A job is like a romance: if you try to fool someone into loving you, or sweet talk your way into a relationship under false pretenses, your partner will eventually find out. And even during the short period while it lasts, your relationship won’t really make you happy. Love is serious, and so is work. So honesty and the long road are usually the best options.
But as they lean toward the long road, some job seekers miss crucial—and perfectly honest—opportunities to cut to the front of the line. Here are a few of those moves that apply specifically to the cover letter process. If you have any one of these cards in your hand, play it. Your job search may come to an end then and there.
Drop those names! If you know anyone who knows anyone who may ever have crossed paths with hiring manager who will read your letter, use this connection to your advantage. In fact, do a little research. Poke around on LinkedIn and Facebook and see if you have more in common with this person than you realize. Your connections may not just include people—they can also include former employers, alma maters, and large projects like conferences, industry events, and research partnerships.
This will also require research. Find out what your employer’s goals are for this position and for the company overall, and suggest a very specific way that you, and you alone, can help them meet these goals. Instead of getting in line with everyone else and selling yourself as an ordinary, hardworking, warm body, explain how your unique experience with the new product line can help this company gain a desired foothold in a specific new market.
You’ve done at least two different things in your life. Everyone has. But nobody in the entire applicant pool holds your exact combination of overlapping skills and experiences. So turn this overlap into your strongest selling feature. You’re a great engineer and you also speak French. How many other candidates in the pool can say this? Maybe one or two at the most. But how many of those three can also manage a database, or travel 80 percent of the time, or assist with the creative side of new business development? Probably just you.
Bring your letter to life. Success isn’t just about what you say—it’s about how you say it. Use your unique personality, your writing skill, and your social savvy to reach out to your managers and readers in a way nobody else can. Strike a chord. Make them feel as if they’re speaking to you in person.
Most other candidates in the pool will be toiling uphill, reinventing the wheel, and writing their cover letters completely on their own, without help, feedback, or outside perspectives. Don’t do this to yourself. Visit LiveCareer and take advantage of our templates, guidelines, and years of jobs search experience.