The Power of Storytelling in Your Cover LetterPosted on
A well-crafted cover letter expands the information on your resume and takes the hiring manager on a journey through some of your greatest academic and career achievements. If you want to stand out and grab the hiring manager’s attention, you’ll need to write your letter based on the description of the job you’re applying for—but don’t forget the power of storytelling in your cover letter.
A cover letter is a one-page letter that introduces you, explains the purpose for your application, highlights a few of your experiences or your skills, and expresses your excitement in the role with the organization. Cover letters are just as important as resumes and give you an opportunity to tell your whole story to potential employers.
Storytelling is your secret weapon to wowing a hiring manager. It’s one of the most powerful tools for building your career and your brand. Cover letters shouldn’t just list your skills and achievements—they should convey personality, build your personal brand, and tell a story. As a Braven Fellow, you understand the importance of storytelling, thanks to the Storytelling as Leadership (SAL) event. Now it’s time to apply that transferable skill to the professional world—in your cover letter.
Make your cover letter stand out with a killer introduction. Hiring managers get tired of seeing the same greeting over and over again, so spice things up with a fun attention-getter. Write a compelling hook with humor, a quote, or a unique tagline. Just make sure it ties into the topic of your letter—your intro should smoothly transition into the story you want to share.
As human beings, we’re natural storytellers—we’re able to create emotional rapport with others, including interviewers. Good storytelling conveys information in a memorable way and gets people to feel, connect, and empathize. But before you start writing your story, make sure you review the job description, research the company, and learn about your interviewer and their role. Once you have done your research, you can reflect on your past experiences and find a story that exemplifies the desired skills and attributes for the role.
For example, suppose you’re interviewing for a content marketing role where you will write content, work on a creative team, and dabble in design from time to time. What stories can you share that exemplify the skills, attributes, and experiences relevant to this role? What do you want to focus on in your cover letter that correlates with the job description? Use this opportunity to share new information (that isn’t included in your resume) and demonstrate how you will fit into the organization’s culture.
Pick one story and stick with the highlights. It should be clear and concise—strip your sentences to their cleanest components and remove any words that don’t serve a purpose. Every sentence in your story should add value and promote you as a candidate. Need help condensing your writing? Check out Grammarly, a free Chrome plug-in that alerts you to spelling and grammar mistakes, and helps you find the perfect words to express yourself while writing online.
Craft a plot
Stories tend to follow a basic pattern—they start with a beginning that sets everything up, a build-up of incidents, a turning point, and an ending with the final result. Be clear on the challenge, the choice you made, and the outcome. How do these all demonstrate that you’re an ideal candidate for the position? Do you provide enough details, not only about your skills and qualities but of the scene you’re describing? Is your story engaging?
People can usually tell when you’re embellishing and trying too hard. Be honest in your storytelling—authenticity creates trust and allows you to build deeper connections with others. Authentic storytelling demonstrates your passions, values, and purpose.
Once you’ve wrapped up your story, it’s time to finish with a bang. Your conclusion should amplify the impression you made in your previous paragraphs and excite the hiring manager. Express your interest in meeting the hiring manager and discuss how your experiences and skills make you a great candidate—just make sure you don’t come off as needy or arrogant.
Provide different options to continue the conversation—ask about an interview, a follow-up conversation, and share your contact information. Finish with a formal closing such as “Sincerely”, “Kind Regards”, or “With Enthusiasm”. Need some inspiration? Log into your Braven portal to access exemplary resumes and cover letters from Braven Fellows.
Hiring managers can sniff a template from a mile away, so be original and show your personality in your writing. Good storytelling makes your cover letter come alive, builds trust with the employer, and builds your professional brand. Use the skills you’ve learned throughout the Braven course to share your story and live your legacy.
Check out these other great resources from Braven’s blog: