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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.

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        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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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

          Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

          Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

          Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

          Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

          Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

          Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

          1. Make Time for You

          If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

          Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

          Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

          Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

          For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

          By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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          2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

          Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

          Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

          When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

          It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

          Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

          3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

          According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

          For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

          If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

          4. Work on Your Personal Brand

          Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

          Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

          What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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          Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

          Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

          5. Be Accountable

          Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

          For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

          When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

          6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

          All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

          Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

          Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

          It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

          7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

          Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

          It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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          This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

          If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

          To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

          For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

          You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

          8. Learn to Embrace Failure

          Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

          The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

          In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

          We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

          However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

          Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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          “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

          9. Build Your Resilience

          Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

          Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

          Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

          In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

          Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

          10. Ask for Help

          It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

          No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

          My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

          1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
          2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
          3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

          Final Thoughts

          You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

          Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

          More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

          Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

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