Anything delivered to a decision-maker should sell you rather than simply state facts. Your cover letter and resume, together with a large number of other documents submitted by other job seekers, are placed in a pile for the decision-maker to peruse one by one when doing a job search. The chances of YOUR paper being the first in the pile are a million to one! This indicates that the decision-maker has likely read a certain number of cover letters (and resumes) before reaching out to you…
Anything delivered to a decision-maker should sell you rather than simply state facts. Your cover letter and resume, together with a large number of other documents submitted by other job seekers, are placed in a pile for the decision-maker to peruse one by one when doing a job search. The chances of YOUR paper being the first in the pile are a million to one! This indicates that the decision-maker has likely examined a certain number of cover letters (and resumes) before coming to your collection of documents. With that in mind, I never propose beginning a cover letter with the following phrase, which appears in so many other letters:
“I am submitting my RESUME for your consideration in response to your recent advertisement in the New York Times for the post of Staff Accountant.”
B-O-R-I-N-G!! Furthermore, the decision-maker has most likely read this (or a very similar) text at least five times. Remember, you want to CAPTURE the attention of the decision-maker and SELL yourself to them.
Don’t say the obvious because the cover letter is intended to advertise you to potential employers. If the cover letter does not pique the reader’s interest and attract them to read it, it is a waste of your time to write it and the reader’s time to read it.
Count how many times you use the words “I”and/or “my” throughout a day. After you’ve finished writing the letter, take a pen and circle all of the I‘s and my’s in it: how many are there? It’s time to rewrite a few sentences.
Here’s an example of how to go about it: rather than writing “I’m looking for a new job that will allow me to enhance my career. “A background in retail management and a proven record of achieving results as a Store Manager are key elements in qualifying me for consideration as part of your team,” you can write, “My background in retail management and proven record of obtaining results as a Store Manager are key elements in qualifying me for consideration as part of your team.”
Remember the goal of the cover letter: to highlight your qualifications, promote your skills, and convince a potential employer that you are deserving of an interview. Explaining what you want throughout the letter does not provide the reader with the BENEFIT of what you have to offer, which is critical for your success.
One of the cover letter approaches I prefer to employ is to pluck out the top 4 or 5 accomplishments and list them in bullet style with the letter. It acts as an excellent focal point for readers’ gaze, drawing their attention to your skills right away. Here’s a taste of what would otherwise be a longer cover letter:
… My achievements as a top-performer and devoted professional include: • a 58 percent rise in new business during my term as Regional Advertising Manager • a 50 percent increase in client media coverage and the development of partnerships with hitherto unsecured media connections
There are numerous ways to express yourself, yet as you can see, some words have a greater influence on readers than others. By swapping various terms or phrases for more traditional (and obsolete) terminology in cover letters, e-resumes, and traditional resumes, you can shift the reader’s perception in an instant. Take a look at the following outline:
VERBIAGE THAT IS NOT AGGRESSIVE
✓ Create the entire department from the ground up.
✓ I collaborated with department heads on a regular basis.
✓ $3 million in sales were generated as a result of my efforts.
✓ Assisting new employees
✓ Knowledge of financial markets and corporate finance is essential.
✓ Assisting the marketing department with bids and strategies
✓ Expenses were slashed by 10%.
VERBIAGE WITH AN AGGRESSIVE CONNECTION
✓ From its start to its successful operation, the department has been established.
✓ Relationships with department heads were strengthened.
✓ Sales of $3 million were generated as a result of my efforts.
✓ Assisted new employees
✓ Capital markets and corporate finance expertise
✓ Participated in the development of marketing strategies.
✓ Expenses were slashed (or decreased) by 10%.
To put it another way, aggressive writing makes you SIZZLE, whereas passive writing tells your “story.” Keep in mind that your purpose is to effectively promote yourself, not to write your professional biography.