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Writing a Persuasive Cover Message – Job Search

Please watch this 8-minute video for guidance on performing this assessment.


To write a skillful persuasive cover message in the job search that begins indirectly; develops convincing reasoning using one or more appeal (emotional, logical, and/or character-based); and, closes with goodwill and action.

Before you write anything, you should think through the situation and work out a strategy—that is, how you will explain or justify your decision. 

Relevant Concepts:

  1. Planning Your Communication Strategy Using a Problem-Solving Approach, Audience Analysis Checklist and Persuasive Message Outline fillable forms attached.
  2. Preparing a persuasive cover message for the job search advertisement
  3. Ensuring your cover message accomplishes the following: gaining attention, setting you apart from any possible competition, identifying the position in which you are interested, specifying how you learned about the position or company, presenting highlights of your skills and accomplishments, reflecting your genuine interest, and is pleasing to the eye and ear (when read aloud).

Assignment Background: 

Problem-Solving Case/Scenario

Graduation is fast approaching, and you are now ready to sell your working ability in the job market. Besides canvassing likely firms with the help of prospecting messages and diligently following up family contacts, you have decided to look into anything that appears especially good in the ads of newspapers, online sources, and magazines.

The Cover Message

The print cover message is much like the sales message—you illustrate a need and sell a product (you) to fill the need. Gaining attention in the opening is important because the busy executive has other things to do. You need to use what works best in each case.

Selecting content should be guided by the job requirements. Of course, if you are strong in an area you know is important to any employer, be sure to emphasize those strengths.

Since you are responding to an advertisement, you can address the needs mentioned directly and precisely.

Organizing for conviction means choosing an organizational plan that emphasizes your strengths. You may use a reverse chronological, functional or skills, or accomplishments plan. Conviction is also enhanced by careful word choice and reader-viewpoint language.

Driving for action in the close entails being clear and direct in letting the reader know what action you expect next. Normally, you request an interview, more information, or even an application.

Email cover messages take different forms depending on the document type it introduces. The primary job is to highlight the applicant’s strengths and get the reader to review the resume.

Additional Resources:

Before you begin the planning and preparing process, be sure to visit the Cover Letter Resources websites available to you in the table below and on page 516 of your textbook.

Cover Letter Resources




Student Cover Letter Samples Links to an external site. (from About Careers)

This site contains sample student/recent graduate cover letters (especially for high school students and college students and graduates seeking employment) as well as cover letter templates, writing tips, formats and templates, email cover letter examples, and examples by type of applicant


How to Write Cover LettersLinks to an external site. (from CollegeGrad)

This site contains resources about the reality of cover letters, using a cover letter, the worst use of the cover letter, the testimonial cover letter technique, and a cover letter checklist


Cover LettersLinks to an external site. (from the Yale Office of Career Strategy)

This site includes specifications for the cover letter framework (introductory paragraph, middle paragraph, concluding paragraph), as well as format and style

Assignment Instructions: 

Click here to choose one job advertisement

Actions OR on the Module/Chapter 14 – The Job Search Problem Solving Case link under the Attachments section below to access a list of job advertisements from which you will choose one for writing your job search documents, beginning with this cover message.

Concentrate on the ad describing the job you would like most or could do best—and then write a cover message that will get you that job. Your message will first have to survive the filtering that eliminates dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applicants who lack the expected qualifications. Toward the end you will be getting into strong competition in which small details give you the superiority that will get you an interview.

Study your chosen ad for what it says and even more for what it implies. Weigh your own preparation even more thoroughly than you weigh the advertisement. You may imagine far enough ahead to assume completion of all the courses that are planned for your degree. You may build up your case a bit beyond what you have. Sort the qualifications for the job, organize them strategically, and then present them in a cover letter.

  1. Once you have chosen a job, highlight the experience, education, and/or qualifications required for the job to help you organize your application documents.
  2. Prepare your cover message as the advertisement requires.  If the ad asks for an email – prepare it in memo format since memo’s and emails look similar.  If a letter is requested, please prepare it using one of the letter formats you learned this semester.
  3. Use as much of your real information as possible – such as your degree major, relevant experience, etc. – as if you are REALLY applying for the job. (NOTE: If you use your actual work and volunteer experience as you create your cover letter for this assignment, you’ll be able to use them as starting points when applying for jobs in the “real world.”)

Submission Instructions:

  1. Save the file using the following format: Lastname-Firstname-Persuasive Cover Message.
    (For example: Carcioppolo-Joann-Persuasive Cover Message).
  2. View the Grading Rubric to be sure you have met the requirements of a Persuasive Sales Message Plan (Module/Chapter 2) and the Cover Message (Module/Chapter 14).
  3. Submit the Persuasive Cover Message document for grading.
  4. IMPORTANT-PLEASE READ THIS – In the submission text area write the job advertisement letter and title for which you wrote the cover message.

Canvas Student Guides:

Important Note: Retain the information for this job advertisement for use in another assignment.

Grading Rubric:

Review the “Grading Rubric” to view the grading requirements for this assignment.


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