How To Write A Cover Letter That Gets You The Interview

How To Write A Cover Letter That Gets You The Interview

You have all the right skills and experience for the job. You even spent days perfecting your resume.

But your job application still won’t get a response.

Why’s that?

Because the company doesn’t care about your amazing work experience or technical chops! The only thing it cares about is its own problems.

So how do you get their attention? Simple – just tell them how you can solve their problems.

And the best way to do it is with a killer cover letter.

No, I’m not talking about the old school cover letters where you’d put your address at the top.

Forget that!

Those days are long gone! If you do that today, the hiring manager will think you were born in the 1940s.

I’m talking about emails.

Emails are the new cover letters. And emails are also the new job applications. If you haven’t already, read about my surefire way to get job interviews through emails.

Today I’ll share with you my proven approach to write cover letters. Using this approach got me interviews with 4 out of 6 companies. That’s 33X more than the average applicant!

Here’s the step-by-step process on how you can do it too.

Three Circles Of A Cover Letter

Before writing a cover letter, ask yourself whether you even like the company and the industry. If you don’t, then it clearly doesn’t fit in your story. So don’t try to get work there! In my post on how to apply to companies, I give you a process of how to choose the right company and industry.

Once you have settled on the companies where you’d like to work, here’s how I write cover letters. I call it the Three Circles Of A Cover Letter.

Three-Circles-Of-A-Cover-Letter-Irfan-Baqui

Your Narrative

The outermost circle is about you. Let’s call it your narrative. It’s the story of your life and career, and boils down to three things:

  1. What did you do in the past?
  2. How you did it.
  3. Why you did it.

Ask yourself these questions and write down all details that come to mind. It may seem hard to remember the past, but here’s how I like to do it. Take a calendar, and think about what you did in every quarter for the last eight years. Write down at least one sentence for each quarter. And make sure to include everything about your personal life too.

Then think about why and how you did those things. You might end up with a few pages and that’s normal. The more details you have the better.

The last step is to summarize it down to about 20 sentences. And you’ll end up with your narrative. A good narrative is exciting, interesting to read and concise.

This step will take the most amount of time, but you only have to do it once and you can use it for all your cover letters. So make sure to spend a good amount of time on it.

Why You Like The Industry

The best way to not get a job is to pick the wrong industry. Companies want people that are excited about its space and its products. So why would they hire you if you’re not?

So make sure you’re picking the right industries. And if you’re like most people, you’ll have three to five on your list.

In this step, you will write a unique positioning statement for each industry. Ask yourself two things:

  1. What’s your background in that industry? It can be as simple as you’ve been researching it for the past few months and really like it for x, y, and z reasons. Or perhaps you already have 5 years of experience in that industry. Either case is fine.
  2. What excites you the most about it? Is it the fast-paced innovation, new product lines, how it benefits people, etc.?

Now summarize those points in just 2-3 sentences and repeat the process for all the industries on your list. These will be your positioning statements, and you only have to write them once for each industry.

What Excites You About The Company

The final step is to make the cover letter specific to the company. On average, spend about fifteen minutes and write down four things:

  1. What the company does.
  2. Their top 3 products.
  3. How you can add value.
  4. Who is the hiring manager? Get their email.

Don’t be discouraged by the ‘how you can add value’ part. It doesn’t have to be anything solid right now. Here are some examples of how it may look:

  • Looks like the team has some amazing designers, and you can use your HTML, CSS, and Javascript skills to translate them into real product features.
  • You’re really interested in their product because you made a similar one yourself. This way you’re already familiar with the industry and the product’s use case.
  • You have worked with the same technologies as the company, can relate to the hardships they face, and know how to help them.

This value proposition is just a starting point to get you an interview. You will build on it as you interact with the team and get a better idea of the product.

Writing The Cover Letter

If you filled in the three circles above, you already have all the pieces to write a killer cover letter. So let’s be creative and connect them.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start with a sentence on how you found the company.
  2. In the next one or two sentences say why you’re excited about the company and industry.
  3. Then write how can you relate to the company and the industry. Tie in your narrative here.
  4. Close with how you can add value.

At the end of the message, say that you would love to see if there is a fit between the company and you. And ask if they’re open for a phone conversation.

Here’s an example –

If I’m applying to Databricks, here’s how my cover letter would look:

Dear Jon,

I recently came across Databricks and was impressed by the possibilities of your analytics platform. As companies collect an increasing amount of user data across different teams and tools, it is incredibly valuable to have a platform where those teams can come together and perform analytics collaboratively.

I have actually spent 4+ years at a sister industry. I am a software engineer with a background in systems integration, an operation that’s crucial to connect the different data sources in your product. And I might be able to add a lot of value to your product development team.

Would love to have a conversation to see if there’s a fit.

Is there a good time to talk this week? I know you must be really busy, so I will follow up in a week in case you miss my email.

Best,

Irfan

Now email this directly to the hiring manager. And if it’s a company you really like, go a step further.

Identify the local causes, organizations, and meetups that the company supports. You can get that information from the company’s twitter or facebook account. Attend one of those events and connect with the company representatives there. Don’t mention anything about looking for a job to them, but be sure to get their email and thank them afterward.

Now send the hiring manager an email with a personalized message saying how you met the company at the particular event and were impressed. Then tag on the above message below it and send it their way.

This approach got me 33X more responses than the average applicant.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my proven guide to writing a cover letter. What did you think of the guide?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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  1. Aditya

    Hi Irfan,
    This is a great post! And I enjoy your weekly coding challenge videos.
    I just wanted to ask if you are in some way inspired by Neil Patel for the blog? And I am a fan of both you and Neil!

    • irfanbaqui

      Hi Aditya, I’m glad you like it. Yes, I’m a fan of Neil too and this design was inspired by him.


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