This Cover Letter Formula Increased Number of Interviews

Nancy Anderson
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Your cover letter still matters. In fact, you're more likely to get a callback for an interview if you introduce your resume with an attention-grabbing cover letter that speaks the hiring manager's language. An effective way to accomplish this is by using the following formula.

The Formula

The problem-agitate-solve formula, also known as the pain letter, is particularly effective at getting hiring managers to pay attention. That's because this type of cover letter focuses on the employer's immediate and long-term needs, which enhances the information your resume provides. While other job candidates are penning generic letters touting their own goals and skills, your letter speaks directly to the hiring manager's objectives.

Identify the Problem

Right from the beginning, your cover letter should identify the employer's main problem. This isn't always easy to determine and may require some research. Start with the job description: after reading through each responsibility, ask yourself why the employer needs this task performed. It could be to gain an increase in sales, a stronger social media presence or a better reputation. Keep digging until you determine the employer's core motivation. Then, explain how you plan to help solve this problem in your cover letter. If the job description doesn't offer enough information, consider scheduling an informational interview with the hiring manager. Ask lots of questions about the company's position and goals to get to the root of its issues.


Once you identify the employer's main problem, it is time to remind them of the severity of the problem. Use hard data to drive your point home. For instance: "Seventy-nine percent of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts if there are technical glitches on the checkout page. This can translate to thousands of dollars in missed revenue for retail companies." With the addition of factual data, the company's problem seems much direr.

Provide the Solution

Now that you've captured the hiring manager's interest by fleshing out areas that need immediate attention, finish your cover letter strong by boldly offering your services. Closing your letter by trotting out your expertise is a great way to emphasize your skills and accomplishments without sounding like you're begging for a job. Rather, you look like a superhero, ready to save the company's day. Be specific about similar problems you've solved in the past and the results thereof. Explain how you intend to help this company solve this immediate problem and your desire to grow in the long-term.

Stand out from other applicants by identifying a problem, creating agitation and then introducing yourself as the solution. This three-step formula creates a concise and effective cover letter that gets results. Use this method for each cover letter you write to significantly increase your chances of getting an interview.

Photo courtesy of jk1991 at


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  • vicki b.
    vicki b.

    Good points

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