To your delight, you see the perfect job description flash across the screen. You're instantly ready to respond and make the position yours. At this very juncture, it is best to stop, plant your feet on the ground, and take an analytical approach. Leave emotion behind in order to provide the best cover letter possible. After all, the cover letter sets the tone, conveying whether you will be the type of employee to best fit into the position and the organization.
Creating a cover letter is the written version of conducting a sales meeting designed to make the sale. In this case, you're encouraging the company to buy what you have to offer. The cover letter should be brief; make a personal connection; speak to company needs, wants, and desires; encourage agreement with your statements; and evoke just a touch of emotion to invite you in for a formal interview.
Before taking action, do the following:
Take the time to obtain a clear picture of the company and its industry. Visit the website and read through every page. Look for keywords, as these signal what is of most importance to the company. If the company is publicly traded, become familiar with their financials. Learn about the executive team. Understand the audience they serve. Next, research the competitors in their industry to get an improved outlook on the business and how they compare. Doing your research provides the basis for submitting an intriguing cover letter and having an excellent conversation during interviews.
Qualify and Match
As you research, create a list of points where you see a connection. Make note of personal experiences relating to the connection felt. Once you recognize the perfect example that will speak to what the company seeks, it is time to connect the dots for the person reading your cover letter.
Now it's time to...
Write the Cover Letter
The cover letter itself should be brief due to an overwhelming response to the job posting. Make yours stand out by including the following:
1. Perfect Job
Address the person by name. Omit the word "I". In your own words, relay, "Your description of the job speaks to my talent and interests." This only requires one sentence.
Recap the one story of your experience that matches very closely to what the company is seeking. Begin this paragraph with "Your search for..." and then briefly walk them through as to why you are a perfect match for the job. The best example will include how you applied the specific talent they are seeking to the desired outcome. This stimulates further interest on the recruiter's end to issue an invitation for a conversation.
While it's stressful to seek work, it is equally stressful to comb through hundreds of resumes and cover letters to pick the right candidate. Expression of appreciation is always in order. Thank the person for their time and consideration of your information.
4. Make it Easy
Underneath your name, list your phone, email, and street address. In this manner, you make it very easy for the person to contact you for the next step.
Structuring your cover letter in this manner produces a professional image and encourages a personal connection between you and the person reading your cover letter. Good luck!
Elinor Stutz, CEO of Smooth Sale, speaks and consults worldwide, and is the author of two best selling books: "Nice Girls DO Get the Sale: Relationship Building That Gets Results," and "HIRED! How to Use Sales Techniques to Sell Yourself on Interviews."