By Karen Silins,
“Normal” conversations are a two-way street: you ask your friend a question, and he answers. Then he asks you a question, and you answer. The cycle repeats with both of you in the spotlight.
One way that a cover letter â€“ and an interview, for that matter â€“ differs from everyday conversation is that the focus is almost entirely on you. Most of the content is devoted to expressing how capable you are, describing your exceptional accomplishments/abilities, and reiterating how you can help them as no other candidate can. In fact, it’s your duty to “be the star”!
This can be tricky. Most people feel uncomfortable tooting their own horns. It’s much easier to say complimentary things about someone else than it is to say positive things about yourself.
It can be hard to step back and identify your positive attributes, and it can be even harder to talk about them without feeling self-conscious or egotistical. After all, as children, we’re taught not to monopolize discussions and to make sure our conversational partner has equal opportunity to talk about himself.
Even for those people who really enjoying talking about themselves, writing a cover letter or going to an interview can be a big challenge. You have to plan what you’ll write and what you’ll say. Careful planning will prevent you from going overboard or sounding too self-absorbed.
One of the biggest cover letter pitfalls is over-embellishing what you feel are your best assets. It can be tempting to discuss your accomplishments or talents in such a way that they seem bigger than they are. Usually, though, the employer can see right through this trick.
Descriptions that are hard to believe can cause your reader to question the truth about everything you say. Therefore, you always want to lay out your skills honestly. Connect them to the company’s needs without making them sound more impressive than they really are.
It’s essential to strike just the right balance. At its most basic, a cover letter is a sales pitch that markets your skills to a company. Of course, you’re not going to make the sale unless you can claim that you’re a great buy. This is no place for modesty, after all. But you don’t want to go too far in the other direction, either, acting like a used car salesman who hypes up his product with little regard for the truth.
Remember, whatever you say in your letter you’ll have to justify at your interview, so make sure you get it right. And keep in mind that it is much easier to brag on paper than it is to look someone in the eye and say it to him directly.
It should be easy to talk about the things you do best, but actually it can be very difficult! If you’re having trouble highlighting your best features, keep these guidelines in mind:
Â»Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Don’t be modest. A cover letter is the place for you to be up-front about your skills.
Â»Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Don’t write down every single skill. Only include skills that are relevant and important to the job for which you’re applying.
Â»Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Don’t write down your skills alone. Back them up with specific events or experiences that prove your abilities. For example, don’t just say you’re great with Excel spreadsheets. Mention the new spreadsheet system you established at your former company.
Â»Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and co-workers. If you’re having trouble thinking of your strengths, ask them to assess your skills. Sometimes other people see us differently from the way we see ourselves.
Â»Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Don’t exaggerate your abilities. Eventually the employer will find out the truth.
For more information about writing a cover letter that will grab the employerâ€™s attention, please visit:Â www.breakthroughcoverletters.com