Willing To Learn Cover Letter 2014

Thank youfor checking our our guide on How to Write an Irresistible Cover Letter. No matter what industry you are in, our goal with this guide is to help you land your next dream job – be that in craft beverage or beyond.

I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in beverage since 2007 when I first began working in the wine industry at a highly coveted winery in California. My experience up to that point was OK, but not highly relevant to the position I was applying for. My cover letter landed me an interview, which led to a job offer. 

A good cover letter is vital to your job search. It’s a chance to share your personality and passion with a prospective employer, as well as highlight your experience and SELL the employer on how well you can do the job and how you can help them. 

One of the most rewarding experiences running Craft Beverage Jobs has been to hear from members of this community who have benefited from the tips shared here. Since the original posting in May 2014, several thousands of people have downloaded this guide and there have been nearly 20,000 views.

Check out this awesome email I got from someone who got their dream job by using the tips shared here:

I wanted to let you know your cover letter PDF “How to Write an Irresistible Cover Letter” helped me out immensely during my last job hunt this spring! Landing an interview, especially with a big company’s HR department, feels like the hardest part of the job search process, and I followed your template very carefully and only had to do it once.I just accepted an offer for that illusive “dream job”, at a company I’m super excited to be a part of. And on my first interview they specifically mentioned how impressed they were with my cover letter 🙂

This entire guide is offered as a download. Download our GUIDE if you’d like to learn:

  • how to grab the hiring manager’s attention
  • know exactly what you need to communicate to get the interview (and job)
  • get proven word-for-word text that you can use in your own cover letter, and
  • if you want to stand out from the pack and get the hiring manager to like you – just from your cover letter

Cover Letter Basics

If you google “Cover Letter tips”, there is no shortage of resources written to help the job seeker. Most articles share similar information, and for good reason – the tips they share are important! 

Here are a few cover letter standards:

  • Don’t repeat your resume – Reference and/or highlight 1-2 key aspects, yes, but your cover letter should lead the employer to your resume, not repeat it.
  • Keep your cover letter short – It’s very important to keep your cover letter to under one page in length.
  • Sell yourself – A good cover letter is a sales letter! You sell yourself by highlighting how you will benefit the employer if they hire you.
  • Personalize your cover letter – Take your job search seriously and take the time to write a unique cover letter for each position you apply for. Make sure the employer knows that you are addressing them and the position up for grabs.
  • Edit – double, triple check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Cover Letter Structure

Whether you are applying via an online form or mailing your application, cover letters should have a bit of structure to them. A structured cover letter leads to interviews whereas cover letters without structure tend to confuse prospective employers and turns them off.

Structure does the following:

  • It introduces you to the employer
  • It pitches you to the employer
  • It convinces the employer that you may be a good fit
  • It invites the employer to consider you for the job

We’ll break each area down further, but every cover letter you write should have the following components:

  • ID Your cover letter
  • Headline (optional)
  • Opening Paragraph
  • Body
  • Closing Paragraph

Note: Structure is not the same as being formal, and being formal is not the same as being professional. You can have a well structured cover letter without being overly formal, and you don’t have to be formal in your approach to come across as professional. 

A cover letter is a chance for a prospective employer to get a sense of who you are. Let them in by sharing a bit of your personality here while also considering the position you are applying for and the culture of the company you’re applying with. You can use your voice and the tone you take in your cover letter to communicate that you’re a good fit.

ID Your Cover Letter

You should include some key identifying marks at the top of your cover letter. This is so the employer can quickly reference who you are and what position you’re applying for. 

You don’t have to make this formal or go overboard with addresses, but you should include at minimum the following information:

  • Your Full Name
  • Your Email Address
  • Your Phone Number
  • The Company Name
  • The Position you’re applying for

Note: If you decide to use a creative font or two in your cover letter (or resumé), make sure you chose one that is legible and easy to read.

Headline (Optional)

Adding a headline to your cover letter is a great way to grab the employer’s attention right from the start. If you can craft a compelling headline, then I encourage you to add one to your cover letter.

Headlines are used in journalism, on blogs, and in email marketing. In its simplest form, a headline is a title – a succinct sentence used to describe what’s to be expected in the body of the article and/or email. In its most powerful form, a headline convinces someone to take the time to read whats being offered and can help sell someone on the content of what is presented.

I list a headline as optional because they’re not common (or expected) in cover letters, and should only be used if you’re confident your headline is being used in its most powerful form – and not just as a title.

One way a job seeker can add a headline to their cover letter is to leverage their most outstanding achievements and incorporate them into a headline.

Examples:

“Winemaker with 10 wines over 92 points seeks opportunity with {Name of Brand}”“I Grew a Wine Club from 50 to 2000 Members in 24 Months. Let Me Help You Reach Your DTC Goals”

If you don’t have outstanding achievements to highlight, but want to grab the attention of the hiring manager, a headline can help communicate confidence – a good thing to have if you lack experience or a track record.

Examples:

“I’m Resourceful and Driven, and Eager to Find an Internship that I can Run With”“I Have 1000 friends on UnTapped and A Knack for Sales. Let Me Sell Your Beer”

Again, headlines are optional. If you use a headline, make sure you also back up your headline within the body of your cover letter.

Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph of your cover letter is its most important part, and there is a lot that rides on these few, critical sentences. Your opening paragraph is your introduction, it’s your pitch, and it’s the key tool you have in making sure that the rest of your cover letter and resumé are read by your prospective employer.

An opening paragraph should only be between 3-5 sentences long, and should NOT start with “My name is ________, and I would like to submit my resume to ___________”.

If you start your cover letter with a headline, the first sentence of your opening paragraph should pickup where your headline left off. If you didn’t start with a headline, the opening sentence of this 1st paragraph should substitute for one in many ways.

Example:

{Insert referral name} suggested I may be a good fit for the {insert name of position} with {insert company name} because of my {list specific skill/experience}. Upon review of the job description, I believe that my experience, along with my {list character trait}, make me uniquely qualified for this position. I am a dedicated and driven person, and I am confident I would exceed expectations and quickly become an asset to {insert company name}.

The above paragraph may seem a bit “over the top”, but it’s a winning opening paragraph – especially if you insert personal touches to make it your own.

Let me break it down:

  • {Insert referral name} – If you have a contact at the company you can use, use them, and quickly identify them in your cover letters
  • {insert name of position} & {insert company name} – by referencing the position and company, you show the prospective employer that you’re speaking to them about this specific opportunity.
  • {list specific skill/experience} – What specific skill and/or experience sets you apart from other candidates. This can be something you have listed on your resumé.
  • {list character trait} – What is it about YOU that makes you a standout? A generic character trait could be your “work ethic”; something compelling could be your “willingness to learn and to grow.
  • The last sentence shows confidence, and suggests how the company would benefit by hiring you – as opposed to expressing how the position will benefit you.

Note: Only address your cover letter to someone if you specifically know who will be reading it. Otherwise, do not bother with “Greetings”, or “To Whom it May Concern”, which are pointless and impersonal.

Body

The second (and optional third) paragraph of your cover letter is called the Body.

This is where you briefly explain your situation and where you convince the prospective employer that you’re the right guy or gal for the job.

The content of your body paragraphs should be very specific and relatable to the position that you are applying for.

If you have a lot of experience, you may want to highlight the top 2 or 3 skills and/or achievements off of your resume and expand on them.If you don’t have a lot of experience, help the employer understand how your past connects you to this position and what your goals are by taking this job. 

Example #1

For the last seven years I have successfully used Social Media to grow both sales & brand awareness:

  • I initiated a national campaign on Facebook that resulted in 10,000 new email subscribers over 6 months.
  • I used Twitter to connect with beer lovers in Chicago, resulting in 1000 ticket sales to our various beermaker dinners.

Example #2

For the last seven years I have worked as an assistant brewer and have been involved with all aspects of craft beer production. My ten year plan is to open my own brewery, and my current goal is to learn as much as possible on the sales and distribution side as I can by working as a Brand Manager.  

It’s important to note that having a ton of experience doesn’t always make you the best candidate. Clearly communicating your career goals can set you up to get hired.

In many cases, it communicates a willingness to learn and the willingness to hustle — traits that veteran employees don’t always possess.

Closing Paragraph

Your closing paragraph should be short and sweet.

If how you’ve written your cover letter so far warrants a conclusion to tie everything together, this is where you do it.

The closing paragraph is also where you invite the employer to initiate a conversation with you. All this requires is you asking for an interview.

Example

I hope that the above points, as well as the list of skills and experience detailed on my resumé, adequately show that I am uniquely qualified for this position, and I hope that I have been able to express my genuine interest in working with {insert company name} as {insert position name}.May we set up a time for us to meet and discuss this position and how I may fit into it?

Closing Sentences – A Dash of Humility

Cover letters that perform well tend to all have one thing in common – the writer is somewhat shameless in their self promotion. In order to stand out in this busy and competitive world, one needs to be willing to sell themselves. It shows confidence, hustle, and courage. Don’t be afraid to do this crucial part.

That said, I always like to add a little humility to the conclusion of my cover letters. Believe me, this gets noticed.

Nearly all responses from prospective employers and/or clients I have reached out to via a cover letter have referenced my closing last sentence.

Example

I have no doubt that you are receiving an overwhelming response to this unique opportunity, and I wish you luck in your search. I want to thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Those two sentences don’t seem like a lot, but they are. In my experience, it has connected me with the hiring manager in a way that separates me from my competition, and it’s because I relate to the job that they have to do in hiring someone. 

A Note on How to Approach Your Cover Letter Writing

If you really think about it, a cover letter is a classic “sales letter”.

You’re selling yourself to the employer and trying to convince them to hire (“buy”) you. There is a lot that goes into sales strategy, and much of it is psychology.

I’ve demystified the psychology of sales and cover letter writing in this post, How to Write a Cover Letter that Gets You an Interview. Check it out so that you can get in the head of the next employer you apply with and so you increase the likelihood of getting an interview!

Cover Letter Extras

Now you know how to write an irresistible cover letter, which means you’re now one step closer to landing your dream job!

Congratulations!

Before I let you go, here are a few pro tips that I recommend you use the next time you apply for a job. 

Hyperlink anything in your cover letter or resumé that is connected to a website. For example, on your resumé when you list your previous experience, link the name of your previous employers to their websites.

Subject Line of Email – Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes for a few minutes. They’re likely to be bombarded with applications. Help them find you easier by clearly stating your name and the position you are applying for in the subject line of your email application. This can be simply: “Resumé for {Your Name} Re: {Name of Position.

Video – Along with a cover letter headline, this too is optional, buy why not send a link to a private 2 minute youtube video where you personally address the company and express your interest in  the specific position? Guaranteed few to no other applicants are doing this, and if you want to give yourself a little advantage to getting an interview, this could easily do it.

Social Media – If a prospective employer asks you for your Facebook password, I would suggest running fast in the opposite direction. That said, it’s probable that a prospective employer will google your name and/or look you up on social networks. Make their job easier by including links to your social profiles in your resumé if you have them.

Read Application Instructions Carefully – Sometimes these are obvious and sometimes hard to spot, but a vetting tool that many employers use is putting specific instructions into the job announcement. These may be something like “only attach resumé as a PDF” or instructing applicants to put something very specific (like a certain word) in the subject line of the email. Most of these are deliberate on the employer’s part to see who is paying attention.

You may have the best resumé and cover letter, but failing to follow specific instructions will likely mean your application is trashed.

Most job seekers encounter the following scenario at some point in their career: you’re not the typical worker bee; you have diverse experience and have performed a variety of functions in your career. Any employer should welcome your skills, but when you apply for your next job, the company wants at least ‘10 years of direct work experience’ and couldn’t care less about your eclectic background. So you’re not even considered for the position.

It’s pointless to ask if this is fair. The burden is on you to demonstrate why you’re a good hire even if your qualifications aren’t a perfect match for the position. Here are 4 tips for getting past this hurdle and landing the job you want:

Fill in the gaps in your cover letter

Cover letters, once a staple of job applications, have become passe. With a large volume of job applicants to review in today’s online world, most human resources professionals just scan through resumes with a cookie-cutter checklist by their side.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a brief, well-crafted note won’t attract the attention of a conscientious reviewer. In fact, if you can make a succinct case for why you should be hired, you will actually make the reviewer’s job easier and differentiate yourself from the pack. It shows initiative and thoughtfulness on your part.

The key here is to tell your story and use it to demonstrate your value: how have you evolved as a professional, what specific skills have you gained from your various experiences, and how will those things add value to the company. Tell that story convincingly, and you should at least get an interview.

Be honest — you’re not perfect

Conventional wisdom encourages us to highlight the positive and stay away from the negative. That makes sense but the flip side of that coin is that if you don’t address your obvious weaknesses proactively and show an employer why they don’t matter (or how you will get around them), they will likely be held against you and eliminate you from the race altogether.

Using the above example, if a job requires 10 years of direct work experience but you only have 5, you need to acknowledge that discrepancy but explain why you believe you can do the job just as proficiently as someone who meets that criterion. Otherwise, human resources will simply throw your resume into the ‘no’ pile without a second thought.

 

This is yet another reason a cover note is so essential. Even most standard online applications allow you to make a personal statement in a comment box, so use that to help the reviewer understand why your track record, no matter how diverse or indirect, has honed you into the type of professional they’re looking for. If you lack some particular skill, acknowledge it and explain why it won’t be a problem (perhaps you’re taking a course at your local college).

And don’t assume that the skills you have can’t be applied in a particular job just because the description doesn’t say so.

Connect the dots for an employer

When applying for multiple jobs, it’s natural for candidates to become fatigued and start cutting corners. The temptation is to leave it to the company to figure out how valuable your skills are. That’s fine if you meet all the requirements for a job but can hurt you if your story isn’t straightforward.

Make it easy for the reviewer to follow your career trajectory, both on paper and in person. That means don’t just state facts but spell out what those facts mean. For example, if you started your career in media investment banking at Morgan Stanley, then moved to an operations role at Disney, and now want to join Google in strategy, explain how your banking experience taught you about the business aspects of media and got you the operations job at Disney, which in turn showed you how traditional media is changing in a digital age and positions you to help Google with business strategy.

Make a promise

The one quality that a resume can’t capture is motivation. Even if you lack a particular skill required for a job, promising that you will make up for the deficiency through hard work, dedication and willingness to learn will help your chances. Motivation isn’t a guarantee of success, but it’s a strong indicator. And making a sincere promise that you will do whatever it takes to excel at your job will give your potential employer comfort.

S. Kumar is a tech and business commentator. He has worked in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. Kumar does not own shares of the companies mentioned in this article.

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