The Bookbyte Blog
$1 = 10 Meals
Now, more than ever, food banks throughout America need help feeding those who are most impacted by COVID-19. Bookbyte is stepping up and taking action by partnering with Feeding America® to donate $1 for every buyback order received from now until June 31st, 2020. Together, with your help, we can get food to those who need it most.Sell textbooks to help >
How to Write a Successful Cover Letter in 3 Easy Steps—[Step 2]
Step 2: Writing the Cover Letter
Now that you've completed Step 1, it's time to write a unique, tailored cover letter to the company of your dreams. Here's how.
Write a hook
You've probably seen lots of example cover letters that begin like this:
"Dear sir or madam, I am sending you this letter to express interest in the position at your company..."
Are you asleep yet? This kind of introduction is boring and has no personality, which is the opposite of what we want. A good hook is something that piques the interest of the reader and turns you human.
"When my climbing harness snapped in 2011, the only thing keeping me alive was an often overlooked detail, the knot attached to my belt."
Doesn't that make you want to keep reading? From there you can talk about how attention to a small detail like the knot saved your life, and after that, you learned to give attention to all small details, which makes you a great manager.
Stories are excellent introductory hooks because people are inherently curious to know how they end. They want to know why the climbing harness broke, why the knot was strong enough to save you, and what you did to save yourself.
Be careful though. A bad or unrelated story will make you look inexperienced. Only use a story if you're experienced with writing or storytelling, or supremely confident you have the perfect story hook.
You can also rely on the research you did in Step 1, plus a little flattery, to make a compelling hook.
"I was initially drawn to this position because I recognized the company's name from that hilarious smartphone commercial. A company that can make me laugh that hard is a company I want to work for."
"Your position as the foremost authority on woven baskets was what inspired me to apply for this position. I have always wanted to work as an underwater basket weaver and I can think of no better company to use my weaving skills for."
Research hooks tell the reader that you cared enough to learn about their company, and they flatter them a little. Both are excellent reasons for a hiring manager to keep reading.
Another useful hook is a question statement. You can ask the reader a question like: "What would you do if you never had to worry about accounting errors?" You then proceed to talk about how you are the answer to that question. "Hire me, and accounting worries go away."
Simple, effective, and it will give you a chance to flex your research muscles. Choose something about the company that you just know you could improve, and tell them about it.
Hooks can take many different forms, and depending on the culture of the company you discovered in Step 1, you'll want to choose your hook accordingly.
Even if your hook isn't as flashy as a story or a question, it should still be unique to you and something that will make a hiring manager want to read on. Getting the hook right is vital.
Without it, the next part won't get read at all.
Write the Body
Here's the part where you tell them how great you are. Lucky for you, we did most of this in Step 1.
The body of a cover letter should have one or two paragraphs that illustrate who you are and why you should work for that company. You want to turn human like we talked about in Step 1, and you want to establish yourself as credible, reliable and efficient. The best way to accomplish both of those is to take a few of the bullet points we made in Step 1 and flesh them out into full paragraphs.
You want two to three paragraphs for the body, so pick your two or three strongest bullet points from Step 1. Keep in mind as you write that you're not repeating the information in your resume, you are expanding on it, and putting it in context. They already know where you worked, they want to know why it matters. Here's your chance to tell them.
Write the Conclusion
Your conclusion should be the thing that cinches your position as a desirable candidate, almost like a second hook. Instead of hooking them into reading the cover letter, you're persuading them to call you for an interview.
You want to wrap up your cover letter by saying precisely why they should hire you. If you have it in you, have this last sentence communicate even more of your personality. You don't want to repeat what you've already said, you want to emphasize it and make yourself memorable.
By the end of the cover letter, they should know that you're a real human with experience that matters to the position.