By Jimmy Sweeney,
If Itâ€™s a Sample of a Good Cover Letter, Why Is It Free?
For crazed job seekers the world over, the hunt for a sample of a good cover letter can take on the proportions of an epic quest. Desperate to find the right combination of words, ideas and motivation, these job seekers comb the internet, purchase expensive books and even pay hundreds of dollars to professional cover letter writers for just the right sample. Unfortunately, many of these hunters are on a foolâ€™s quest.
There is no sample of a good cover letter that will accomplish the task that a cover letter must accomplish half so well as a cover letter custom written for you. After all, the cover letter is about you in the first place. Itâ€™s a letter that explains why you, a specific person, have the specific attributes to solve a specific business problem for a specific employer. No web site, book or expert sample of a good cover letter is going to be able to provide you with that level of specificity, no matter how much you pay for it.
If the sample of the cover letter is free, then itâ€™s even more useless. In the case of free cover letters pulled off the Internet, these overbroad and general cover letters have the secondary flaw of being old and musty. In the case of Hiring Managers who have read literally hundreds and hundreds of cover letters, the appearance of another cover letter full of the same old jargon and meaningless sentences does make an impression. Unfortunately, itâ€™s the exact opposite of the impression that a job seeker wants to make. A free cover letter stolen from the Internet says that you are not only unable to communicate effectively and originally for yourself, but donâ€™t even have the sense to steal from a well-written and interesting source.
Alternatives to the Sample of a Good Cover Letter
Okay, so now that youâ€™ve been scared off of the idea of simply taking a sample of a good cover letter from the Internet, now what? The answer is to do some research, do some clear thinking and then write your own cover letter. Not only will the result be more effective and impressive than anything that you would find somewhere else, but you can change and shape it in the future to apply for other opportunities. In other words, you will write your own sample of a good cover letterâ€¦ one that is specifically tailored for you.
The first two of the three elements of research, thinking and writing go hand in hand, and should be more or less completed before the writing begins. As a matter of fact, before you even sit down to the computer to start tapping at the keyboard, you should have a couple of key points in mind. The first is the purpose of the cover letter. Basically, the purpose of the cover letter is to get you the interview for the job you want at the company you want. The way that the cover letter accomplishes this is to convince the targeted hiring manager that you have the ability to solve their most pressing business problem. Once the letter convinces the Hiring Manager that you can solve his or her most pressing business problem, the cover letter must motivate that Hiring Manager to take the next step to make the job interview happen.
As you can imagine, accomplishing these tasks requires you to have a firm grasp of several elements. The first one is the most pressing business problem faced by the targeted company. Most people think that people that are put into jobs are hired to fill positions. As a matter of fact, thatâ€™s not the case at all. They are hired to solve problems and if the company could use another method to solve that problem, one that was cheaper, easier or required less company resources then the hire would never happen at all. Whenever you are applying for a job, you should change your way of thinking about business to see it as a series of people paying money to each other to solve their problems for themâ€¦ whether it is customers, employees, or managers.
Take Another Look
With that mindset, take another look at your dream position in your target company. What kinds of problems does that company have that need solved by someone in your dream position? Donâ€™t try to answer this question on your own. Do some research online, in trade journals and with people you might know in the field. Often the answers will surprise you.
While youâ€™re at it, do some more basic research on the targeted hiring manager him or herself. What is his or her name and contact details. A cover letter with the wrong name, an incorrect address or a misspelling are likely to be much less favorably regarded than one with perfect information. As far as something like “to whom it may concern” — just imagine how you react to mail that comes to your house with the address “Resident” and you can get an idea how it will be treated.
Once youâ€™ve got a good idea of what the company most needs to have solved, then you need to do a lot of thinking about how you are best suited to solving this problem. Do you have specific training in this field, do you have a degree that is designed to make you competent, and do you have a proven record of interest? If so, those are all very important but are going to carry only a small amount of weight compared to whether or not you have any experience solving the same problem for another employer. At the end of the day, this is the most important thing that the Hiring Manager is going to look at.
After all, he or she wants the problem solved surely and quickly. An inexperienced hire, no matter how well educated or talented is still a risk and question mark in terms of whether or not they can solve the problem. And even if they are eventually able to fulfill the duties that they need to fulfill, itâ€™s likely to only happen after a long time of training and getting them up to speed. By comparison, an experienced hire is a sure bet and is able to begin solving the most pressing problem immediately.
Now You Are Ready to Write!
Once youâ€™ve got these two elements — the problem and why you can solve it better than anyone else — straight in your mind, then you are ready to write the cover letter. Start it with an opening that will grab the readerâ€™s attention and let him or her know whatâ€™s in the letter.
As you do, be sure to remember that the reader is a very busy person. They are reading the letter for one reason and one reason only, to find the solution to their most pressing business problem. So something like “AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY: PROVEN SALES LEADER” is a good example of an effective cover letter headline, since it trumpets the benefit that the letter (and the candidate that the letter is about) offer the Hiring Manager.
From there, start with a little bit of information about the problem that you will solve for the targeted company. This will establish that you have the familiarity with the field to deserve further reading, as well as set the reader up for the next part of the letter. Naturally, this next part is where you explain why you are the best one to solve this problem.
Ring. Ring. Hello? Iâ€™d Like to Speak with Opportunity, Please
One great way to think about this part of the letter is to consider it a quick, casual, intelligent phone conversation in which you have a couple of minutes to make your case. As you do, donâ€™t assume that the reader is going to be able to follow your reasoning without having it spelled out. Come straight out and lay it out there in a plain and reasonable way. For example “Because customer retention is such an important part of the retail business, I have gained enormous experience in maintaining customers through recognition and reward programs for established accounts.” Donâ€™t be afraid to list accomplishments and recognitions that back up your claims and prove with concrete examples that you solved the relevant problems, for example “Because of these innovations, my department set company records for sales increases three years running.”
After proving your competency, spend a sentence or two establishing your enthusiasm. Itâ€™s your enthusiasm that will put you over the top against candidates who are equally as qualified as you. So explain why you enjoy meeting the challenges of the main business problem and why you find it so satisfying.
Lastly, motivate the reader to take the next step. The best sample of a good cover letter isnâ€™t worth the paper or pixels itâ€™s printed on if the reader just moves onto the next item on his or her to do list after reading it. The reader should finish reading the letter and pick up the phone or keyboard to contact you. One way to inspire that action is to ask for it. Say something along the lines of “I look forward to meeting you and sharing my enthusiasm for the job in person. Please give me a call to set up an interview.”
Sign off, give it a couple of read throughs aloud for grammar, diction and tone and send it out. Congratulations! Youâ€™ve just created a sample of a good cover letter for yourself.
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