This Pongo Blog post originally ran in February 2008. With summer blockbuster season upon us, we thought it was a good time to rerun this "cinematic" explanation of the cover letter.
When you go to the movies, you always see previews of the coming attractions. The goal, of course, is to make each member of the audience whisper to their companion, "Ooh, that looks good. I can't wait to see the movie!"
In career terms, your cover letter is the preview and your resume is the movie.
Movie previews (or trailers) shamelessly tease us with the most dramatic scenes, the funniest jokes, or the steamiest love scenes, because those are the things that have been proven to motivate you and me to spend our time and money on movies.
Previews use music, narration, and strategic dialog to work you into a frenzy of anticipation. Sometimes they even splice together parts from two different scenes. THAT's what you need to do in your cover letter!
Tease Your Audience
A good cover letter pulls out and emphasizes the most relevant skills, accomplishments, and qualifications that appear in your resume. Shine the spotlight on the things that will intrigue your audience and pique their interest. Make your reader think, "Ooh, I can't wait to see the resume!"
If you have appropriate skills from two different jobs, splice them together in the cover letter. For example, if the job you're targeting calls for Sales and Marketing experience, mention those together in your cover letter, even if you did Sales at Job A and Marketing at Job B.
Pay attention to the previews next time you're munching on $10 popcorn and drinking a bucket of soda. They can teach you a lot about the science of promotion!
Got any thoughts about cover letters and their role in today's job search? Share your comments below.
3 Tips to Avoid a Boring, Self-Absorbed Cover Letter
Straight Talk about Writing Cover Letters
Your Cover Letter: The Gateway to Your Resume
Write a Real Cover Letter, Not Just a Resume Rehash
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