The bottom-line is, the purpose of a cover letter is to lure the reader to, well, read your resume and call you for an interview. Now, you may be dying to ask me, "Then, why can’t I only submit my resume?" My answer is, you can—but how do you know your competition didn't submit a persuasive cover letter that just about nudged you off the top spot? Hmm? Worst-case scenario, they can set your cover letter aside, but it’s available if they need more convincing. So, how do you create cover letter that is not tossed? I’m glad you asked...
Cover Letter Techniques That WorkHere are five cover letter techniques that will get you noticed by hiring managers.
1. Break A Leg With Your Opening ActDon’t begin cover letters with an ordinary and boring statement. You really want to "have them at hello." (Sorry. Couldn’t help it.) Really, captivate with the very first sentence. Exude sincerity, offer specific value, spin it, and make sure it’s employer-oriented. Here is one of my favorite openings:
Dear Mr. Bradley, Offering to drive pharmaceutical sales growth by generating qualified leads, penetrating territories, and closing the toughest sales, consistently! Please allow me to introduce myself...
2. Make A Personal ConnectionYou can tell a personal story that further positions you as the best candidate. You can provide statistical insight, reinforcing your industry knowledge. You may opt to walk your employer through your process. In other words, you can communicate more personally than you would on your resume and leverage that "ace in your pocket." See an example I used in a cover letter:
I am an avid golfer (with a pretty good handicap) and golf at least twice per week—I have closed many sales on the golf course over a weekend. Clients consider me a trusted friend and have even helped me form golf teams for charity events, which is an excellent way to network and gain new business...Do you think I would have been able to add this golf example in the resume for my client – no. Now, let’s say candidate #1 is a stellar sales person and candidate #2 (my client) is also an outstanding revenue producer - this example is helping my client promote an added value. This "sign-on benefit" clues the hiring manager my client initiates and develops fruitful relationships through personal networking strategies that will be advantageous to the company. Besides, it’s memorable. In a pile of hundreds of resumes and cover letters, memorable is a winner!
3. Become A TeaseForeshadow what will be listed on the resume and what they will discover when they read your resume - but don’t repeat. Piqué interest! Save some fresh content for your cover letter. This is a strategic career marketing plan. Example:
Please refer to my resume, which summarizes more than 15 years of experience increasing revenue for top corporations such as IBM. I have aggressively launched unique sales strategies that have produced up to $8M annually. You will find a full account of my projected sales plans and exceeded goals by percentage per year.Now, we have asked the hiring manager to review the resume and we have provided a bit of information to spark interest. It is important to add quantifiable information and be specific, as you don’t want to seem vague. However, there is no need to provide all the details in the cover letter, especially if it will be on the resume. While I urge you to tease - the teasing must be done with actual facts and specific references not generalities that mean nothing.
4. Mesmerize ThemThere is a physiological connection that goes on when you get a person to think or say yes. So, when you craft your cover letter try to envision the reader nodding their head in agreement with your statements. In order to do this, you must validate their needs. You can cast this spell through reinforcing statements or questions. Take it easy on the questions, though—you don’t want to come across too sales-driven. (The art of career marketing is a delicate balance.)
5. Ask For The InterviewIn sales, they always direct you to ask for the sale. Well, ask for the interview. Just ask for it! The point here is that your cover letter is a supporting influencing tool. It must be unique, inviting, compelling - a prelude to a well crafted resume in order to provoke action. Your cover letter is part of a marketing package and so merely writing it as you would any other communication letter is not going to generate the interviews you seek. True story: I had a client tell me that, when he was interviewed, he was told the cover letter clinched the interview and the resume was used as a guide for an interesting interview. Here is a beginning part of that cover letter:
Music and entertainment is my passion. I am lucky to have realized so early what I was born to do! I have known I wanted to work in the entertainment industry since I was 11 years old. At age four, I already had an affinity for music and entertainment... I loved to perform, watch all the award shows on TV, memorize the choreography to music videos, and I always wanted to know how it all worked behind the scenes.Client landed a job with Universal Music Distribution. There you have it. Market yourself as the ideal candidate via a purposefully created cover letter. The cover letter techniques above will help augment the resume, convincing the employer you've got what they need... in a very special way. Photo Credit: Shutterstock