2003-11-14 - 9:29 a.m.
Alrighty. I meant to do this last week and just didn't. But. Here are
~CubicleGirl's General Tips For Writing a Glitter-ific Cover Letter~.
** Cover letters should be short and sweet. You know this. I know you know this. You know that I know that you know this. Just don't forget it. Short. Sweet.
** Think of your cover letter as being a Brochure About You. No. Really. Think about it that way.
** You've got to GRAB their attention. Particularly in the first line. Here's my first line:
Finding an air-conditioned New York City taxi for a visiting penguin following a press event; writing a speech on the contributions of actuaries to society for a CEO with an hour deadline; and convincing four different companies with offices in over 100 countries that an Intranet could help them do their job -- with over six years of corporate communications and marketing experience, I’ve learned how to handle the unexpected. I’d like to put that experience to use at xxxxx.
** Now. How did I get that first line? I brainstormed. One night I sat down with a text pad and told myself to write down all my Best Stories About Past Jobs. These are the stories you find yourself telling at cocktail parties, the ones that you tell in job interviews. The stories that you automatically associate with certain jobs. You know. The Stories. Then I thought about WHAT I wanted in a future job. I wanted a) humor b) unexpected assignments and c) some responsibilities over the Intranet/Web site. I pulled the stories that matched those goals and put them into a lead sentence.
** The rest of the cover letter falls into place from there. Cover letters should be no more than four paragraphs. Your lead, two paragraphs about how great you are for this particular positions and then a wrap up paragraph.
** The two middle paragraphs. These are often-overlooked and slapped together. My two middle paragraphs vary from letter to letter. I have paragraphs that focus on my non-profit work, paragraphs that focus on my financial/insurance industry expertise, paragraphs that focus on my print production experience, etc. I choose which one I'm going to use depending on the job I'm applying for.
** The middle paragraphs also should do two things:
1) they should address every single key word listed in the job description. If the ad says, "we're looking for someone who can type 45 wpm.". At least one of your sentences MUST say, "I have been tested at being able to type over 45 wpm." Or something. Do that for EVERY key word.
2) they should also tell what you can do for this particular company. In other words... they have two people who can both type 45 wpm. Why do they pick you? Because you wrote, "I have been tested at being able to type over 45 wpm while standing in the middle of Times Square and giving directions to German tourists."
** Also. I can't stress this point enough. NEVER EVER NEVER EVER in a cover letter say, "I have never done x,y,z." Or, "While I have no direct experience with x,y,z." NEVER EVER give them a reason to pass you over.