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[clientFirstName][clientLastName], you have an upcoming appointment. In order to maximize the time we have, please take a few moments and complete the below questions. We look forward to our meeting! Thank you!

The purpose of this worksheet is to aid in the writing and development of each section of a Cover letter. 

The cover letter is a tool to help introduce yourself in a memorable, personal way during a job application.

 

A cover letter reviews information in your resume and expands this information for the reader, taking them on a guided journey of some of your most significant career and life achievements.

 

When starting to write any cover letter, it is always best to plan the content of your message based on the requirements of your desired job.

 

 

 

This guide will cover the following:

 

·        the essential elements of a successful cover letter

 

·        how to write a unique cover letter, what to include in cover letters, and

 

·        what not to include and how you should submit your cover letter.

 

What is a Cover Letter?

 

Your resume is intended to lay out the facts, but your cover letter is meant to convey more personality. The cover letter is your first introduction to the person who may hire you, and its goal should be to make you as memorable as possible, in the right way.

 

Write a unique cover letter for each job to which you apply. No templates. No pre-written nonsense. The format of your cover letter should also match the company and the industry. 

 

There is no “official format” for your cover letter, but your cover letter should be visually organized and orderly in its presentation of information.

 


Successful cover letters go something like this:

 

1.     Memorable introduction

 

2.     Specific, organized examples of relevant work done, and problems solved

 

3.     Concise conclusion with a call to action

 

What to Include in Your Cover Letter?

 

You shouldn’t try to fit your entire career and life into the space of a cover letter.

 

Your cover letter should be a selection of stories from your career. That helps the reader gain a clear idea of who you are and how you can add value to their company.

 

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), below are the top three things that must be in a cover letter:

 

·         How your work experience meets their job requirements.

 

·         How your skills meet their job requirements.

 

·         Why you want to work at the organization.

Your cover letter needs to provide this information and leave the reader convinced that you are the right person for the job.

 

 

 

To accomplish this, you should be using the requirements of the job to dictate the content of your cover letter and following these best practices.

 

 

 

Show how you can solve specific problems

 

Saying you’re a ‘problem-solver’ is about as helpful as explaining your preference for chocolate croissants over regular croissants. Don’t tell them about your amazing problem-solving skills. Explain the details of a particular problem you were vital in solving and how exactly you employed your skills to solve it. Better yet, if you know the company has a specific issue, you could help solve it, outline how you can help solve it.

 

 

 

Pick an appropriate voice and tone

 

You should write like yourself, but you should also pick the proper sound and tone for the desired company.

 

Researching the company will help dictate the tone you want to use, which may differ significantly, depending on where you apply. For example, the sound of your letter for a legal consulting firm will likely change from a tech startup.

 

 

 

Tell your story

 

Telling stories from your career is a great way to demonstrate your skills and give hiring managers some insight into your personality and work style.

 

When looking for the right stories to tell, always look to the requirements for the position in the job description.

 

It is also helpful to research the company further online to get a sense of the company’s culture. Before drafting your cover letter, compare your skills with the requirements for the position.

 

It can be helpful to use Venn diagrams to brainstorm and find what competencies you want to highlight and what specific experiences you want to share. After you create this diagram and identify what falls into both circles, overlapping subjects will direct and inspire the content of your cover letter.

 

 

 

Let’s say you’re applying for a marketing director position. Among other aspects in the description, the job requires several years of marketing experience, in-depth knowledge of lead generation, and strong communication skills. Describe your previous actions and accomplishments and how they meet what the current company desires.

 

 

 

Honesty is the only policy

 

Dishonesty on your cover letter isn’t in your best interest.

 

Implying or stating that you have a skill that you don’t have will come back to bite you upon being asked to use that skill in the interview or on the job.

 

 

 

Don’t sound like everyone else

 

“Hi, I’m ___. I’m a detail-oriented, multi-tasking, natural-born leader,  and I am perfect for your company.”

 

Hiring managers read the same basic cover letter repeatedly, and you don’t want to be the last template email the hiring manager discounts before lunch. Adding a little word variation helps you stand out against other applicants.

 

Instead of describing yourself as creative, try imaginative. You’re inventive, not innovative. You’re not determined, you’re tenacious. These word variations at least show that you can think beyond what the average applicant is willing to do.

 

 

 

End with a call to action 

 

End your letter with a reason for them to contact you. But don’t add remarks like, “I’ll call to schedule an interview.”

 

Instead, let the call to action be polite and open-ended, suggesting that you are excited to offer more information and that you’re looking forward to talking with them.  

 

 

 

Proof your cover letter

 

Always proofread your cover letter for errors and have friends and family read through the cover letter.

 

How to Make Your Cover Letter Unique?

 

When thinking about how to make your cover letter unique, keep the following statements in mind:

 

 

 

·         You should make your cover letter unique and show the reader who you are as an individual.

 

·         You should include experience and skills that relate directly to the job posting.

 

These might sound like opposing statements, but they’re equally crucial for writing a successful cover letter.

 

 

 

Your cover letter must be related to the job you’re applying to, but the way that you prove your qualifications should show who you are as an individual.   

 

 

 

Tell a compelling story

 

Everyone loves a good story, and recruiters and hiring managers are no exception. Telling compelling stories from your career will make your cover letter unique and memorable for whoever reads it.

 

 

 

Just be sure that the stories you choose demonstrate proficiency with the skills, tools, and concepts that are required in the desired position.

 

 

 

What makes this company your go-to choice? Why is this company unique to you? Perhaps you’re attracted to the workplace culture, or maybe you’ve always admired the business philosophy that the company lives by.

 

 

 

Address the recruiter or hiring manager by name

 

Now it’s fine just to use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” when addressing the recruiter. I can tell you from experience that most people use precisely these words. However, I can also tell you that most people don’t get the job. If you want to make a strong impression, then take the time to find out who you’re addressing. 

 

 

 

Do your research to learn who the name of the hiring authority. The harder they are to find, the less likely other applicants are to do it, and the more impressed they will be with you. 

 

 

 

Give your cover letter a unique visual format

 

A unique visual format for your cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates in a positive way. Just be sure that the novel format you use is appropriate for the company you’re applying to and their industry. 

 

What to Leave Off a Cover Letter?

 

Recruiters and hiring managers read thousands of cover letters and resume, so make sure that you avoid these cover letter errors:

 

 

 

Avoid overused phrases 

 

Most cover letters are generic and contain overused expressions such as “Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume” or “I believe that my set of skills make me a great fit for the job.” While none of these lines hurt your chance of getting the job, they certainly don’t help either.

 

 

 

Stay away from phrases that are known to annoy hiring managers, such as ‘heavy lifting’ or ‘think outside the box’ or ‘game-changer.’”

 

 

 

Here are some more phrases that increase annoyance: 

 

·         “To Whom It May Concern”

 

·         “I’m not sure if you know”

 

·         “Dynamic”

 

·         “Please feel free”

 

·         “Significant”

 

·         “Self-Starter,” “Detail-Oriented,” and “Forward-Thinker”

 

·         “Really, truly, deeply”

 

Recruiters and hiring managers go through hundreds of cover letters and get tired of these clichés. They’re waiting for something new and refreshing to come along, and it’s in your best interest to do so.

 

 

 

Never include irrelevant information

 

Never include irrelevant information in your cover letter. Irrelevant information can confuse or bore the reader, causing them to miss important points in your cover letter. Keep your message to the last 15 years, like your resume.

 

 

How to Submit a Cover Letter?

 

Don’t wait for the “right time” to submit your letter. You should submit your cover letter as soon as you are confident that:

 

1.     Your cover letter, resume and portfolio work are free from errors.

 

2.     Your cover letter is written in a way that balances professionalism with personality.

 

3.     Your cover letter catches the reader’s interest from the first sentence to the end.

 

4.     Your cover letter uses the requirements for the job and information on the company as a guide for its content.

 

5.     Your cover letter tells stories that are filled with examples that satisfy job requirements and make you stand out positively as an individual and a potential employee.

 

Submitting your cover letter

 

Always follow the submission instructions laid out in the job description when sending your cover letter.

 

 

Using the above information and the provided Anatomy of  Cover Letter handout, write a draft paragraph for your cover letter in the below box. You do not need to write an entire draft letter before our meeting, simply begin by drafting up some ideas from your resume which you would like to address in our meeting.
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