The Dreaded Cover Letter (Made Easy!)

“Do I really need a cover letter?”

This is a common question asked by job seekers, who are often disheartened to hear the response. Yes, cover letters are an important part of the application process and employers expect them to be customized and well-written. While they’ll likely be read after your resume (if at all), don’t risk losing an opportunity due to short-changing this simple step.

Here’s what you need to know to make the process effective and (relatively) painless.

Create a cover letter “shell” that can be tailored for each job application. Unless you’re applying for vastly different industries/roles, you should be able to use a similar format for most applications.  Once you have the basic shell, just switch out specifics (e.g., Company name, title of the role, key strengths, etc.).

Include 4 brief paragraphs:

1. Opening Paragraph: The first sentence must “grab” the reader’s attention (e.g., an industry statistic, quote, name of the person who referred you, etc.).  Avoid the overused, “Please find enclosed my resume….”  Also, tell the reader what you offer and how it solves their problems.

Bob Smith spoke very highly of the Sales Team at Kerapac and the culture of putting the customer first.  Cultivating relationships to deliver exceptional results is what I do best. Whether in a start-up or global organization, I have consistently increased sales and customer satisfaction through an ability to develop trust and deliver professional excellence.

2. Second Paragraph: Identify 3 – 4 strengths that align with the needs of the job and briefly show how you’ll use these skills to make an impact. Consider using bullet points to break up the page.

When looking for a Sales Manager for a new office, it’s critical to find someone who can both bring in new customers, as well as represent the interests and reputation of the organization.  Some career highlights that align with these core requirements include:

  • As Sales Manager at Novohart, I uncovered more than $1.5 million in new leads through building strong relationships with adjacent markets.
  • While overseeing the opening of our new Shanghai office at Gravitasity Media, I managed Sales operations including hiring, systems and training for 20+ Sales and Administrative employees.
  • Etc.

3. Third Paragraph: Include any additional reasons why you’re a fit for the company/role. This can also be a place to include any relevant explanations (e.g., why there is a large gap in your resume, etc.).

Delivering massive value to clients has been the focus of my career for the past 12 years and as my resume highlights, I’ve consistently provided the leadership necessary to enhance people, processes, and technologies.  In addition, I’ve established a solid reputation for assessing challenges, creating solutions, and responding quickly to changing markets. As Keropac expands globally, I’m confident my background will be an asset for leading this challenging endeavor and I welcome the chance to be part of this exciting growth period.

4. Closing Paragraph: End strong. Thank the reader and let them know YOU will follow up. It’s bold (not blah!).

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you further to share my qualifications and discuss how I can make a positive contribution to Keropac. I will contact you next week to answer any questions you might have about the materials that I have submitted.

Some final tips:

– Proofread. The same rules that apply to the resume apply to the cover letter. The content and formatting must be inviting and showcase your best work.

– Drop the ego.  Be careful of overusing the words “I”, “me” and “my”, especially at the beginning of sentences. Repeated use of these words sets an unfavorable tone.

– Show your personality. A Cover Letter allows for more freedom to be creative.

– Avoid disclosing salary. If asked in the Application, state that your salary expectations are “aligned with current market rates for Senior Sales Managers.”

– Address the letter to a specific person. If you’re unable to find a name, “Dear Manager” is acceptable.

Happy hunting!

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