Employment Writing AdviceEmployment, Writing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2004

Write a Winning Cover Letter Every Time


In today’s challenging employment field, job hunters are finding they need to apply to a much higher volume of positions over a greater amount of time before they land that new job. There’s all the more reason, then, to include a remarkable cover letter with your resume that makes you stand out from the pack and truly shine in an employer’s eyes.

Your Big Sales Tool

In an ideal world, your cover letter and resume should complement each other perfectly. The letter will sell the heck out of all your fabulous skills and why this employer can not live without you, then the resume will hammer it in with the specific details of your education, experience and skills to back the cover letter up.

The cover letter has truly become the single most important item that you can send to an employer, especially in a job market where companies are receiving hundreds of qualified applicants for each open position. No matter what field your expertise is in, writing a winning cover letter requires that you can step into a sales position (if only for a moment) to sell yourself.

While the task may seem daunting, especially if you don’t consider yourself the “sales type,” you shouldn’t fret. After all, you are undoubtedly the person who knows your abilities and skill set best. So once you find the right language to convey your strengths to a potential employer, and match it up cleverly to what the employer is seeking, you will be right on track to getting through the gates for an interview.

Do Some Bragging

Your cover letter is no place to be modest. Employers are attracted to applicants that exude confidence and show a real command of their strong points. This is not to say you should be so pompous in your bragging that you insult or turn off an employer. Instead, your cover letter should express a respectful, enthusiastic and confident explanation of your qualifications and past experience that make you the best person for the job.

So how do you make this magic happen, you ask? Well, the answer is to just be you, but in their words. By this I mean that with every job ad you decide to apply to, you should be critically examining what that employer is asking for. Then, using your basic, generic cover letter that wasn’t getting you the attention you really deserved, reword your drab sentences to cater specifically to the potential employer’s request while highlighting your high points at past positions.

For example, see the ho-hum cover letter below of a mid-level sales person looking to advance.

BASIC COVER LETTER:

John Doe
123 Main Street
New York, NY 12234


To whom it may concern:

After reading your advertisement for a sales professional on Monster.com, I am applying for the position.

My experience in sales includes customer service, presentations to clients, marketing and some management of junior sales people in my region. I have consistently met the sales goals and standards for all the companies I have worked for. I have also been responsible for training junior sales people at times, and am familiar with the process of learning product knowledge in order to sell a product.

I am well groomed and easy to get along with. I am used to working independently and am self-disciplined enough to do so. I enjoy the sales field and the challenge of meeting sales goals.

I hope you will see that I can be a good person for this sales professional position. Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

John Doe
619-555-1234 home
619-555-5678 cell

Mr. Doe might feel like this cover letter gets his point across pretty well, and he’s right to some degree. He has listed all the meaningful points that make his skill set attractive. However, he’s delivered this information in a “just the facts” sort of format. There’s no confidence, no selling himself, and no catering to the specific employer’s needs in this letter.

In order to demonstrate how Mr. Doe could alter this basic, generic cover letter to make it a real sales pitch on his behalf, let’s say he came across the following job ad and decided to apply for it.

AD:

WANTED: Sales professional for Fortune 500 company. Must be a real self-starter and able to work independently. Management experience a plus. Position requires ability to make presentations to clients, follow-up with regular, reliable customer service, and learn product knowledge inside out. Would like an individual with proven sales achievement and eager to make unlimited income. Fax Mr. Shoe at 619-555-9876 with a cover letter and resume for consideration.

See the letter below for ways Mr. Doe could target his basic cover letter specifically to this ad, and make himself and his expert skills stand out and get noticed in the process.

A WINNING COVER LETTER:

John Doe
123 Main Street
New York, NY 12234


To whom it may concern:

After reading your advertisement for a sales professional on Monster.com, I am enthusiastically applying for the position.

My experience as a regional sales manager for ABC Communications has allowed me to learn the importance of good customer service, coupled with first-class management and marketing skills. In all my sales posts, I have been required to master a great deal of product knowledge, give extensive presentations on products, keep in regular contact with clients and prospects, and meet sales goals and standards. Also in all my sales positions, I have not only met, but exceeded, the sales quotas required, helping the companies to reach new, all-time sales records.

On a personal level, I am confident, well groomed and easy to get along with. I am very self-disciplined and can get the job done in an independent environment. I know how to listen to and recognize a client's buying cues. I am stimulated by the idea of unlimited earning potential and enjoy the challenge of meeting and beating sales goals.

I would love the chance to meet with you in person to discuss how I could be an asset to your company. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sincerely,

John Doe
619-555-1234 home
619-555-5678 cell

So you see, with a little more description and some detailed focusing of his cover letter to the employer’s requirements, Mr. Doe is bound to get noticed much more with this second, winning cover letter. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always check your cover letter for grammar, spelling and punctuation before you send it off, and use an easy-to-read font (Times New Roman or Arial are nice) and point size (10 to 12 point is good).

In summary, writing a winning cover letter every time requires some bragging and selling on your part, as well as carefully crafting sentences aimed at the potential employer’s needs. Following this formula and combining your cover letter with a well-written resume is a surefire way to get you in the door for an interview long before the applicants who send in the same old, tired, generic cover letter to every job ad.
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