Today, I’m going to share advice on writing a cover letter to accompany your resume when you are applying to any position that you are interested in. Most employers will request a cover letter along with a resume in order to learn more about your writing skills and if you are willing to take the time to create one specific for their company.
Why Have a Cover Letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is threefold and provides the employer with a first impression of who you are even before they review your resume. For many companies, a cover letter is the first step in the screening process as they attempt to understand who each applicant is.
It is important that you take each cover letter seriously by researching the position that you are applying for and writing a convincing set of paragraphs expressing your passion for the company.
The Makeup of the Cover Letter
The cover letter can be broken down into three key sections.
1. Introduce yourself and express interest in the position you are applying to
2. Explain why you believe you are a strong candidate based off of your character, research, and experience
3. Encourage the employer to review your resume and boast about your skills politely
Cover Letter Example
I have provided an example of a cover letter as if I were to apply to a Sales Executive position at Company XYZ.
To: Company XYZ
From: Connor Gillivan
August 8th, 2015
Regarding: The Sales Executive position
Dear (name of hiring manger), Note: If you know the name of the HR rep, always customize!
My name is Connor Gillivan and I am extremely interested by the opening for the (name of position, i.e. Sales Executive) that was posted (where you found the job, i.e. on your careers section). I was recently affected by my previous employer’s decision to shut down the company and I am currently seeking a new position where I can continue to learn, grow, and make a significant impact on the growth of a young company.
After reading through the job posting and your company website, I am confident that I have the ability to perform the job duties as described. For the past year, I have been a part of Portlight’s internal Business Development team. In the role, I was responsible for researching potential leads, crafting sales pitches, A/B testing, communicating the benefit of working with us, and on-boarding new partners. In the short year with the company, I successfully signed over 100 new manufacturers adding over 50,000 products to Portlight’s inventory.
I am an ambitious individual who enjoys working on a team to achieve company wide goals. I am an extremely self motivated and organized worker who always looks for opportunities to benefit the company. Building new relationships and selling with the mission of the company is one of my greatest passions as I love meeting and learning from others. Once fully trained, I am confident that I could bring a new fire to your company as you add new clients to your portfolio of customers. I ask that you please read my resume and consider me for an interview for the (name of position, i.e. Sales Executive) position.
I look forward to hearing from you and I greatly appreciate your time.
If you don’t have a connection within the company, your cover letter is your chance to get your foot in the door.
What Employers are Looking For
When employers are reading cover letters, they are looking for:
It’s easy to tell if you simply changed the name of the position on your cover letter. Take the time to customize each cover letter to the given position that you are applying for. Express your passion for the position through your prose.
An Eager Interest in the Company
Do your research and make sure to display it in your cover letter. Employers want to know that you took the time to learn more about the company and that you are applying for the right reasons.
A Focused Approach
If there are multiple positions open within the company that you are interested in, write separate cover letters for each to explain why you qualify for them.
There is nothing worse than grammatical errors or poor formatting in your cover letter. To an employer, it says that you didn’t care enough to take the time to edit your work. If that’s the case for your cover letter, how do you expect them to think you will treat the company’s customers? Be critical in all aspects of what you present.
A Mention of Relevant Experience
Demonstrate to the employer that you understand the position and can quickly become effective within the role.
A Cover Letter less than 1 Page
Employers are reading tens if not hundreds of cover letters everyday. Utilize your writing skills to deliver your message within 350 words.
Cover Letter Wrap Up
The cover letter is a great complementary tool to your resume and should be included for all positions that you apply to regardless of whether the company requests it. Whereas your resume strictly speaks of your education, experience, and skills, the cover letter provides you with an opportunity to use your voice and display your character. Take advantage of the opportunity and you will see greater success in the application process.
For more advice on creating resumes, prepping for interviews, and negotiating your job offer, head over to the Strategic Growth section of this blog. If you are looking for more than a column, shoot me an email at Connor@ConnorGillivan.com. I’d love to chat with you about your resume and cover letter.