Ah, the cover letter. That painful missive we’re forced to write AFTER we’ve decided what kind of job to look for; AFTER we’ve managed to find a job opening or, even better, to network our way toward one; and AFTER we’ve worked so hard to get our resume in shape just for that particular job.
And, like the resume, we often feel that the cover letter has to include every detail about ourselves to convince the hiring manager or recruiter that we’re the one he or she has been looking for, and that if we use the exactly right adjective or hyperbole or KEYWORD, that will be the exactly right key to open the door for us and get us the job.
Wrong! That’s right… Wrong! In my experience as a hiring manager and as a career coach, I have seen too many over-worked, over-reaching, and, I’m sorry to say, over-boring cover letters that miss the mark. So, as I’ve done in the past, I’d like to give our readers a principle to follow to help you through the job search process. Here goes:
Resumes and cover letters are sales tools to get you an interview; the interview gets you the job.
Looking at the job search process this way, write a resume that convinces the reader to want to meet you. Write a cover letter that convinces the reader to look at your resume…. and make the cover letter short and sweet. Here’s my example:
I’m interested in applying for a job as your Career Coach blogger (lead with the purpose of the letter). In the advertisement you placed for the position, you asked for someone with experience in Industry and as a coach, and you listed required professional credentials (let the recipient know you understand the job requirements). I understand that there are many career coaches and bloggers out there and there is much work-related information available on the web but I believe my unique combination of executive, operational, coaching, and psychological experience will help you think differently, and will contribute greatly to your success (if you know some “special details” about the job you’re applying for – say, you’ve been introduced to the hiring manager or recruiter or someone inside the organization has given you some unique, non-confidential insights, you can make the letter longer and address these… but don’t go overboard).
I have worked as a management consultant across many different industries, and I also have been a chief operating officer within the SUBWAYÂ®Â Restaurant organization, where I hired and managed over 100 people in many countries around the world (state clearly, directly and succinctly how you qualify for the job) . I also have a PhD in Clinical Psychology so I have learned a lot about effective behavior through my formal education and in my work as a therapist (you can add any special capability you have that you think would be interesting to the hiring manager or recruiter).
Attached is my resume. I look forward to your feedback (make it known that you’d like to hear back. You may not but this request signals your rightful expectation to hear something back and, absent that, to reach out to the recipient of your letter.)
Steve Safier, PhD
See – short and to the point. That covers it.