Three Copywriting Principles to Use in Your Next Cover Letter

Selling yourself is one of the most awkward, frustrating tasks when searching for a job. You know the value you bring to employers – but how can you best articulate that?

Copywriters face this challenge on a regular basis. They must create content that connects with the reader’s emotions and spurs some specific action. To do this successfully, copywriters often utilize specific frameworks and principles that have proven effective.

Applying these same frameworks to your cover letter will not only help you better sell yourself, but will also help ease the frustration of figuring out exactly how to say what you need to say.

Features vs. Benefits

Often times, we identify jobs to apply for by matching our set of skills to the position’s set of skills. These skills may be things like time management, attention to detail, organized, proficient in WordPress, etc.

But it’s not the skills themselves that appeal to employers; it’s the benefits that are derived from those skills. If you’re skilled at communication and problem-solving, what does that mean to an employer? Are you able to develop win-win solutions because you listen for the things that aren’t being said and can determine underlying motivations?

Make a list of your skills, everything under the sun, and let it sit for a day. When you come back to the list, translate these skills into benefits targeted to each specific position or employer. Convey these benefits in your cover letter.

The Rule of Three

Our brains instinctively search out patterns to process the world around us. We want to see patterns, and when we see them, we’re satisfied.

The magic number for pattern creation is three. Three components create a simple, easily identifiable pattern, and allow you to establish rhythm.

  • The Three Musketeers
  • Just do it
  • Veni, vidi, vici
  • I’m lovin it
  • 3 Men and a Little Lady
  • Snap! Crackle! Pop!
  • Taste the rainbow

Appeal to your reader’s bias for patterns and give them a sense of satisfaction by using the rule of three to discuss your qualities and the benefits you bring to the table.

“My experience with conducting research, analyzing data, and developing cohesive messaging ensures I’ll be effective from the start.”

AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

AIDA is a framework frequently used by Gary Halbert, hero of copywriting.

The idea behind AIDA is that first, you catch the reader’s attention. Next, you get them interested in whatever it is you’re offering. You build their desire by describing to them exactly how they’ll benefit, and then you tell them what you want them to do – in this case, hire you!

Of course it’s not as simple as that, otherwise every job seeker using this framework would be hired immediately. But this is a great technique to use when you have an example of a successful project that is directly targeted to the position you’re interested in.

Grab their attention with the deliverable you achieved (saved company $5M annually!), tell your story, and end by letting them know if you’re hired, you have the proven ability to deliver.


If you’re interested in learning more copywriting techniques, I highly recommend this Skillshare class. Good luck!

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