You need to write a cover letter but, you're having trouble getting started on that blank page. Here's a writing technique that I used back in my job search days. It got me out of more than a few cases of cover letter brain freeze.
How Aunt Louise Helped Write My Cover Letter
My Aunt Louise is the most supportive and nonjudgmental person I know. I can pour my heart out to her, tell her all my dreams, moan and groan about my problems — all without any risk of hurting our relationship. (Yes, I've nominated Aunt Louise for sainthood.)
Talking to Aunt Louise has always been a great way for me to organize my thoughts. So sometimes when I can't think of what to say in a letter, I pull out a pad of paper (or a blank document on my computer) and scribble a quick "note to Aunt Louise," making points to her that I want to make to the employer in my cover letter. By the time I'm done writing to Aunt Louise, I've inadvertently created a rough draft of the cover letter that had me stymied just moments before. Of course, I never mail that letter to an employer. Writing it is just a technique for getting my thoughts onto paper.
What's the magic behind this technique? Because I can tell Aunt Louise the unadulterated truth, which I might not dare tell an employer, my creative juices flow unbridled. Aunt Louise doesn't care if my sentences aren't written perfectly or don't make absolute sense. She just loves to hear from me. So I can let my thoughts spill onto the page with no worry about what she's going to think... because she doesn't judge me.
Draft Cover Letter to Aunt Louise
Here's the kind of letter I might write to Aunt Louise:
Dear Aunt Louise,
It seems like ages since I've seen you. Let me catch you up on the latest: I've found a great contract position and I'm going to apply for it!
Just when I'd almost given up hope that I'd ever find my dream job, I heard that Logical Processes is looking for an in-house resume consultant. Even though this sounds like I'm bragging, I can say it to you: There's no question that I'm the most qualified resume writer for the job. Here's why:
- I've authored two books on the subject.
- I've provided corporate outplacement services at some of the city's top companies.
- I have a knack for helping scared job seekers through difficult transitions.
Aunt Louise, can you picture me doing my three-hour gig in conference rooms across the country? That's right, Logical Processes is talking about contracting me for a national tour. Want to come with me? I'd love to have my best fan in the front row of every audience!
I'll keep you posted on my progress.
P.S. Please send chocolate chip cookies — to help get me through my job hunt!
Ready to Write the Real Cover Letter?
Of course, I never actually mail the letter to my aunt. I change the name in the salutation to my prospective employer's name and rewrite my draft (sometimes several times) until I come up with something like the following.
Susan Ireland, Resume Writer
000 Minescape Drive
San Francisco, CA 12345
March 13, 20xx
Mr. Charles Tewhbtller
Director of Human Resources
Charles Tewhbtller & Associates
000 Montgomery St., Suite 42
San Francisco, CA 12345
Dear Mr. Tewhbtller,
Downsizing is a dreaded but sometimes necessary process in corporations. As part of the outplacement services you are offering your exiting employees, I would like to offer one-hour resume writing workshops and one-on-one resume consultations for your staff.
Here are some comments from my corporate clients:
"Using her newest book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume, Susan gave our employees an hour packed with valuable information." — PG&E
"Not only is her information right-on, she delivers it superbly." — WB Corp.
"Of all the outplacement professionals we've contracted during our recent downsizing, Susan is the first to be recognized by the union as truly effective." — Antioch Press
As you can gather from these quotes, I have a passion for my work. I would love to share my enthusiasm and expertise with your exiting employees. I believe I can each participant write a resume that highlights achievements and helps build a bright future.
I'll follow up on this note next week. I'd like to meet in person to discuss your plans. In the meantime, thank you for reviewing my enclosed resume.
Can Aunt Louise Help With Your Writer's Block?
How can this technique help you overcome writer's block? Well, do you have an Aunt Louise? An Uncle Bob? Or a friend who loves all your admirable and quirky traits? Someone to whom you can express yourself freely without worrying that she might disown you for a character misdemeanor? If so, write a letter to that person and consider it your cover letter draft.
To use my Aunt Louise technique, take the following steps:
- Write a letter to Aunt Louise or one of your own dear relatives or friends who you trust implicitly.
- Re-address your "Dear Aunt Louise" letter so that it is addressed to your prospective employer.
- Rewrite the letter so that it is worded appropriately for your "next" boss.
By the time you finish your cover letter, you may feel "too close" to it to judge if its tone is appropriate. So show your letter to a friend and ask for his objective opinion.