As we discussed last week, value and accomplishment statements effectively represent us and our professional wherewithal to others during a job search. Statements like these provide clear and concise information to others about our professional accomplishments and skills, and utilized effectively, support our successful transition into a new career role. They also serve as a foundation to formulate the content of our resumes and cover letters.
So often, resumes and cover letters miss the mark when it comes to demonstrating the value of individuals they represent. They often focus on past duties and responsibilities that fall flat in differentiating us from other candidates. It is important to remember that both the resume and the cover letter must highlight specific and relevant value in order to develop interest and increase probabilities of success in a job search.
My focus in this blog will be on the development of a cover letter that’s:
- reader friendly
- helps the hiring team understand candidate’s fit and value given the qualifications for the job posting
- provides significant preparation for the candidate to give a powerful presentation once in an interview
The sample cover letter below presents a candidate’s qualifications for a specific job posting using a two-column format. The requirements from the job posting for the role are placed in the left column and become ‘Your Requirements’. There should be as many rows as there are qualifications for a given job posting. The qualifications that satisfy the requirements are placed opposite those in the right column under ‘My Qualifications’. Below is a truncated sample of this model:
Attention: Hiring Manager
As a strategic sales and marketing professional, I bring demonstrated expertise planning brand recognition initiatives as well as extending innovative and visionary ideas in the recognition of unique product selling features and new product development. I offer extensive experience directing the entire process of product, sales, and market development to expand market share and corporate profitability. I specialize in developing powerful marketing campaigns built on due diligence and decisiveness that exceed customer expectations. I am an expert in packaging design with a thorough understanding of raw material properties.
Below is a list of my qualifications as they relate to your requirements for the Sales Manager position.
|At least four years successful
|Speak and write fluent and persuasive English||
|Ability to lead a team to pioneer in new territories or new product lines and not afraid of a challenge||
|Enjoy working within a team of strong, motivated, cross discipline top performers||
Enclosed is my resume that details many other achievements that may be of interest to you.
I look forward to speaking with you to discuss my qualifications in more detail and how I may be able to contribute to your business’ success. I am available for an interview at your convenience.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Notice at the top of the cover letter there is an additional opportunity to provide an introduction to ourselves that may be more specific to the role and will complement the one given on the resume.
From my perspective the cover letter and resume are inseparable, with the cover letter actually being of greater importance. The reason I say that is because an effective cover letter can objectively and concisely demonstrate to a potential employer that the candidate meets all the necessary criteria. After all, filling the position is the employer’s number one concern.
In my experience using and developing this tool over the past ten years, my clients experienced great results. Many believe their opportunity to interview resulted from this type of cover letter and have received potential employers that they were impressed by it. In fact, in some instances my clients indicated all the interviewer had in front of them in the interview was their cover letter and not their resume.
As to length, in most cases one page will suffice. However, if there are many job requirements that need to be addressed, two pages is acceptable. If anything it allows you to demonstrate just how good a fit you are for the position.
Lastly, we live in an age where most cover letters and resumes are required to be submitted electronically. Given my belief that the cover letter outranks the resume, I strongly recommend that you combine your cover letter and resume in one PDF submission in order to maintain the format of your submission and, more importantly, avoid the cover letter being “stripped” and not being forwarded in the job application process.