Psychologists have found that it only takes an average of 8 seconds for a prospective employer to determine if they are going to read your cover letter and resume. This is true and is based upon basic fundamental psychology because on average, we each require only 8 seconds to make a subconscious decision about something
When it comes to your cover letter, the mindset you need to have is to treat the entire process as a sales advertisement where the product on sale is “you”.
Every piece of information you submit is designed to pique their interest to get them to want to know more. The following rules will help you write an effective cover letter, which will entice the hiring manager to contact you for the interview.
RULE #1: KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Guys, we like to complicate things some things, especially when we’re trying to make a good first impression. Your cover letter is no different, you need to keep your language simple and to the point. Write naturally like you would to a regular person. Avoid using stuffy and unnatural language that you wouldn’t normally use in your everyday life. You don’t want to be a different person on paper than you are in real life.
You want your personality to shine through enough to spark their interest and invite you for an interview. That’s not to say that you should be unprofessional, writing with personality doesn’t give you an excuse to write sloppy language with spelling and grammar errors.
Remember, you want to make an impression and even the most enticing cover letters laced with typos can be a huge turn off. Start by writing like you would directly to the person interviewing you. Visualize them sitting across from you and tell them what you want them to know about you, write those points down.
Write as many as you can, spare nothing, you can always come back and change them. Don’t mentally edit your thoughts, let the creative juices flow naturally onto the paper. Take all of the points you’ve just written down, and pick the top 5 to 10 points to use in your cover letter.
RULE #2: ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Most people just submit standard, one size fits all cover letters with their application package. What you may not know is that the recruiter or hiring manager you’re sending your package to, they are trained to spot these things, and they will NOT spend any time trying to decipher your information, especially since they have a pile of potential applicants. Like the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”
If you were a hiring manager, how would the best candidate present themselves? What kind of information would they include, and not include in their application package?
When creating your cover letter, use the job announcement to outline the job skills listed, and how your background is a perfect match for them.
Like a conversation, address some of the points in the application so that they know you really read it. This will not only stand out to your prospective employer but it will set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Treat each cover letter like it’s the one that’s going to help you land your dream job. This is the only impression they have to go by, so don’t ruin your chances of landing an interview.
Pay attention to those little details that paint a picture of you and remember you only have one chance to make a first impression.
RULE #3: CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY
Just like ad campaigns, great cover letters are made and not born. It takes time, countless testing, and adjustments to know if it’s a hit or miss. If you’re not getting the response you were hoping for then change your strategy, move things around, use a different tone, and then measure your results again until you have found the right mix. In short, if it’s not working – change it.
Just writing and sending out applications to prospective employers without questioning why a callback or interview isn’t forthcoming isn’t good enough. By not sparing a thought of what you’re doing or not doing each time a cover letter goes out could be costing you the job.
Any good ad campaign will be honed and fine-tuned until it works like it’s supposed to, and then most likely it’s tweaked even further. You need to do the same.
If you’re not hearing back, you need to change your strategy. If you’re not getting the interview, figure out why not? Include or exclude from your cover letter what you need to, make some changes and then look at the results.
If you get more callbacks and interviews then you’ve just created your own perfect campaign cover letter that you can continually use to help get your foot in the door.
As they say, “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” There is no such thing as luck in this game; you create your own luck through the tactics you use to get noticed.
RULE #4: IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU
Yes, I’m probably talking about you. Don’t be like those annoying people that you meet and all they do is talk about themselves.
When you’re writing your cover letter, make sure you’re not focusing on yourself by ranting about how good you are; but rather, focus on bridging your skills and experience with the requirements for the job, and how you can be of value to the company.
Focus on their needs, on how you can help solve a problem they’re having, on how much more value you can bring to the table in that position.
What’s in it for them? Can you increase performance, productivity and profits?
Keep in mind that the main reason for a cover letter is to help you land the interview. Don’t try to cramp everything in your cover letter, keep it simple, focused on conveying your background and showing the reader why you’re the most qualified candidate for the job.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what specific strategies you’re using to write your cover letter. What would you say to someone struggling to write their cover letters?
About The Author
This is a guest post written by Yosniel Romero, Founder of InsoyCareer.com
From Personal Branding advice, to writing Resume & Cover Letters, to Interviewing tips, InsoyCareer was launched in 2012 with one goal in mind, to provide valuable content that has been proven to work and to ensure that EVERY visitor to our site takes away at least one practical and useful tip that will help them advance in their career.