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The Clever Cover Letter

Assume that a hiring manager has placed an advertisement on an Internet job board and is receiving résumés in response to that job posting. Dozens or maybe even hundreds of résumés—with cover letters—are flooding that person’s desk now. When a barrage of reading material comes in like that, managers easily become bleary eyed. Each new cover letter that begins, “I am writing in response to your job advertisement for a ___________” and continues with tired language about your “skills” and “experience” and that you want to “make a contribution” or that you are “an excellent fit,” sounds just like the prior one and does nothing to entice a manager to read on. The employer loses interest. Your cover letter and résumé are headed for the circular file.

The solution to this problem is to write something truly unique. What if you started your cover letter by referring to trends in this employer’s industry? What if you started your cover letter by congratulating this employer for a recent success in launching a new product? What if you started your cover letter with a very complimentary testimonial from a customer of yours? Or what if you opened your cover letter with a question that was so relevant and perceptive that it instantly raised the employer’s curiosity about you? Additionally, or alternatively, displaying a sense of humor with a witty thought, either in the introductory paragraph, or within the body of the cover letter, is another clever touch.

Remember, the best cover letters engage the employer with your personality and make them feel they want to meet you.

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