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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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          Last Updated on July 18, 2019

          How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

          How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

          Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

          However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

          Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

          Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

          There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

          Better Job Offers

          Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

          People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

          Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

          You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

          Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

          A Shot at Entrepreneurship

          Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

          We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

          13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

          1. Update Your Resume

          You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

          Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

          While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

          There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

          2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

          Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

          That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

          To hone this skill:

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          Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

          Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

          This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

          How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

          3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

          Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

          Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

          To hone this skill:

          Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

          4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

          No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

          Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

          To hone this skill:

          Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

          Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

          These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

          The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

          5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

          Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

          How to hone this skill:

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          Practice being resourceful.

          Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

          Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

          No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

          If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

          6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

          6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

          Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

          The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

          Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

          How to hone this skill:

          Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

          Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

          17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

          7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

          Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

          What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

          How to hone this skill:

          Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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          Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

          5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

          8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

          Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

          Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

          How to hone this skill:

          Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

          Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

          What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

          9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

          How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

          Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

          How to hone this skill:

          Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

          Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

          The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

          10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

          Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

          How to hone this skill:

          Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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          Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

          What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

          11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

          Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

          You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

          How to hone this skill:

          All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

          How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

          12. Build Networks and Relationships

          You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

          Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

          How to hone this skill:

          Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

          To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

          How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

          Final Thoughts

          Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

          You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

          Happy career switching!

          More Resources About Career Advancement

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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