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9 Cover Letter Tips That Will Actually Help You to Get an Interview

9 Cover Letter Tips That Will Actually Help You to Get an Interview

Applying for a job is a lot like sex. The more interviews you get, the better your odds are. Your resume and cover letter are just your first line to get your foot in the door. If you wanna hang a sock from it, here are a few tips for crafting a a cover letter that will actually land you that interview:

1. Attach your cover letter to a great resume.

Decide what career you want, and create 5 resumes. Have one resume geared toward an entry level job and another aiming for management. Work your other 3 toward skills you have worked before. Mine are consulting, writing, and business analyses. Keep each resume down to 1 page maximum. Make them all easy to update. If you only have one job or no job history, think about what skills you used that apply to your dream career. A great cover letter is meant to introduce a great resume. Learn how to make a quick resume.

2. Write a three paragraph cover letter.

Save it in both .pdf and .doc formats (different companies like different formats), and name the file “FirstnameLastnameCoverLetter2013” so you have a quick reference of how old it is. Your cover letter and resume should always be current, even if you have a job. You never know when you may need it. Make it look professional by including the date at the top. The header should be left spaced, and there should be no indentation on the paragraphs. Start with “Dear Mr/Mrs etc” and find out the name of the person you’re sending the cover letter to. If you can’t find a name, use “To Whom It May Concern.” End your cover letter with:

“Sincerely,
 
 
First and Last Name
Phone Number
Professional Email Address”

There’s no need to put your physical address, as this should already be included on your resume, and few people respond with a physical letter. Be sure to put 2 spaces after “Sincerely,” and no spacing between your name, phone number, and email.

3. Your first paragraph should introduce yourself.

State your name. Make sure this paragraph is straight and to the point or the reader will lose interest.  Don’t just list that you have experience in management. Tell them that you manage top teams and get results. Be specific about the results and gear them toward the company. It’s great that you always exceeded your production goals. What did that accomplish? More money for the company? Better quality products? This is your chance to say something great about yourself. Don’t hold back. Here’s mine to give you an idea:

Hi ____,
My name is Brian Penny. Among other things, I’m a bank whistleblower, Anonymous collaborator, Occupy inspiration, yogi, and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, where my pieces generate quite a bit of social media buzz. My articles on a variety of subjects have been syndicated throughout the web. I’m an expert in finance, ethics, technology, and much more.

4. Your second paragraph should be five sentences about your career goals and why you want to work for the company.

The only 2 things you need to adjust to personalize your cover letter for the position are the header “Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr _____” and the 2nd paragraph. Look up a couple facts about the company and find ways to align your goals with the goals of the company. If you’re applying for a marketing company and you’ve won sales awards, let them know both. It may sound like you’re telling them something they already know, but in doing so, you’re showing them that you did your research. This paragraph is vital in showing the company that you’re not just some desperate job seeker spamming every company you can find. It shows you put in your due diligence and selected them.

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5. Your third paragraph should list you and the company as a team.

End the letter by saying that you look forward to learning more about the company (keep It generic so you don’t have to change it each time). You’re excited to work together. Focus on how all of your past accomplishments and future goals are in line with the company’s. Use “we” statements to give the sense that you already feel like you’re working with them. You’re more likely to get a response from a someone who sees you as a comrade, brother in arms, etc.

 

questions

    6. Never end with a question.

    Don’t ask someones to call you back. Assume they will. Your last sentence should tell your potential employer that you’re patiently waiting for their response. Put the ball in their court and move on. By assuming the action, you’ll activate their natural response to be professional and courteous. Even if they decide not to hire you, they’re more likely to respond with a denial as opposed to letting you hang. If they don’t call you back, don’t worry. You’ll have applied at 100 places by then, and one of them is bound to call you back.

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    7. Always include a cover letter.

    Go online and apply for 10-30 jobs a day. I’ve lived in the biggest cities and smallest towns from coast to coast. I’m well aware of what’s available, and there’s no reason you can’t find this many jobs to apply for. Always include a cover letter. Applications and resumes with a cover letter are more likely to be looked at by a human being.

    Craigslist and Indeed offer easy resume applications for the majority of their job postings. Monster, Careerbuilder, etc often have individual applications that have to be filled out. Try to stick to ones that read your resume or LinkedIn to save time. The more resumes and applications you get in, the more possibilities there are of you getting a call back for an interview. Ensuring you have a cover letter with each application and resume greatly increases these odds.

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      8. Send your cover letter and resume to the right people.

      Your cover letter and resume may be amazing, but if you can’t get it to the right people, who cares? Get email addresses of managers and people in Human Resources to send them your cover letter as an email body along with your resume as an attachment. This will skip a lot of work on your end filling things out.

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      Here’s how: Go to the website of the company you want to work for.  Look for sections called “About Us” and “Contact Us.” These sections are where you’ll normally figure out the email format the company uses (i.e firstname.lastname@companyname.com). Once you have the email format, go to LinkedIn and find the person’s name who heads the department you’re applying for. Email that person directly to skip over many hurdles in the application process. If they refer you to an online application, you can use them as a referral to get your foot in the door quickly.

      9. A business card is a mini-cover letter.

      A business card works just like a cover letter and should be kept on you at all times. When you’re out and about, you can hand a business card to people you’re talking to. This puts your name and contact information in their hands, which is important. The best part about a business card is that it keeps your job search going even when you’re not searching. As long as people relate you to a positive experience and have your contact information, you’re doing the right thing.

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      Last Updated on February 11, 2021

      10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

      10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

      Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

      You have to work hard to develop the right skills

      If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

      1. Make your presentation short and sweet

      With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

      JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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      2. Open up with a good ice breaker

      At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

      • Joking
      • Tugging on their heart strings
      • Dropping a bombastic statement
      • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
      • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

      You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

      3. Keep things simple and to the point

      Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

      4. Use a healthy dose of humor

      Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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      It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

      5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

      Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

      6. Practice your delivery

      Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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      7. Move around and use your hands

      Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

      8. Engage the audience by making them relate

      Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

      9. Use funny images in your slides

      Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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      10. End on a more serious note

      When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

      As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

      Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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