Contrary to popular belief, cover letters can help you stand out and get a job interview today. You might think employers don't read them--especially if you've been applying online endlessly and not getting any response. But the truth is, when you get a cover letter directly into the hands of the hiring manager, they are definitely going to take a look. The question then becomes: What can you do to hold their attention and wow them enough to contact you?

Too Often, Cover Letters Are Preachy

The biggest mistake job seekers make when crafting a cover letter is thinking the goal is to impress the reader with their credentials. They forget that the résumé is supposed to do that. So when a hiring manager starts to read about why you think you are so perfect for the job, they stop reading and head over to the résumé. At which point, you've lost your opportunity to connect with the hiring manager in a way that stands out. A great way to tell if your cover letter is too preachy is to imagine walking up to the hiring manager and having to read it to them out loud. This would be the first time they've ever met you. How would you feel? Preachy cover letters sound self-important and narcissistic. If it feels like bragging, your cover letter is wrong.

Don't Pontificate, Validate!

A good cover letter helps the hiring manager understand how you feel personally and emotionally connected to what the company does. It also shares why you are motivated to do the kind of work you specialize in. By offering the motivation behind wanting the job, you will help them see you are a fit for the company's mission and culture. Companies like to hire people who deeply understand, support, and respect the reason they are in business. By sharing how you've come to admire what they do, you are revealing a key reason why you would be a good fit for the job.

To Write a Disruptive Cover Letter, Ask Yourself These 3 Questions

At Work It Daily, we teach clients how to write what we call a "Disruptive Cover Letter." It's different, in that it grabs the hiring manager's attention in a way that makes them think, "Wow, this is unlike anything I've read before. I want to learn more about this candidate." In order to come up with the content for this type of letter, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What experiences in your personal or professional life have taught you that what the employer does is different, better, special, etc.?
  2. When did you realize the type of work you do is deeply satisfying, and what about the work is most gratifying?
  3. How do you save or make employers enough money to cover the cost of hiring you, and how could you prove that to this employer?

By exploring your answers to these questions, you'll start to formulate a unique story and perspective that can be shared in the cover letter.

PS: Disruptive Cover Letters Aren't for the Lazy, They're for the Savvy

Sometimes, people say to me, "This seems like a lot of work to write one cover letter. Isn't it easier just to draft something generic?" While a generic cover letter is easier, it's also useless. Being lazy in your job search won't get you far. Blindly applying to hundreds of jobs online with a generic cover letter and thinking you'll get a call is naive. Sophisticated job seekers know it's quality over quantity. Investing time researching and writing a Disruptive Cover Letter and then focusing on getting it directly in the hiring manager's hands is the best way to go around the online system and beat out the thousands of other applicants. You are a business-of-one trying to sell your services to an employer. If you want to stand out, you have to show them you are the type of worker that knows what you want, AND is willing to go the extra mile to get it!