Cover letters are all about getting your prospect’s attention and establishing your value.
How many times have you sent out a proposal with a cover letter and you didn’t hear back from your prospect?
That’s not surprising. Applicants often think that their work profiles or resumes are enough to make their prospects want to get to know them better. So they give energy onto creating a massive profile with all their skills and projects they handled.
But before any prospective client or employer would read through your profile, they need to know your intent and suitability for the job.
And this can be found on your cover letter.
Apart from having a great profile and portfolio, sending out powerful cover letters should be your weapon of choice. Knowing how to craft cover letters that will make clients realize your value is key.
When you’re starting out in the freelancing business, you don’t have much feedback to bank on. You’re a “newbie” in the platform and its clients. That is why you need to have a strong cover letter that lets you say to your prospective clients, “Hey! I’m the one you’re looking for.”
If you’re an established or experienced freelancer, you still need a good cover letter. This helps you stand out from the competition. Majority of clients don’t really send invitations to apply to a job post. If they do, they’d send out like 5 or at most 10. The chances of you getting that invitation can be very slim. Usually, clients would wait to get proposals. If you do send a proposal, you can be sure that before clients even think about visiting your profile, they would need a good reason to do so. And that reason will be your powerful cover letter.
Think about your cover letter as your elevator pitch. You’ve got 20 to 30 seconds to make it count. You need to get your prospect’s attention and establish your value.
It is all about ATTENTION and VALUE.
Here are some key techniques to making sure you get your prospect’s attention and make them realize your value.
Understand what they need
When you understand what the client wants, you are able to align it with the skills you have. This is key in establishing a claim that you are a good choice for the project or position.
In order to do this, you must thoroughly read and understand the job post. This will also help you highlight the skills you have which can answer their need. Some freelancers would send templated cover letters. This is a big No-No! Sending templated cover letters will definitely send a message that you didn’t take the time to fully understand what your prospects need. Remember, each project is different; each job post will have its distinct specifications or distinct needs. Your cover letter should briefly explain how you can answer those needs.
Understanding what your clients need is the first step to crafting that powerful cover letter.
Highlight your skills and experience that can answer their needs
Now you know what they need, it’s time to check what skills you have to match it.
You don’t want to bore your prospect to death with a long list of skills, work experiences or projects you’ve handled. You have your profile to do that for you. Instead, pick out specific skills you have that match their job post. Highlight ONE project that you’ve done that you think is very much similar to the project or job post you’re applying for. This will make your prospect think that you have enough background to perform the needed tasks. If you have a resource link to that project you’ve done in the past, it’s a good thing to include that in the cover letter so that they have a preview of what you can do.
For the skills you choose to highlight, make sure you don’t just list them. Explain why these skills are crucial to the success of their project. Establish your value in this part.
Remember, don’t make this part too long. I think this could be around 3 sentences; probably at most 5. So choose the project that you’ll highlight wisely. Make sure it gives a glimpse of the value you’ll provide to your prospect.
Make them feel like they are already working with you
Now, you think I might be crazy when I say this.
“Lena, it’s just the cover letter. We can’t make them feel like they’re working with us yet!”
Actually, YOU CAN.
That cover letter is the start of a partnership. If you treat each proposal like this, you’d definitely ensure your cover letters are gold.
So how do you make prospects feel like they’re working with you?
First, ask questions.
Let them feel that you’re eager to know more about the project or task at hand. You’ve read the job post thoroughly, right? Put what you understood and clarify further. Asking questions make prospects feel that they need to engage in a conversation with you. I told you that we need to grab their attention, and so this technique will surely help you achieve just that.
Second, use WE and OUR in your sentences.
This creates a subconscious thought that you are already working with your prospect. Statements like “Our project could be better if we do this…” “We can certainly do this for the project…” will surely make them feel like you’re already starting the work. Using “we” and “our” within your cover letter also makes prospects feel that you’ve already invested time for their project.
Sell the feeling your prospects will get when they work with you. Remember, people engage based on feelings.
Lastly, end your cover letter with a call to action.
Think about your cover letter as your personal advertisement. You want your prospect to click on your profile to know you better and start an interview OR even better, give you an offer right away.
A good call to action makes prospects engage further. Let them feel like they need to message you right away and that THEY CAN. Statements like “Feel free to shoot me a message anytime so we could get started.” does the job well.
See how we ended that? “…so we could get started.”
Imagine how the prospect would feel. I’ve used that phrase countless times in my proposals and my prospects return to me 4 out of 5 times. The one that “got away” was actually because I withdrew the proposal when he didn’t even get a chance to read it.
Of course, after you’ve done all this, make sure to proofread your letter. This adds to the professional vibe of your letter.
So there you have it. Ensuring you understand what your prospect needs, tying it up to the relevant skills and experience you have, and then enticing your prospect to engage with you further are what powerful cover letters are made of.
Make sure you incorporate these techniques in your cover letter format.
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