Essentials of a Unique Cover Letter…that’s right, “unique”

Imagine having a stack of junk mail in front of you that you actually had to read.  How much would you pay to have someone else go through it all to find out if there’s anything  worth reading?  Or would you rather spend the money on a heavy-duty shredder to just get that pile off your desk?

If you’re in the human resources department of a large organization or the owner, operator, and chief bottle washer of a small organization – you may actually have to read a pile of letters because you need to hire someone  – and soon!

The key word in my title is ‘unique’ and that doesn’t mean coming up with new adjectives for hard-working, professional, team player and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Where have I read that before?  Oh, yeah, from that pile of junk mail, I mean cover letters.  They all say the same thing.

Because you’ve read so many examples of supposedly good cover letters that start with “Please accept this letter as my application for chief bottle washer….” it doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to write a cover letter.  And it sure doesn’t mean it’s the only way to write a cover letter.

Try to be unique…original…new….fresh…an individual.  You must stand out.

Here are three essentials I believe that will help make your cover letter unique:

  1. Grab the reader’s attention.  If you took on your co-worker’s duties while she was on maternity leave for a year, do the math and calculate how much money you save the company during that time.  Let’s say your co-worker earns $40,000 per year.  Your opening sentence can say something like this….”I single-handedly saved the organization $40K over 12 months by doubling my caseload.”  Of course, the sentence would have to be relevant to the job you’re applying for (that’s another blog), but you get the idea. Specifics like “40K” and “12 months” are memorable, they stand out, they are unique.  No one else is going to have that exact same opening.
  2. Show that you’ve done your homework; i.e. you’ve researched the company.  If you are applying for a position in the office of an otorhinolaryngologist then you should know what that means.  It’s an ENT specialist.  Oh, ENT means ‘ears, nose, throat’.  And that’s about all I remember from my medical terminology studies.
  3. Leave the ball in your court.  Don’t just drop the letter in the mailbox (yes, sometimes people actually still do that) and hope for the best. Way too passive. Your closing sentence should be “If I don’t hear from you within the next two weeks, I will follow-up to check on my application’s status”.  This shows that you really are interested, you are a go-getter, you’re assertive, you’re punctual (because you actually will call in exactly two weeks from the date on your letter). Aren’t these all qualities employers look for when hiring someone?

Go get ’em!

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Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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