Cover Letters

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With most job applications going online the question is if a cover letter is still necessary or that it gets ignored. Some of the recruiting software do not even allow for a cover letter so in those cases we are pretty much done with the cover letter but for all other situation where you can optionally upload a cover letter, here are some thoughts.

My first thought is that if you have nothing to add to your resume, don’t make a cover letter. Use a cover letter only to show more involvement in the job than you can show in the resume, to emphasize and summarize the highlights of your resume so they don’t get overlooked if it is extensive or unusual and to make a few more personal notes about your fit for the role that would not have a place in the resume.

Man writing with a fountain pen

Monster has a range of sample cover letter HERE you can look at them for inspiration but please resist to urge to copy and paste from it, most recruiters know these samples by heart and are not amused if you send them the equivalent of a Hallmark card instead of a home made Poem.

A couple of thing worth including in the cover letter;

  • Ask for the job
  • Summarize why you are the person for this job /Summarize what you can do for the company in this job
  • Insert some interesting facts that show why you are so involved with this kind of job or this company
  • Ask for an interview and give your phone number

 The Ask

Make sure you ask for the job. Many people write letters where they actually never make the point that they want the job. They state great things about themselves but forget the most obvious thing, I want the job!

The point of the Ask is to put it out there that you want this position and an indication of why you should be considered.

You can easily start with your best points, something like; ” Having [insert years and experience] I consider myself a strong candidate for your announced position for a [insert job title] at [insert location if applicable] in [insert company name] that I read in [can’t hurt mentioning where you found it certainly if it was an industry publication]”. If you know someone in the company make sure you mention that too. “From [name of company employee] I heard about the opening for a [etc.]”. More conservatively you can say things like:”After reviewing your posting in [insert where you found it] for [insert job title] at [insert location if applicable] in [insert company name] I would like you to consider me as a candidate.” or “After reading your announcement of the open position in [insert where you found it] for a [insert job title] at [insert location if applicable] in [insert company name] I would like to discuss my candidacy for this position” or “I read in the posting in [insert where you found it] that you are looking for a [insert job title] at [insert location if applicable] in [insert company name] and based on my [insert particularly fitting experience] would like to be considered a candidate”. These openings may not be so strong but at least you make the point that you want the job and what you can do for them.

 Your Pitch

It is important to say something nice about the company. Something about that shows you have already followed the company’s news or done your homework and are aware and excited about their [insert any new development happening or technology they are famous for]. Then move on to say that ….. my [insert summary of best qualification for job] would make me fit right into this position. I am confident I could [insert typical part of the job] based on my [insert another quality you can offer].

If you have reviewed the information on Acing the Interview, you will be familiar with the Elevator Speech. The major part of your Pitch in the cover letter will be found in your Elevator Speech. You tell them why you can do this job and what you bring to the table so you should be considered. Be bold and say things as “I can [insert great work you could do] for your company and specifically my experience with [list the experience that is relevant or the knowledge of a certain system] can be used directly with [insert something they need done]”. 

 Interesting tidbit

If possible, try to get personal. Mention something you like or admire about the company. Don’t say things like “as a student I consumed gallons of your product per day” when you apply to a brewery, stay professional. In fact don’t be cute or funny at all, this is a time to make a serious point about the fit between you and the company. So things like having used their technology in your current job, seeing their technology or product as a natural move to go to for you. Emphasize your familiarity with the company or their products or their employees. “From [one employee] and [another employee] who share my interest in bowling I hear great things about [insert something that just happened or will happen at the company]. Search a bit, talk to some folks and see if you can get that little piece of information in there.

Ask again

A repeat of the strong point from the Ask and the core point of the Pitch, now summarized in a nice ending sentence. “Knowing that my [your core assets] will fit the position very well, I am very excited about this opportunity and hope I can join [mention the company again] soon. Please call me at [phone number] to contact me directly if you want to have more information”.

Try to send it to a person with a name if possible the hiring manager, milk your social media and specifically LinkedIn for it.