The Trick to Writing a Cover Letter that Commands Attention

How many times has your cover letter actually been read?

In my career advising work, I often hear the statement, “No one reads a cover letter anyway.”

While this is largely a myth, perhaps your cover letter isn’t being read. Cool news though, you have the ability to change that.

I firmly believe a good cover letter is the result of great research, even more so than superior writing.

We know a cover letter should engage potential employers, yet according to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management, 83% of hiring managers spend less than one minute reading a cover letter.

It’s counterintuitive, but this statistic should motivate you, not discourage you. You can command more attention. A well-researched cover letter will do just that.

A cover letter requires research on two fronts:

  1. Research Yourself
  2. Research the Position and Company

Your cover letter must convey your passion, personality, and qualifications, while also explaining why you are interested in a specific position with a unique company. You have one chance to prove you are not only qualified for the position, but that you are the most qualified.

Here’s the trick: a cover letter needs to communicate what you do, far beyond the responsibilities in your job description.

Your cover letter should not say, “As a Marketing Manager, I gather and analyze consumer insight and engage consumers on social media.” For starters, that is resume regurgitation (i.e. The Shadowy Place in the Lion King) and a place you should never go. It’s also relatively sterile.

Instead, you should highlight that you are consumer-centric. This overarching philosophy – that the consumer is central – is the reason why you analyze consumer insight and why you engage consumers on Twitter.

Don’t make the hiring committee work to understand. Tell them.

Before: “As a Marketing Manager, I gather and analyze consumer insight and engage consumers on social media.”

After: “As a Marketing Manager, I truly believe the most valuable asset to any company is the consumer. Consumers are central to every decision I make, from insight analysis to social media strategy. In 2016, I conducted focus groups to better understand consumer preferences; data-informed changes led to a 125% increase in sales.”

Solid, right?

But not every company prioritizes a consumer-centric approach to marketing. If that’s the case, you’ve lost the reader. This is where the second part of the research comes in. What you highlight about yourself, must directly align with the position requirements and needs of the company.

Research yourself; thoroughly review the job description; and acquire a detailed understanding of who the company is: what they do, how they do it, and why.

You will be successful when you can communicate how your foundational philosophies match the exact needs of a company.

You can absolutely command more attention.

Invest in this process and you will be rewarded in the job search.

 

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