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How to Include a Hook in a Cover Letter

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

Cover letters often don’t make much of an impact on potential employers because they either simply restate what’s in the resume or act as a formal introduction directing the reader to the resume. To add some extra oomph to your cover letter, add a hook that piques a potential employer’s interest in you and makes them want to dig deeper into your background. Emphasizing your benefits, rather than your past history, will make for a winning cover letter.

Think About the Employer

Don’t make your cover letter primarily about you. Employers don’t fill positions because they want to give people jobs; they hire people because they want specific results from them. Think about why the company is hiring for this particular position, how the position benefits the company and what skills and experience a rock star candidate will bring to the job. Once you know that, you can formulate a message that will make the potential employer want to meet you.

Start Strong

Get out of the gate at a sprint, not a trot, with a sentence that promises a benefit. Avoid starting a cover letter with a bland statement that tells the employer what job you’re applying for and that you’re “very interested” - the employer already knows that. Determine what key qualification the employer is seeking in a candidate for this particular position and offer that. For example, a small business owner who needs to hire her first webmaster will want someone who can craft a great website without busting the budget. An applicant for this position could emphasize that he has already helped other businesses create user-friendly, professional-looking websites on a budget.

Ask a Question

Another way to pique an employer’s interest is to ask a question he must answer in your favor. For example, the website developer applying to a small business might begin with, “Would you like to completely upgrade your website, tie it into social media platforms, increase your traffic with SEO best practices and do it all in 30 days without breaking your budget?” Someone applying for a bookkeeping position might emphasize special skills by asking, “Are you interested in a bookkeeper who can also handle payroll, administer benefits and create helpful financial reports on a regular basis?”

Stress Accomplishments

If you don’t want to start your cover letter with a question, immediately let the employer know you’re qualified with an impressive fact that proves it. An example of a good hook for a salesperson would be, “As someone who tripled sales in my territory within six months of taking my last position, I believe I can help you open your new territory on a strong footing.” A marketing applicant might begin with, “As a marketing professional who understands traditional advertising and promotions and who has expert skills in digital and social media, I can help your company expand its marketing return on investment."

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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