The goals of a cover letter are to 1) affirm the connection you have (hopefully) already made with the addressee and 2) to get you noticed. If that is the case, why do all the cover letters I see look the same? All short one paragraph, maybe with a few bullets about why this candidate is applying for the job.
What do you think the reaction is from recruiters and hiring managers when they see this type of cover letter? I say “SNOOZE – BORING.” Ignore! Is it effective to just talk about yourself the same way everyone else does?
No. You need to do it differently if you are going to get a different result.
How To Make Your Cover Letter Stand Out
Here’s how to make your cover letter stand out of the crowd:
Build A Connection
Your cover letter must show 1) that you resonate with this company and 2) there’s a story behind your interest. We all have our reasons for interest in the company we are approaching. Ask yourself, why do I want to work here? (Answering “because I need a job” is not allowed here.) Be real to yourself and to the company. You don’t want to waste your time or the company’s time if there isn’t a sincere interest in working at this firm.
Let’s assume there’s a a sincere interest in what this company is doing, producing, achieving. Why does it resonate with you? Now, tell your reader just that.
“The first time I served in our local soup kitchen, my heart broke and cheered at the same time. I fell in love with the people I was serving. The glimpse of hope they shared with me, though I had a nice warm apartment to go to, a job, clean food and clothes. They seemed to have no hope, homeless, on the street, begging for food. I vowed to continue to serve and be generous to those in need. That is why Mr. Non-Profit, your work at XYZ resonates with me. Your…..”
Do you see the difference of a good story that connects with them verses a boring list of one’s skills?
Realize It’s Not About You
How counter-intuitive right? Not really. Yes, YOU are applying for a job at company XYZ, but it’s not about YOU. It’s about THEM. The hiring team wants to know what’s in it for them. How can you help them, make money, save money, add clients, keep clients, build brand awareness, streamline processes, and so on?
Jobs are created because there’s a need to help the bottom-line – yup, money. I apologize to my fellow personal development friends, but a job is really about running a business – no matter where you are. Even in non-profit, how can you help the clients, raise funds, and bring more exposure to the organization?
Think of it this way: If you were a business owner and needed to hire help. How would you make the determination to do so? Behind it all is a financial piece to it. For instance in hiring a virtual assistant I need to know that the money I am paying her to take over certain aspects of my business is worth it to me. That her help will help me focus on the areas that I can generate the most money to grow my business. Agreed? The same holds true for any organization. Think like a business owner and you’ll get this part.
Don’t mail a pet snake as a way to surprise a hiring team – yikes. But do surprise them with writing something different than what everyone else writes. Tell a story. Engage them. Be authentic. Tell them the problem you want to solve for them. This will surprise them.
If you want career fulfillment and you are looking for your next “good fit” job, write a different kind of cover letter.