You sit down to craft your cover letter, and the primary thought in your mind is: I hope they choose me. I really want this job.
Anxiety floods your body, triggering a rush of paralyzing thoughts and questions: Am I good enough? Do I have the right qualifications? What if they’ve already found someone to hire? Am I just wasting my time? What if I sound too casual? Or too formal? Am I just kidding myself? Gah!
What pours out of your fingertips goes something like this:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to inform you of my interest in applying for the position of social media director at Save the Dolphins. I believe I am highly qualified and possess the necessary skills to meet the criteria you have outlined. Over the past several years, I have refined my ability to…
You stop mid-sentence, realizing that your cover letter sounds totally depressing and awkward. And no wonder! Trying to convince someone that you’re “worthy” of respect and attention is—well, totally depressing and awkward!
The good news? There’s a very simple mind trick that changes your entire cover letter-writing approach in an instant.
Pretend that the person you’re writing to already loves and respects you. Pretend that the person you’re writing to already believes that you’re worthy and valuable. Pretend that the person you’re writing to doesn’t need a big sales pitch.
This person already gets what makes you great. In fact, you’re basically already hired! The hiring manager is just curious to learn a teensy bit more about you.
You could even pretend that you just received an email from your soon-to-be boss, saying:
Hey, since you’re practically already part of the family, we’d all love to learn a little more about you!
So, tell us: What inspired you to apply for this position? (We’re sure glad you did!) What are your big passions, dreams, and goals? Got any ideas on how we could do things even better around here?
We’re so curious! We love your smart brain, we value your ideas, and we want to get to know you!
Return to your cover letter draft, start fresh, and see what pours out of your fingertips this time. Now that you’re “pretending,” I’m guessing it’ll be something like this:
To my friends at Save the Dolphins:
When I learned that you were seeking a new social media director, I was over the moon.
Because when I’m not geeking out about the latest Instagram filter or Twitter meme, you can usually find me at the beach—hunting for starfish and sea anemones or catching a wave on my longboard.
Social media and the sea: my two greatest passions. Using one to heal and protect the other? A total dream.
My current role as a marketing manager at Bubbly Cola Co. has been a blessing—for the past three years, I’ve learned from the best in the business. And while my current position is pretty close to perfect, my supervisor fully supports my desire to find a new role that brings together all of my passions—especially my passion for planet-saving activism. In fact, when I told her about the position at Save the Dolphins, she smiled and said, “You’ve got to go for this. I’ll be furious if you don’t.”
This is the part where I’m supposed to request an interview and assure you that “references are available upon request.” Which is true.
But what I really want to do is offer you a gift: a six-point plan to help your marketing team use social media even more powerfully, starting right now. You can download the plan here. I hope it’s helpful and fun. (I certainly had fun creating it!)
Oh, and if you’d like to walk through the plan over coffee, chat more about the open position, or swap stories about swimming with dolphins—I’d be thrilled. Hope to hear from you soon.
Here’s to a cleaner sea and greener world,
[Your name here]
The lesson here is this: The next time you need to sell yourself, just tell yourself: They already love and respect me. There’s nothing I need to prove.
It doesn’t actually matter if it’s true. If pretending helps to pull the words out of your head and onto the page, then it’s precisely what you need to do.
Plus, sometimes, fantasizing can lead to real-world results. Try it—and see if it works for you!
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