One of the online groups I belong to has been having a running discussion lately about what makes for an effective cover letter when applying for a new job.
My thought is that an effective cover letter must be:
* Direct — say immediately what you offer the employer and why it should hire you.
* Customized — use key words and phrases in the ad, if you’re responding to the ad. If it’s a blind letter to a company where you want to work, use words from the company’s website, mission statement or marketing materials that sum up what the company is all about.
* Succinct — don’t ramble, no one has time for that. Make your key points and be done.
* Confident but not cocky — don’t promise skills you don’t have to deliver. Know who you are and what you’re capable of and communicate that.
* Passionate — if you don’t sound excited about wanting to work for a company, why should it consider you?
* Include a call to action — give a reason to call you or state when you will call them to follow up and schedule an interview.
Here’s an example of what has been, for me, a fairly standard cover letter. Details are changed to reflect the company I apply to:
Look no further in your search for an editorial director for xxx. I offer xxx:
* Editorial management experience spanning magazines, newsletters, e-newsletters, Web sites, blogs, publication-related conference planning, and podcasts.
* A keen news sense and innate ability to define editorial direction, voice and content
* Experience managing budgets and getting the most out of limited financial resources.
* The ability to coordinate with all the departments that contribute to the success of trade publications.
* A leadership style that develops and nurtures talent and empowers people who work with me to do their best work.
* A love of journalism and an excitement over taking it into the new directions obvious in today’s wired world.
* A decade of experience covering futures markets.
At present, I serve as an editorial director for xxx but am anxious to return to the publishing world to aid a company like xxx succeed in today’s, and tomorrow’s, fast-changing publishing environment.
My present salary is $xxxxx annually.
I look forward to hearing from you so we can discuss in more detail what I offer xxxx. A resume is attached.
John N. Frank