Let us talk about what constitutes a good cover letter.Â Check any ezine site and you will find hundreds of articles on how to write a good and compelling cover letter.Â Yet, based on the hundreds more articles of cover letters to be written, including this one, I have concluded there are still some questions on how to write a good cover letter.
First, let us understand that it is in essence a simple letter that answers three questions:
1.Â Why are you writing?
2.Â Why should the reader care?
3.Â What do you want the reader to do?
Think about those three questions and ask yourself, “how complicated can this letter be?”Â My first advice is not to make this any more complicated than it is, or is not.
Having said that, if you are among the writing challenged, then go get help.Â Use a template; use a writing service; or buy software and do it yourself.Â But do not shortchange yourself by sending a poorly written cover letter.Â If you are going to send a resume, then you must send a well written cover letter.Â This is non-negotiable
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But let us assume you are not writing challenged which allows us to clear the first hurdle.Â The second hurdle is also my second advice which is “keep it simple and keep it direct.”Â What we want to avoid is statement like, “My diverse background of leadership and success would be a great compliment to your philosophy of ensuring excellence in service to each shareholder while building a solid foundation for developing and nurturing a team of proactive and motivated subordinate leaders.”Â That statement is complete fluff.
So, here is what I believe should go in a cover letter:
– Heading and address:Â It must be to a live human being, by name.Â If you must send it to a “To Whom It May Concern,” do not bother and do not waste your time.
– Paragraph one:Â It should be a simple, one line sentence that says, â€œI understand you are looking for a program director,” or “your opening for a sales representative caught my eye.”Â It is a simple and to the point opening paragraph.
– Paragraph two:Â Again, you need no more than two sentences stating to the effect, “Because of the remarkable match between your needs and my talents, I have sent you my enclosed resume via overnight delivery.”
– Paragraph three:Â You should briefly state to the effect, “As you can see, I am skilled (or proficient) in:” and then, bullet point three key skills from your resume.Â You could also end the paragraph with a one line sentence stating a key experience, or two, that reinforces the bullet pointed skills or proficiencies.
– Paragraph four:Â This is the money shot.Â This is where you ask the reader to contact you immediately.Â You do not need to write anything fancy, just state, â€œplease contact me immediately to further discuss how we may be able to benefit each other.â€
The letter is short, it is to the point, and it answers the three questions.
My third advice is to proceed with confidence.Â Sending the cover letter overnight and directly asking for action is acting with confidence.Â You will immediately put yourself ahead of your competitors.