14 Ways to Make Your Cover Letter More Persuasive
You can increase the effectiveness of your resume by using persuasive tools.Looking for a new job? Remember: people who don’t switch jobs make at least 50% less than those that do.
You can short-circuit the job hunt by making your cover letters more persuasive. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Don’t talk about why you will benefit from the job. Always frame your cover letter in terms of how you will be valuable to the company.
2. Strategic Ambiguity
Be ambiguous about describing your skills (i.e., describe your experiences and skills generally). Potential employers will instinctively interpret ambiguous skill descriptions to fit the role. But pair this with providing concrete examples when you actually interview, since humans are more persuaded by detail (see #8 below).
3. Use “You”
Use the word “you” in your cover letter. This taps into self-reference bias and is the golden rule of good copywriting.
4. Use Your Middle Initial
Seriously. Include your middle name or initial on the header in your cover letter, as well as the signature line. It makes other people see you as smarter, more eloquent, and more competent.
5. Discuss Similarities
Similarities increase likability. Explicitly discuss similarities between your experience and the open position. Even better, if you know who will be reading it, mention something you have in common with that person.
6. Be Interested
People are more persuaded if you seem interested. Mention a key fact about the company that’s relevant to the open position in your cover letter. Try to reach out to someone who works there for more info on the company, and then mention it: “Hearing about [Fact] from [Person] affirmed I would be an excellent fit.”
7. Compliment / Praise
Give props to the company in your cover letter. What are they known for? What cool things have they done?
8. Give An Example
Once you state your skills generally (see #2 above), provide at least one concrete example. As mentioned, humans are more persuaded by details.
9. Label Them
Give the company a label that’s in your interest. If you’re an unlikely candidate, for example, you can write something like “I’m impressed with how [Company X] has found ways to achieve XYZ by thinking outside the box and using methods that traditional companies wouldn’t (including hiring employees with unique experience like mine).” Provided, of course, you can actually back that kind of statement up.
10. Give A Reason
Always, always, always provide a “because”, even if its arbitrary. “I’m the perfect fit for the job because I have relevant experience and stellar work ethic.” Or: “I would love to interview at your convenience because I can further explain how I would add value at [Company].”
11. Show Your Authority
Tap into authority to make yourself more persuasive. Mention your explicit, full, fancy current position name. Mention any publications, blog posts, speaking events, etc.
12. Mention Competition
Tap into scarcity by mentioning other job openings/positions. For example, you can slip this in in passing by saying something like “Though I’m in the process of engaging with other prospective employers, I’m particularly interested in contributing at [Company].”
13. Set A Time Limit
Ideally, try to find a reason to set a time limit. In a perfect world, this would be something like a competing job offer that you need to respond to within X days. Or, if applying in different cities, you could mention that you will be in town for three days and would love to interview during that time.
14. Advocate Why You’re an Asset Using Others’ Comments
Use phrases like “My current coworkers are quick to appreciate how much value I bring to a team.” This taps into social proof, which is highly persuasive. If you haven’t gotten specific comments, you can always frame it as “My coworkers would describe me as being a key contributor…”
These should give you a starting idea. But to make your life even easier, below is a template cover letter to help you get started.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my interest in a [Position] position with [Company]. I believe I would be a valuable [Position] for the company for several reasons.
For the body, consider these approaches:
- One paragraph for your current job, and another paragraph for prior relevant experiences.
- One paragraph for the most relevant skills you have; another paragraph for less-related skills.
- For the final paragraph, talk about broader life skills or traits. Do you have good EQ? You could say, “My current job has also given me an opportunity to practice EQ, which is a strength of mine,” for example.
Some sentences that may help:
- My work has focused on…
- I have worked with…
- I service…
- For example, my tasks include…
- My work has included, for example, …
- This has required…[broad skills, traits, tasks].
- This work has allowed me to become familiar with….
- My current role built on prior experiences at [Company/Organization] where I …
- I have had the opportunity to exercise [skills] while working on….
- I regularly handle…
I am excited about the possibility of making valuable contributions as a [Position] for [Company]. I welcome the opportunity to interview at your convenience.
SUBSCRIBE & SHARE
Preparing these resources for you has required giving up a lot of early mornings and weekend hours. If you’ve found this blog useful please:
- Subscribe — Your monthly email outlines (1) the key top posts from the month, and (2) actual examples that will help give you ideas. No spam, guaranteed!
- Share — Share Levers of Persuasion on social media or email it to anyone that might like it as much as you.
You want to be someone who maximizes your positive impact on the world, right?
Every time you interact with the world, the tools of persuasion are used for or against you. Fortunately for you, they’re easy to learn. Levers of Persuasion is a winning, trusted source for helping you learn and hone these tools.