By Goke Ilesanmi
Las week, we said beyond packaging a great curriculum vitae (CV) as an applicant, you also need the reinforcement of a persuasive cover or application letter to boost your chances of being invited for a job interview. We educated that as opposed to what obtained in those days in Nigeria when jobs were waiting for applicants, applicants now go through a rigorous process to get jobs, with the import of this being that the era of writing a chronological CV or a passive and informative application letter is gone.
We said a cover letter, variedly called “letter of application”, “letter of introduction”, “transmittal letter” and “broadcast letter” is a letter that no wise job-seeker should send his or her CV without.
We explained that a cover letter is an important job search tool and its purpose is to attract attention to you and prove your suitability for a job. We added that the cover letter is also where you state why you are interested in the job or the company. We said findings show that only few employers seriously consider a CV that is not accompanied by a cover letter; thus, a dynamically persuasive cover letter needs to be part of your job-search strategy.
We explained that it is a known fact that the world is now a global village occasioned by the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) explosion. We said the implication of this is that there is now increased competition in business, job-search, etc., as more awareness is created.
Types of cover letters
There are roughly three types of cover letters. These are the invited, the uninvited and referral cover letters.
Dynamic and persuasive cover letters
It is better to maximise the impact of your cover letter by making it dynamic and persuasive, more so that you have only a few seconds to impress your reader. There is a formula that can be followed as a guide in writing your cover letter. It is critical that each cover letter be unique and specific to you and the employer – not one that any applicant could have written to any employer. It is better to keep your cover letter short, maybe, a maximum of one page. If you are writing a cover letter that you plan to e-mail, consider shortening the cover letter to just three short paragraphs so that it runs no longer than about one screen.
Structure of a dynamic and persuasive cover letter
The heading or title: The heading or title of the letter must communicate benefits to the recipient instead of informing about your need of employment. One way do to attract readers’ attention is to promise them a benefit. Therefore, it is better to write your heading as “Boosting your organisational productivity and profitability through my employment as XYZ” instead of the informative and traditional version “Application for the Post of XYZ”. It is also better to write in the heading or title of your business proposal “Multiplying your school’s profitability and popularity through exceptional career seminar” instead of “Proposal for a career seminar”. Writing your cover letter for employment or writing a business proposal for business should be very persuasive. A persuasive business proposal is the one customised for one recipient. It cannot be transferred to another person or organisation. That is why it naturally elicits action from the recipient.
By way of analogy, most times when we look at a male and say he is handsome or look at a female and say she is beautiful, our compliment is basically based on the attractiveness of the head region which houses the face, teeth, lips, etc. That is why irrespective of how good the bodily frame or shape of a male or female is, if the head region is not attractive, he or she will NOT be seen to be handsome or beautiful.
The same is true of business communication. Effective headings are very critical to the success of our business/marketing communication. This is because we have just some minutes or even seconds to grab the attention of our prospects and sustain their interest to keep reading our pieces of marketing information, in the form of proposals, sales letters, brochures or even our corporate websites. Headings are the first thing the prospects read. Findings show that four out of five people decide whether they keep reading to learn about your products and/or services on the basis of your headings.
First paragraph of the cover letter: Do not waste this opening paragraph of your cover letter. It is essential that it sparks the employer’s interest by quickly establishing your credibility in the form of showing knowledge of the business activities of the company you are applying to or the client you are sending a proposal to. It is like a marketer convincing you he or she knows much about you before marketing to you. You will be compelled to give him or her extra attention and ready to transact business with him or her. Establishing credibility is the first rule of persuasion.
Also in this first paragraph, you provide information about the benefits the employer will receive from employing you, and you will stand out from all other job-seekers who want the job. Focus on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) — the one thing that makes you different from all the other job-seekers. Let us examine examples at this juncture.
Weak opening paragraph: “I am writing to apply for the sales manager position you have advertised.”
Better opening paragraph: “It is impressive that Tiskies Global Nigeria Ltd has made a great impact in Nigeria and globally in terms of production of designer wears of international quality since commencement of operations in Nigeria in year XYZ. Similarly, I have increased the sales level in every position I have held, and this has increased the revenues and profits of my employers. I want to bring this same success to the sales position of sales manager you have advertised”.
PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.
GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant. Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425