bobbie smith

My photo
author, message master, strategist, speaker, artist (ink), social media & arts promoter

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing An Effective Covering Letter

Your cover letter is your opening song. It can’t be your warm-up. Who wants a performer to waiver on her first song – no one. We want to be wowed from the first line of lyrics. We want to be enticed from the start. By the end of the first song, we are hooked and want more. You need the same reaction with your letter to potential employers.

The most important connection you need to make to that employer is that you fit the
job. Yes, you have certain bonuses to offer like leadership, positive attitude, initiative, great interpersonal skills and more; but you also must sew them to the employer’s needs and the position or they’ll just stop reading and put you in the slush pile.


Your opening song is your letter and your opening is your first paragraph. This paragraph should be about three to five lines, no more and no less. 


Here’s an example that got me an interview:

Thank you for the opportunity to apply for Director of Communications as seen advertised on CharityVillage.com. When I saw your advertisement, I knew instantly I had found the right opportunity for me. Not only am I excited by this work; I am excited by your organization. As an advocate for education and young people, the Canadian Education Association offers a positive voice, successful solutions and demonstrated results for education. As your ideal candidate, and a former educator, I support these very same values.

I have used many variations of the above opening paragraph and have successful gotten interviews as a result. Let’s walk through this example and examine the key elements so you can use this model whether you are a nuclear scientist or a sales clerk in a bookstore.


Your first line should say three things:

  1. Thank you for this opportunity – why? because it’s the polite thing to do.
  2. What position you are applying for – why? because they could have several positions they are filling and it helps them with filing.
  3. Where you found it – why? because it helps them track what recruiting methods bring in the best people.
Your next line could talk about what happened when you saw the advertisement or posting. Did you get excited? Where you drawn to the potential? Did it look like something you felt confident about? 

Let’s take an even closer look at my line:

  • When I saw your advertisement, I knew instantly I had found the right opportunity for me.
Some alternatives could be:
  • When I saw your posting, I got so excited about the potential.
  • When I saw your job ad, I felt overwhelmed by the possibilities.
  • When I saw your advertisement, I knew I had found a great future for me.
Here’s the formula:
When I saw your [posting/job ad/advertisement], I [insert: positive/passionate response you had].

Now, you need to make an important link from your passion and excitement to this role and organization. Let’s look closer at my line: Not only am I excited by this work; I am excited by your organization.

Some alternatives could be:

  • Not only am I passionate about this work; I feel passionate about your organization.
  • Not only am I drawn to this work; I am drawn to your organization.
  • Not only do I believe in this work; I believe in your organization.
Here’s the formula:
Not only am I [insert: highly-positive verb to express how enthusiastic you are such as: excited by] this work; I am [insert: same verb such as: excited by] your organization.


At this point, you can just conclude your opening paragraph a line that shows how you are the ideal candidate because of there two or three things. For example, you could say:
As your ideal candidate, I bring enthusiasm, a customer-service orientation and experience in using a cash to this position.

Or, if you’d like to do what I do, before you conclude, you could put in a line that shows you know what this organization is about. I truly believe this is the most effective. 

Let’s take a closer look at my last two lines:

As an advocate for education and young people, the Canadian Education Association offers a positive voice, successful solutions and demonstrated results for education. As your ideal candidate, and a former educator, I support these very same values.

So the first line (fourth in the paragraph) talks about what this group does for what people and what it offers. If you keep it generic enough, such as: positive voice, successful solutions, demonstrated results, powerful outcomes and things like that, it can apply to almost any organization that’s trying to get ahead and make a difference in the world. The key for making this line work with the next is that the three things must also be things or values that you as a potential employee could work by.


Some alternatives are:

  • As a highly-competitive banking organization, the Such-and-Such Bank offers great financial advise, a customer service orientation and demonstrated results. As your ideal candidate, and experienced bank teller, I support these very same values.
  • As an example of success in the arts community, the Canada Arts Council provides essential services, respect for art in the community and successful solutions for Canadian artists. I, too, as your ideal candidate, work by these same values.
Here’s the formula:
As [insert: noun that says what they are: an advocate for/a success in/a highly-focused organization] [insert: subject area/industry/community/service group if applicable], [insert: name of organization] [insert: verbs like: offers/provides/gives/shows] [insert: generic but positive results: a positive voice/ successful solutions/demonstrated results] for [insert: subject area/industry/community/service group if applicable]. As your ideal candidate, and [insert: what you offer - no more than three things here!], I support these very same values.

If the formula is confusing for you, just go to the examples. The formula is more designed for left-brained people. The examples are for right-brained people.
Please feel free to copy, alter and use this model to your best ability. Best of luck!

*

Here’s your complete formula below:
Thank you for the opportunity to apply for [insert: position/job title] as seen [advertised/posted] on [insert: URL for the jobsite or where you saw the ad]. When I saw your [posting/job ad/advertisement], I [insert: positive/passionate response you had]. Not only am I [insert: highly-positive verb to express how enthusiastic you are such as: excited by] this work; I am [insert: same verb such as: excited by] your organization. As [insert: noun that says what they are: an advocate for/a success in/a highly-focused organization] [insert: subject area/industry/community/service group if applicable], [insert: name of organization] [insert: verbs like: offers/provides/gives/shows] [insert: generic but positive results: a positive voice/ successful solutions/demonstrated results] for [insert: subject area/industry/community/service group if applicable]. As your ideal candidate, and [insert: what you offer - no more than three things here!], I support these very same values.

Previously published on Helium.com (no defunct)

http://www.careerpath360.com/index.php/what-makes-a-cover-letter-stand-out-2-22887/

No comments:

Post a Comment