You know what? I’m awesome. Don’t be jealous, you are too. Just look at all the things you do! You’re an over-achiever/teacher/blogger/mentor/everything! You and I both know you’re pretty amazing. But… does anybody else? If you think it doesn’t matter, then you’re one of the lucky few who hasn’t had to deal with a job search in the last few years. But let me tell you, it is very important that the people who might considering hiring you know that you do all of these things, and what an awesome benefit you would be to their company.
The problem with many of us face now is that we have a ton of new skills, many of them tech-based, and the people who’re hiring us aren’t familiar with them. Case in point: blogging. Do you think the 60-year-old Exec at your dream marketing firm is going to realize that he could use the skills you’ve developed through running your fashion blog? Hardly. Nevertheless, the skills are there, and he could likely learn a thing or two from you, if only he knew what you could do. But wait, he can–all hail the cover letter!
So look, I know writing a cover letter is the most abhorred part of applying for a job, but it’s really not that hard. You have to break it down and realize that you’re writing to someone who’s been reading through possibly hundreds of letters, all highlighting many different skills and work experiences. The reader is tired, and they’re certainly not interested in thinking about how an engineer can do kinesiology work. But they can, and this can be the difficulty with cover letters, especially when it comes to career changes.
In reality though, this is exactly what a cover letter is perfect for. Your resume lists your skills and responsibilities, but your cover letter is an 8.5×11″ opportunity to explain how you are perfect for the role. Instead of just writing out your career highlights for your potential employers’ perusal, you need to think about the bigger picture when writing the letter, and that is this: people don’t always pursue something they want, but when it’s something they need, they do. If you make yourself needed, you’re in. But how do you do that?
Think back to elementary school when you learned about persuasive writing–did you know you were learning to write a cover letter back then? The key to persuasive writing is giving your audience the facts, and after each one, draw it back to your purpose. Years ago, you may have been writing to persuade your classmates that puppies are soOoO much cuter than kitties!!!, but today you’re persuading your reader to hire you. After each piece of evidence, which in this case is your skills explanation (or perhaps even a blurb about how your and the company’s visions are aligned), explain why that’s useful to your reader. “I can blog” might mean nothing, but “I increased my blog’s revenue by 68% in its second year of operation” says I know what I’m doing here. Likewise, “I’ve got excellent computer skills” is great, but “My experience in Photoshop and Flash will undoubtedly be of service to your team when preparing pitches and client presentations”. Right?
Okay so maybe you’re not actually in the market for a new job. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur. But this kind of persuasive writing is useful for you too. Any sort of marketing pitches, client presentations, or even a pitch for a promotion or raise in your current job, this is for you. Telling somebody you’re great is not good enough–telling them why they need you? That’s amazing. The ability to take a more direct and persuasive approach in your writing, especially when asking for something, speaks volumes to your adeptness and confidence, which are two shoo-in qualities for a new hire/potential business partner.
So what do you think? Would you write this way, or do you already? I really believe that it’s not only about having the skills to get the job done, but selling them too. If you can’t properly convey your excellence to the people who require your skills, are you really even that excellent at all? Persuasive writing for yourself is the ultimate marketing strategy, because the big ticket item for sale is you. You’ve put so much effort into developing your talents and abilities, so why not reap the most from what you’ve sown?