My junior year of high school, I drove a tank car that I tried to hide in the parking lot. It had a sticker on the back of the Boynton bears saying, “My other car is a Rolls.” It belonged to my parents, and was almost as old as I was. It was the medium-size model of a Chevrolet station wagon, but it occupied a city block more than a full lane when I drove down the street. The car was an eyesore, and refused to be hidden. People noticed it.
Just as you pay more for gas if you have a big car, you may pay the price if you apply for jobs with a very long cover letter. It’s quite possible that no one will read your work.
I’m going to borrow a writing style I’ve adapted from Twitter, and teach you how to write a cover letter in seven six tweets (messages of 140 characters or less). This is my gift to you because writing a cover letter is like going to the dentist no one likes to write cover letters.
(T1) Objective: Write cover letter with the employer in mind, focus on their needs–not yours.Answer four questions, they want to know:
- (T2) Where did you find my listing? Do you know anyone here? Recruiters care about hiring and marketing. Let them know how you found them.
- (T3) What position are you applying for? How do your skills and experience align with the position?
- (T4) Why this opportunity? Why do you want to work here–and in this job? Share knowledge. Show that you’ve done homework.
- (T5) How can I follow-up with you?
(T6) These are the essentials. Your letter should be clear, concise and address each topic. Suggested format: write a paragraph on each point.
Practice writing a letter in this format a few times, and you’ll find that you have a cover letter that almost writes itself. Have a hard time with addressing the line up between skills and a job? Get help from someone else–a career counselor, a hiring manager, or someone who enjoys the process…You can even contact me.
After you’ve done this a few times, you should have the format down. (There’s also an alternative version of this in the book I wrote, The Twitter Job Search Guide, as well as suggestions on how to write your resume in tweets.)
To Your Success,