Treat Your Cover Letter Like A Love Letter
By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief that thou her maid art far more fair than she.” --William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
So maybe you don’t write like Shakespeare. You needn’t worry, given that a phrase like “kill the envious moon” would make employers wince if they read it in your cover letter. Still, you’ll need to stir the hearts of those who read your correspondence, quickening their pulse with anticipation to contact you.
There are ways to do this without being a Romance Era poet like Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Lord Byron. But we can learn from these classicists nonetheless.
Be The Knight (or for women, Chevalière) In Shining Armor
Every job posting is like a cry in the dark from a damsel in distress—no offense to damsels meant. “Help, help,” the ad shouts from its lair atop some remote medieval castle. “Rescue us oh brave and comely soul.”
Your cover letter should position you as the one who’ll arrive on a great white steed to sweep the employer off their feet. They need a problem solver, pronto. Thus include an example or two about how you’ve saved the day in previous roles.
For instance, “As a Sales Rep for Company Y, I created prospect lists of potential clients, cold called and networked myself into meetings with decision makers, and closed the sales cycle by signing tens of thousands of dollars in new business within my first three months.”
Know The Employer Intimately
When courting what could be the love of your life, do you not try to tickle his or her fancy by first uncovering, then striving to satisfy, their deepest, most intimate needs? This arduous process can take months or even years.
The procedure is somewhat similar when wooing a favoured employer. Fortunately much less time is involved. (Usually fewer boxes of long-stemmed roses and chocolate delights too.)
Employers tend to announce their deepest needs in the job posting itself. Generally they spell out what duties and responsibilities must be performed in the role being advertised. They go on to list the traits and experience of their “ideal” man or women (that is, an applicant like you).
Whisper the very words from the ad back into the ear of your prospective employer. Seduce them with tantalizing hints in your cover letter of how your skills, knowledge, education and experience are a perfect match for them.
Follow the advice of Jane Austen in her historical novel Sense and Sensibility: “It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”
Express Your Love Freely
Your cover letter is a great place to serenade a potential employer. Tug at their heartstrings by telling them how much you admire and respect them based on your research.
You might say something like “As one of the biggest car dealerships in Calgary, I admire how you are leading the way in being environmentally friendly, by selling more electric and hybrid vehicles, and recycling liquids during tune-ups where possible. I would be proud to tell everyone that I work for you.”
Will You Be My Valentine?
To properly tempt an employer, use your cover letter like a love letter.
- Show how you can rescue them as if you’re a knight in shining armor. Include an example or two of how you’ve done so in the past in previous jobs
- Familiarize yourself with them intimately. Customize your letter to the person (or people) you’re writing to. Express your love freely
Do research to uncover reasons you’d be smitten with the employer
There’s no need to write like a poet, floating your precious words on gossamer wings and whiffs of the finest perfumes. This is after all an employment application.
However there’s something to be learned from the literary greats: words, when used wisely, are a powerful aphrodisiac, be they in poems or cover letters. As Shakespeare sayeth best: "How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night, like softest music to attending ears!"