In my experience as an executive resume writer, cover letters only get read about a third of the time they are sent. That being said, when one is required, or you are hoping for that added edge to get a hiring manager's attention, there is no doubt a great cover letter can make all the difference.
To accomplish this, your cover letter must be disruptive and draw them in.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you're writing a disruptive cover letter.
Paragraph 1: Tell A Story
In the first paragraph of your disruptive cover letter, you need to establish a connection between you and the employer. How do you do that? Well, you need to tell a story.
The surest way to stand out to employers is to tell a story about why you feel connected to their company.
Don't just reiterate what you say in your resume in the very first paragraph of your cover letter. Explain what you admire about the company you're applying to. Do they sell a product or provide a service that's had a big impact on your life? Do they support causes you are passionate about? Why do you feel connected to their mission?
Ultimately, you want to tell a story about what drew you to the company, and the important role it has played in your life.
Paragraph 2: Dig Deeper And Get Them Excited About What Comes Next
The second paragraph must provide the hiring manager with some added context about your unique background, and set the stage for some career highlights that, to quote an old saying, "puts your money where your mouth is."
Blend language from the job description together with nuggets of information that are unique to you. Set the stage for how you are qualified for the role you are applying to. But, don't overdo it.
Continue your story and relate it to the position, all while emphasizing that connection.
Paragraph 3: Hard Hitting Highlights
Select a couple of examples from your resume that you believe will impress recruiters and hiring managers. Rather than a complete cut and paste, reword these achievements and frame them in a way that shows the employers what you can do for them.
In many cases, numbers resonate more than words, so be sure to include quantifiable examples wherever possible.
Paragraph 4: Say Goodbye While Refreshing Their Memory
In this fourth and last paragraph, be sure to thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your disruptive cover letter (remember that not all managers do!).
Next, use this last bit of space to help the reader connect the dots to show them why you are a great job candidate, a business-of-one who can provide a service they need with a personal connection to the company that is invaluable.
Remember: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make yours count with an impactful and disruptive cover letter that separates you from the competition!
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.