“When I write a cover letter, I don’t want an employer to think it’s good. I want them to call me faster than 911.” -Phil Baker
Cover letters are the “You had me at hello,” of job hunting. Your cover letters can make employers write or call you immediately to schedule an interview or forget you faster than a sleazy pick up line.
Your cover letter must cause an employer to contact you immediately.
Nothing else will do. No matter how great your resume is, a resume does not cause action.
A resume is your past relationship. Your cover letter is your “hello.”
Can you imagine meeting someone you would like to date and they start with:
“Hi, my most recent relationship lasted for three years. My accomplishments include remembering birthdays, ordering wine in Italian, and consistently using the correct name of the person I am with at all times. My skills include flirting and picking movies.”
A resume is your specification sheet. Your cover letter is your advertising. Pizza restaurants, car dealers, furniture stores and businesses do not send out or broadcast specification sheets to get you to buy their products. They make commercials that tell you what their product can do for you.
When you are job hunting you are marketing. Your cover letter is your advertising. The most successful advertisers know the basic principle of advertising is AIDA – Attention –Interest –Desire – Action. There ads have to get your attention, spark your interest, create desire, and cause action.
If you are not using this principle in your job search and cover letter YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME. If you happen to get an interview without using this principle run for the closest convenience store – for a lotto ticket because you are one lucky son of a gun! (if you are a female would that be one lucky daughter of a gun?)
Look, I see cover letters all day long that do absolutely nothing.
Dear Mr. Baker,
I am submitting my resume for the Account Rep position you have posted. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Compare that cover letter to this one:
Dear Mr. Baker
Your posting for the account rep caught my attention and prompted
me to immediately contact you. My knowledge of your company’s reputation preceded my discovery and subsequent elation regarding your opportunity.
An interview with you would be a welcome invitation to demonstrate my enthusiasm and give us the opportunity to discuss your needs. I have a small window of availability before making any decisions and would appreciate your immediate attention.
See a difference? This cover letter “had me at hello.”
Letters like this work!
Your cover letter must cause an employer to contact you immediately.
The good news is there are many ways to do this.
By Phil Baker, Creator of OneClick Cover Letters.
Cover Letters: 101 Tips
1. Establish the purpose of your writing. Some cover letters are responses to known job openings, others inquire about potential job openings, and some are networking messages. You need to know the difference and the unique approaches.
2. Gather information about the job for which you are applying. Your cover letter should be personal and should specifically reference the recipient and the available job. http://www.doleta.gov/jobseekers/find_job.cfm
3. Avoid simply summarizing your resume. While you can certainly point out your strong qualifications and accomplishments, make your writing complement, not just repeat the information contained in your resume. Do make sure your cover letter is congruent with your resume objective. Stating you are seeking the open teaching position in your cover letter than stating you want to be a warehouse supervisor in your resume objective, will keep you from doing wither one!
4. Begin your cover letters with a heading in the upper left corner with your name and contact information and date. This provides an easily referenced way for employers to contact you.
5. Use cordial and professional language. While the letter should have personal touches, you still need to remain professional throughout the entire letter. This includes language, format, and your email address.
6. Use correct grammar in your resume cover letter. Potential employers can be quickly turned off by poor grammar and word usage. http://www.ivyleagueadmission.com/coverletterpage.html
7. Double and triple check your spelling. Do not rely on the computer to catch everything. Many employers will discard a resume if they see even a single spelling error. http://louisville.edu/career/students/job-search/old-pages/cover-letter-writing.html
8. Use a personal salutation whenever possible rather than “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir or madam.” A personal address can make a big difference.
9. Sign your hard copy letter with both a typed name and your personal signature for a more personable feel. This will show an employer that you took the time to actually sign your name.
10. Do not send a form letter as your cover letter. Your cover letter should be customized and specifically for each potential employer. OneClick Cover Letters help you do this.
11. If you have writer’s block create an outline first. Outlines can help you to avoid rambling and ensure that your cover letter flows and is clear and concise.
12. Outline three main points of conversation that you want to address in your cover letter. Support each of these points with one or two supporting sentences. Smoothly incorporate your three points into your draft. You might consider separating main points into different paragraphs for clarity’s sake.
13. Read about the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) cover letter call to action of creating advertising copy and apply that to your writing.
14. Be very specific about the job title and your relevant skills and accomplishments. General statements may cause an employer to think that you do not know much about the job for which you are applying.
15. Reference the tasks that the job will require of you and give reasons why you feel that you are well-suited for those tasks. This shows an employer that you are well-informed.
16. Provide a personal yet professional anecdote from your past work experience. An anecdote humanizes your cover letter and makes your job search seem very personal and intimate. This can be something that gives accolades to a previous boss for teaching you a relevant skill.
17. Do not use idioms or slang in your cover letter. While your letter should be personal, this doesn’t need to be so casual as to communicate intimacy.
18. Do not be afraid to use networking names in your cover letter. If you know someone at the company or business, include the name as a reference.
19.Emphasize your past work experience that you believe will help you in the job for which you are applying. The cover letter is your chance to present yourself as you’d like to be presented.
20. Be bold in your language without being boastful. Don’t shy away from mentioning your accomplishments. State them simply and factually. Choose power words that optimize your resume skills.
21. Vary the accomplishments and characteristics that you mention. Give examples of your ability to work with others, your timeliness, your professionalism, and your competence.
22. Be brief in your writing. A cover letter doesn’t have to say everything about you; that’s what the resume is for. A cover letter should typically be one page. http://www.career.vt.edu/jobsearchguide/coverlettersamples.html
23. Examine good templates and example cover letters online to get some ideas before you begin. Adapt an example cover letter to fit your personal style. http://www.cgu.edu/pages/923.asp
24. Never use a template with the wording “as is” from the internet. Employers can recognize template cover letters because they receive so many cover letters each year. http://www.nycareerzone.org/cz/resources/jobseeker/simplecover.jsp
25. Attempt to be memorable in your cover letter. You want your cover letter to create an image that will stick in a potential employer’s mind.
26. Pay attention to requirements when sending a resume and cover letter via e-mail. Many human resource managers have specific requirements for accepting e-mails.
27. If the human resource manager prefers to have a resume and cover letter sent as attachments in an e-mail, include your cover letter and resume as two separate files.
28. If there are no requirements or suggestions for sending a resume and cover letter via e-mail, include your cover letter in the body of the email message and send your resume as an attachment in addition to hard copies via mail.
29. Use professional fonts such as Times New Roman or Calibri when writing your cover letter. Never use the Comic Sans font when writing a cover letter unless you are applying for the circus.
30. Do not lie in your cover letter or resume. While you might be tempted to falsify information in order to get an initial interview, the deception will eventually be uncovered and you might lose your chance at the job.
31. If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, call the company or visit the company website to try to find a name. A name is much more personable than “dear sir” “dear madam” or “dear hiring manager.”
32. Provide a few facts about the company to show potential employers that you have done your research. Incorporate these facts into your reasoning for applying for the job. http://www.acinet.org/
33. While you do not need to offer explanations in your cover letters, if you feel you must then be honest about any negative aspects of your resume. If you have an employment gap on your resume, explain why you were unemployed.
34. Make the best use of the subject line in your email cover letters. Include the recipient’s name and the job title for the position you are targeting.
35. Be respectful in your tone, not defensive. If you sound cocky or defensive in your tone, a potential employer may assume that you act like that in person.
36. Have a friend or family member read your resume cover letter before you send. Often, a fresh set of eyes can uncover something that you have missed.
37. Be open to revision suggestions or edits from a friend or family member. You will never be able to improve your letter if you reject every suggestion without considering it. http://ucs.yalecollege.yale.edu/content/cover-letters
38. Avoid talking about previous salaries in your cover letter. Often, mentioning a salary history will exclude your from consideration for the job.
39. If the application requirements state that a salary history must be included in your cover letter, one option is to provide a brief history and state that your expectations are flexible.
40. Avoid making any demands in your cover letter. Demands are a part of job negotiation. Your cover letter is a positive and respectful request for an interview.
41. Reread your cover letter and ask yourself “Does this cover letter concisely show why I am qualified or this job?” If not, rework the cover letter, making your message concise and informative. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/527/01/
42. Give your contact information at the top and bottom of the resume cover letter. A potential employer should be able to find your contact information with just a quick glance at your cover letter.
43. Attach your hard copy cover letter to your resume with a staple, not a paper clip. If your cover letter is lost, you might not ever be contacted for the job position.
44. Write your cover letter in the same font as your resume so that the two will complement each other. Use the same margins, font size, and formatting as well.
45. Do not use clichés in your cover letter. “Thinking outside the box” and “juggling multiple tasks” are such common phrases that they have long-since ceased to be effective.
46. Do not simply copy a cover letter example you find. These often feature clichés and uninspired examples that potential employers have seen before.
47. Try to make your cover letter fresh, unique and surprising. Instead of telling a potential employer that you think outside the box, show them that you think outside the box.
48. If writing is not your strong suit, consider a cover letter creator program. OneClick Cover Letters have been specifically designed to invoke a positive response from employers and they are completely customizable.
49. Ask others to help you proofread your work and make suggestions for changes and edits.
50. Include information about professional development courses only if the courses you have taken directly relate to the job for which you are applying. If they don’t, leave them out of your cover letter.
51. Avoid starting your sentences with “I.” Vary the way you begin your sentences so that your cover letter does not sound like a laundry list of boasts.
52. Use formatting such as italics and bold font to highlight important information. When a potential employer scans your cover letter, these facts should jump off the page and grab his or her attention.
53. Use job-appropriate keywords in your writing. Scan the job description and the company profile to find words that are used often that may reflect a business’s purpose statement. Use those words in your cover letter. http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CovLetter_questions.html
54. Never be weak or self-deprecating in your letter. Avoid language like “if you are interested” or “if you would like.” Assume that the employer is interested in your resume and cover letter.
55. Don’t pad your cover letter with uncommon words from a Thesaurus. Many people mistakenly believe that impressive Thesaurus words will make them sound smarter. In reality, Thesaurus words make you sound desperate.
56. Don’t be stodgy in your language. If you sound stuck-up or stiff, an employer may simply decide that they don’t want to work with you before they even meet you.
57. Keep a conversational tone. If you would say it in a conversation with your potential employer, include it. If it would sound awkward or stiff, leave it out. http://rpi.edu/web/writingcenter/cover_letter.html
58. Write your cover letter as if you are explaining your qualifications to a kindergartner. This doesn’t mean write as if the employer is stupid. Instead, write your cover letter so that there can be no confusion.
59. Keep all of your cover letters on file for reference. Often, consulting a cover letter that was sent for a similar job can be a great resource for creating a new cover letter.
60. Write your qualifications in paragraph form rather than list form. Nothing but a list of qualifications may look too much like a resume instead of a cover letter. Use lists to add value.
61. Condense your qualifications into one or two statements for brevity and clarity. Your resume can expand on your qualifications and experience. Your cover letter should simply reference them.
62. Start your cover letter with a recommendation quote from a reliable source. Beginning your cover letter with a glowing recommendation encourages employers to keep reading.
63. Expect that your cover letter will not be read all the way through. Put the most important information in the first and last line of your letter.
64. Start your cover letter with something that will surprise a potential employer. Most employers read the first line and then decide whether or not to keep reading. Include something to encourage them to read your entire message.
65. Tell the employer why his or her company stands out to you. Tell them why you are interested. Sincere flattery can help.
66. Consider your situation about why you are applying for a job. If you simply state you are tired of looking for work you will not interest an employer. If you state honestly that you are bored working behind a cash register and want to be in a sales position, your cover letter will be remembered.
67. Include something in your letter that shows who you are not just what you’ve done. A humorous though professional introduction or a personal story can do wonders for creating rapport.
68. Write about what you have accomplished individually not what you’ve accomplished on a team or in a group setting. Individual accomplishments tell an employer more than group accomplishments.
69. Imagine that you are the employer who is reading hundreds of cover letters. Imagine how an employer will respond to your specific cover letter. If you aren’t interested in your letter, an employer definitely won’t be. http://www.law.harvard.edu/current/careers/opia/landing-your-job/sample-cover-letters.html
70. Include a link to your professional website, blog, or social account.
71. Write a sentence about your life goals. When an employer knows what you want to accomplish, he or she can better understand your personality.
72. Understand the difference between a small business and a large business. Different sized businesses have different requirements for employment.
73. A small business wants an employee who is a good “fit” for the business. A cover letter for a small business should emphasize personality traits.
74. A large business wants an employee who will produce results. A cover letter for a large business should emphasize accomplishments and work-related skills and abilities.
75. Write a cover letter that can be read and comprehended in less than thirty seconds. This is all you will usually get from a potential employer.
76. Don’t include too much information about unrelated skills. While one interesting skill can grab a reader’s attention, too many unrelated skills are distracting and annoying.
77. A cover letter is not an autobiography. Employers don’t care about your life situation unless that pertains to employment.
78. Organization is incredibly important when writing a cover letter. Don’t hop around from idea to idea. Have direction and flow throughout your message. http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CovLetter_structure.html
79. Summarize in your conclusion. Many employers will read the first line and the last paragraph of your letter. The last paragraph should summarize everything in two or three sentences.
80. Print your resume cover letter on high quality stationery. A higher quality piece of paper can actually make a huge subconscious difference in an employer’s mind. http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CovLetter_format.html
81. Print on a high quality printer. A printer that smudges or smears your page can ruin your chances of getting hired. If your document looks shoddy, it reflects poorly on you.
82. Don’t sign your name with a ridiculous writing utensil. This may sound obvious, but this happens regularly. Signing your name with a purple sparkly pen or pink highlighter will make you look like a fifth grader. Use blue or black ink.
83. When printing use black ink on white paper or off white paper. Don’t get too fancy with your cover letter: all that will do is make an employer roll their eyes. Do not add any scents or perfumes to a hard copy snail mail resume package. Then you might have them rolling their eyes and sneezing!
84. Send your resume and cover letter in a manila envelope that doesn’t require you to fold anything. A crease less cover letter is easier to read.
85. Include your return address on the cover letter and on the envelope in which you mail it. If the letter isn’t delivered, you will get it back and can resend it.
86. Your cover letter should explain why you can benefit the company, not why the company will benefit you. This is the most important distinction.
87. Write your cover letter as if you are selling a product to an individual. In this case, the individual is the company, and the product is you.
88. Make life easier for the employer. Use bullet lists if you have to communicate a lot of information: your cover letter will be easier to read and understand.
89. Include the date on the cover letter so the employer knows that your letter has been written specifically for the job at hand. http://careers.faa.uiuc.edu/all/coverletter.html
90. If your body features three qualifications that make you well-suited for the job, separate each qualification in a separate paragraph. Start the paragraph with a statement about the qualification and then expand on that statement with accomplishment sentences. http://www.gcflearnfree.org/coverletters/1
91. Tell the employer how you discovered the position and the company. This shows the employer how you are conducting your job search.
92. Make sure your cover letter can be read easily in an e-mail format. E-mail is the most common submission method today. Employers don’t like to scroll down to read a lengthy e-mail.
93. Your salutation and closing should reflect the type of business at which you are applying. A cover letter to a law firm that starts with “Hey Mr. Smith” is not appropriate. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/1147.htm
94. Ask specifically for an interview. Because the cover letter is conversational, you can ask for what you want: a face to face interview or meeting.
95. Inform the employer that you will be contacting him or her in a week to confirm the receipt of your cover letter. This may encourage an employer to read your letter in preparation for your call.
96. Follow through on your promises. If you ask for an interview, be prepared for one. If you say you are going to follow up with a phone call, then do so. Some employers are waiting for you to do just that.
97. Send a follow up letter week or two after you submit your original cover letter. Have a specific reason for writing, such as a resume update or change in your circumstances. Reiterate your interest in the job and ask again for an interview every other letter.
98. Include a post script at the end of your letter. Almost all employers will read a post script. It is a subconscious urge. Use your P.S. statement in your cover letter to your greatest advantage. Ask for an interview and explain your desire to get the job.
99. Follow guidelines to help your email resume avoid the spam box. Avoid spam words in the subject line, use a plain text rather than HTML format, and copy and paste your resume into the email body in addition to sending your resume as an attachment in a separate email. http://www.job-hunt.org/article_antispam.shtml
100. State that you are available immediately (but not necessarily any time) to meet. Using “immediate” language may encourage an employer to schedule an interview sooner rather than later.
101. The most important qualities of a resume cover letter are: relevancy, brevity, clarity, and personality. Keep the message short, be clear in your writing, and show employers who you are. http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/cdc/resumes/cover-ltr-writing
The Cover Letters Experiment
With years of experience behind the scenes screening resumes and cover letters, creating processes for hiring for employers, and conducting some of the most successful advertising campaigns in the world with copy writing, I decided to apply my knowledge and experience to cover letters. Why is any of this important to you?
Because you can use what I found to get interviews; road tested proven cover letters that work like crazy.
Extensive split tests were performed by sending the same resumes with different cover letters.
We sent these all different types of employers for a variety of open positions.
The results were astounding! I used focused phrases that changed how employers reacted.
These were controlled studies. By changing only one sentence I invoked a dramatic 277% increase in requests for interviews from employers. There are sentences that attract employers like ants to a picnic!
What we discovered:
By using one of my ’cause to action’ phrases in closing the response from employers increased by as much as a whopping 1,298%!!!
Here is another surprise: The same resume with a standard cover letter that did not get even one response from any employer after three weeks, when sent again with one of my cover letters got seven calls for interviews within 24 hours!
By applying the science of marketing language, the inside knowledge of the resume selection process, the psychology of human behavior, a study of chosen cover letters from the personnel files of employers, and NLP type principles, I have cover letters for you that will get you calls and open doors like magic.
After years of research I have packaged the results into powerful cover letters in the OneClick Cover Letter Creator that you can use instantly. These cover letters have been tested and proven to get interviews. You are going to be using the MOST POWERFUL COVER LETTERS ON EARTH. This program is packed full of my powerful proven cover letters all ready to insert in most any email or word program with one click.
copyright Phil Baker Resume Dictionary
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