once or twice a day!

But wait, there’s more!

That millionaire race isn’t the main reason for this post!

Twitter For Business

So, can you really use this micro-messaging platform for business?

Yes you can.

So long as people know who you are, and your Twitter account can be business or organisation based (like CNN mentioned above), your followers may be following you to hear about business updates.

For example, here’s a few ways you could use Twitter from a business perspective:

  • Make brief announcements. Run a recruitment agency? Tweet new job posts.
  • Announce special offers — publish a coupon discount code just for your Twitter followers
  • Announce your latest sale items, specials and pricing
  • Announce events
  • Survey your followers for their opinions on a topic of interest
  • Get your followers to contribute their thoughts to an idea you have
  • Link Twitter to your blog (I do this with this blog, via the Twitter Tools WordPress plug-in). That way, your Twitter followers know when you’ve made a new blog post
  • Share resources you find online with your Twitter followers
  • Give tips and helpful hints via Twitter
  • Run Twitter-based competitions that may involve followers finding the answer on your website (and getting to know more about your business)
  • Praise staff or customers — publicly acknowledge them and say thanks
  • It’s OK to have more than one account for different purposes or parts of your business. For example, CNN has both CNN and CNN Breaking News, amongst others.
  • Some web applications make it easier for key people to contribute tweets to a single account, so it’s an improved way to keep the conversation going and increase the number of relevant announcements you can make to your audience
  • Some businesses use Twitter to keep an open dialogue with their customers. It’s like a publicly trackable version of an instant message service, so it’s an open, transparent and instantaneous way for all to see the business’ responses.

So Twitter isn’t just all bubble and squeak — there’s useful information and communication you can have with a targeted audience.

And Google indexes tweets — so that gets into Google (so watch what you tweet!).

There’s also a script for the Firefox Greasemonkey add-on that puts real time Twitter tweet results on page one of your Google search results: again, making your Twitter activity more valuable to your business.

BakerTweet

On Springwise this week — my favourite brain juice for new business ideas — there was the story this week about BakerTweet, a device that allows bakeries to keep their customers informed — via Twitter — of when baked goods have just come fresh out of the oven … time to pop down to the bakery and get the freshest produce!

A video screenshot from BakerTweet showing the Twitter message device

Bakers setup the device on their computer and establish a free Twitter account, and then just have the BakerTweet device installed in the kitchen (see the above video at BakerTweet). Baked goodies are fresh out of the oven, and the baker just twists the dial to the right message and presses a button — and all of their Twitter followers know there’s hot, fresh, bakery goodies ready for purchase.

It’s not hard to see how this push-button simple device makes it easy for a business to keep their customers informed!

Of course, business goes MUCH FURTHER on Twitter than just this example.

And it’s easy to see how such simplicity could later be linked to a service like Twitpic (a way to share photos via Twitter) to post both messages and images for customers to view.

Email Universe vs the Twitterverse

Despite Twitter’s popularity, this of course pales next to email in terms of the size of the media, usage and audience.

Email

Twitter is approaching 10 million users (Comscore.com blog news from last week) — that’s UP around 700 per cent from a year ago and more than 10-times its numbers from when I joined in August 2007.

However, according to Pingdom, in 2008 there were 1.3 BILLION email users sending 210 BILLION email messages every DAY!

That’s 1,300,000,000 vs 10,000,000 — or 1,300 times more email users than Twitter users.

To Twitter Or Not To Twitter

I certainly wouldn’t ignore Twitter, as it has some helpful ways to get attention and traffic for your business. At the rate it is growing, it certainly is an audience worth considering.

Given of course email and other ways to communicate and build relationships, Twitter should still only be one small part of your overall strategy to get your message out to your audience.

If you haven’t already, sign up for your Twitter account!