By now, I hope I’ve hammered home the essential message: if you want to win over an employer, you’ve got to tell him what he wants to hear!
Easier said than done? Not if you follow my advice! I will make it easy for you to figure out the employer’s needs and wants. This is the most effective strategy for winning an interview and landing the job of your dreams.
How do I know? Well, I asked the three experts I mentioned earlier â€“ people who’ve been in the business of reading cover letters and assessing rÃ©sumÃ©s for many years â€“ to tell me exactly what they look for in a successful cover letter.
Their response? They want to read something that gives them a feel for the applicant and an idea of what that person can contribute to the company. It sounds simple, but these professionals also told me that it’s rare to see a letter that actually accomplishes these goals. So, how can you give an employer what he wants?
Many applicants send a form letter to every company they want to work for. While it’s fine to use a template or formula, you must adapt it to each and every job opportunity you’re considering. Since most other applicants aren’t tailoring their cover letters, when you do so, you’ll really stand out from the crowd. What could be easier?
To accomplish this, you have to think like a salesperson. Don’t worry, you don’t have to BE a salesperson, you just have to THINK like one. I’ll show you how. Between us, we’ll devise a “marketing strategy,” with you as the product to be advertised.
Let’s begin by considering what the employer wants to “buy” from his new employee. After all, that’s what an employer is doing: purchasing skills that will improve business. If you want to get the job you’ve got your eye on, you need to show that you have the best skills available in the marketplace.
The secret to creating a winning “ad campaign” is simple: all you need to do is mirror what the company is seeking.
How do you do that? Just look at the job description. If someone recommended that you apply for a position, talk to him about the job requirements. Do whatever it takes to get plenty of information about the skills required for the job.
For example, consider the following ad:
X Company seeks an experienced widget designer with proven ability to produce designs that increase sales.
The company is telling you exactly what it wants to hear from candidates applying for this position.
The successful candidate will cite his own widget design experience, as well as the fact that he has produced designs that have increased sales in the past. He’ll also express confidence that he can do this in the future.
By developing innovative widget designs for XYZ Company, I directly contributed to a 72% increase in sales for FY2004. Likewise, I can positively affect your company’s ability to generate substantial revenue through the creation of unique widget models.
In a short cover letter, a simple paragraph like this can be enough to get the job done. By mirroring the job description and establishing your suitability for the position, you give yourself a significant advantage over those applicants who send the same letter to every potential employer without changing a thing.
In other words, you’re giving the employer exactly what he said he wants and needs. This is a simple, yet amazingly successful, strategy! Therefore, the essential first step in any successful job application is to look carefully at the job ad â€“ reread it, study it, and make sure you understand every aspect of the position in question. (Donâ€™t forget to research the company itself as well.)
Don’t make the mistake of jumping into the letter-writing process without first determining precisely what qualities the employer says he wants in an employee. After all, until you know what the employer is looking for, you can’t give it to him!
Karen Silins has been a professional resume and cover letter writer for 16 years and is the acting president and executive board member of the Association of Online Resume & Career Professionals.
For more information about writing a cover letter that will grab the employerâ€™s attention, please visit: Break-ThroughÂ Cover Letters.