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To Nail the Job You Want, Stop Selling Yourself in Your Cover Letter

To Nail the Job You Want, Stop Selling Yourself in Your Cover Letter

Writing a good cover letter can be one of the most difficult parts of the job application process. You may know how to structure your CV correctly, but the most efficient way of writing a cover letter can remain a mystery. We may struggle to know what exactly to cover, and what to ignore, and how to best relay this information to prospective employers.

There are hundreds of guides and templates online designed to help you craft a great cover letter. On the surface, these guides are incredibly convenient and useful. However, due to their popularity, they have the effect of making everyone’s cover letters read more or less the same. As such it can be difficult to get your cover letter noticed.

The solution? Do things differently.

There’re 4 basic rules for a good cover letter.

A great cover letter should do four things:[1]

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  1. Introduce yourself and your skills to the hiring manager.
  2. Explain to the hiring manager why you are best suited for the job. This is done by detailing your skills and experiences and relating them to the job in question.
  3. Provided extra detail to your resume, and clarifying certain details.
  4. Explain in detail the most relevant information of your resume.

If your cover letter does these four things, you are off to a fantastic start.

But for a decent cover letter, there is more to consider…

All the information in the cover letter should be accurate and relevant to the job in question.

Many people just send the same cover letter to different companies and different jobs. This is a deadly mistake, you should assume this will be noticed, so tailor each cover letter for each job.[2]

Allow no mistakes in the cover letter.

Once you are happy with your cover letter, you need to spend a lot of time proof reading it to correct any mistakes in spelling or grammar…then proof read it again. Assume any mistakes you make will be seen and will reflect badly on you. It might help to have a trusted friend go over your cover letter as well as sometimes it can be difficult to see mistakes in your own work.

Also, consider if your cover letter is formatted correctly. Your cover letter should be formatted and structured like a letter, include contact information at the top, and address the recruiter directly by name.

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Address the hiring manager by name, make it personal.

If you are lucky the name of the hiring manager should be in the job description. If not, you may have to spend some time researching, try Linkedin, as this will give you key information on the staff of a company.

Using the name subtly creates a connection between you and the hiring manager, and as such they will notice it. Think about it, if you were going through a stack of cover letters, will you pay attention to the one that addressed you directly, or one of the (likely many) cover letters addressed to “whom it might concern”?

So far we have covered what makes a decent cover letter.

We know you don’t want just a decent cover letter, so here’s how to go pro.

1. Follow the inverted pyramid structure when writing your cover letters[3].

With the inverted pyramid structure,[4] you should place the most important, relevant information right at the top.

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Having the most important information at the top ensures that it is the first thing the recruiter sees. As the recruiter usually has to deal with many cover letters a day, its possible that they won’t be able to spend much time on each cover letter, and as such, they may only give your cover letter a quick read, some information may be missed. In this case it is vital to bring the most important information in your cover letter to the front.

2. It’s important to tell the company why you want to work for them.

Consider what values the company seem to have, perhaps they have a long and interesting history. Imagine that you want to be friends with the company. If you merely tell them all about yourself then they may become disinterested, at worse think you self obsessed. Essentially you can’t make them thing you are only applying so you can earn money or benefits.

3. Also, show your passion and enthusiasm for the company.

When writing your cover letter you should consider using emotive words like “love”, for example “I would love the chance to work for this company” this will give them the impression that to you, working for the company will not just be another job for you but something you genuinely desire. Loyalty, knowledge, and passion are all very important traits that employers look for.

4. Choose a few attributes from the job description and focus on them.

Cover letters shouldn’t be very long, so if you try to cover every single part of their job description then your cover letter will be overly long. Less is more.

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5. Always hit on the emotional side of the reader.

They are probably having a hard time going through all the cover letters and applications, so it could be useful for you to be sympathetic to that.[5] Show them how kind you can be by perhaps wishing them good luck on the job search and wish them all the best.

Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] Resume Genius: How to Write a Cover Letter & 40+ Free Templates
[2] Monster: Cover letter basics
[3] Scott Berkun: How To Write A Good Bio
[4] Purdue Online Writing Lab: The Inverted Pyramid Structure
[5] Careercake via YouTube: 5 Steps to an Incredible Cover Letter

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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