How to sell yourself in a cover letter (with example)
Updated 20 December 2022
A potential hiring manager relies on a well-written cover letter to determine if you're an ideal fit for their organisation. Promoting your professional background can make a positive first impression on a hiring manager. Describing yourself in a captivating cover letter to outline why you're the ideal candidate can help you secure a role in an organisation. In this article, we discuss how to sell yourself in a cover letter, list the importance of doing so and provide tips and an example to help show your potential.
How to sell yourself in a cover letter
The following steps can guide you on how to sell yourself in a cover letter:
1. Examine the job description
Organisations announce open job positions with a brief description of the qualities, skills and experience they require of a professional. Review the list of requirements for the role and identify the characteristics that fit you as a candidate and include them in your cover letter. You can find the credentials for an open position on the organisation's website.
2. Demonstrate your skills
Review the skills in your CV and elaborate on them in your cover letter. Demonstrate to your employer how your skills can benefit them. For example, you can provide an engaging example of how you applied your skills in a previous job position.
3. Customise your cover letter to the reader's perspective
Knowing your audience may help you build content for your cover letter. Use a writing style that includes details related to the reader's interest. For example, if addressing your cover letter to the human resources department manager, outline how you can use language that focuses on the qualifications in the job description. If the reader is the direct supervisor of the open position, explain how you can use your industrial knowledge and mention specific examples of your professional experience.
Before applying for a role, research the party that may read your cover letter. Search the company's website and look for the hiring manager or recruiter. Some organisations provide insights into the profiles of professionals posting open positions. This can help you identify your audience and customise your cover letter to what you anticipate they may want to know.
4. Showcase your writing skills
Your cover letter represents your ability to communicate effectively with words. Knowing how to structure your words can help you market your skills. Your employer may notice how you deliver your message in a concise format that maintains their attention throughout the letter.
5. Personalise your cover letter for each job
Each job you seek has different relevant priorities and qualifications. Edit your content to fit the various audiences and preferences for the job you're seeking. One employer may value marketing skills, so you could emphasise how well you talk to customers to improve sales. Other employers may value mentorship, so you can highlight experiences where you led projects and mentored colleagues.
6. Mention a referral
A brief mention of a mutual contact with the organisation may attract the hiring manager's attention. A reference may provide further insight into your professional experience and skills. Include the name of your reference and explain how you know the person and why you're mentioning them.
7. Discuss the information on your CV
Your CV acts as a guide to selling yourself in the cover letter. A cover letter provides a platform to discuss the details of your professional background and the skills you've written in your CV. Ensure that the information in both your documents is similar.
Tips on selling yourself in a cover letter
Examine these tips to guide you in writing a cover letter that sells your achievements:
Quantify your achievements. Describe your accomplishments using numbers to enable the hiring manager to understand the depth of your work. For instance, you can describe how you've increased an organisation's profit margins by 30%.
Use action verbs and keywords. Express your statements using action verbs or keywords relevant to the job's description. For example, as a manager, you can use action verbs, such as oversaw, pioneered, directed or mentored, when outlining your achievements.
Reference your career goals. Discuss the achievements you hope to accomplish if the potential employer hires you. Include your career goals and show how you wish to contribute positively to the company's growth.
Use a professional and friendly tone. Creatively describe yourself in a professional and friendly manner to engage the hiring manager in understanding your work and accomplishments. This demonstrates your communication skills and may make a professional impression on the reader.
Express enthusiasm and passion. Show the hiring manager how much you want to join their organisation. Express your excitement for the position in your opening statement and emphasise your interest in the company's mission.
Keep your submission short. Use three paragraphs to describe your professional experience and achievements. This helps maintain the reader's attention.
Add your contact information. Include details, such as your first and last name, email address and phone number, at the top of your cover letter. This ensures that the hiring manager can contact you for further details in the application process.
Importance of selling yourself in a cover letter
Some reasons to sell yourself in a cover letter include:
Demonstrate your qualifications. A cover letter describes your skills, work experience and abilities that make you a talented candidate. Employers assess your characteristics to determine if you're the ideal applicant to aid them in reaching their organisational goals.
Showcase your uniqueness from other candidates. Applying for a job is a competitive process involving multiple professionals vying for the same position. Submitting an impressive cover letter may impress the hiring manager, allowing you to distinguish yourself from other candidates.
Interest the hiring manager. Your cover letter can attract the hiring manager's attention, increasing their interest in you. This helps your chances of getting a job interview where you can show why you're an ideal candidate for the organisation.
Cover letter template
Review this cover letter template to help you write an outstanding one:
[First name] [Last name]
[Phone number] | [Email address] | [City]
Dear [Hiring manager's first name] [Hiring manager's last name],
[Express excitement for the position, including the role title and the company name]. [Introduce yourself by explaining why you're applying for the job and how the job aligns with your career goals and what specifically draws you to the company].
[Explain your relevant experience and qualifications without repeating what's in your CV]. [Highlight one or two relevant achievements with facts and data when possible]. [Explain why you'd be an ideal fit for the company]. [Optional—address employment gap or career transition].
[Express gratitude]. [Summarise qualification]. [Restate interest in the role]. [Call to action + availability and preferred contact method].
Cover letter example to guide you in selling yourself
Review this cover letter example to help you write a captivating one:
78999 543654 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Bristol
Dear Adelle Mansfield,
I'm writing to you to express my interest in the open position of social media marketer at Stepbit Marketing Agency. Hannah Cook, my former supervisor at Wattle Firm in Bristol, referred me to your marketing agency. She can attest to my results-driven passion and negotiation skills as a fellow professional. I've worked as a marketer for six years, doing networking and social media management on several platforms.
The job description on your company's website infers that you're seeking a candidate who can develop advertising campaigns, create visual content and generate new leads. I've demonstrated these capabilities in my career by managing multiple advertising campaigns that generated a 35% increase in customer engagement, earning the marketer of the year award in 2020 at the peak of online engagement and having my photos and videos featured on billboards and television networks.
I'm comfortable working within deadlines and have attention to detail when developing new projects. While at Wilkins University, I studied marketing and leadership. I'm a dedicated professional, passionate about working for your organisation to help it grow. Thank you for reading my application. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Please feel free to contact me through email or phone call.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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