The ‘Gotcha Covered’ Cover Letter.

Don’t be lazy. I definitely don’t practice what I preach these days, but then again I’m employed for now; or at least until my boss reads this.

Cover letters are a drag, and can seem like a waste of time on occasions, but what I’ve found over the years is that there is not a lot of competition standing when you get to the end of the “extra mile.”

It is important to remember that the outcome of writing the cover letter is not necessarily getting a job or even an interview; but rather to entice the reader to read the resume with more focus.

With that, here are a few tips on effective cover letters, and a sample of the particular style that many of my candidates have found effective.

  • Be brief.  No more than one page. Use short paragraphs and bullet points whenever possible. Don’t use “fluff” or excessive wording.  Get your point across, and move on
  • Be aggressive, not pushy.  Define your value, skills, and qualifications. Don’t be Captain Cliché and state that “I am a self-starter” or “I’m a people person.”
  • Tailor the cover letter.  Write something specific about the company to demonstrate your knowledge, and sincere interest.  Hit their website, manta, high beam, and fastcompany. Go to Google or LinkedIn to see if they’ve been in the news.
  • Revise your cover letter. Don’t go all OCD, and revise it for each application, but keep in mind different aspects of your background will fit different jobs. Highlight those, and steer away from those aspects that may not play to the needs of the potential employer.
  • Don’t try to be friends.  Stay away from non-professional experiences in your cover letter unless they are class related, volunteer, or extracurricular activities that tie to the opportunity.
  • Address your letter to an individual. I can find just about anybody these days…you can too and you should take the extra time to identify who the hiring manager or someone close to them is.  Now is the time to “name drop.”
  • Appearances count.  Use a decent stock of white paper.  That means as thick or thicker than printer paper. Don’t use fancy or colored stationery unless you’re applying for some Martha Stewart type gig. Print a clean copy to send, not a photocopy.
  • Let the employer be the judge. State your skills and qualifications. Don’t brag; “I’m the best person for the job.”
  • Proofread. Then have someone with better editing skills than yourself to check it over.  Typos will land your letter in the trash. Check grammar, spelling and especially the spellings of names.

Here is a style of cover letter that we seem to have had much success with.  I call it the “You Need, I Have” letter.  You’ll see that it incorporates many of the points above; however, it is the structure that seems to be the foundation for the success.  The “Your Needs” column is developed based on the content of the advertised position.  The “I Have” column is developed based on the experience you have.  Each “Need” is directly aligned with a “Have” so that the reader can quickly validate your skills as they relate to the requirements.

The goal for your cover letters it to get the reader to read the resume.  Follow these suggestions, and that will happen.

OpenSlots, Inc.
Attn: Ms. Ire Me.
10069 E. Hireaway Blvd.
Providence, RI.  02903

Dear Ms. Ire Me.

I am responding to your April 1st advertisement in Black White & Read All Over for Electronics Assembly Leader. The following demonstrates how my qualifications meet your requirements:

Electronics and mechanical purchasing background. Ten years in all phases of electro-   mechanical assembly, five plus years as purchasing manager.
Experience and knowledge of international business and purchasing standards. Familiarity with ISO 9000 Series and the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices.
Experience developing world class supplier relationships to achieve cost delivery and service including implementing JIT and direct to line supply programs. Developed many systems to meet requirements for world class manufacturing in addition to several supplier programs for JIT.
Strong communication skills, including negotiation skills. Worked on all major contracts over a five year period resulting in 2-5% cost reductions.
Strong management skills and the ability to develop a purchasing team. Excellent leadership abilities and believe in employee participation and empowerment.
Must be customer service and team oriented. Total focus for PIC and Purchasing was to satisfy the Customer.

Please review the attached resume which further describes my experiences, and contact me at your earliest convenience so that I may answer any additional questions that you or others on the OpenSlots team might have


Harry N. Hire.


Posted on March 27, 2012, in Job Search and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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