What is a cover letter and why is it important? Isn’t my resume enough to apply for a job? What do I put in a cover letter? A cover letter compels the potential employer to look further and harder at your resume and ultimately you.
One of my grad professors taught me a very valuable formula to use when I need to persuade someone of something.
Paragraph 1: Build RAPPORT
They have a job opening and you qualify for it. Write exactly what position you are applying for and where you heard about the job—newspaper, online, a friend, a colleague, someone that works there already… if you have a good relationship with another employee, a client, or a partner, ask to include their recommendation of the position or company. Third, mention your current relationship in a similar position, a significant project, or applicable degree. The key is to immediately hook the employer through connection. Pick the top two job duties that you do extremely well and tell them how in two sentences. Use the STAR method:
Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
Example: I am writing to express my strong interest in the International Marketing position open at WellCam, Inc. My colleague Janna Doling recommended that I contact you directly about this position, due to my years developing successful campaigns for XYZ Company.
Paragraph 2: Influence THINKING
This is your sales pitch! In this paragraph provide all the necessary information about yourself that will get the employer to read your resume. So research the company itself. Read their documentation or website to learn their mission, values and goals. Use company lingo as you continue your cover letter. Play a game of match the job qualifications with your resume. Tie those together with how that would benefit the company–show them how your skills transfer to this job. Don’t repeat your resume; your goal is to get them to read it!
For example, if engaging customer service is one of the company’s values, show them a great customer service experience, including a brief testimonial or what value it added to the company. If they strive to be a leader in advancing technology, share your vision and activity in that field. As you write, remember your audience wants a professional AND personable coworker. It benefits you to show good relationships in teamwork or collaboration, such as, “Our department’s collaboration on V project doing X resulted in an amazing Y because my department did Z to successfully collaborate.” Relate it directly to the position and to the company and remember to be brief because employers sometimes sift through hundreds of resumes.
Paragraph 3: Ask for a specific ACTION
This is twofold–you want them to read your resume AND get an interview. Reinstate how your skills make you a strong fit for the company and position. State that you would like the opportunity to interview or discuss employment opportunities. Encourage the employer to act on your resume through a psychological prompt, such as,
“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss/look forward to the opportunity of discussing my hire as an asset to position X and company Y. I include my resume and am available for interviews at Z times. Thank you for your time and consideration of my application.”
Paragraph 4: Leave audience with a positive ATTITUDE
Mention that your resume is enclosed and indicate your desire to meet with the employer. You may want to suggest alternate dates and times, or simply advise them of your flexibility to meet. Include day and evening contact information. Include a statement or question that will encourage the reader to respond. Be sure to communicate your plan to follow up. Finally, thank the employer for his/her time!
Finally, tag on a stimulating sentence, “I know we will achieve great things together in company Y.”