Writing a Good Persuasive or Job Application Cover Letter

Being able to write persuasively is of tremendous importance, especially for young people trying to land that first full-time job.  When you’re searching online for job openings you quickly find that many employers want a cover letter to accompany your resume.  Your task is to elaborate on why you want that particular job and what you can offer the employer.  If you don’t know how to write persuasively your resume and cover letter will likely end up in the digital wastebasket along with scores, if not hundreds, of others.  But if you know how to plead your case and convince a human resources employee of your merit, you just might score an invaluable face-to-face interview.

To write persuasively you must first know your objective.  What do you want to accomplish?  Is it a sale?  A meeting?  An interview?  Make sure you know what you’re asking for so you do not undersell or oversell yourself.  If a hiring process requires an interview you should tailor your letter toward securing an interview, not landing the job itself.  Let the reader know that you understand the rules and are willing to play by them. 

When you begin the letter you must be positive that you know pertinent information about the recipient.  Know the name of the company or individual to whom you are writing and ensure that names are spelled correctly.  If there is no specific name, “to whom it may concern” is an appropriate introduction.  Next, incorporate some praise into your introduction.  If you are seeking a job, make sure you write a bit about why you think the prospective employer is an important business, agency, or organization.  If you are seeking to make a sale, make sure you let the reader know that you value customers and/or investors.  Don’t launch immediately into preaching about yourself.

Know exactly what your reader wants.  Do they want a person with a certain degree, a certain level of experience, or a certain return on their investment?  List how you fit their criteria and what additional skills, abilities, or attributes can provide them further benefit.  This is the part where you should explain what sets you apart from the crowd.  Write in a way that suggests you are on their side and want to give them the biggest bang for their buck.  If you have specific details, give them.  Readers want evidence that you’re not just talk.

Finally, when concluding your letter make sure you let the reader know that you want to be part of the same team.  If you’re writing a cover letter you might explain how you want to be a part of that employer’s community.  Whether or not you plan to make a career in that field, write supportively about the field.  Talk it up.  If you are trying to make a sale or secure and investor, let them know you want to establish a long-term relationship.  Don’t make it seem like a one-shot deal.  Investors and clients often value stable relationships with businesses.

An example:

Name

Date

Contact Info

To whom it may concern:

My name is ________________ and I have just completed __________________.  I was excited when I read about an opening for _____________ position with your company.  Having just finished _________________, I feel that I would be an excellent fit for the job.  I have heard lots about your firm and would be honored to have the opportunity to begin my career with such a prominent organization.  As an employee I feel that my credentials, training, and experiences would make me a valuable addition to the company.

When I was _____________ I worked _________________, an invaluable job that helped me develop ________ skills and gain terrific experience.  I also _________________ for _______________, a tremendous opportunity that also allowed me to gain knowledge and experience.  Etc, etc.

I know that you are looking for an applicant with ______________ skills and training and I feel that I am a good match.  Throughout my work and education history I have worked hard to prove myself as an able, dedicated, quick-learning team player.  I would be thrilled with any opportunity to interview for the ______________  position and hope to make my career in this field, honing my skills and abilities to become an invaluable employee.

Should you wish to contact me for an interview, my schedule is quite flexible.  I can be reached any time at __(professional-sounding e-mail address)___ or ___(reliable phone number)__.  Thank you for your time and have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Your name