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Cover Letter Casualties - Hit The Bull's-eye With A Targeted Cover Letter

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsCover Letter Casualties - Beware Of Ego Overkill, Proof, Proof, And Proof Some More, No Room For Excuses In The Cover Letter

Hit the Bull's-Eye With a Targeted Cover Letter

Job Seeker's Story

Jasmine was an exceptional consumer-goods and membership-services Salesperson. She had a real talent for persuasion, relationship-building, and customer service. Her sales track record was stellar, and her enthusiasm was genuine and infectious. When Jasmine decided to move back to her hometown of Richmond (Virginia), she sent out hundreds of cover letters and résumés, including one to a local organization that promoted dating-membership sales. This is the cover letter she wrote in response to every job posting:

As you will note from the attached résumé, my work experience has been constant, productive, and growth-oriented with progress shown for experience.

While my work history states positions and responsibilities held, I feel the best area of accomplishment is in skills in communication in dealing with and through people to reach goals and objectives.

It is my feeling that my attitude and experience will be good in serving both our interests. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Jasmine never did hear back from the dating-membership organization, her top choice, even though she re-sent her cover letter and résumé two times. Her dream sales job in her hometown never materialized, despite her outstanding qualifications.

Job Seeker's Stumble

By trying to cut corners, Jasmine undermined her job search with a generic cover letter, which she used repeatedly, regardless of the position she was pursuing. She assumed that the reviewer would read her résumé and that the cover letter was merely a formality.

Job Seeker's New Strategies

Cover letters can play a critical role in the selection process, particularly as a screening-out mechanism. Reviewers want to see targeted responses to their job postings and evidence of interest in and suitability for their posted positions. In Jasmine's case, her cover letter lacked this much-needed specific information. The reader had no idea of what job posting (if any) she was responding to and why she should be considered for employment with their company.

Craft your cover letter by following these three simple steps. Specifically:

  • Capture Attention and Establish Interest: Write the cover letter keeping the self-interest of the reader in mind. Make it clear what position you are applying for and why. Tie your enthusiasm for the position to the employer's needs. For example, Jasmine could have written:
    After reading ‘The CONNECT Guide to Dating in Richmond,’ I researched your company and discovered, much to my excitement, that you have an opening for a Sales Director. Your description of Sales Directors as ‘self-motivated individuals who enjoy making a difference in clients’ lives’ sounds like it was written just for me. In fact, one of my recent clients described me as ‘the most genuine and responsive sales rep I have encountered in 22 years in the business.’ This is typical of the kind of client feedback I get.
  • Relay Relevant and Convincing Proof: Take charge of convincing the reader of your top-notch qualifications by citing specific, relevant accomplishments that address every requirement stated. In addition, use quantifiers to demonstrate the scope of your accomplishment for added impact. For example, Jasmine's accomplishments could have been relayed this way:
    You will note that my sales qualifications meet all of your requirements as follows:
    • Membership sales. Ranked number one in membership sales (out of 10-member sales team) for health club memberships in Baltimore, Maryland, for three consecutive years.
  • Proven sales background. Consistently surpassed average client sales by 30% in current consumer-goods sales position. Won four quarterly team sales awards within two years for imported home furnishings store.
  • Success with Fortune 500 clientele. Cultivated client relationships with upscale clientele such as physicians, attorneys, CEOs, and business owners that drove repeat and referral sales up to 75% within the first year.
  • Stand Out From the Crowd: After establishing credibility with accomplishments, cement your differentiation from other candidates, who may also demonstrate accomplishments, by conveying the advantages of your personal brand and fit with the company culture. Jasmine could have said, “Knowing how difficult it can be to bring someone new on board and integrate them into the team, let me assure you that my style of consultative selling and trust-building skills would blend in well with your company's mission of ‘providing services that fulfill dreams with confidentiality and integrity.’ If you are interested in a candidate that can begin to contribute immediate results like I have done in my previous sales positions, may we meet soon so I can make my case?

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