Think of your cover letter as the hero’s journey, classic techniques that have drawn audiences in for centuries. Use them to write your next chapter.
The best stories invite us along on a journey with a hero to explore new places, new ideas and new adventures. They get us to momentarily forget our everyday life, and inspire us to aspire to greater heights as we accompany the main character to uncharted territory. Does this sound like your typical cover letter? No, of course not. But it could. In your next cover letter, try ditching the staid format of simply introducing yourself, and try storytelling techniques to inspire the reader to learn more about your best traits. Here are some tried and true storytelling techniques that you can apply.
Start in the middle - and then go back If you pay attention, you’ll notice that most stories don’t start at the very beginning. Instead, it starts with action, and then flashes back to the beginning only later after you’re hooked. You can pull your reader in by starting with talking about a dramatic or memorable moment you’ve had at work. Then once they want to know more, you can show the path that lead to this moment - the prequel.
Include the moment of truth In a story, the hero always has to make a choice between playing it safe or accepting the challenge and their destiny. This moment of truth is when things get interesting. What was that moment for you? When did you know a career or a position was perfect for you? What challenge did you have to overcome? This shows your commitment.
Join the cause together The hero of the story always needs partnerships to survive - and they need to select wisely. So why do you want to join forces? What can you offer each other? What common enemy will you take on? Show how you’re in this together, and how you can be stronger when you are allied.
Conclusion The best endings always reference the beginning. Don’t end with a flat “... and that’s why I want this job.” Instead, circle back to the beginning of your story, and show how you will make this journey continue. Final note: These tips don’t mean that you should refer to yourself as a hero in your cover letter, or that you should refer to your competition as an enemy. Those are good ways to get your application thrown in the trash. However, you can think of your cover letter as part of the “hero’s journey” narrative, which are classic techniques that has drawn audiences in for centuries. Use them to write your next chapter.