End The Agony Of Cover Letter Writing

You hate writing cover letters right?

It’s ok to admit it.

You’re not alone.

Most people who are job hunting consider the cover letter to be the most agonizing part of the process.

After all, once your resume is complete it doesn’t change much. Well other than tweaking it for each opportunity to prove you are the right candidate. (You ARE doing that I hope.)

But the cover letter feels different.

You know it needs to be customized for each application but that seems like a lot of work.

So maybe you stick to a basic format and just change the information and off it goes?

Or perhaps you are one of the smart ones that write a new letter every time but you agonize over just what to say and how to say it. And it takes you forever?

The truth is that you SHOULD be writing a new letter every time. It’s the only way to make sure it is specific to the job at hand and conveys why you are the right person for the job.

But now the challenge of figuring out what to say.

Here’s a way of approaching it that will help make it a little easier.

Think of your cover letter as the start of a conversation with the hiring manager.

After all. That’s the purpose of your cover letter and resume right? To get you an interview.

Make your letter the beginning of that conversation.

Taking this approach will automatically make your letter more engaging, uniquely yours and give you a connection to the reader.

Here’s how to think about it.

If you knew you were meeting this person face-to-face at a networking event and had only one minute to talk to them what would you say?

Make a connection

First and even before meeting you’d try to find out more about them and their company. You’d review their website and check out social media. You’d pay attention to the “tone” of their communication so you would know how to talk to them. You’d be looking for ways to connect or common ground that would confirm you as a good fit for their organization.  You’d look for an opening.

You would then use that information to introduce yourself.

Follow that same process for your cover letter.

Start with an enthusiastic and friendly introduction that connects you to the reader. Something about their company you admire or maybe you have been to an event they produced? Or something about your passion for the industry. Maybe that your passion for event management started when you organized a team back in high school to participate in their charity run and can they now imagine how excited you are at the prospect of working for the very event that shaped your career.

You get the idea.

Make your opening unique. Connect to the reader. Give them a reason to want to talk with you.

Then once your intro is done (one or two sentences is plenty) what would you say next? Keep the conversation in mind. Remember you only have a minute.

Link your experience to the job

You’d probably now want to tell them something that would directly connect you to the job at hand. Something that would make them instantly recognize you as the right candidate.

Link your experience to the job description. Don’t just regurgitate your resume. (They probably read that already.)

Tell them something interesting and concrete. Use a key accomplishment as evidence.

Answer their need.

A few sentences will do it. Maybe you managed over 100 volunteers at your last position, which has given you a great understanding of building a solid volunteer program. Or perhaps you were responsible for a sponsorship revenue increase of over 50% and you would look forward to developing a successful sponsorship program for them. You get the idea.

Be bold but truthful. Make them want to hear more.

Whatever you do, don’t go on and on with long formal sentences filled with lofty adjectives describing just how great you are. You wouldn’t do that face-to-face right? So don’t do it in your letter.

Now you’re almost done. You’ve introduced yourself, made a connection with the reader and given them evidence that you have what it takes to do the job.

All that’s left is the sign-off.

Write a memorable closing

Close confidently and enthusiastically. This is your moment to confirm that you are the one to meet.

Keep in mind this might be the last thing read before deciding to interview you.

Leave a positive, confident impression and circle back to the job. (Hint: I look forward to hearing from you feels a little too passive. Something more like “I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my qualifications will help develop a very successful volunteer program for you as Director of Volunteers (or whatever the job is). Don’t ever hesitate to say you want the job! Here again, one or two sentences are plenty.

And there you have it.

Your cover letter is complete.

It’s unique. It’s not too long (very important). And it’s definitely not a cookie-cutter template of a letter that they have read a million times (and are likely to ignore).

You have begun a conversation with the hiring manager. And they will have learned enough about you to want to continue that conversation.

Go ahead and give it a try. You can do this!

Start a conversation with your future employer.

It may be the beginning of something great!



Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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