I detest cover letters. They arrive as an attachment in an email and require me to open a second file that rarely tells me anything interesting or useful to my decision-making about the sender. I always recommend that people use their actual email to include the information that they would in a cover letter.
A well-written cover email will engage the reader and encourage them to read your resume. Before you start off writing your cover letter, write down what you want to tell someone because, in three to four paragraphs, someone will make a decision about whether to open up the resume you sent them with interest or indifference.
Here’s some simple advice:
Use your cover email to highlight elements of your experience that fit the job description you are responding to. Generic cover notes waste an opportunity to cause someone to be interested and excited in your background. Your cover email should make it obvious to a 6-year-old reader that you have the experience to do the job by showing that you have the experience and skills they are looking for.
Keep your sentences short. Avoid using really long sentences because you don’t want someone to need to read something twice to understand what you’re trying to say.
Keep your language simple. Although in some cultures a note that includes a sentence like “I take immense pleasure in applying for this esteemed position in this esteemed organization,” is proper, in U.S. culture it is not.
Organize the content of your cover letter into small paragraphs or bulleted points, not exceeding three paragraphs.
Spell and grammar check your email! Visually re-read what you wrote because some words may be spelled correctly when misspelled.
Use the subject line of your email to tell them what job you are applying for. If their ad included a job code, include it. People are often trying to fill many jobs and this will focus them on the one you are applying for.
Explain why you think your skills and the skills are a good match for the position. Include a reference to a particular achievement in your current or previous job (current job is preferable) that is.
DO NOT LIE! They always find out.
Sign your cover email with “Sincerely,” “Yours truly” or “Best regards” and use an Italic font to “sign” your name under it.
Doing a few of these simple things will give you more AND better opportunities to win the job you want. Don’t be lazy and send the same email over and over again. Tailor your cover email, like you do your resume (you are tailoring your resume) and you will get superior results.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2006, 2012, 2017, 2021
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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