There is a saying in sales that you do not sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. This is every bit as true in writing an employment cover letter. Here are some tips that will help you write a cover letter that sells the sizzle.
Your Personal Sales Letter
Above all else, your employment cover letter is your personal sales letter. This is your chance to show the hiring manager that you are the one for the job. This is not the place to be timid. This is where you stand out form the crowd. Your cover letter needs to scream “Look at me!”
Thanks to the internet, it is possible for a hiring manager to receive hundreds of applications for a job posting. With that amount of volume, most applications will only get a quick glance. If there is nothing to grab the attention of the person hiring, your application will end up in the circular file without getting a second look. Your cover letter must grab the manager’s attention, and make them look deeper into your qualifications.
Target Your Cover Letter
One of the biggest things you can do to make your employment cover letter sizzle is to target it to a specific job at a specific company. This starts at the very beginning. If you want to show that you’ve done your research address the cover letter to the person who is reviewing it. “Dear Ms. Jones” has much more power than “Dear Hiring Manager”. While most classified ads don’t include this information, sometimes it just takes one phone call to find what you need.
When you write the body of your employment cover letter, keep a copy of the classified ad in front of you, and write the letter as an answer to that ad. If the ad mentions specific skills and qualifications, you can write about how you have the experience to meet those qualifications.
Do a little research on the company. Look at their web site and try to find out about their philosophy and values. As you write about your qualifications, be sure to word it in a way that reflects those values. For instance, if the company values strong customer service, you can give examples of your strength in providing strong customer service. The point is, make sure you target your employment cover letter to a specific company.
Let Your Passion Show
Another tip to make your employment cover letter sizzle is to make it sound alive. Many cover letters come across to the reader as being a lifeless list of qualifications. That’s not what the cover letter is for. This isn’t meant to be a reflection of your resume. A good employment cover letter is a chance to show that you are a live person, and that you truly want to use your skills to fulfill a need within the company.
Use wording in your cover letter that shows what you are passionate about. If there is something about the job you are applying for that you really love to so, say so. “I am a qualified teacher” doesn’t carry the same energy as “I am passionate about helping young people learn”.
When you are done writing your cover letter read it out loud to yourself. If it sounds boring to you, it probably is. Go back through and look for words and phrases that can be replaced by more energetic words.
Say It Like You Want It
Do you want this job? If you do, your employment cover letter must say so. One failing of many cover letters is that the writer never gets around to asking for the job. They express interest in the position, but that’s not quite the same as specifically asking for it. Also, don’t forget to give your contact information, and not just in the header. Tell the person hiring “I can be reached for an inter view at…”, and then give them you phone number. Make this as easy on them as possible.
As far as tone, confidence is the key. Run a grammar check on your cover letter to check for passive voice. “I have experience” is not passive. “My experiences have been” is passive. Make sure your statements are positive and confident.
Your employment cover letter can sizzle. All it takes is some time and effort to make it a unique reflection of yourself. Show the hiring manager that you are a live, passionate person, and that you can help fulfill a need. Show them that you sizzle.