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8 Things You Haven’t Tried When Writing a Killer Cover Letter

8 Things You Haven’t Tried When Writing a Killer Cover Letter

Aren’t you in a hurry? Why? Well, because your dream job awaits you. That awesome place where you stay late at the office because you want to implement a new campaign, the place where you bake chocolate muffins and make smoothies when you feel like it, with your boss and your colleagues by our side. That dream job where you fit in perfectly and from where it will be a nightmare to retire.

Huh, you are not there yet? Honey, you are one killer cover letter away from that dream job. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your working life stuck in that boring job, put your creativity at work. Here are some secrets on how to write a killer cover letter.

First, let’s review super-fast the main goals of a cover letter: it is meant to make you stand out from the crowd, prove that you are the man (or woman) for the job, and that you will fit in perfect because you were born to work in that place.

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    Most people fail to meet these three tasks. This sets them up for failure right from the beginning. They don’t realize the importance of the cover letter, so they don’t even get a chance to show that they are the best employee for a certain position.

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    In order to write a killer cover letter you must first think like a recruiter. This person spends eight to 10 hours a day talking to candidates and reading cover letters. And “reading” is a broad term; the reality is more like skimming the letters. When they spot a different word or phrase in a cover letter, they will wake up and call you faster than you can spell your own name.

    There are lots of tips and tricks on how to write a killer cover letter, but here are the lesser-known ones, which can make a difference between getting a job and heading towards social services for unemployment. When you are on a mission to achieve brilliance, you must not be afraid to try out something new–phrases and voices you’ve never used before in a cover letter.

    Here are some great tips on how to write a killer cover letter that will help you get your dream job right away.

    1. Customise the first line

    When you browse the internet and see news titles, you click on the one which is different from the “flock”, right? Recruiters do the same. Ditch the pattern and start your cover letter with something human, like “I’m excited to apply to your marketing assistant position…”. If you want to stir up even more interest, go beyond the rules and bend them: a joke or a poem can do the trick for creative jobs. If you apply for a position which requires lots of organisation, organise your first line. It’s up to you to find the way to do it, after all, you are the man/woman for this job, right?

    2. Address the killer cover letter to the HR Manager

    Most people send cover letter and resumes to the whole Human Resources department. But, if you take a couple of minutes to look for the hiring manager and address the letter to him/her, that person will smile and read your resume first. They know you’ve spent some time for their names and hoping to find their customised email address.

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    killer cover letter

      3. Be sincere and tell your own story

      Humans are driven by emotions, regardless of age, gender or status. We love stories, because the child who crawls in his mother’s arms to listen to a fairy tale never dies. Sincerity is another “must-have”. Combine the three and get to the core of what made you dream about that particular position at that company. Tell the recruiter how a product influenced your life of how you’ve come to see the world from another point after the first contact with that brand.

      For example, if you apply for a news reporter position, you can tell what impact has on you the premature death of a reporter gone abroad to tell the story of savage wars upon innocent communities. And, before you ask, I did tell how James Foley and Steven Sotloff altered the way I see journalism in a cover letter and I am now working on that particular project. Telling your story works!

      4. Develop your resume

      After you’ve introduced yourself to the recruiter, it’s time to develop your story and talk about the skills you have and your previous achievements. Your resume only lists them, so here you have the chance to explain what you really did in your career. Build the core of your cover letter, focusing on how you got things done.

      For example: “When I was a social media manager, I managed 25 pages and raised their talk-about by 25%”. Another great example would be: “I’m calm during a crisis–I managed to deliver the translation in time when the translator fell ill and I had to look for someone else to complete it two hours before deadline”.

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      This is also the moment to talk about your personality, as no one wants to work with an anxious, moody person. Include some of your main personality features and make sure you pick the ones which can help you get the job done. For a reporter, for example, an extensive curiosity is a valuable asset. Meanwhile, an attention to detail is critical for accountants and merchandisers.

      5. Show that you can get the job done

      Self-praising is undesirable in a killer cover letter, unless you know how to do it properly! The employer must know that you are able to walk in the door, take-up a project and deliver it within deadline, without major mistakes. All jobs have one main requirement or task which can be stated on top of the list or can be hidden between the lines. Either way, identify it and be specific about what you would do to improve things and make everything go smoother.

      For example, write a paragraph where you explain what you could do while on a position, based on your skills and strengths. If you have some out-of-the-box ideas write them down, even if they don’t fit the pattern of the current advertising campaign of the brand. This will show the recruiter that you have ideas and you can also bring a new blossom in the company, if asked for. Plus, a good idea equals a good story and has the same impact upon the reader.

      hired killer cover letter

        6. Be sincere. Again.

        All recruiters want to know why do you think you are the best fit for the position, which you’ve already explained in the core of the killer cover letter. But they also want to know you are humble enough to be hired and can follow direction. The best way to show that you are a soft, warm person is to be sincere again. You don’t know if you will be hired, so spell it out. You can say that you are proud to be considered for this position, which is a balanced way to introduce your ending line.

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        7. A killer cover letter with a killer ending line

        Remember how Seherezade managed to stay alive for 1,001 nights? She never told the sultan the ending of the story. Play it like Beckham and be short: “Sincerely, …” and you are done.

        If you’ve managed to wake up the recruiter’s interest and make him want to know more about you, he will call you.

        8. Play with the words and bond

        Talking about touching the recruiters, it’s very important how familiar you are with them in your letter. A killer cover letter starts with two strangers and ends with two acquaintances, so measure how many and when you use the words “you” and “your”. The best moment to introduce them is when you switch from the greetings to the storyline; at the end of the story of how you get to know the company and how it influenced your career decisions, start working with the emotions and the soul of the reader. This will keep him engaged and when the abrupt end will pop-up, he will want to know more about you.

        And this is how you’ve nailed a killer cover letter!

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          Published on September 28, 2020

          9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business

          9 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Business

          Starting your own business is the dream of every would-be entrepreneur. While it is a huge undertaking, the rewards of owning a business have proven to be worth it for millions of people all over the world. In this article, we will talk specifically about how to start your own business and how to make it successful.

          We have all heard the statistics about the high failure rate of new businesses:[1]

          • Roughly 20% of small businesses fail within the first year.
          • Roughly 33% of small businesses fail within two years.
          • Roughly 50%of small businesses fail within five years.
          • Roughly 66% of small businesses fail within 10 years.

          As these numbers suggest, starting a business and having a successful business are two vastly different things. Knowing how to start your own business the right way can mean the difference between long term success and failure.

          There is an old saying that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. There is a lot of truth to this. Starting a business is more than just coming up with a good idea and jumping in. You need to have a plan for success, and that means you have to know how to set and achieve goals.

          From the time you get that (Eureka!) moment up until you open the doors, every decision you make will impact the business. So, it is important that you carefully evaluate every aspect of your business.

          1. Evaluate Yourself

          The cold hard truth is that good business ideas are a dime a dozen. Realistically, the chances of your idea being so unique as to be revolutionary are slim to none.

          This does not mean that you should abandon it. It just means that you will need to do more than just bring it to the market. The phrase “If you build it, they will come” works better in movies than real life.

          Be Honest – Doing honest self-evaluations are notoriously difficult. Humans just are not particularly good at accurately evaluating themselves.

          Here is a quick little experiment you can do with any group of 10 or more people. Ask them to hold up a hand if they know how to drive a car, virtually 100% of hands go up. Then, ask them to keep their hand up if they are better than average drivers. 90-95% of hands stay up.

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          So, what does this tell us?

          Because it is statistically impossible that everyone is “above average”, it illustrates the phenomenon called the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” which is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills”.[2]

          Because of this Dunning-Kruger Effect, it can be helpful to consult others about what they see as our strengths and weaknesses. Just assure the person that you are interested in their actual opinion and you won’t be hurt or offended if they give it to you.

          Some of the things you will want to include in your self-evaluation:

          • Are you a self-starter? Unlike being an employee, there will be no one standing over your shoulder telling you what to do or when to go to work. If you are someone who requires a lot of structure, starting your own business may not be the best option.
          • How organized are you? Planning and organizational skills are important, especially in the early stages of launching a business. Entrepreneurs that “fly by the seat of their pants” rarely succeed.
          • How do you handle risk and failure? The fact of the matter is, going into business is a risky proposition. Success is never guaranteed. Smart business people take calculated risks, but they are still risks. If you are someone for whom the thought of failure or losing money would be devastating, entrepreneurship is probably not for you.
          • How well do you get along with people? How are your communication skills? Most of us consider ourselves “people persons”, but business owners take communication to an entirely new level. When starting out, the business owner is a jack of all trades. You need to be able to interact with clients, business partners, industry partners, suppliers, staff, accountants, lawyers, regulators, and a host of others both accurately and decisively.
          • How disciplined are you? Resilience and perseverance are two of the biggest factors that will determine your success. As we stated earlier, mistakes will be made and some of them will be costly. You need to have enough resilience and perseverance to continue getting up after being knocked down. The only sure way to fail is to give up.

          If you are satisfied that you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur, it’s time to move on to the next step.

          2. Evaluate Your Business Idea

          Again, being able to honestly evaluate your own business idea is key. However, this step is generally not as hard as the self-evaluation because the criteria used in the evaluation process is more objective than subjective.

          Identify your target market – Who are the people that will be buying your product or service? For this step, it’s important to alter your mindset. Instead of thinking like a seller, start thinking like a customer.

          Can you articulate answers to the following questions?

          • What is the problem addressed by your product or service?
          • How does your product or service solve that problem?
          • Why is your solution better than the competitions’?
          • Are people willing to spend money on a solution to the problem?

          You will also want to gather as much information about the people in your target market as possible. At the bare minimum, you will want to know the following about your potential clientele:

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          • Age
          • Location
          • Income
          • Gender
          • Occupation
          • Education
          • Marital Status
          • Ethnicity
          • Number of Children

          All of this information will help tweak your product or service to better suit their needs. It is also helpful in developing a marketing strategy.

          3. Evaluate the Competition

          Generally, you can divide your competitors into three categories:

          • Direct competition – These are companies that offer the same products or services to the same target market as your business. You can think of Burger King and McDonald’s as direct competitors.
          • Indirect competition – These businesses will offer products and services that are similar to the ones you provide without being the same. Another type of indirect competitor can be one that markets the same product or service, just to a different clientele or market segment. Subway and McDonald’s would be indirect competitors.
          • Substitute competition – These are businesses that offer different products or services to the same clientele in the same market segment as you. An example of substitute competition for McDonald’s would be the local mom and pop diner.

          Once you have identified exactly who your competitors are, you will want to gather the following information:

          • What is the range of products and services they offer?
          • Are they expanding or scaling down their business?
          • How long have they been in business?
          • What do customers see as their positive/negative attributes?
          • Can you identify any competitive advantage they have?
          • What is their pricing strategy?
          • What is their advertising/marketing strategy?

          The purpose of the analysis is to identify your competition’s strengths and weaknesses to better compete.

          For example, if your competitors sell largely to companies with more than 100 employees. You may decide to target smaller companies with less than 100 employees. This means that your pricing and marketing strategies will need to be more in line with what the smaller companies expect and can afford.

          4. Evaluate the Financial Feasibility of the Business

          In developing a financial feasibility analysis, you need to have answers to the following questions:

          • What will it cost to get your business off the ground and become profitable?
          • What initial expenses will you have?
          • What ongoing expenses will you have?
          • What is the source of your start-up capital?
          • What is the earning potential of the business, and how long will it take to achieve?
          • How will you keep the business open and pay your bills until it becomes profitable?

          Once you have this information in hand, you will need to build in an extra “cushion” for all of the extra “surprise” expenses that pop up. Additionally, most people are overly optimistic when it comes to estimating the profitability of the business and the time frame needed to achieve it.

          How much of a cushion do you need? No one can say for sure. Some people will tell you to double or even triple your estimates. At a bare minimum, you should add 50% to the estimates you made.

          It can be disheartening to learn that your business idea really is not financially feasible, but it’s much better to make that discovery now rather than after the money is spent.

          5. Have a Professional Business Plan

          If you haven’t done so already, get yourself a professional business plan. When I say “professional,” I don’t mean that you need to go out and hire someone to do it. I mean that you need to know what a professional business plan looks like and take it seriously.

          Too often, new entrepreneurs neglect to create a business plan in favor of flying by the seat of their pants. This is not a good strategy. Without a plan, you won’t know where you are headed.

          “It can seem a daunting task when you’ve never been faced with writing a business plan before, but it’s a crucial task which will enable your venture to start and continue on a solid foundation. A business plan is also necessary when you’re looking to secure funding or investment. Essentially, a business plan is your vision for how the business will run, what you expect to achieve, and how you will achieve those things.”

          -Mike Gingerich[3]

          6. Use Common Sense Money Principles

          Successful start-ups keep a tight rein on expenses. As an owner, you should know exactly where every penny is spent. In all businesses, expenses tend to go up over time. But in the initial stages, you can count on having more expenses than income.

          In the earliest stage of being a startup owner, you will deal with an array of challenges. You have to familiarize yourself with the selected business landscape and look for options to expand the business venture while saving the operating costs.

          During this time-frame, trimming the operating costs is not optional; defacto is a matter of life and death for your startup. You can’t keep moving in a specific direction. It is mandatory to drift your business towards one goal with smart planning.

          7. Start With a Narrow Focus

          All too often, I see new business owners get into trouble by overreaching their goals. What happens is that people take on work outside their expertise.

          For example, a website designer will take on a client who wants SEO optimization in addition to the design

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          Assuming that the web designer is not an expert in SEO, there are several potential problems with this scenario:

          • Pricing – Without knowing or understanding the scope of SEO that’s involved, the chances of underestimating and losing money on the project go way up.
          • Quality – They may be the greatest web designer on earth, but that’s still only half of the job. Clients rightly expect the entire project to be done right.
          • Reputation – There is no second chance for a first impression. These first projects need to be done well if you want any chance of referral business. They will also determine if your first few clients become repeat customers or not.

          Remember, Amazon started out just selling books. They slowly expanded their business until you can now get virtually anything on their site.

          Be like Amazon. Start with a narrow focus and expand from there.

          8. Search Out and Use Specific Resources

          There are a lot of free resources out there that every new business owner should take advantage of. They are a great source of information, help, and most importantly, networking opportunities. Some of these resources are general, while others are targeted to specific types of entrepreneurs. Both are worth checking out.

          Here’s a partial list of resources:

          • The Chamber of Commerce – Their slogan is, “Designed for business owners, CO—is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth.”
          • U.S. Small Business Association – They offer free business consulting services, SBA guaranteed business loans, certification for federal government contracting, and more.
          • Women’s Business Club – It is specifically for women to network and exchange ideas, but it also useful if you are marketing specifically to women.
          • BLACK ENTERPRISE – Similar to the Women’s Business Club, Black Enterprise is designed specifically for African American entrepreneurs. They bill themselves as, “The premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970.”
          • Hispanic Small Business Resource GuideThis guide is filled with resources and networking opportunities for the Hispanic entrepreneur.

          9. Just Do It!

          Okay, I borrowed the phrase from Nike, but it’s good advice. It not only means taking concrete steps to start your business but also to get out of your own way.

          A lot of entrepreneurs (and regular people) are afflicted by a condition called analysis paralysis. It is when someone overthinks about a decision too much that a choice never gets made, resulting in inaction.

          If you are a perfectionist, you need to be especially careful of analysis paralysis. Perfectionists tend to wait until everything is perfect before launching their business, and many never get off the runway.

          Final Thoughts

          Accept that you will make mistakes, that you won’t make the right call all of the time, and that unforeseen obstacles will always pop up.

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          If you are truly committed to the entrepreneurial lifestyle and your business, then take the plunge. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to build a business that changes lives.

          More Tips on How to Start Your Own Business

          Featured photo credit: DISRUPTIVO via unsplash.com

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