Posted by: davidsandusky | September 29, 2008

Cover Letter Differentiators

Your cover letter can make or break your introduction.  I am often asked to share my opinion on cover letters in general.  Today I am seeing increased flow of unsolicited resumes consistent with market cycles over the years – I have scanned many cover letters and or email introductions as a result.  There are mixed opinions on value of a cover letter – I love them and I will tell you why.   

The reader can quickly tell if you are lazy or put research time to address me – the reader.  The difference is in the details.  That makes my life easier when sifting through.  That should matter to you.

Starting top down:

  1. Did you address the reader by name when you have obvious access to the person’s name.  Avoid “to whom it may concern” or “Hiring manager”. 
  2. Is your first sentence the slam dunk value proposition?  Think about articles you read in the paper.  the first sentence and paragraph is the most important part of the story supported by the body to follow.  Same with your cover letter or email.  Hit them fast and back it up!  Were you referred by someone – say it now and why.  Do you know why you will make an impact to this company – tell them right away and talk right to the reader.  Ex. Jack, Jane suggested we connect because I am one of the best closers in ‘company X’ industry.   Fill in the blank with what you are best at, folks.  Recruiting – getting teams to work together – saving money – making sense of process management…
  3. Pithy body with a few specific examples you can tie to the business and person you are contacting while inviting a fun business conversation for details.
  4. Close.  Ask for the meeting and say you will follow-up in three days if you don’t hear back before hand.  Respect the readers time and follow-up via phone in a pithy matter.

Scrub and repeat.  If you are asking how to find the time to be specific and not generic, you are starting to learn the difference between those who get to the next level and those who do not.  Make the time; besides, you will learn a lot along the way!

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