Show, Don’t Tell: The KEY to Cover Letter Success

Professional writers are often told to ‘show’ a scene through their writing rather than ‘tell’ about it. Readers are eager to envision characters in action, not just hear about what they did in a general way. The same advice holds for writing a job-search cover letter. Hiring managers want to bring into their organization men and women who can ‘show,’ not merely ‘tell’ what they are capable of. They are looking for the assurance that you not only can fill the vacancy but also contribute to the company in a significant way.

Do you know the KEY to cover letter success?

Do you know the KEY to cover letter success?

Cover Letter Example Text:

In my current position of Sales Manager at ABC Marketing Services, I trained new sales recruits, established monthly goals for the team, conducted sales reviews weekly, and exceeded standing sales records three months in a row.

Now that’s showing. The cover letter includes specific actions the hiring manager can see and point to when considering whether or not to invite the job seeker in for an interview.

Telling, on the other hand, looks like this: In my current sales position I’m involved in a variety of tasks related to selling company products.

Notice the lack of details, the limp wording, and the complacent tone. This type of writing does not inspire confidence. In fact, just the opposite. The reader will pitch this cover letter into the shredder faster than a brochure for a phony moneymaking scheme.

Hiring managers receive hundreds of cover letters each week. They leaf through them hoping to find a gold nugget in what is often a pile of rubble––cover letters that are bland and boring. Yours, however, could be the one that sparkles. And all it takes is a little extra time and attention on your part to achieve that status.

Make a list now of the specific actions you’ve taken over the course of your career, the nitty-gritty details that set you apart, that show your skills instead of just tell about them.

Did you put out an emotional fire among a team of workers when one member lost control of himself or herself? Have you come up with a way to increase the profit margin of the company you now work for? What did you do to make that happen? Perhaps you’ve stepped into leadership at a meeting that appeared to be stagnating due to differing opinions or strategies for fixing a recurring problem. Think about such things and then include them in your next cover letter.

It takes so little to be above average. Dare to dream that you can have the job your heart wants, the one you know is right for you and right for the company. Then put yourself out there on paper. You don’t have to blast your horn in order to be noticed—but it’s more than okay to toot it a little so the hiring manager will hear you, see you, and then call you in for an interview.

Add This “New” Category To Your Resume

Many job seekers focus on their work experience and skills to the point where they neglect to mention in their resume how they’ve contributed to their community through voluntary service. For example, an engineer in San Diego, California spent a couple of evenings a week holding and rocking premature infants in the nursery at a local hospital. “They weren’t much bigger than my hand,” he remarked with a big smile. Such ‘work’ was the highlight of his week. And it said a lot about him. He was a man of much more than math and science. He had a heart for babies.

Volunteer work on your resume?

Volunteer work on your resume?

A teacher spent one evening a week at a family shelter tutoring young children so they wouldn’t fall behind in their class work. This volunteer work blended beautifully with her paid profession as a college professor.

Many workingmen coach soccer and baseball teams on the weekend or volunteer raising money so underprivileged teens can go to college. In doing so they expand their own desire to keep kids from falling through the cracks.

Have you helped refugees learn English, bagged food and clothing for the homeless, visited the elderly in nursing homes? These are just a few of the many ways in which people of all walks of life help one another in their off-work hours. Maybe you’re doing something similar but you haven’t thought about how it can contribute to your resume when seeking employment.

If you’re an active volunteer in some segment of your community, don’t take it lightly. List it on your resume under the heading ‘Volunteer Activities.’ This item will not only show your compassion and commitment to people around you but if you are hired for the new position, it will also be good for the company’s reputation. In fact, you might even be the one to spearhead an outreach program at your new place of employment—one that will bring attention to the organization and goodwill to the neighborhood or city in which you live and work.

Take a moment to jot down your own volunteer commitments. It can be very satisfying to see them on paper and to know that you are making a difference in the lives of other people.

When you are called for an interview and the hiring manager asks for additional details about the information included in your resume, feel free to talk fully about your volunteer work as well as your paid work. You can indicate that employee volunteerism doubles as a form of publicity for the organization’s products and services, as well as spreading trust in the community.

Hiring managers will see that you’re not only skilled, but also generous with your time and talent and have the ability to balance career and social involvement. Now, who wouldn’t want to hire a person who is capable of doing an excellent job at work and also being present to others in need?

Quality Job Interviews Lead To HOT Job Offers

You may be able to win over a single hiring manager easily and quickly. The rapport between you is just right. Your personalities complement each other and you click before you say a word. That can happen and when it does, it’s a great feeling. The details then take care of themselves.


Job Interview Panel

Can I persuade this many people that I’m the one to fill the position?

But what if you have to make a hit with three or four or more individuals? Today’s job interviews are not as simple and singular as they once were. You may now face a ‘panel’ of interviewers from across the spectrum of the company, including an executive, a representative from management, and one from the sales department. That may present a challenge that many job seekers fear. Can I persuade this many people that I’m the one to fill the position? You can if you keep your eye on the prize—the job you want.

It might be a challenge to gain favor with several people instead of just one, since you’ll need to appeal to and attract men and women with different perspectives, goals, and concerns. This team will be the judge and jury when it comes to whether or not you are hired. If you want the job badly enough you’ll overcome any obstacle that comes your way during the job interview.

Here’s what to do. Enter the room and then step forward, smile, and shake hands with each person on the panel. Look them in the eye and take a breath. You’re a worthy person, so be who you are. Conducting yourself in a friendly way will help you relax and put the experts at ease too.

If you wish, you can take this approach to the next level. Ask for the names of the panel members ahead of time, and find out one small and unique detail about each one. For example, one job seeker learned that a woman interviewer raised Miniature Poodles. The job seeker then mentioned that he’d had a poodle while growing up and it was his favorite breed. The woman’s eyes lit up. They had something in common. It didn’t guarantee the job, but it did soften the experience of meeting one another.

Another job seeker discovered that one of the panel members was a marathon runner and planned to compete in the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco the following October. The interviewee congratulated her for aspiring to such a goal and then shared that she too was a runner—though not competitively. Right there the two had met on common ground.

As you face a panel of decision-makers be sure to keep eye contact. Stand out of the glare of lights or sunshine streaming through a window that might cause you to wrinkle your brow or shield your eyes. Job interviewing is not a science. But it is a skill that can be learned with practice. So even if you don’t win over every person on the panel, you’re bound to touch them all with your friendly spirit and personal approach. So plan now to be your best self. Then whatever the outcome of the interview you will be at peace.