Anything being sent to a decision-maker should
sell you, not just state facts. When conducting a job search, your
cover letter and resume are in a pile for the decision-maker to
review, one by one, along with a vast number of other documents
submitted by other hopeful individuals. The odds that YOUR
document is the very first ones on the pile are about a zillion to
one! This means the decision-maker has probably read X number of
cover letters (and resumes) before reaching your set of documents.
With that in mind, I never recommend you start the cover letter
with the sentence used in so many other letters:
"Pursuant to your recent advertisement in the
New York Times for the position of Staff Accountant, I am
enclosing my resume for your review."
B-O-R-I-N-G!! Plus, the decision-maker probably just
read this same (or very similar) sentence about five dozen times. Remember, you
want to GRAB the decision-maker's attention and SELL yourself to them.
Since the cover letter is designed to market you to
potential employers, don't state the obvious. If the cover letter does not
create a sense of excitement and entice the reader, it is a waste of your time
for writing it and a waste of time for the reader reading it.
Keep track of how many times you use the words "I" and/or
"my". After you write the letter, take a pen and circle all the I's and my's in
the letter: more than five? Time to re-write some of the sentences.
Here's an illustration of how to do that: instead of writing
"I am looking for an opportunity for advancement with a new employer. My
background is in retail management and I feel well-qualified for the Store
Manager position with your company" you can write, "A background in retail
management and proven record of obtaining results as a Store Manager are key
elements in qualifying me for consideration as part of your team."
Remember the PURPOSE of the cover letter: to highlight your
background in the right light, sell your skills, and show the potential employer
you are worthy of an interview. Explaining what you WANT throughout the letter
doesn't tell the reader the BENEFIT of what you can offer, which is imperative
for you to be successful.
One of the techniques I like to use in cover letters is to
pull out the top 4 or 5 achievements and mention them in bullet form with the
letter. It serves as a wonderful focus point for readers' eyes and draws their
attention immediately to your strengths. Here's a brief highlight in what would
naturally be a longer cover letter:
...Recognized as a top-performer and dedicated professional,
my record of achievements include: · Generating a 58% increase in new business
during tenure as Regional Advertising Manager · Boosting client media coverage
50% and developing partnerships with previously unsecured media contacts
There are many ways to say things but, as you can see, some
words have a stronger impact on readers than others. In cover letters,
e-resumes, and traditional resumes, you can change the reader's perception in a
heartbeat by substituting various words or phrases for more traditional (and
outdated) verbiage. See the outline below:
|Set up entire
department from scratch
department from inception through successful operation
with department heads
relationships with department heads
|Helped produce $3
million in sales
generating $3 million in sales
knowledge of capital markets and corporate finance
capital markets and corporate finance
marketing department in strategies and bids
participated in formulating marketing strategies
||Slashed (or cut)
expenses by 10%
In short, aggressive writing makes you SIZZLE, while passive
writing tells your "story." Remember your goal is to effectively market
yourself, not to author your employment biography.