In this Issue:
The best reference I have seen for writing a good cover letter is in the book “Outplace Yourself” by Charles H. Logue, PhD.
Cover letters are used for a variety of purposes to include:
- A response to an ad
- Transmittal to an executive recruiter
- Communicating to a network contact for a referral
- A direct marketing effort/broadcast letter.
In all cases, some basic rules apply. Keep the content concise, positive and neat. Write short sentences and paragraphs. Show a lot of white space and have your letters one page with no more than 3 or 4 paragraphs. Always address your letter to a correctly spelled named and not just to a title. Write the letter as if you were talking to someone. Keep it natural and use your own language. Similar to the resume, a letter is a reflection of you and your style – customize it for the specific application. The only time to mention your compensation range is when communicating with an executive recruiter, otherwise it is inappropriate.
There are several ways to introduce yourself depending on the type of letter being sent. Make mention of the ad you are responding to, the person who referred you, reference to an open position you are aware of, reference to a recent press release that attracted you to the person or company or you can use an attention grabbing statement to reflect an accomplishment of yours that should interest them. Another alternative is a creative statement to get their attention. In all cases, make it clear “why” you are writing this letter to the recipient.
This is the meat of the letter. Present no more than four to five specific impact statements as they relate to the specific needs and wants of the position you are seeking. These statements must be quantified to demonstrate your credibility and how you could help their organization. Also use examples to create interest that is related to their needs.
Refer to your attached resume for more examples and details of your track record for improving an organization and its financial results.
Refer to your education or special industry awards or honors to further demonstrate your professional credibility.
Try and retain control in your closing by requesting a personal interview or scheduling a follow-up telephone discussion within a week or so. Do not leave it open-ended. If it’s important enough to send, it’s important enough to call and follow-up.
A sample letter follows…