Recently a friend sent me a one page A4 letter and asked me if this was a good cover letter. I didn’t even have to read it to say: “NO!”
With so many applications, more important than ever to make an impact with the first line, break the monotony of the hiring process for the hiring managers, and convey your personality… quickly. Every word has to work. You want them to want to get to know you more, and read the rest of your application.
So forget everything you know about writing a cover letter. In this episode I’ll talk you through an effective structure and the type of content you need to include to get yourself to the next round. We talk:
- How to echo the job post to show you’re a cultural fit
- The 3-part structure that enables you to be brief, articulate & show your personality
- An example of a recent cover letter that got me the interview and the offer
Get the Podcast Study Pack 3 and receive a worksheet, guide or checklist workbook for every episode, so you can make your remote career & transition a reality ASAP.
In this episode I’m going to breakdown the cover letter step by step, and in the podcast pack, this week’s bonus material is two full cover letters that snagged me the interview that led to the job offer and my acceptance.
So let’s get started with this cover letter that I wrote for a marketing role for a crypto currency. This cover letter prompted a phone call and a subsequent offer which I didn’t accept because the parameters of the working contract changed and they didn’t align with the way I want to work with people. But I’m going to talk about that in a red flag episode for the interview process. For now, this is the brief and articulate cover letter that got me the interview. But let’s take it step by step. Before you even start writing the cover letter…
Make notes on the job spec!
I usually have two windows open on my laptop; one with the job post, and one with my a master doc on Google where I write and compile all my application letters.
- Go through the job post with a fine tooth comb, make a note of all the skills, qualifications, requirements, experience and remote work that you can tick the box for and want to mention.
- Jot down 3 reasons, experiences, results, or outcomes in your professional or personal past that make you the perfect person for the role.
- Jot down any ideas, like metaphors that come to mind, funny phrases they’ve written you could riff on, TV ads it reminds you of, just anything!
- Read the job post really well, making sure to note any test task they have requested you include in the application, for example a sentence to include in the first line of your cover letter, or a specific email subject heading, or specific questions to answer in your application.
Then, bearing in mind you will have researched their website, content, social media and spam checks like we’ve talked about in previous episodes… you’ll have more ideas about what to write and how to connect with them in an engaging way.
Start writing the cover letter.
First, I make sure I address it correctly! Was the post written by someone specific, like Jon, or Susan? Address it to them. Or was it signed by the company? In that case I address it to: “Team [Company Name]’. Pay attention to who you should be addressing and write, Hi, or … Dear… or whatever suits your style. I usually write: ‘Hi’.
In this instance it was a man called Eirik, with the Norwegian spelling, so I had to be careful to spell it Eirik, and triple check it. I also researched the pronunciation so that when we jumped on the phone call a week later I was able to confidently say Hi Eirik! So my cover letter started of:
My first paragraph is always about clarifying what you’re writing about and confirming the role you’re applying for, why you’re a great fit, and what value you can add. In this instance their job spec indicated they were looking for someone with specific qualities & experience to help with their philosophy of marketing, so I added a line about that. Here’s what I said:
I saw that you’re looking for a Marketing Strategist and I’d like to put myself forward for the role. I’m a highly autonomous, remote strategist who creates data-driven stories to achieve communications goals, with a ton of tech experience and a MASSIVE passion for the future of finance. I believe marketing is the art of letting people know how you help them.
Then I continue with 3 reasons I’m a good fit, usually reasons that align with the type of work experience, skills/requirements/ qualifications/ attributes, and very specific things they may have requested or alluded to in their post. This is why taking notes on specific phrases in their job post is so good, you literally want to mirror their vocabulary and phrases so you fit the profile of the ideal candidate they’re looking for. In this case they were looking for an experienced storyteller, a LOT of marketing experience, and in particular in tech & with startups.
So I went on to write:
I’m a good fit because:
I know how to combine simple messaging with effective storytelling that drives audiences to take action.
I’ve been developing media strategies and product marketing campaigns for blue chip companies and startups since 2004.
My first tech client was 3Com back in 2001-2004; I went on to work with Yahoo! and MSN, and most recently two tech startups Civic and Kipwise.
Then I usually add something that speaks to my desire to work specifically with their industry, audience or company. In this case they required someone with both remote work and FinTech experience as a ‘nice to have’.
So I added:
I have experience working remotely since 2004, and although I have much to learn about Fintech, my personal goal is to leave the world a little better than I found it.
Notice that I don’t have FinTech experience and even though it was a requirement I applied anyway, got an interview and an offer.
Then I sign off with any additional information or requirements they stated that they might consider non-negotiables, as well as my current time zone and phone number so they know how to reach me. In this case they required someone who can legally work in the UK, as their CEO was based in London.
So I signed off:
I can legally work in the UK & US, and am currently on central US time. Whatsapp [phone number].
And finally the simplest sign off EVER:
And that’s it. Brief, articulate. And I really think that’s what people are looking for. So so so important to echo what they’ve said in their post in a very eloquent way. Echo their voice, tone, style so demonstrate you’re a cultural and mindset fit. This job spec I was responding to was very brief and articulate, very plain language, very simple. So my cover letter echoed that. No bells, whistles and flourishes. I really didn’t need them. Some cover letters might reflect the humour of a cover letter, or the passion. That’s why it’s good to write a bespoke letter for each job application.
I hope that helps you simplify your own cover letter writing process. Crack open worksheet 19 in the podcast study pack to see another 2 very different cover letters I wrote that got me the interview and led to a job offer in both cases.
If you don’t have the podcast pack yet don’t worry, head over here to get your copy there.
That’s it from me this week. See you next week on Thriving Empire Live!
Subscribe to the podcast on Apple, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.
If you haven’t already, please rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts!