The Cover Letter That Led to Awesome Interviews

When I do a career planning unit, I am often amused by the students who list “design skills” or “very creative” on their resumes, yet use the exact same MS-Word default resume template.

A second observation is that students typically used their cover letters to describe their own emotions (e.g. as their burning desire for the job), rather than demonstrate their understanding of why their own skills match the employer’s needs.

Lisa Silva, describing a revelation that came during low point in her own job search, writes:  “The hiring manager isn’t here to make your dreams come true. They’re in it for themselves.”

Here’s the good thing about rock bottom: Nothing is off-limits. I gave myself permission to try any and all tactics in the cover letter playbook, from throwing in a Beyoncé GIF to pretending the hiring manager and I were good friends. Finally, 103 cover letters later, I landed on one that worked.

Within an hour, I had an interview request waiting in my inbox—and then another, and another. Soon, my response rate skyrocketed from 0 to 55%, and I was scheduling interviews with VogueInStyle, and Rolling Stone into my calendar. In other words, this letter—fueled by an old copywriting framework called problem-agitate-solve—is powerful stuff. –Lisa Siva, The Muse

2 thoughts on “The Cover Letter That Led to Awesome Interviews

  1. The Cover Letter should show what the applicant can do for the employer but should also show specific details within that explanation that prove the applicant did some research on the company. With today’s computers (unlike the typewriters of the 80s), it’s possible to tailor each cover letter to each position instead of a generic cover letter. In addition, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ads for positions on FB and applicants continually make comments on the post asking questions that were spelled out in the original ad. (Where do I send my resume? What are the hours? etc. – All of this information was listed.) As an employer, those comments clearly show the applicant’s lack of detail and inability to read and follow direction. 1st interview done…lol.

    • For the past several year, I have been admin of Westmoreland County Help Wanted Ads and use the group to help people find jobs. I cannot begin to estimate how many times I see job seekers asking questions that are already answered in the post, just as Lisa said.

      Also, when they reply to employers, they do so as if they’re sending their buddy a text message. They simply don’t understand that all communication with a potential employer, no matter what platform they are using, should be professional.

      One last thing (and I’m sorry this is wordy), students and potential employees need to check their Facebook pages. An employer is going to pass you right by if the first thing they see on your Facebook page is a bunch of posts with expletives, promoting drug use, and middle fingers. If those posts are who you are, fine, but make it private.

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