By Phil Baker
Also See: How to Write a Cover Letter Part I
After years behind the scenes reviewing cover letters and resumes and deciding which ones to choose, and more years of advising employers and HR personnel, I have learned several surprising things:
- Many job candidates are chosen for interviews based solely on the cover letter.
- Often the best cover letters chosen had used AIDA.
- Better cover letters get interviews not better qualifications!
I conducted experiments by sorting through the cover letters in two piles labeled “accepted” and rejected.â€ I then had each of my colleagues do the same and kept records of their choices.
I was surprised to see that out of one hundred cover letters we had all chosen almost the same fifteen. What was it about these candidate’s cover letters that made them stand out? The best sounding cover letters, the ones my colleagues and I chose, all had something in common. These cover letters followed AIDA.
While our cover letter experiment was not purely scientific, my experience has shown that less than fifteen percent of cover letters follow AIDA. This tells me that either eighty five per cent of job applicants do not know of AIDA or they do not know how to apply this principle to resumes and cover letters.
Years ago I learned the AIDA basic law of advertising. I have always followed this age-old principle with successful results. Contrary to the infinite variables of successful business advertising such as the timing, target, media, content, colors, offer, sense of urgency, ad position, etc., the basic principle of AIDA works.
I have written thousands of successful classified ads, designed display ads, produced electronic media, and created websites, using the AIDA thought process every time. If you know AIDA the principle is worth reviewing and must be used. If by some chance you don’t know it, here it is:
This Age Old Principle is the Magic of the Cover Letter!
Remember, the employer is the customer and you are the product. So your resume and cover letter are your advertisement. They must follow the laws of advertising to achieve maximum results. This basic law of advertising must be applied to resumes and cover letters (because these documents are read by humans, as of this writing).
The cover letter and resume strive to produce two actions. Most employers admit to reading the cover letter first. So the cover letter must incorporate AIDA to get the employer to read the resume and then call you.
In one statement, this is how AIDA applies to your cover letter and resume:
To get the ATTENTION of the employer to read the resume with enough Interest to create the Desire to make them take the Action to contact you.
- The first action desired of the cover letter is getting the employer to read the cover letter and continue to the resume.
- The second action is desired of the cover letter the call or contact. (Some cover letters have initiated the reader to call the candidate without reading the resume.)
Here’s GOOD NEWS: Companies spend BILLIONS of dollars a year in advertising to get their customers’ attention. For the cost of some paper and a stamp, or virtually nothing via the Internet, you should already have your prospect’s undivided attention. They are usually sitting down with your advertisement (your resume and cover letter) in front of them with the sole purpose of reading it. Even if only for a few seconds, you have their attention. This is your FIRST BIG chance!
Your cover letter must generate enough INTEREST for the reader to read it all and enough DESIRE to take the first ACTION. What ACTION? The ACTION of reading your resume. The cover letter can also serve a dual action purpose and assist in generating the ACTION to call you. Following the basics of layout and grammar is a must to maintain interest, and creating good “copy” will encourage a reader to continue.
Resumes and cover letters that make employers “feel right” will get you in.
Using the key skill words the employer has used in the ad, conveying limited availability, and using power vocabulary creates desire.
One great way to write a resume and cover letter is for a specific position within a certain company. Find out all you can about the employer and position, read and reread their employment advertisements. Read the ads for other positions within the same company if there are any. Look for similarities in wording.
Think about what kind of resume you would like to see at Company YOU.
You can learn more about company YOU at Employer Secrets.
The action you want from a cover letter and resume is a telephone call to schedule an interview. This involves more than placing your phone number on your letter and resume. In fact, so much more the next chapter is devoted to the subject.
My experience has shown that less than seven percent of cover letters follow any AIDA. You can bet AIDA based cover letters in the OneClick Cover Letter Creator.