[Editor's Note: As part one of my four part series on how to get a great job, I explore the craft of creating the perfect cover letter. I've provided the following sample letter as a jumping point to learning important aspect of structure, voice, and tone. While your resume (Part Two in the series) can inform a potential employer of both your professional and eductational training and experience, it is your cover letter that gives your job search its heart. Read on.]
Dear Mr. Kapitanski:
I was very excited to learn of your search for a District Sales Manager. I believe my sales experience and personal abilities make me uniquely qualified for this position. My resume is attached.
As you will see in my resume, my sales experience runs deep. Prior to my five years with eBay as an Independent Collectable Plush Toy Broker, I worked with a small vertical sales outfit called CryloZap, Inc., where I was recognized for consistently breaking monthly sales targets and for being the only associate to avoid federal indictment and prison time during the company’s unfortunate financial misunderstandings with the Federal Trade Commission. I was also exceptional for being the only CryloZap employee to turn state’s evidence.
But it is my personal abilities that best define my work ethic and my exceptional drive. Admired for my success with the ladies in the workplace, I have achieved the distinction of being a defendant in dozens of sexual harassment cases brought by both men and women, providing ample precedent for future cases and having my name become synonymous with legal machismo in the annals of both federal and state tort law. (The eighth edition of Black’s Law Dictionary defines Corey-fication as both a legal tactic and a sexual position.) I think my record of having never been convicted of a crime in any of these cases speaks volumes about my personal tenacity and perseverance!
Even more important than these skills and experience, I possess a genuine and endless enthusiasm for volunteerism. This is evidenced by my work for Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Boys and Girls Club—prior to my unfortunate blacklisting by both organizations.
The opportunity to meet with you would allow me to express personal characteristics that cannot be reflected in a resume. I look forward to this opportunity. Please feel free to contact me to set up an interview. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
1) Use words that express an almost cultish enthusiasm for work of any sort. Remember: While you're resume will provide you with the opportunity to fake the facts, a cover letter puts you in the unique position of expressing falsehoods about your character. So don't hold back! Notice how the above letter uses such terms as "endless ethusiasm," "excited," and "personal tenacity." Avoid using the word "maniacal" however.
2) Avoid offensive language at this early stage. Remember: Crude language should be saved for the interview. For now, be respectful. Notice how the above sample says: Please feel free to contact me to set up an interview. You won’t be disappointed, rather than: Call me or I will cut your throat. And once I'm done there, I'll hunt down your family and cut their throats. Threatening violence at this stage suggests a familiarity with your potential employer that is not yet there. Keep your rage muted unless applying for a government service position, such as the Department of Social Services or the DMV.
3) Cite professional successes and personal ones. Notice how the first paragraph (after the short intro) highlights professional experiences that make the potential employee unique. The following paragraph takes the next step and illustrates personal successes that may not have contributed a company's bottom line, but which are important examples of an employee's uniqueness of character. (The third paragraph then takes the important step of highlighting humanitarian work.) Simply, be proud of your professional and personal achievements. Some examples might include: double-jointedness; hidden tattoos; amount of weight you've successfully benchpressed; the size of your penis or breasts; STDs contracted; such measures of street cred as the killing of rival gang members, number of ho's turning tricks for you, and your net sales of chalk, crank and crop in your neighborhood of control; or number of times ejected from the stands at a major sporting event.
4) Do not mail body parts with your cover letter and resume. In some cultures it is a sign of respect to mail a tuft of one's own hair when applying for a job, while in other cultures mailing the body parts of your sworn enemies along with an employment query makes an important statement to a potential employer regarding your level of familiarity with the dark arts, thus bumping your resume to the top of the heap. But this is no longer the case in American culture. Some companies are deluged with hundreds of applications for each job posting and the presence of matted braids of hair, bloodied fingers, and war masks made of human flesh only slows the process. These days, a cover letter and resume sent without body parts is much more likely to catch the eye of your future employer. (The same holds true for dead rodents and live snakes. Be creative. Pack your envelope with glitter covered in spray adhesive.)