You’ve heard about a fantastic job, and you feel you’ve got as much chance of getting it as anyone else, so it’s time to write a resume cover letter.
You grit your teeth, because you’re determined to get it right. They’ll love you, and decide that you’re perfect for the job.
Maybe. If you’ll forget about yourself for a moment.
Big, Important Tip: Forget About YOU, Focus on THEM
From Penelope Trunk (read her article on cover letters, it’s good):
“Someone has actually said that they are qualified for the job because it’s a good commute for them.”
Yep. Sadly, people do that sort of thing all the time, and not just in job hunting, either. They focus on their needs, rather than what they can do for someone else.
The last time I read a batch of resumes, I wanted to stab myself in the head with a fork, to stop the pain. That’s why lots of companies say the heck with it, and get you to fill in online forms; no one wants to read resumes.
Focus on What You Bring to the Company
I write bios and resumes which get people hired. Here’s how I do it. I list my client’s attributes. Usually it’s a long list; many more than the client can come up with for himself. It’s hard to see yourself as others see you.
By this time, I’ve researched the company, and know quite a lot about them. So I cross out irrelevant attributes, and focus on the two or three of my client’s attributes which directly relate to the job.
I make sure that those are highlighted in the resume itself.
(Writing a resume is a copywriting task; you’re writing to persuade.)
You’ve Got a Personality, Let It Shine
One thing: be wary of online cover letter samples. Most are me, me, me… They sound self-satisfied and precious, verging on pompous. Consider the poor soul who’ll glance at these letters. (No one will read them, life’s too short.)
All that “me, me, me” belongs in the resume, NOT in the cover letter. Create an overview in your resume, which highlights why you’re perfect for the job at Company X. Make this specific. You don’t want the HR person to think: “Ooooh look. He did a printout just for us.” Each and every resume you send out needs to be specific to a company.
You’ve got choices with a cover letter. You can make it strictly business. You write a few sentences about the company, and why you think the company is so wonderful. Then you you say you’d like to be considered for the position, and that’s all.
Alternatively, and this is my preferred option, you can let yourself go, and just be yourself. Write whatever you like. Be enthusiastic, and honest.
A Final Tip: Read, and Follow the Instructions
Always, always, read the instructions if you’re applying for a job, no matter whether it’s online or offline. Read the instructions once, and then read them again, and make a list of the things you need to do. (I’m serious.)
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