Cover letters and resumes play critical roles in career management and job searches. You can argue that one trumps the other, but the fact is that they work together as a team. The cover letter plays a starring role because it can get the recruiter, HR folks, and the hiring manager warmed up for the main pitch of the resume. In short, the cover letter should cover your bases and home runs.
I recently read a blog that talked about what should not be in the cover letter. Well. how about we talk about what should be in the cover letter? After all, it pays to operate with the glass half full rather than half empty. So here goes:
1. Relevance. Tell the recipient why you are writing; something like “I am writing to present my credentials for the role of director of corporate relations.” Make it short, sweet, and to the point.
2. Elevator speech. You should be able to describe succinctly who you are in a statement that embeds your essential value. Note well that the elevator speech (the 30-second variety) is the same one you employ when you meet someone and greet them with your introduction. It pays to know who you are and have it roll off the tongue consistently and forcefully each and every time you employ it. In this case, it is the written version of the elevator pitch of no more than two sentences.
3. The bases. The cover letter should enumerate how the candidate matches the requirements of the position based on a thorough analysis and understanding of the job specs, covering all the bases. It would not hurt to elaborate how the candidate’s experience exceeds the major critical job specs.
4. Home runs. This is the best part and frankly should be the best part. Here is where you talk about your record home runs. You do not need to list them all. Just discuss the best two or three, tops. Employers want to get a sense of how you will perform for them, and describing your best hits is one of the best means for potential bosses to envision your performance.
5. Availability. Let the employer or recruiter know that you are available at their convenience to further discuss your credentials and their needs.
6. Gratitude. Express it well and sincerely. Thank the employer or recruiter for taking time to be considerate of you, your expression of interest, and credentials.
Gerry Corbett is the PRJobCoach at prjobcoach.com and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategy consultancy. He has served four decades in senior communications roles at Fortune 100 firms and earlier in his career in aerospace and computer engineering with NASA. He has a B.A. in public relations from San Jose State University and is a member of the International Advertising Association, National Investor Relations Institute; Arthur Page Society, National Association of Science Writers, and International Coaching Federation.
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