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Offline Rennhack

Cover Letter Advice
« on: Jul 27, 2013, 04:47 »
How to Write a Cover Letter That Employers Will Actually Read

When you're applying for a new job, you often have to write a cover letter to accompany your resume and serve as an introduction to who you are. These letters must be brief yet compelling so you don't require much of the reader but still appear unique. This can be pretty tough, but if you utilize the principles of good storytelling and concise writing you can put together a letter that won't get lost in the pile. Here's how.

Writing a cover letter isn’t an easy task for many job seekers. There’s a lot of pressure because, sometimes, the cover letter is the only piece the recruiter will read. Therefore, your cover letter must be a piece of writing that describes your achievements and how you will help the company succeed.

Additionally, you want your cover letter to illustrate how you are the best fit for the company and for the reader to believe you have the qualifications they seek. If you want to land an interview with your cover letter, you don’t want to sound vague or wishy-washy. Your cover letter should illustrate why you are the best fit and how you will help the company or organization reach success.

Most cover letters tend to be fairly formulaic and look something like this:

   Dear [EMPLOYER],

    I would like to express my interest in [SOME POSITION] at [COMPANY]. Although I've explored many options in my job search, I've come to respect the quality and integrity of the work that you do. I love working in the nuclear field and believe I would be a good asset to your company. I'm a hard worker who thinks outside of the box while working in an efficient manner. I believe you'll find that my four years of experience at [SOME OTHER COMPANY I CLEARLY WANT TO LEAVE OR WAS FIRED FROM], and my resume, mirror these qualities. I look forward to hearing from you and exchanging ideas about what I can offer [COMPANY].

    Thank you for your consideration.

    [APPLICANT]


If you read a letter like this, you wouldn't cry blood or toss it in the garbage in favor of getting a root canal. It's a perfectly acceptable letter by letter-writing standards, but it's also pretty generic and ineffective. It doesn't tell you anything about who the author is, any compelling reason why they're interested in their work or the company they're hoping will employ them, and really does nothing at all to stand out from the crowd. In this post, we're going to look at how to avoid letters like these and write interesting, unique cover letters that target the reader.

Know Your Audience

Your audience is your prospective employer, and while you can never know exactly who will be reading your letter you can know the company. You don't want to craft a letter in which you try to be everything you think your target company might want, but you do want to take who the company is into account. Chances are there were a few things you liked about the company before deciding to apply. For example, if you were looking for a job at South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, you may have gotten excited when you heard about the construction of Unit 2 that began officially on March 9, 2013. Whatever made you like the company, or got you excited about the job, likely tells you a thing or two about the corporate culture. This information is very valuable when writing your cover letter.

First of all, knowing the way a company operates will hint at the level of formality they'll expect from a letter. If you were applying for a job at NukeWorker, for example, you'd want to write something more casual. At a nuclear plant, formality would likely be more appreciated. If you know the company, you should have a pretty good idea of what's fitting.


Something like this might work:

    The first time I learned about the atom, and fission in grade school I was in love with all things atomic. Now that I am in the market for a job, I immediately though of Duke Power because I want to help to create electricity that makes life a pleasure. (needs work, but you get the idea)

This statement compliments the company. It shows that you know detail about the company, so you're not just applying arbitrarily. They show that you appreciate the work the company does and they provide insight into who you are and what you care about. When you're writing your cover letter, knowing your audience can help you do this. You may be applying for a job because you want any job, but that doesn't mean you can't do a little research and find something you like and respect about your prospective employer. Doing so will give you the opportunity to connect with them in a very brief moment and help you avoid getting stacked in a pile of generic applicants.

Know Yourself

You can't be someone else, so don't try. This is good advice for life, and is especially relevant when applying for a new job. If you try to present yourself as the worker you think the company wants, you're going to end up with boring statements that don't really say much about you. Your resume can sell your skills and experience. Your cover letter needs to sell you as a person, and give the company a reason to want you. It's an opportunity to put your best (and most relevant) foot forward, and you should take it.


    The number one best way to get someone to look at your resume closely: come across as a human being, not a list of jobs and job skills. Tell me a little story. "I've spent the last three weeks looking for a job at a nuclear energy company, but all I can find are mom and pop shops looking to pay minimum wage to an experienced ELT." Or, "We yanked our son out of high school and brought him to Pennsylvania. I am not going to move again until he is out of high school, even if I have to go work at Radio Shack or become a Wal*Mart greeter."

Who you are matters. It's true that some companies are mostly interested in hiring people who will simply get the work done, accept a low salary, and never complain, if you're applying for a job you're actually going to like then chances are you matter. Put a little of yourself into the cover letter. You're not sharing your disease history. You're sharing your personality in a way that's relevant to the job you want. It's fun. It's an excuse to be honest, and you increase your chances of getting a job, too.

Show, Don't Tell

One of the most common mistakes people make in any kind of writing is that they tell their audience what they want them to know. Just as you'll generally find explanations to be dull in a film, your prospective employer will find them to be dull in a cover letter. There's no sense in telling anyone that you're a hard worker or a team player because you'll be 1) expecting that they'll trust such a generic statement and 2) among many other undesirable candidates who write the same thing. If you're going to provide reasons why you're great, provide an undeniable example instead.

The best way to do this is look back on your work history—or even something relevant that you created outside of your professional life—that made you feel proud of what you can do. Tell a story about that in a few short sentences:

    I was disappointed that there was no central place for nuclear workers to share information about employers, or to find jobs so I created NukeWorker.com.  
or
    I couldn't find a good study guide for contract Radiation Protection technicians so I a wrote a book that was recently accepted into the Library of Congress.

You can tell anyone anything, but you have to provide an example to demonstrate why they should believe your claims.

Demonstrate What Every Employer Wants to Know

Most employers care about the following three things above all else:

    You're smart.
    You'll get things done.
    You'll fit in well with their corporate culture.

Before you sign and send your cover letter, do your best to ensure those three things are implied. Again, you don't ever want to actually say them, but you want your reader to think them when they've finished reading your letter.

Never Write the Same Letter Twice

Every time you apply for a job your audience changes. The job changes. Chances are you've changed a bit, too. While you can certainly re-use elements from previous cover letters when they are applicable, it's very important to remember that the exact same cover letter is going to have a different impact on different people. As you go ahead and apply for different jobs, remember that they are different. You'll want to craft your cover letters to express that.

Add a Strong Closing Sentence to Your Cover Letter to Seal the Deal

When writing the closing paragraph of your cover letter, it’s easy to have a passive voice because you don’t want to appear overconfident. For example, if you say, “I look forward to hearing from you,” that’s great — but that alone doesn’t seal the deal. The closing paragraph of your cover letter must be one of the strongest elements because it is the last impression you leave in the reader’s mind.

Here are four phrases to include in the final paragraph of your cover letter that will help you seal the deal for your next interview:

1. “I am very excited to learn more about this opportunity and share how I will be a great fit for XYZ Corporation.” Strong cover letter closings are enthusiastic and confident. You want the reader to have the impression you are truly passionate about the position and working for their company. This statement will also illustrate your ability to fit into the company culture and how your personality and work ethic is exactly what they’re looking for.

2. “I believe this is a position where my passion for the nuclear industry will grow because of the XYZ opportunities you provide for your employees.” It’s always a good idea to explain what you find attractive about working for the company and how you want to bring your passions to the table. By doing this, you can illustrate how much thought you dedicated to applying for the position and how much you care about becoming a part of the company.

3. “If I am offered this position, I will be ready to hit the ground running and help XYZ Company exceed its own expectations for success.” By adding this piece to your conclusion, you will be able to add some flare and excitement to your cover letter. The reader will become intrigued by your enthusiasm to “hit the ground running.” Employers look for candidates who are prepared for the position and are easy to train. Therefore, this phrase will definitely raise some curiosity and the reader will want to discover what you have to offer for their company.

4. “I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my qualifications will be beneficial to your organization’s success.” Remember, you want to make it clear in your cover letter how the employer will benefit from your experience and qualifications. You want to also express how your goal is to help the organization succeed, not how the position will contribute to your personal success.

Remember, the closing of your cover letter is the most important element that will help you land your next interview. By crafting a strong, confident, and enthusiastic closing paragraph, you will leave the reader feeling like you could be the best candidate for the position.
« Last Edit: Nov 06, 2013, 05:39 by Rennhack »

chuckdhuff

  • Guest
Re: Cover Letter Advice
« Reply #1 on: Sep 23, 2015, 04:15 »
Or just don't write one at all. Very few are ever read.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-23/the-case-against-cover-letters

Offline tolstoy

Re: Cover Letter Advice
« Reply #2 on: Sep 24, 2015, 06:39 »
Or just don't write one at all. Very few are ever read.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-23/the-case-against-cover-letters


The article reports that only a small number of hiring managers believe a cover letter to be valuable but in our industry that application will jump through several hoops before ever landing on a manager's desk. First you have to get past the recruiting folks who don't know you, don't care about you, and look for any opportunity to toss you from the pile of applicants. When the final ten applications are on their desk and one doesn't have a cover letter it appears that you aren't as interested as other applicants. The only thing worse, I suppose, is to write one fraught with spelling and grammar errors. I won't argue that you'll ever get a job based on a cover letter but by sending a poorly written one or by omitting it altogether you stand a good chance getting that Thanks but No Thanks letter.

Offline Laundry Man

Re: Cover Letter Advice
« Reply #3 on: Sep 24, 2015, 08:56 »
In my younger days I helped a lot of people write nuclear resumes and cover letters.  Recently one of my buddies applied for a carpenter job at a college near me.  He asked me for resume help.  Never did a carpenter one before, a little research and did up a nice one for him.  He calls and thanks me and asks what is a cover letter.  I describe it and he has never heard of one.  Since he was self employed the notion never occurred to him.  Typed one up and sent it along.  Hope he gets the job but at least now he has the documents to apply for other positions.
LM

Offline SloGlo

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Re: Cover Letter Advice
« Reply #4 on: Sep 24, 2015, 11:18 »
iffen I was two pick won of the closing sentences shone eyed use:

1) but change it to reed:
    I am very excited to learn more about this opportunity and discover how I may be a great fit for XYZ Corporation

      this isn't as egotistical a statement as the first and allows the corporate type to feel in charge.

4) without  change:
     I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my qualifications will be beneficial to your organization’s success.

     vary nice approach.
« Last Edit: Sep 24, 2015, 11:19 by SloGlo »
quando omni flunkus moritati

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Chimera

  • Guest
Re: Cover Letter Advice
« Reply #5 on: Oct 08, 2015, 06:51 »
So much for the Ron White approach:

Pick me!  Pick me!

 


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