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How To Be Interesting In A Cover Letter

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How To Be Interesting In A Cover Letter

Want your cover letter to stand out and get the dream job you want? Jessica Hagy, an artist and writer has some tips for everyone to make a cover letter interesting.

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    Write one. Your resume checks off key words and gets your information in front of someone, but it’s not enough to get you an interview. Use the power of the cover letter for your own good (or evil, if you’re applying for a job selling drugs or weapons to kids).

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      Don’t play Mad Libs. If you found a cover letter template online, odds are, so did a half million other people. Ditch the fill-in-the-blank format and tell your own story, in a way that only you can. You’ll stand out, if for no other reason than your letter isn’t completely cookie-cutter.

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        Deviate from examples. Read enough cover letters online, and you’ll begin to feel a pattern. The fake-peppy tone, the stuffy sentence structures, and the box-checking formats all blend together in a beige puddle of boring. Now, imagine it’s your job to read these things all day, and you’ll see that a little change in the format will go a long way toward making you the person who gets the interview. But seriously, no comic sans–that font makes you look worse than silly.

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          Offer something other than your desperate self on a platter. Anything that hints about that fact that you are currently selling plasma in order to pay the electric bill is not a winning tone. Talk about what you can do for the place you want to work, not about how you really need a job. Show you have more to offer than a warm body.

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            But don’t get creepy. While letting your prospective employer know you’re knowledgeable about the company, adding details about the CEO’s criminal records or the marketing manager’s recent real estate purchases isn’t advised, even though it’s sure to get the attention of your reader. Google-stalk, but don’t stalk-stalk.

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              Lead with an anecdote–not your qualifications. The cover letter complements your resume. Don’t recreate it with complete sentences in the letter, use this space to tell an opening story that humanizes you and makes you memorable.

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                And make sure you put in a little personality. You have one. It’s a major part of you. You might as well own it. Besides, people hire people they like, not resumes they like. So relax, get comfortable, and write a letter from a real person–you, not faceless a job candidate.

                One last thing: Autocorrect is a pox on all our houses. Read your letter five or six times, and before you send it, just to be safe.

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                Jessica Hagy is the author of How To Be Interesting. Her cartoons regularly appear in the New York Times, and she writes an online column for Forbes.

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                Anna Chui

                Anna is the Chief Editor and Content Strategist of Lifehack. She's also a communication expert who shares tips on motivation and relationships.

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                Last Updated on August 25, 2021

                Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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                Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

                As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

                Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

                According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

                “Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

                A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

                What Is Your Personal Brand?

                “Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

                Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

                Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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                I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

                A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

                Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

                Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

                Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

                In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

                According to Castrillon,[2]

                “One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

                The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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                As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

                In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

                “if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

                When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

                The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

                Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

                The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

                5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

                These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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                1. Set Your Personal Goals

                What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

                2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

                Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

                1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
                2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
                3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
                4. What makes you different from others like you?

                The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

                3. Write Your Professional Story

                Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

                4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

                Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

                5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

                A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

                The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

                Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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                As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

                Other People’s Stories

                Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

                Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

                Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

                “your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

                So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

                Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

                Reference

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