There is the debate that “cover letters are dead”, but the reality is that some companies still request them. For every 40 to 50 job applications we fill out at Find My Profession, about 2 of those applications require a cover letter (and that number continues to shrink).
When cover letters are required, they usually ask questions that are geared towards finding out the job candidate’s passion. So, you must know the proper ways to show passion in a cover letter.
1. Open your cover letter with a personal greeting
Use the name of the person you are going to speak with if you have it. If that is not possible try the greetings that look like you are addressing the “position”.
For example, go with “Dear [person’s name]” or “Dear [Department] Team”. Skip the bland “To whom it may concern”. You convey passion in a polite way by showing that you are personable and did the research to find out who you will be speaking with.
You are also directly addressing a person by name which is a very engaging way to get their attention, especially if the person reading the cover letter has already read hundreds of boring cover letters.
2. Show you researched the company and job you are seeking
Anyone can say, “I really want this job because I love the company.” Do the work and take your passion a step further. Demonstrate that you know something about the company and tie it into something you feel passionate about.
For example, try saying, “I was excited to see one of the responsibilities for this passion involves [here is where you tie in your passion].”
In order to be able to write something like this, you have to thoroughly read the job description and the company website. More so, you have to know what you are passionate about before applying. You can also mention in your cover letter that you are aware of customer experiences others have had with the company or state something about the recent direction the business seems to be headed in. Show you follow the company and care about what happens to it.
3. Describe your qualifications with powerful verbs and action words
A great way to show passion is by using words that help someone visualize you, in the act, of working for the company. The more active and colorful your words, the better. Sounding passive or apologetic makes your cover letter read as if you lack the passion to work for the company.
Here is a list of action verbs to get a better idea of the types of words you can use in a cover letter.
4. Explain your quantifiable, concrete results
Think of those times in your life when you know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you achieved something great. Now, take some time to practice and write about it. Read it back to yourself. And see if you describe your concrete results in a way that sounds apologetic, shy, or lacking strength.
When you finally write your cover letter, be sure to explain the unbreakable, concrete results of things you had worked on in the past.
It is one thing to say, “I created and executed a strategy from scratch that led to $1M in new revenue sales” (concrete) It is another thing to say, “I worked on this project as part of a team and we succeeded in reaching sales goals.” One sounds like you have passion and the other sounds like you showed up to work and did a job.
5. List reasons why you are personally and professionally excited to apply
When you take the job description and list out why you are excited about each and every requirement (without writing a book), you show the hiring manager you are a passionate human who takes the time to think about how you can bring value to the company. Listing your skills is not enough. The passion comes in seeing how you explain the excitement of getting to use them and how.
6. Tailor the cover letter to the job
Template cover letters just do not cut it. You have to show passion by tailoring your cover letter to the job at hand. Remember cover letters are also a chance to show off your writing skills, too. If you can write about things that make you feel passionate, the chances are you have a leg up on those without writing experience who try to submit cover letters.