Learn key job-related stories job-seekers can tell in cover letters, including how to write them, and free examples of each type. Excerpted from the book, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get a Job and Propel Your Career.
Why would you want to employ storytelling in cover letters — or indeed in any part of your job search?
Cover letters offer job-seekers great latitude to tell stories because letters are quite compatible with the narrative form. Learn more in our article, Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers.
In a cover letter, you can engage the employer, make an emotional connection, show results, and become instantly memorable by including at least one paragraph in the form of a powerful story. Not all employers read cover letters (about a third don’t), but those who read, do truly read the letter, unlike the resume, which they almost always skim.
Types of stories job-seekers can tell in a cover letter:
- Stories of early interest in your career path and determination to reach your career goal.
- Stories that depict your motivation, enthusiasm, and passion for the job you seek.
- Stories describing specific projects you’ve led or collaborated on, including results.
- Stories detailing problems you’ve solved for your employers.
- Stories describing other accomplishments and successes.
- Stories that reveal your personality.
- Stories describing long-term interest in, knowledge of, and admiration for the organization you’re targeting.
- Stories that describe how well you fit in with the organization’s culture, values, and mission.
- Stories — for new graduates — of how your education has prepared you for the targeted job.
- Stories that touch the heartstrings.
- Stories to back up your claims about yourself.
- Stories that tell how you are uniquely qualified for the targeted job.
- Stories that capitalize on networking contacts.
- Stories to explain unusual or potentially negative situations.
- Stories to explain a career change.
- Future stories that address employer needs and challenges and tell how you would address those issues.
Quintessential Cover Letter Resources: Go to Cover Letter Resources for Job-Seekers, where you will find a collection of the best cover letter tools and resources for job-seekers, including articles, tutorials, samples, and more.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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