For a lot of people, writing the cover letter is the most excruciatingly painful experience of applying for a job. It shouldn’t be. Here’s why:
1) Cover letters are stories. Everyone loves stories.
2) Cover letters are stories on your favorite topic. You can write a story about yourself, and enjoy yourself while doing so, can’t you? Make sure that you include as many of the 10 Essential Elements of a Successful Story as possible in your story.
3) Cover letters are free form. You can write the cover letter any way you like, just as long it tells that story. That also means that you can also cram in some of the 108 Most Powerful Words and Four Categories of Adjectives, in your story, as appropriate.
4) Cover letters are opportunities to communicate information about your best qualities. You want to bring out your best qualities don’t you? A well-written cover letter is your best chance to do that.
5) Cover letters are a chance to be unique. You want to stand out, not as in being the person whose resume is on purple paper (or the digital equivalent of that), but in terms of content. A cover letter lets you be unique.
6) Cover letters are opportunities to show what you know. You’ve done your homework. You know about the challenges and successes that your prospective employer faces – and how they relate to your experience.
7) Cover letters are excellent forums to link back to your work. If you have an online portfolio, hyperlinks in the text of your cover are great ways to do that.
8) Cover letters are great ways to highlight volunteer experience. If you have done a good job in a volunteer activity that you are passionate about – and it’s relevant to the job you are applying for, your cover letter is the perfect place to mention that success.
9) Cover letters are great forums for quantifying success. Did your work increase attendance at an event by 25 percent? Put that in your cover letter. It will stand out more there than it will in your resume. (But still put it in your resume).
10) A good cover letter that you write is enjoyable to read. Both you and your friends (not to mention your prospective employer) will find it refreshing to read.
All opinions are my own and not those of my agency or the federal government as a whole. Photo by Jay D. Krasnow.