Whom do you want to convince?
For instance, you might be writing to a hiring manager who needs somebody with strong writing skills. By knowing your audience, you’ll have the opportunity to specifically address the concerns or needs of your readers in your persuasive cover letter. One caveat: You may find job announcements that instruct applicants to send a letter to human resources, rather than provide a specific name of an individual. In these instances, you can try to track down, through company sources or networking, the name and title of a specific individual to whom you can address your letter. Otherwise, use the job description and knowledge of the company to best gauge your audience’s needs.
What are you trying to convince them of?
Using the example above, you are trying to convince a hiring manager that you have terrific writing skills. You may also want the hiring manager to know about your ability to speak French and your mastery of PowerPoint, if these are skills that are relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Be specific here: If you want to talk about your skills as a leader, be sure to mention a situation in which you demonstrated leadership skills. And remember to discuss the same skills that appear on your resume, providing additional information and detail in your letter.
Why should you be hired over someone else?
Here’s your opportunity to make a persuasive, convincing argument and sell your unique abilities. Using the previous example, you want to convince a hiring manager that you have terrific writing skills because you’ve consistently written on a wide range of topics for your school’s newspaper, providing valuable information to more than 500 students weekly for the past three years. Whatever your example, make sure you point out how your work made a positive difference, quantifying this difference whenever possible.