Today’s job market is very competitive, so you need a way to stand out. “The biggest mistake many job hunters are currently making is that they skip writing a cover letter when sending off a resume,” says Jim, a 61-year-old AT&T Human Resource Manager. Cover letters are very influential, and a well-written letter can grab an interview just on its own merit. It is too bad most job hunters are so lazy they don’t write one anymore, notes this HR manager in charge of employee recruiting.
What doesn’t work is sending a generic letter. Put the effort in to tailor your letter specifically to the needs of the job. Another mistake to avoid is losing them in your opening sentence. Never begin your letter with the overused standard – I’m applying for the ad I saw online. This fails to address the employer’s needs and the skills you bring to the job. Another overused starting line is telling the company you think they are great and how much you want to work for them. However, this fact can be stated in the letter later – it is too weak to open it. This overused approach does not sell this employer on how you will keep them great and how you have the skills they seek.
Most Effective Opening
Power Impact Technique™ is the best way to start your letter. I created this technique years ago, and it has had a very high success rate of getting employers to call the applicant, which is the goal.
The Power Impact Technique is a two-step process. First, analyze the job — both the noted and assumed needs — and determine the essential skills the employer is looking for. Next, immediately address how you will meet the employer’s needs. You begin your letter with a strong opening sentence emphasizing the major selling points and skills you would bring to the job. Compare the difference between the typical opening, I’m applying to the job opening I found on Indeed and these two openings using The Power Impact Technique:
- Ten years in senior management with proven expertise in international finance for a Fortune 100 company
- Strong leadership in operations having reduced costs by 12% while improving productivity
- Five years in B2B tech sales growing territory sales by 18% in a highly competitive marketplace
These openers are eye-catching, designed to get the employer to see what you can do. The secret lies merely in addressing their needs right up front. After all, these are the necessary skills and experience they are seeking.
This first paragraph is what they will read, so it needs to have your top selling points in it. You must demonstrate “proof” that you can perform the duties desired. To develop this proof, outline the critical things that the employer wants. Just underline the significant items from the job opening. Whenever possible, use your network to gather any inside information. The next step is to ask yourself: What were the RESULTS of my efforts on previous jobs, projects, or tasks that I’ve undertaken? That is the key to compose your letter. Just highlight the duties and skills needed by referencing your abilities to perform them plus offer any known results from your past efforts as proof that you CAN do the job.
William Morris Motley
Newark, DE 19713
Dear Hiring Manager
With a demonstrated record of leadership in medical diagnostic equipment manufacturing and operations, I would bring excellent experience in increasing profit, enhancing productivity, and reducing costs to your organization.
Highlights of my background include:
- Establishment of a new manufacturing culture based on self-directed teams and continuous improvement leading to high quality levels. Results: achieved 20% productivity increase plus $3.5 million increase in profits.
- Headed production turn-around. Results: achieved 26% productivity increase with $2 million in annual cost reductions.
- Designed and set up new part repair center: Results: saved $13 million over previous repair process costs.
- Directed reduction effort on six-month product backlog of large, complex medical diagnostic device. Results: increased production from 19 units per month to 30 units per month while maintaining quality level and same per unit manufacturing cost.
As you can see, I pride myself on being an excellent team developer who can exceed goals and build highly productive employees to contribute to a company’s bottomline.
I am interested in discussing with you some of the valuable contributions I could make to COMPANY NAME’s manufacturing operations. You can contact me all me: 123.555.2565
Your time and consideration are most appreciated.
This formula has opened many doors for my career counseling clients and will do so for you too.
This article was originally published in Forbes Magazine.