Cover Letter Mastery to Get the Job You Want | Duncan Koerber | Skillshare

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Cover Letter Mastery to Get the Job You Want

teacher avatar Duncan Koerber, University Professor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

17 Lessons (1h 35m)
    • 1. Course Overview

    • 2. Welcome from the Instructor

    • 3. An Introduction to Cover Letter Mastery

    • 4. Before you Write, Prepare

    • 5. Deconstructing the Job Advertisement

    • 6. Review the Organization's Website

    • 7. Cover Letter Writing Style and Editing

    • 8. Cover Letter Formatting

    • 9. The Importance of The Body

    • 10. The Smart Header

    • 11. Make a Great Impression in the Opening Paragraph

    • 12. The Problem of Vague Statements

    • 13. Go Beyond just Holding Positions

    • 14. Place Skills in Context

    • 15. Be Specific: How to Avoid Vagueness, Holding Positions, and Having Skills

    • 16. Sign off with an Effective Footer

    • 17. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Added Bonus: After you complete the course and write your draft letter, I will read it over and suggest any required changes. 

Take this university-level course, taught by an experienced business communication professor, that outlines the secrets behind every step in writing effective cover letters to accompany your resume. 

Badly written job cover letters eliminate 90% of job applicants. Most applicants are not competing against other applicants for scarce jobs — they are competing against themselves!

Give yourself the best chance to get the job you want by making a great first impression with an effective cover letter.

Write a cover letter in just over one hour as you follow detailed lessons that outline the main problems found in real cover letters produced by actual job applicants.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Duncan Koerber

University Professor


Dr. Duncan Koerber has taught writing and communications courses for the past 10 years at six Canadian universities to thousands of students.

Currently a full-time assistant professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, Duncan Koerber worked for nearly 10 years in reporting and editing roles for the London Free Press, the Mississauga News, and the University of Toronto Medium. He has freelanced for magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

Oxford University Press recently published his writing textbook, Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (2015). Available on Amazon, the book considers the seven most common errors (interfering factors) in writing and how to improve them (enhancing factors). His second book, Crisis Communication... See full profile

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1. Course Overview: Hello, Welcome to cover letter mastery and this course you learn how to write at it in format on effective cover letter that avoids the most common mistakes of other job applicants. Give yourself a chance at a great first impression. My name's Duncan Kerber, and I'm a university professor with 10 years of teaching experience, including courses in writing and business communication. This course brings those lessons to you. By the end of this course, you should be able to engage with the job bad, avoid vague statements about your work experience and impress the employer with specific evidence. Stories of success showing how great a possible employee you are course begins logically, with lessons on preparation, writing style and formatting to the three main parts of a cover letter header. The body in the Footer things courses for anyone. Beginner, intermediate, experienced anyone looking to maximize their chances of getting a job interview. So take a look through the course description, and I look forward to seeing you in the course 2. Welcome from the Instructor: I want to thank you for taking my cover letter mastery. Course you need to make sure your cover letter is in great shape. It's very detailed, or else you're gonna get beaten in the job market by other candidates. Now I've taught these lessons for many, many years to students to young professionals, and over that time I've seen a certain number, a small number of problems that come up in people's cover letters. And these problems tend to deal with generality. The cover letter is of deceptively, deceptively simple document. It's one or two pages. It looks like it's easy to do. But many cover letter writers are letting themselves down by being very general. And in this course I show you what that problem looks like in specific examples. And then I give you actual corrections ways of pushing your writing further so that you are saying stories of success. So you are listing objective examples of success in the workplace so that you can shine in your cover letter. The cover letter needs to show their real you the best of you. But many people think it is just a very simple document, almost like a Nen Tra victory mentioned in a general sense of who you are, but that's not what it is. That's me really specific. And sometimes those specific details are being relegated to your resume. We need to draw those into the cover letter. Also, as mentioned in the course description, I offer a free review of your cover letter. Now I want you to go through the course to follow those lessons. Apply those lessons to your rough draft, but before you send it off to the employer, send it to me for that free review. And I'll make sure if you're following the course lessons, whether you are doing your absolute best to make a good impression. If you can make a good impression, then you could get that coveted interview, which is a very challenging thing to get amongst all those applications of these employers received. If you have any questions about the course, just sent me a message. I usually respond within about 24 hours 3. An Introduction to Cover Letter Mastery: Hello. Welcome to the introductory lecture. In this video, I'm going to talk about the importance of the cover letter to the job application process outlines some of the main things you're gonna learn in this course. I'm going to talk about my qualifications to teach cover letter mastery and then I'm going to talk about the key parts of a great cover letter. So, yes, I know you're thinking the job market is tough. It is competitive, but I think it always has been that way. I remember when I came on the market after my undergraduate degree 15 years ago or so, and I applied to so many jobs. I thought I had the qualifications. I thought it was writing a great cover letter and resume, but I never got an interview. I did find work elsewhere through friends, and then I actually went back to school, did another degree. But since then and since I've been teaching the topic of cover letters and resumes and job applications and interviews, I've realized something and then is that applicants make it harder on themselves with poor cover letters. So you're not just competing with all those people out there for the jobs you're competing with yourself and your often letting yourself down. Ah, good cover letter can get you in the door to shine during the interview process. Now, how did they come to this realization while in my teaching, I talk business communication for about five years, had about 200 students in that time go through an assignment where I had the students apply toe a really job that they found online that they were interested in applying for. And they would write a cover letter resume and then do a mock interview in my office. So I did about 200 of these over five years, and I had a epiphany, had a realization at one point, and that realization was that 90% of these people would not have even got an interview because their cover letters were so poor. But upon meeting upon doing the interviews with um, I realized that I would probably hire 80 to 90% of these people because they were personal . They were well spoken. They were knowledgeable about things, but they would never have got that chance with me if I didn't require that they had to come in for the interview. So I think this is the way with many applicants is that their cover letters are letting them down. And that is often the big issue that you have when you're applying for jobs, not just your qualifications, not just how many people are applying for that job, the competition. But are you shining as best you can in that first contact with the hiring manager, which is obviously the cover letter. So in this course, I'm going to show you the cover letter writing process step by step so you can go from a blank page in Microsoft Word to having your effective cover letter ready to send off. By the end of this course, I'm going to explain the typical problems of seven riel cover letters. So these were real cover letters of applying to real jobs. Of course, I've removed all the personal details for privacy reasons, but what I'm going to do throughout this course is clip out sentences and paragraphs, and I'll show why they are ineffective. There are also some very positive things in these letters, and I'll focus on those as well, and then finally, the course will provide you with easy solutions to produce great cover letters. So who am I? What are my qualifications? Well, I've already hinted at that a bit. I've been a university professor for 10 years, teaching, writing, communication, media studies, public relations, media history, all these topics. But specifically, I've taught business communication for five years at the university level. So I've read all the business communication books, have learned all the tips and tricks for doing cover letters. And I've also had a lot of experience working on hiring and admissions committees. So I've seen a lot of bad letters. You'd be amazed. I've always said to people, If you get a chance, get on the hiring committee, just see what it's like to be on the other side of the process. And there are many, many bad letters and a really good letter, really well written letter with detail. It's focused that is properly laid out on the page that stands of in the pile. It really does. Also, I'm the author with Guy Alan of Ah, Textbook, a writing textbook called Clear Precise Direct Strategies for Writing, and I do include in this course one short lecture on writing style and editing. But if you're interested in more, this book is not your typical grammar or style book. It doesn't deal with every possible problem that can come up. It deals with seven of the major issues that come up in writing, and we believe that if you can eliminate those seven problems, you're fine. You can pretty you can publish great writing. You don't have to worry about studying 300 topics, you know in a grammar book. So if you're interested in learning more beyond what I talk about in the lecture on writing in this course, check out clear, precise, direct strategies for writing by Oxford University Press. Ah, and that's available on Amazon. So let me outline the structure of this course. So first of all, I'm gonna talk about preparation Now. A lot. People don't prepare to write their letter. They simply start writing it. And this is a problem because you tend to focus simply on yourself, your needs rather than the needs of the employer. And so, in another lecture, I'll talk about deconstructing the job at this is really important. You've got to take it apart and I'll show you how to do that, to engage with or to have a dialogue with the job ad in your cover letter. Then I'm gonna talk about some issues with formatting, so people tend to have very small margins. They tend to use very small fonts. Why do they do this while they're trying to squeeze in more information and that is a big problem? And then I'll give you some writing style and editing tips. But the majority of the course deals with the three main parts of a great cover letter. The first is the header. So a lot of people think not much can go wrong in the header where we have our address in our name on contact information. But actually some problems occur here in all detail those and then we get into a number of lectures on the body of the cover letter. So this is the meat of the cover letter where a lot of problems occur, including vagueness, including just simply listing your qualifications or skills and the way you do on your resume. So we want to avoid those problems and I'll show you how and then finally, the bottom part of the cover letter is the footer and thinks and go wrong here to, for example, forgetting to sign or using that last paragraph to flatter your hiring manager. You don't want to do those things, and I'll talk more about that in a lecture as well. 4. Before you Write, Prepare: Now I want to talk about preparation. So how do you begin the cover letter writing process? This is a classic problem in all kinds of writing. People don't know how to begin writing their novel or their piece of poetry or their academic writing. You often stare at the blank page. You get frustrated with yourself. How do you start? Some people begin their cover letters by just writing about themselves. But don't just start writing about yourself. It cannot just be about me. Me, me. This may sound strange because it's a cover letter. This was that. It's about you. It's was to illuminate who you are for the hiring manager. But really, you've got to take a step back first and not send out generic letters that are just about yourself. And we often have a letter on our files right in our hard drives that we can send out to a bunch of different jobs. Maybe we just change the name of the person that we're sending it to, but you can't send out generic letters, people comptel that you are simply blanketing all kinds of jobs with same letter, because these letters often just focus on the applicant without any consideration of the specific job that you're applying for, so be careful of that. Don't just start writing about yourself. You need to read the advertisement carefully because your letter must engage with it. Must be in dialogue with the job ad. And if you're writing generic letters, obviously you're not responding to those ads on a case by case basis. You're simply sending out, ah, common letter. So think of your letter again is being conversation. I know that sounds a little strange, but think of the Ada's. If you're speaking to it, you're talking to it. The ad is talking to you, and then you're talking back to the job ad with your letter. Of course, you're talking about yourself in that regard, but this is the first step. It's it's a bit of an attitude change that you need to have. Maybe you're not used to that because they're used to just sitting down and writing these generic letters that could apply to just about any job out there. So this idea of engagement a conversation in the preparation stage does not and, I repeat, does not mean directly referring to the ad in the following ways. So I've extracted these sentences from riel cover letters. So, for example, the 1st 1 says Your job posting noted that you're looking for a team player who can coordinate and manage content of media relations of website to meet organisational goals and objectives. And then the 2nd 1 says my qualifications match the tasks and qualities listed in the posting. So what's gone wrong here is people have taken my idea of engagement and conversation a bit too literally about a bit to explicitly, and they've simply referenced the job at, in their words by saying your job posting or in the posting. But this is too overt. It's too explicit. This is actually a waste of space. You are just repeating a reference to the ad. Um, some people will actually describe the whole job at in a couple of sentences, but in the valuable space of a cover letter, you don't have time to be repeating the job ad, and you don't necessarily have to do this, uh, talking specifically about your job posting. They know they posted an ad. They know what it says. There's no need to repeat that or directly refer to it, so you need to be more subtle about it. And that means responding, reflecting the ideas of the the ad. You know that the phrasings, the topics, but not directly talking about it. And I would say these two examples thes riel examples pretend to engage with the ad. But they don't really go far enough, and I'll show you what that means now. This doesn't mean that when you get a new ad, you have to start from scratch every time because that's really time consuming. And sometimes applying for jobs can be a full time job. You're just so constantly writing and writing and writing, Um, and that's really time consuming and also writing from scratch. Every single letter that you do can introduce new errors, and you don't want to introduce new airs each time you want us to come up with a way of limiting possible grammar and style errors, and that involves really reusing some material. From letter to letter, I recommend having 3 to 4 templates for different jobs in your field, and you would know that better than I toe what those jobs are. What those positions are so come up with 3 to 4 templates that you like. And then for every add, add in some new material, some fresh material where you're engaging with the ad based on whatever that ad is all about. So how do you converse with the advertisement while in the next lesson, I'll show you how to deconstruct the job ad to do just that? 5. Deconstructing the Job Advertisement: deconstructing the job ad is so important to writing an effective job application cover letter. So so many people don't do this. They do read the ad, but then they put it away, and then they just start writing about themselves and saying all these kind of things that may not relate or be important for the application. Or they sent out a generic cover letter that they've been using for years that they've maybe just updated a couple of times over the years. But really, you need to take a step back and deconstruct that job ad. And so in this lecture, I'm going to talk about specifically had to do that. I'm gonna show you how to do that in Microsoft Word. So here in Microsoft Word I have copied and pasted in the job ad for a position called Manager of Brand Marketing. So I brought that whole ad in, as you can see, and some of this stuff is gonna be important. Some of it is not that important. And so I'm gonna start to strip away all the stuff That's not important. I do not need this. I don't need this title. The summary of the position. And of course, the title of the job is really, really important. So in this position, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment seeks a manager brand marketing for the marketing department. So what I do with that is I hit enter and I make this a point form. So I say That's a piece of information that I may need. And then I do another point form and I look at this and say Well, under the direction of the director brand marketing blah, blah, blah. You know this position will helped define and execute the next generation of innovative physical and digital gaming. Then I turned to the next sentence, and so now it's going to get into the responsibilities of this manager position. And this is interesting, right? So they talk about being responsible for long lead planning and management of assigned portions of the global marketing plans and strategies for the toys toe life product, Lego dimensions. Also, we're getting into more detail here. This could be useful and so I can go through and I can start to cut up this, add into these little notes, you know, little point form notes. It talks about how this manager position in the lingo in the business lingo, uh, common today interfaces with these divisions, including public relations and so on. So this may be important to us. Later, when we were writing this cover letter and then it talks about also interfaces with people who license different things approvals, collaboration. So right there, I've kind of stripped it apart. Now, I don't know anything about brand marketing. I haven't been in a position like that, so I don't necessarily have examples from my own experience that I could throw in. But maybe Yue do so for that job you're applying for. Maybe you can see these little points as a spark that maybe I can talk about how I have I've been involved in the next generation of innovative physical and digital gaming. So what I would do now? You know, once I've stripped this this ad apart, I would put a space here, and I would just start writing, so I mean, I'm not in this field, but let's say I'm gonna make this up so I could say that I, uh, you know, defined and executed a new game for the PS three system launched last year. That's old. One million copies. So do you see how I I responded to this? This is the conversation with the ad that you need to have so we could go through this. They talk about job responsibilities. I don't need to have that in my text file, but they talk about OK. They want somebody who will collaborate with internal and external partners to support the development of a comprehensive, long leading global marketing road map. Some of this is kind of business lingo. You may have to kind of decipher what they mean, but if you're in this business, you know, if you're already in marketing, you would know what a lot of this means. And maybe this sparks an idea about something you want. It would want to talk about in the cover letter detectable coordinating between game teams , defining yearly creative packaging. Maybe you've done something in your company to deal with creative packaging campaigns, that kind of a thing, and then it has down here job requirements. We don't need that you're not going to talk about in the ad. Some of these things you're not going to talk about you have an MBA or an M A. That's going to be on your resume. Ah, lot of this stuff that comes in in the bottom of the job at is simply the things they're looking for. The basics. So five plus years experience in product marketing, you're not going to say in the cover letter. I have five plus years experience in product marketing and just leave it at that. I mean, you don't want you want expand on that. You want to give more information, But this could provide a sparks. You might say that. You know, Last year I developed and completed a marketing campaign for Product X in my role as brand manager. This involved managing a team of 20 professionals to market and advertise the product hex. So you can talk about these, You know, these kind of ways. And so that's the spark provided by this text from the job at, and that gets you thinking about things that you can talk about so I could go through any of these. I mean, some of these you would see excellent analytical, verbal and written skills with experience in metrics driven decision making. Oh, so they're really interested in metrics so you could write something like I applied. Um, the latest metrics, whatever that is. I mean, I don't know what those are x, y and Zed to the product ex campaign. And this helped monitor sales and so on. So you can go on and talk about these things. Things like requires some travel. I mean, you're not going to talk about that in your cover letter. That's just they're just warning you that you may have to get out of the office and go far , far away and deal with that later in this course, I'll talk about this idea of skills. So here they're asking for computer literate in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Ah, hint or preview of a later lecture is that I'm gonna argue you do not talk about this in the cover letter unless you have something very original to say about it. So you don't do not say in the cover letter? I know how to use Microsoft Word Excel Power point. I mean, your your resume will mention those things likely, depending on the style of resume you're using now going through and responding to these things, you may find that you have nothing to say about some of these points from the job, and that's fine. You know, if you have nothing to say about it, you don't have to be comprehensive. The cover letter is one page. Unless you're Ah, mid career or late career person, you can go to two pages. But if you're talking about one page, there's no way that you can talk about all of these things in the job ad. And what would be, I guess, about 200 words of 250 words. So you're gonna have to pick your spots. You're gonna have to decide which part of this ad is most important, you know, do what do you think is most important here to talk about and also from your own experience ? What can I say about my experience that relates to some of these points from the job at? Because you you may have one or two major successes in your career. They relate directly to some of these points from the job ads, so you'll want to focus on those. If you try to focus on everything in the job and say, you know, I'm the complete player here. I'm the complete ideal candidate. Then you're gonna run into a problem because you don't have enough space. So pick your spots, pick pick a few of these points and expand upon them greatly. And then maybe for some of the other things that come up like Microsoft were other things. Make sure that's mentioned on your resume, but the cover letter is not designed to be comprehensive. It is not an encyclopedia of your life. It's only ah, highlight of some major things that relate to the job. So that's how you deconstruct one of these job ads to make sure that your conversing with it, you're speaking with it. And then the hiring manager will know that you read the ad that you read it carefully that you've shown how you are a good candidate for this position. 6. Review the Organization's Website: it's important to do some research about the company you're applying for and not just depend upon the ad that you see to understand their principles, philosophies and maybe garner some details that you can write about or speak to in your cover letter. So I just want to show you what I mean here. So on the screen, you see a NAD for a marketing coordinator. Position is with a company called Minkus. Developments in Toronto, Canada. So they are developer. They build condos, they build housing developments. Ah, and they've got this relatively long ad where they talk about what the candidates should have, what the candidates should do and so on. So most people stop there. So they just they like this job. They won't apply for it and they start working on the cover letter from this. But additionally, what you can do is go over to their website. So in this case, I've gone to the MANC, its website, and I can look through all of the things that they've got listed about themselves. So here is, for example, the main page which lists some communities, some condos they're building and so on. But what's important to use to go to the about page. So most re a reasonably large companies will have this kind of a page I'm gonna click on about us, and here we get a story. So we learn that this company was founded by Murray Minkus on entrepreneur or a businessman . He wanted his life story to be about blah, blah, blah. And it goes on and it talks about some interesting things here, though it says that they try to achieve outstanding quality design, but also superior value. So what I would do here is I would copy this and put it over into some sort of file. So I have a word file, maybe, and peace that in superior value pace that in and you can keep going on and on through this . For example, under under the about us, they have passed projects. So let's say you're into marketing and you've worked in the home business. You've worked in the condo business. Of course you're gonna look through some of these projects. Maybe you can relate to some of these. Maybe you've got experience in one of these areas or more. So maybe you've got experiencing condos marketing condos. So of course, you would look through some of these. Maybe you can see some connections there, things that can spark ideas for your cover letter. They have industrial. We have some retail and so on. They have, ah, some words here that they're listening some recent awards that they've won that may spark some ideas in you about awards you've won from in many of these organizations like Bill, there are CEO. They have a section called Giving Back. So they talk about the ability to give back to communities and they talk about the following organizations that they've worked for. So who knows? Maybe you've been involved in one of these organizations the Harbour Front Center save a child's heart and so on. That could spark something that you want to talk about. They have a section on green buildings. So if you've worked in some situation where green building has been very important and you have a marketing campaign that you've worked on for green building, then of course you're gonna mention that these air hints So by going through their about section of their website, you're getting hints. But what matters to this company now. You wouldn't necessarily explicitly reference any of this. You wouldn't say anything like on your website. You say that you have green building initiatives. Don't say that. Don't make it look like you've actually done the research explicitly. Instead, these air just sparks. He's just get you going on coming up with ideas for your cover letter. And so already just looking at this very quickly and and again, I didn't even look at this before I started this video. I've learned that they they want to have interesting designs, but they want to have value. They've won a lot of awards, and also they have a real attention to green building. So that's going to affect how I write a cover letter for this marketing position. So what I do with this word files, I slowly add details. So on just little keywords, not full sentences. And maybe I'm going to use some of those key words here and there. In other jobs, you might find websites where they talk about the philosophies of the organization, and maybe you can borrow some of that language you don't want to plagiarize. You don't want to use it exactly, but It's a little hint to you to say, Wow, that company believes in this. I'm going to talk about something like that. And why does this help? It helps because it shows you seem to have done some research. It also makes you look like a really a candidate. You look like maybe the candidate the envisioned fitting into their organization. So use the website as a clue for details on what to write about as well as, of course, the job ad. 7. Cover Letter Writing Style and Editing: and this like sure, I want to talk about some basic writing style and editing points. They will make your cover letter shine. This is just a quick summary of some points about writing style and editing, but if you'd like to know more, you can always check out my writing textbook clear, precise, direct strategies for writing and that's published by Oxford University Press. The first point is simply to use short sentences. That means 10 to 15 words per sentence, usually with only one point per sentence next, right in relatively short paragraphs of only 4 to 6 sentences, paragraph should be focused. That means the paragraphs are not random collections of sentences. Each paragraph has a purpose. Onley Sentences related to that purpose should be in the paragraph. Use I to start sentences The pro known I puts you in direct, active voice. If you think you're using I too much, however, you can start a few sentences with my work looks at or the committee awarded me with. That provides a little bit of variation. Don't try to sound like someone smarter, educated, whatever that means. When we try to sound this way, we write awkward sentences. Great, Like you're talking to your parents and grand parents. We don't want to hear an institutional or academic voice. When you finished writing the draft of the letter, read your sentences out loud. Does it sound smooth coming out of your mouth, or are you tripping over your own words? If you're tripping that perhaps there's a speed bump in your writing, your ears will catch more errors and awkwardness than your eyes will run. Spell check at the end. I know this sounds obvious, but many writers don't bother to run. Spell check, even though it's very easy to do. Spelling errors will get your application tossed in the garbage. It just shows a lack of attention to detail. Get someone to read over your cover letter so other people are more objective. Since they haven't been working on the document, they'll see things you don't. And finally, perfection doesn't happen in a day. Start the writing and editing process a week or more in advance of the deadline. Take a day off between drafts. Your mind will come back fresh and you'll see there's more easily 8. Cover Letter Formatting: Let's now look at some formatting issues that come up with cover letters. First, make sure your letter is only one page long. The only people who should write to page letters or those with many years of experience applying for high level positions, mid or late career positions. A one page cover. Letters hard to write because you've gotta fit all of the things you want to say into. Probably 250 or 300 words. But there is enough room on a single page to say enough to get noticed. Second use times, new Roman or a similar font. Don't use any crazier unusual fonts. And remember, some typefaces air harder to read than others. Make it easy on the reader. A related point is to use 12 points size of a font. Anything smaller is hard on the eyes for many people like me. As I've gotten older in my eyes, get worse. I've realized that I just don't like reading 10 or 11 point fund. It's annoying. Next in dent, the first sentence of each paragraph, or leave them flush, left to the margin. If you go with flush left, the just add a blank line between each paragraph. The point here is to make sure the reader can see where a new paragraph begins, no matter which option you choose. And finally use one inch borders all the way around the page. There's a tendency among some writers to try to squeeze as many words on the pages possible by pinching those margins by making them even smaller than one inch by. This creates larger, big blocks of text, and it's also harder to follow through a long line with your eyes. If you feel these formatting rules don't give you enough space on the page to say what you want to say, well, then you're going to need to do editing. You'll have to make your sentences more concise by removing redundancies and excess verbiage. And remember, all these points make it easier on the hiring manager and on the hiring managers. Eyes 9. The Importance of The Body: Now let's turn to the body of the cover letter, the largest part of the cover letter. The body is the key part, and so much can go wrong here. And I see this in all the letters that I receive, whether I'm on the hiring committee and the mission's committee, whether it's part of a student assignment, that this is where you make or break your application. This is where you will either get the interview or you won't get that interview. So in this section of the course, I'm going to talk about the opening paragraph, some problems that come up in the opening paragraph and how you can correct those. Then I can talk about a thematic issue that comes up in cover letters, and that is a tendency for all writers to falling too vague statements. And then, on a more positive note, I'm going to deal with the notion of specifics and evidence. So these are the things you can bring in to enliven your the body of your cover letter and to really show why you should have this position. So the body text of a great cover letter does not replicate the resume This is a key issue to remember that people sometimes simply feel like the cover letter is a replication. It's repeating what's on the resume, but actually it is not that it's not a list. So where resume is a list? A document that gives a list of your qualifications, your skills, your publications, that kind of a thing. The cover letter does not do that. Instead, the body of the cover letter draws attention to and expands on some key aspects of your working experience of some key words. Here draws attention, expands and and ive bold it on the slide. The word some. This is not an encyclopedic document. This is not going to talk about everything. I know that when you're writing these things, you do want to say everything you do want to kind of touchable your wide experience and everything you've done. But really, you don't have the space for that. Even if your ah late career person who is writing a two page cover letter, you still don't have that's kind of space to talk about all those things you've done in your career. So really, you just want to focus on a few key things. The highlights, the highlights of your work experience so far and you do not want to just list things, and we'll get into that Maurin this section on the body of the cover letter and there's a key writing mantra, and this is a writing mantra for all kinds of writing fiction. Nonfiction with your reading a novel, whether you're reading creative nonfiction or reading journalism, and that is show. Don't tell if you ever find yourself in the resume simply telling things to the hiring manager summarizing things. Turn around and show it. Give real evidence for what you're telling. So the body text is where you can win or lose that chance At the interview. Deconstructing the ad, which I talked about earlier in this course, gives you the raw material to work with. It gives you that spark gives your ideas about what to talk about, But you still need to avoid a number of common mistakes that come up in the body, and we'll deal with those in the next few lectures 10. The Smart Header: the header of the cover letter seems pretty straightforward, but it actually has some issues that come up in a public. Applicants often make some mistakes. There's some questions to ask. So should I use letterhead? What if I don't use letterhead? Is that okay? Does that make me look bad? And also, what about contact information for the hiring manager? That tends to be a huge issues, finding that contact information if it's not listed in the job at so. Corporations use letterhead all the time. We see that in our workplaces, and so do many individuals. So people often have their own letter had worked up. Maybe they get a designer to produce that. Or maybe they do it themselves. There are Microsoft Word templates for a letterhead. Now, if it's not designed well, it can be bulky. It can be ugly. It can take away Ah, lot of space. You know that valuable real estate that you need on these one page cover letters. So be very careful with that. Something was the Microsoft word templates for cover letter. Ah, letterheads can look like they've come from the 19 eighties, and you don't want to give off that effect of the feeling, that image that maybe you're a bit dated. So be very careful with using letterhead. Some letter had has the name and address and contact at the top. So it's all up there, some divided between you and name at the top, and then the address and contact information of the bottom. There's many different formats in some fields. There's a debate over the ethics of using letterhead. I didn't even realize this until I started investigating the cover letter formats in my area, which is academic. So academia, university jobs. And there's a great debate going on on the Internet about whether people who are in currently in academic jobs, whether they should actually use the letterhead of their current university or college to apply for a job at another university or college in your field. There may be a debate about this, so you may want to check up on that and see whether you ethically should use the letterhead of your current organization. But look into that because it is a great debate now in academia, I've discovered that a lot of people say it's perfectly fine to use the letterhead of your current university or college. I even once applied for a job at a university, uh, and did not use the letterhead of my current employer. And remember talking to the head of the committee who I knew from the past I had taught at that university, and I asked him, Was anything wrong with my cover letter? He said, No, there's nothing wrong. But he says, Why didn't you use the letterhead from your current organization? Meanwhile online? A lot of people were saying, You know, it's unethical to do that. Just use a blank page. But from my experience, at least in academia, it's perfectly fine to do that. And I've seen that on hiring committees. You see the applicants for academic positions using their the letterhead from the current organization. But just make sure you check that out in your current field to find out what people think. Now, many books on business communications say letterhead is not required. You don't have to go and pay a designer, uh, to make you up some letterhead. You don't have to use those 19 eighties looking or 19 nineties looking templates in Microsoft Word, even either simply having a blank page with one inch borders and then putting your name, your address on all the other information that I've listed here on this slide. That's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with that. And that's not gonna, you know, make you look bad. It's not gonna be a problem. And certainly, if you're currently unemployed, you do not have the letter head of a current organization to use, and you can get into trouble with some some bulky, ugly letterhead designs. This this is clean, straightforward and perfectly fine. Now. One thing people often forget to do in these letters is to actually put the date so they actually forget to get that date in there or if we're currently writing in January. Ah, lot of people forget to put the current year so they put last year because they're still on last year's ah, mindset. So just make sure you've got the current year you've got the actual date. Ah, that you're sending this out, and then another big problem that comes up in these headers is getting the spelling of the person wrong. So that's a huge issue, so make sure that you get their name right so a big issue that comes up in a lot of these cover letters. And I've seen this in my own teaching of this kind of assignment to my students is that the person cannot find the information to address to anyone because a lot of jobs now the pretty generic, they have information about the job itself, but they don't talk about who's gonna be in charge of reviewing the files so people don't know who to send these two. And that could be a problem because having a you know, a generic header there, it doesn't look very professional. So what if you don't have any contact information? Well, call the company. This makes you look very proactive that you called them. You tried to find out who this should be addressed, too. They may not have anyone, so they may have not even decided who's gonna look through these files. But it's a good idea to find out who that IHS now, if nobody's designated or it's a committee that's writing are that's reviewing these files . Just read the company address and the salutation to the hiring committee. That's perfectly fine to do that you don't necessarily have to go with some other generic form and I'll talk about what? Those are two now. Avoid dear sir or madam, or to whom it may concern these. These things always remind me of the 19 fifties calling people, sir, calling people, Madam, avoid that to whom it may concern. Sounds like you don't really care. Maybe it's a generic letter you've created. You haven't deconstructed the ad and you just blanketing carpeting all of the's jobs with one generic letter. And this is showing that you are by saying to whom it may concern you didn't even bother to find out who this person is with dear sir or madam. But I always feel like these. These feel old. They make you look old. They make you look like you're from a different generation. So avoid these salutations. Also, if you say someone is a Mr or Mrs or Miss, be 100% sure that that's accurate now. Today there are a lot of names out their first names that are, you know, for both genders. So, for example, that person you think is a Mr named Taylor. There's a lot of men named Taylor. Maybe the person's name on the job at his Taylor Johnson. And maybe you just assume that that's a man. And so you put dear Mr Johnson comma and then you write your letter. Well, as we know from a very famous singer, Taylor can be a woman's name as well. So you want to be careful with that. And somebody's the Salyut Fisher, the the the Miss. When you say miss in front of that, the title Miss can offend some people, too. And we're in a time of sensitivity towards gendered towards being married or being unmarried, and these can get you into a lot of trouble. The only one that I have known that you know that I often use in these ones is doctor. So in academia, there's a lot of people with a doctorate, and you can address them by the title doctor. People think that that is respectful in many ways, but ah, lot of people in academia do not have a doctorate, so actually they shouldn't be called Dr so that could be a problem. So what I always say is, if you're unsure, use the full name of the person. So say dear Taylor Johnson comma. They will not feel offended that you didn't call them Mr or Mrs and you get out of the trouble. That can happen by using the wrong title to address them. So some reminders when it comes to the header, check the date. Make sure you've got the right day the right year. Check this spellings double check those spellings of the names. It's been known that cover letters and application applications will be thrown out. If the person's name is spelled wrong, try to find that name. If it's not in the job that it shows, you're really proactive. Now, if you're using letterhead and you've got your name and address and contact information in that letter head, do not repeat it in the body are in the header of the letter. 11. Make a Great Impression in the Opening Paragraph: The opening paragraph is where you get to make your first impressions so you want to make it count. The opening paragraph of your cover letter in the body should be practical, not experimental. About 10% of the application letters that I've read tend to have a very experimental opening, as if someone's trying to stand out a little bit more than the other applicants may be. The person is a creative writing background, but you're not writing a creative as, say, the opening paragraph is a very practical thing that just announces the purpose of this letter. That's all it does. It is not something like this where you say, Dear Mr Smith, in a land far, far away, I began my journey through the working world. I know I made this up, but you do see this sometimes in cover letters, that people just want to make it like they're writing a novel. What you do in the first sentence of that opening paragraph of the body is you simply state that you're applying for something. Ah, lot of people don't state, they're applying for things, and then you got a name, the job, and it's posting number because the company may have a number of jobs by the same title. I've seen that before. They have the same title but different posting numbers, and you want to make sure that you're applying for the right one. And you want to make it easy on the hiring manager to know exactly what this letter is all about. That you're actually applying for something and the title and the posting number. So here's an example from a re a letter that doesn't do this. So the person says, Dear Hiring Team I am currently completing a bachelor of arts at studying professional writing. That first sentence does not state that they're actually applying for anything. Let's check out the second sentence as they proceed. In my studies, I am looking to develop a put to use my skills and knowledge of writing communication research again. Nothing about the actual job at and then the third sentence have a genuine interest in the sharing of stories and cultivating a platform again. Nothing about the job at it's only in the last sentence where the person says it is this interest, paired with my knowledge and skills in the field of academic writing that makes me an excellent candidate for the position of researchers system. So finally, in the last two words, almost like a mystery novel, the person has listed the actual title of the job. So the hiring manager has to sift through this whole paragraph just to find out what the job is that this person's applying for. And if you notice the person never actually says he or she is applying for something, and they also don't list the posting numbers. So there may be a couple of jobs called research assistant, with slightly different qualifications required, and this person has not done that. So this person is tried to be too creative. Now, another thing that comes up and I say, Do not write this as your first sentence of your body, but I see this in about 5% of the application. Letters that I've read is that somebody starts by saying, Dear John Smith, my name is Jane Danson, and I at one point wondered if this was advised in a website. Or maybe there was, ah, a line in the textbook. I was using the business communication textbook, and so I sifted through the reading again and I tried to see somewhere Was there was there in a piece of advice from someone out there that you should start your letter with. My name is and there wasn't so I don't know where students are getting this from. Certainly if you meet somebody at a party, of course, you shake their hand and say, My name is Jane Danson. But in a letter you already have your name at the top. You already have your name at the bottom where you sign, so you don't need to say that you're here to other examples that are getting a bit closer to the ideal. So somebody says, I am writing In response to the retail editor job posting for Sears, Canada Incorporated job posting code merch op. So, yes, they list the posting. They list the title retail editor. But saying writing in response is not the same as saying I am applying for this job now. The 2nd 1 is I noticed your ad. I don't like that. I feel it feels very passive, you know, to notice something. It's is if he were just, you know, strolling along and you saw us an add on on a board somewhere and you decided to apply. I mean, it sounds very passive to me. It's not directly. I am applying for something and writing, in response and noticed are not the same as applying. That's a key point here. Now, I brought that same example up here for a couple of reasons. So number one, the 1st 1 that was on the previous slide as the second example. I bring that back because there's something else going on here that I want to talk about and then the 2nd 1 another example also does this. So just take a second to read those over and then I'm gonna talk about what the issue is here. So, first of all, you may have noticed in the 2nd 1 Did you see the spelling mistake? The spelling Miss Mistake is posts it on and the person means to write position of events of event promotions. So they already was spelling mistake. If you were spelling us, think you're done, you finished, the application will go in the garbage. So that was the first thing that I noticed. But both paragraphs here, opening paragraphs do not map out the letter so they talk about themselves being so great. So I'm gonna be a great benefit to your team or I'm gonna be the ideal candidate. But they don't actually talk about in a summary sentence what the rest of the letter is going to say. Some hiring managers managers actually may feel that the applicants every presumptuous to state things like I'm gonna greatly benefit your team, are on the ideal candidate. Never say that your ideal. I like to equate this to online dating. So if you've ever done any online dating, imagine if you came across somebody's dating profile, add and imagine if that person said, You know, I'm the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend for you. I'm perfect on the ideal man. I'm the ideal woman. Don't you feel that's kind of egotistical? Well, it's the same thing in job applications that never, ever, ever, ever say that you are the perfect or ideal candidate because some people may find that presumptuous, they might say, Really, you are. I'll be the judge of that. So be careful with that. Let them in their minds from reading all your great accomplishments, make them decide the year, the ideal candidate. And anyways, in most cases, they they they won't find an ideal candidate simply from cover letters. They'll go make a short list, and then they'll interview, and that's when they'll decide who's perfect. So keep that opening paragraph. Simple. No stories, no creativity. Just be practical. Make it easy on the person who's doing the hiring. So you might say something like, I am writing to apply for the position of curator of the Thompson Art Gallery. Posting number 1234 I have extensive management experience in this area, and I recently one to our Curation awards for excellence. So here the second sentence and you can also the third sometimes simply maps. Ah, what's going to come in the letters? Of course, we're gonna hear about that management experience. We better hear about that in the rest of the body, and we're probably going to hear about those two awards and how those came about, you know, what did you do for that? So that's the way you map of what's to come. So a number of tips right? The opening last So most people try to write this paragraph first, but actually wait until you're done. Then you know what you wrote in the body. And then you can map it out now, ensure that your you say you're actually applying for something and list the posting number and use the second or third sentences to summarize what's to come and never, ever say you are ideal. 12. The Problem of Vague Statements: a major problem in almost all cover letters, to some degree, is the problem of vague statements. So Vega, or what I might call empty language, is common to the body paragraphs of many, many cover letters. Even really good ones have this somewhere. Now. This is a problem of all writing. So whether you're writing a novel, whether you're reading journalism, no matter what, you probably got surveyor empty language in it. I think it's easier to write vaguer empty language than to show with specific details about your experience. Earlier in this course, I mentioned a mantra in writing called Show Don't Tell. So in all writing, we need to not just tell people things and say we're this or were that but to then show them proof of that. So here's some examples. This person says. I am dedicated and hard working, and I'm fully committed to the tax tasks I undertake. Another person says I strongly believe that my motivation and enthusiasm will make me a fantastic asset to the team. Another person on the same themes as I am enthusiastic and willing to learn. I volunteer with Student Union, where I take part in coordinating events. I believe this has given me a good were Catholic experience of interacting with different kinds of people and the ability to work in a team. So on the same theme here, all of these these air from three different riel letters, uh, talking in the same way. And this is very vague language. What they're doing here is they're telling people they're dedicated, hardworking and enthusiastic, but they're not showing this. There's no proof of these vague statements. Also, a lot of people will write in emotional language like hope there. I'm thrilled. I'm happy to do this or I would be honored. That's the other kind of vague language that needs to be removed from these cover letters. Here's another one. Years of experience in customer service allows me to fill the customer service and department wide collaboration qualities listed in your job posting. I'm efficiently able to investigate and verify consumer related problems and pay special attention to the writing and editing aspect of the advertised position. Well, first of all, do you see the grammar problem? Well, let me point it out. So in the first sentence, it says years of experience and customer service allows me to fill the customer service and department wide collaboration qualities, while years is the subject of the sentence and allows is the verb. But you would never say years allows me you would always right years allow me. So there was a grammatical problem there, but that's a small problem beyond that, there are really no specifics here. So just years of experience and the person is sufficiently able to investigate and so on. Here's another one. So is a professional writing student. I have developed the ability to produce original compositions in a timely manner and have demonstrated proficiency and conducting thorough and critical research. But phrases like the ability to produce, um, and have demonstrated in these examples ah, proficiency are very empty statements. They don't really help us in any way. So you know, what does this mean to me as a hiring manager, you've got to put yourself in their shoes and say, Well, inability, What does that mean? What's proficiency in this area? I don't know. Anyone can say these vague statements. That's a key test. Anybody can say I'm hardworking. I'm enthusiastic. I'm able to do something. I have proficiency in something But if everybody can say it, it doesn't mean anything. Whenever you write a statement in the body of the cover letter, ask yourself, Could anyone say this or is it really unique to me? Am I saying something unique? Or am I saying something that anyone could say? Because if anyone could say, then rethink what you're saying and how you're providing evidence for it? You know, the very lazy people could write in the cover letter. I'm motivated. I'm enthusiastic. I'm active and not really have any evidence of that. And a lot of those kind of statements can't be proven anyways. Can you really prove your enthusiastic? I mean, that's something to save for the interview, I think. And so if you can't really prove it, why say it? 13. Go Beyond just Holding Positions: One of the common themes in really poor cover letters is this notion of holding positions. So there's a saying in flight. So an airline flight that a plane that is waiting to land at the airport is in a holding position, and I think that's a really good metaphor for this problem that comes up in cover letters. Body paragraphs in the cover letters I've seen are often full of these holding position statements. So here's an example that I've just made up. So someone might say I have extensive experience in this field. I was the night manager Hayes for three years. Then I held of the position of day manager Thompson Corp for two years. So what's the issue with us? Well, this information is already on your resume, and from the dates that we can see on the resume, we can determine you worked at Hayes for three years and Thompson Corp for two. So this is simply repetition, and you don't want away space in your cover letter just repeating things that are already on your resume. But more importantly, it's a really passive statement, So just like that airplane that's in a holding position around the airport waiting to land . Using these holding statements about your experience is very passive. So it's static. It's not moving and really in the cover letter. You need to show yourself to be active. So here's some really life examples, So let's look at the 1st 1 of the top of the slide. So this student says the job posting requires a student who has completed at least two years of their degree with a plan to continue their education and an aptitude for writing and computer skills. These requirements mesh seamlessly with my position as I'm a professional writing students currently enrolled in third year classes. So this is a holding position statement. It doesn't really say how successful this student has been, just that you're in a program. Well, millions of other people are students in programs at any given time, so this really isn't an important or useful statement in the next two. There's a similar holding position kind of approach, so my 2nd 1 my qualifications match the task and quality is listed in the posting. I am currently employed in the retail industry and have held my position for the past six years I think what's going on here is the applicant thinks that saying that they've had a job for six years is a qualification. You know its success, that kind of a thing. And the next person writes the job posting also mentions you're seeking someone who is knowledgeable about branding requirements and concerned with building the brand identity. I have spent one out of my three years in retail at an electron ICS retailer. So again, this is another person just saying that they were holding ah position and that doesn't really mean much. You could have been just taking up space. You could have been just lucky you weren't fired over that time. I mean, there's a lot of people in workplaces that just hold positions. That's their job. They aren't great employees. Maybe they're not the worst either. But they just take up a job and you do not want to be seen as that. What you can do with this is try to show success in those six years of those two years of those three years. The success is not simply you didn't get fired over that period. The successes. You actually did something evidential, something that we can show that we can prove that was successful in those jobs. Now here, another couple of statements, and these are another problem that comes up kind of like this idea of holding positions. And I called it the learning problem. So let's read the 1st 1 So the person writes, I'm currently a student at, and I will graduate with a degree in professional writing in psychology, which is strongly preparing me to excel in this position. The person that mentions I have two years of experience is a staff writer, which I could have read on the resume. But let's continue, the person says. Also, as an astute learner, I am always seeking out new experiences and opportunities to learn, and then the person mentions they gain skills in some volunteer positions, the next one from a different writer, says in the second sentence. This executive position has helped me learn the INS and notes about promoting events as well as being self motivated. So both of these pieces mention learning, and it's perfectly fine to be a regular learner. I mean, in every job we learn something and we want to get better. We want to improve. But really, that doesn't say much to the hiring manager. To say that you've learned things, it's assumed that you'll learn things. But when you have too much about learning, you often don't have enough about the results. So, yeah, you learned a lot of things, but what did you achieve in these positions? Another person writes in a similar way. As a journalism student, I was required to write for the college paper eso like that holding position point that I made earlier. This is even worse because the student is suggesting they didn't even want to do the job, that someone required them to do this. And also in those pasts in the 1st 2 examples on that last slide, talking about learning some things when you emphasize your degree, your schooling, your courses that you're taking or you've taken in the past. If you're a graduate, this can keep you positioned as a student and not an employee. Now I know that a lot of people put the beginning employees. People are just coming out of a degree. Maybe they don't have a lot of experience, so they think that well, all I can write about is my degree. Well, that's gonna be a problem for many positions other than an internship or a position that's directly associated with beginning students or students in process of their degrees, you really need to get away from looking like a student. And you want to look like an employee, a potential employees. So either you show great results in school. Don't just talk about what you learned and the courses you took or the degree of going toe have in a year. But talk about the great results you have. That might be a G p A. That might be an award that you've want or a scholarship or something like that. And you wouldn't just list those things you would actually talk about why you won those things. You may be revolting tear while you're in school, and that led to a commendation or an award from an association. Well, you wouldn't just talk about that award or commendation. You would describe some of the things you actually did to get that award, or I suggest, if possible, downplay the schooling part. It's on your resume. They they're not gonna miss it. But focus on your work success now, another issue that comes up kind of related to the learning problem, and that is a problem of talking about life long interests. And I get this from a lot of, AH, applicants that I've read and also student cover letters. For example, in these two pieces, these are two different writers on the same kind of theme. So the 1st 1 says, I'm an avid computer user, having learned office offer at a very early age and regularly teach myself in the use of new software in elementary school, I learned to use all the main Microsoft office software, and then the 2nd 1 does sort of the same thing. Mentioning in the second sentence, I also write, fix short fictional stories and have for my entire life. Now, remember, when you say your entire life, you're exaggerating because you weren't writing short fictional stories as a baby. Eso There's an exaggeration there but also in effort to build up experience. I think people resort to talking about childhood. They don't really have anything else to talk about. Maybe they don't have successes yet, so they talk about long term interests. I call this the natural genius approach. They want to suggest or build up that they have this long experience because maybe they don't have the workplace experience in Microsoft office or Photoshopped. They've just been dabbling in it a teenager as a middle school student, that kind of a thing. But I think this suggests the opposite, and that's a lack of experience. I think anybody who has a lot of work experience with office software with Photoshopped I'm doing design work animation software wouldn't need to talk about their childhood interest in this. Instead, they would have ah, lot of adult, um, age work experience in these areas, but I'll talk about skills later. So reminder is to take your writing further than the holding a position line or else you look static, Sid entering and just a place filler 14. Place Skills in Context: another issue and cover letters is the problem of having skills. So your skills are important and a lot of business communication textbooks talk about referencing those skills, but just listing them in the body text of the cover letter is useless. So most applicants list skills that many people have, but they act as if those skills are unique. So if you're mentioning, for example, in your cover letter that you use Microsoft Word, well, I mean, that's useless. There are million's and million's millions of copies of Microsoft Word sold, so there are many people that have those skills already. So this is a similar problem to the vagueness problem I talked about earlier in this course , and that is just stating what you know how to do in terms of your skills software that you use. Here's two examples. So the 1st 1 says, I'm an avid computer user, having learned office software at a very early age and regularly teach myself in the use of new software. That's a dead statement. There's nothing there, but in terms of this having skills problem, the person says. In elementary school, I learned to use all the main Microsoft office software. And I've taught myself to use graphic design software like photo Shop in animation software like Adobe Flash. And the second person says, I have also demonstrated the ability to learn new software applications in a timely manner such as blogger soundcloud audacity and in design. So the 1st 1 for example, says Microsoft Office Photo Shop in Adobe Flash, The person doesn't list any version numbers here, so this could be, you know, Microsoft Office 97. For all we know, we don't necessarily know it's the latest version here, but I think that information, you know what pieces of software you know how to use his best left on the resume. But it has to be the latest versions, and you have to state that certainly if you're in the field of some sort of programming field. There are very recent new programs, pieces of software that if you're an expert of that, that's great. You know that puts you ahead of, ah, lot of other people. But if all you know is make yourself office, you know, make herself word power point. That doesn't set you apart from anybody that that's expected. People expect that you know those things already and you're not gonna take up time in your cover letter to mention those things. I've been using photo shop since about 1996 or 1997 and I mean, I still use it today. Some of the skills are exactly the same as they were all those years ago, but I don't know the latest parts of photo shop, so I could state that I know how to use Photoshopped, But I don't. I'm not an expert at it now. In the 2nd 1 I think what's going on here is this writer is trying to show that they know more recent pieces of software. So blogger soundcloud audacity in design. And, yes, those are more current things. Some people might talk about Twitter. They know how to use instagram and Pinterest and Facebook. These air a little bit more recent, but again, billions of people are using these pieces of software. So, really, that doesn't set you apart. And audacity for examples been around for a while. It's it's more recent in designs. Been around for a while, but there's no version information here. I think if you want to mention any sort of skills offer skills pertinent to your job that you need to explain how you've utilized those skills in an organization in a different or unusual way. So imagine, for example, that you're applying for a job in public relations. So a position a social media coordinator for an organization. Well, of course, being able to use Facebook, twitter, instagram pinto up interests, you know, all other kinds of software is very important. That's important skills to have, and not everybody has those skills. But rather than listing them as those previous two paragraphs did, I think what you need to do is take things further. Do you have any results that you've achieved from your use of those platforms? Now, what could those results actually be? Well, maybe somehow you developed, um, you know, huge following on Twitter for your last organization. Maybe you've got 100,000 followers on Twitter somehow, and you've got techniques to do that for your new organization. Or maybe you've created a marketing business with $100,000 a year revenues, thanks to Instagram. So there's something some skills you know about using instagram, and that's something that can help your new organization, so those are the kind of results that really matter. So don't just list your skills. Don't just list things you've done. Show how it's lead to something. So just like you shouldn't say you've held the position. You shouldn't just have skills. Holding a position was static. You know it's doesn't show you active. And I think also just having skills. Whether that skill is writing whether you have great presentation skills, it's not enough to just say that you have these things. Show your skills in context in the rial workplace contacts where you've actually had some success with applying those skills. 15. Be Specific: How to Avoid Vagueness, Holding Positions, and Having Skills: so to avoid vague mints to avoid holding positions. To avoid talking about having skills, you need specifics and evidence, and I think this is probably most important lecture of this course. The body of the cover letter needs specific details and evidence proving that you're a great employees. That would be an asset to the organization they're applying for. And that point about proof is key to any successful cover letter. We live in a period of history when facts matter. So people want evidence. People have a lot of opinions, but we have to want people that people to defend their opinions with statistics to add a proof in school. Your teacher's said to have citations for your academic papers. Well, it's no different in cover letters, hiring managers love, specific details, evidence. Don't just tell. Show your success your results. So get away from that vague ling, which holding positions at having skills by always backing up anything you say. So if you make a general statement, back it up with specific details and evidence, so there's two ways of doing this. One is that factual, objective evidence and the others have stories or what we would call anecdotes. So factual evidence. Let's begin with this. You need to when your brain storming work toe work on your cover letter. You need to think about your biggest successes. Have you won any awards Commendations in the workplace? Do you have any concrete factual numbers? Objective numbers about your success, so that could be sales numbers, membership or subscription numbers that you've directly gained through your work? Maybe you're in Web designer promotion, and you can talk about increasing the number of website hits to your last organization. Or maybe you have quotations from a yearly work assessment from another employees or managers. Really good quotations. Maybe you can use those. Those are kind of the factual evidence that shows all those things you're saying about yourself. Most importantly, gets the bottom line, so results are great examples of that factual evidence, and the second kind of specifics and evidence you can bring in his stories of success now cover letters, air, typically boring or bland documents and naturally, the page. You know, one page plus a resume can never capture the whole you, the real you. You're only gonna show that really, when you get into the interview. So how do you show the rial you on the page while you can bring in a short story? So that's one paragraph for 4 to 6 sentences that exemplifies your skills or achievements. It shows those inaction in riel workplaces. So, for example, in this 1st 1 the student writes in my role as campus life coordinator, have organized fashion shows, assisted in coordinating various campus wide events and promoted events through campus newspaper ads, radio spots and first contact marketing techniques. Now there's no story there, so the person is just listing things, and I've warned against just doing lists in the past in this lecture. But thankfully, the writer turns to a very short anecdote. So the person says, during our various fashion shows, I was responsible for coordinating the designers that would be featured within this show. During one show, three of our designers had to pull out last minute due to scheduling conflicts tions. With only a couple of days before the event, I coordinated a small group of all our volunteers and arranged for them to create new fashion. Pieces of clothes gathered from Value Village during the fashion show. The design groups work was presented a Steiff where which stood for student life, where an illustrated the creativity of students on a by chip. So what does this person do right here? Well, in, in addition to telling that little story, the story itself is relevant to the job, and we can read off this story a lot. So rather than saying, you know, I work well under pressure, this story shows the person working well under pressure. We can imagine the person running around arranging things, changing things, getting it all done, and the person knows how to achieve and complete a job right through what they've told us here. Now it's not perfect. So there's a little bit of an error there when the person says during our various fashions shows, so they would have to remove the S. I also don't think that it's it's gone far enough to say a new, objective, factual piece of success here. I love to hear that the applicant received a commendation or promotion or something additional toe this that wraps it up really nicely. But that's pretty good. This is a good, rough draft of a story of success. Now a better example, is this one. So in my previous position is project manager for the Information Technology department of my church. I rallied a small but functional team of people to redesign the church's website and social media sites. I managed all aspects of the project, working harmoniously with my team to search out and develop all content relevant to our project until we launched the new website and got our social media sites up and running. This success was additionally encouraging because I later learned that we achieved on her first try with the past I t teams had been unable to do for some time. So I like this little story because it talks of a rallying a small team and it talks about the person managing rather than saying I was a manager at the church here. The person shows it and it shows all the things they did. We know the person has skills of dealing with a website design using social media sites. But the person doesn't have to say I have skills in Twitter or I have skills in Facebook or whatever. They're showing it through this story. We know they can also achieve something that they can see a project all the way to completion without just coming out and telling the hiring manager that I know how to see projects to completion. This shows that happening at the church to go even better, I think this writer would need to show the results the objective results of this redesign. So did the church get additional website hits? Did they get many more followers on social media, come up with some sort of objective number and then close off that paragraph by saying, You know, this redesign led to 1000% increase in followers on the church's website and also a 50% increase in in person visits at Sunday service, and that would be a nice ending to this. But this is a pretty good paragraph. So some final points. A lot of people ask me what if I have no stories of success? So they've They've only been in the workplace a short time. Maybe their job didn't allow them to kind of lead the way and change things and really make a difference. Well, all I can say is work on that now. No amount of great writing can gloss over that can hide that in experience, that lack of success or tangible results. But this is a good thing to learn. Now you've realized that now you can turn around in your day to day job, try to work towards achieving these things so that the next time a job comes up, you've got those stories ready. And also a good point to remember is any story you mentioned must be directly relatable to the job you're applying for. So you've deconstructed the ad, as I said earlier in this course, and now you can you relate a specific story to it. And I only mention this because I had one student apply for, ah, position as a science writer. And he took to heart this idea of coming up with a story. However, his story was about diagnosing his friends health problem through the Internet. And I didn't see the connection between that and a science writing position, so he would have been better off to talk about how he got published in Popular Science magazine. Or maybe he won an award for his his article in the local newspaper or the campus newspaper about science topics, talking about his friends health problem that you mean that's not something you're going to do in that job. You're not gonna be diagnosing people's health problems, so just make sure it is related to the job. And finally, if you don't have that experience, don't be negative, saying I do not have a great deal of experience, but I'd love to work for your team. Onley draws attention to your lack of experience. Years ago, I had a writing teacher tell me never right in the negative, and I think that could be applied to cover letters as well. Never show them your deficiencies in the letter. If they can figure that out, that's great for them. You know they can figure that out through the interview through the cover letter, but you never point to your deficiencies. 16. Sign off with an Effective Footer: so the final part of a great cover letter is an effective footer. So that's the bottom third of the page. Now. Many poor letters use the footer paragraph. So that's the last pair off before you sign off with Sincerely or yours. Truly, they use that to flatter the company. So they say things like, I've always wanted to work at a company that respects diversity as much as yours does. Or it would be excited to join such a talented team. Some applicants talk about longtime appreciation of the company. So if you're a person is applying toe apple, they'll say, For many years I've admired your company. I own the first generation Mac, you know, and they just go on and on about these kind of things. But actually that is not useful in the footer of the peace hiring managers see through this , and they may actually find it to be annoying that you're kissing. But as the saying goes, and it really is a waste of space, you've only got one page to write this cover letter, and you're wasting it by flattering the company, and that will not get you anywhere People see right through this anything. Also, if you do really, really, really like the company, it's somewhere you've always wanted to work. You almost need to put that out of your mind, whether it's on the cover letter, whether it's, ah, the job interview, because you will get way too nervous about this position. I had a, uh, teacher years ago who told me that when you go into a job interview, you need to pretend like you don't want the job. And I think if you're playing that up in the cover letter, how much you love this company and you really do love the company, it'll is almost psych yourself out. Now, another thing people do in that last paragraph, right before saying sincerely or yours truly, is to say, I look forward to a favourable response, and that's another thing you need to avoid doing. And that is suggesting that. Is it going to be favorable that you've already foreseen the future? You know, it's like you can read minds and you know it's gonna be favorable. This goes too far. It's presuming too much, um, about this relationship that you may or may not have with this organization So all you really need to write is this. It's a very much like a template. You just say I have enclosed my resume and to writing samples as requested. I look forward to hearing from you sincerely your signature, your name and this little note of the bottom called enclosures. So if you notice what I've written is that I have a resume, that's document number one, and then I have to writing samples. So I have three total what are called Enclosures in this application. So I put enclosures and then in brackets. I put three and I just reminds them that there is something else. There are some things. You get these applications and you've got a lot of other applications on your desk, and you might misplace parts of it. And so it's good to know that there were three other documents with this, and then, ah, the hiring manager makes sure that they've got those other documents. So remember, don't forget to sign the letter. This is a huge problem that I've seen. Don't forget to sign that letter. A lot of people do these things digitally, and nowadays they could make a pdf right out of your Microsoft Word, so there's no time or chance to sign it. And so people forget about that and remember, you need to sign these things. It gives a personal touch. Actually, if you use like a blue ink, gives that little personal touch right at the end. That human touch and that's in a nice look for the bottom of the page. 17. Final Thoughts: congrats. You've made it to the end of cover letter mastery. It's not easy reading a cover letter, but I hope this course has helped you move smoothly through the process. The goal here is to get an interview, so if you're getting interviews, you're off to a great start. Just remember that a lot of great jobs come through networking, whether that's face to face or online. So trying networking at industry events or online on Twitter Facebook. This can add some humanity to your application when the hiring manager you've met before does receive your cover letter, Good luck asked me any questions at all about this process and then tell me about your results as you get thank you.