Creating value in your cover letter

Let's face it, cover letters are a drag to write. You want to prove your skills, showcase your experience, and come across personable without writing a memoir. It's a tough balancing act.

Some companies have eliminated cover letters as part of the professional materials package they ask for, but most haven't. The reason they're still around? Cover letters provide an outstanding opportunity for you to distinguish yourself in your own voice with examples to back up your claims.

The key to a stand out cover letter is to focus on your value.

Listen up: it's not about you. It's about what value you offer to help the company reach its goals. Every sentence you write must answer the question "what is my value add?"

The key to a stand out cover letter is to focus on your value.

It may be tough to identify what exactly is your value. Or perhaps you have a plethora of characteristics you want to feature but you're cognizant of being too verbose.

Try creating an outline through these three steps to lay a foundation for your cover letter:

1. Use the job description as a guideline to identify competencies the company is looking for and match them with the qualities you possess. Write these down.

2. Expand each of those items by reflecting on a story from your past experience that proves why you have honed those skills. (There could be one story that encompasses several qualities.)

3. Choose one or two anecdotes to feature in your cover letter and explain how having these characteristics will help you achieve results in the desired role.

When you share these stories in your cover letter, each example should clearly articulate the value you provide to the company. Tying it all together with a sentence that clearly states that you will bring X qualities to Y company to achieve Z results is the cherry on top.

Make it easy for anyone reading your cover letter to understand exactly what you bring to the table.

Sarah Sax is the founder of Write For The Job.

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