In my experience as an Executive Resume Writer, cover letters only get read about a third of the time they are sent. That being said, when one is required, or you are hoping for that added edge to get a hiring manager’s attention, there is no doubt a great cover letter can make all the difference.
To accomplish this, your cover letter must be disruptive and draw them in. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re writing one.
Paragraph 1: Make The Pitch That You Are Perfect For The Role
The first paragraph must set the stage for how you are uniquely qualified for the role at hand. How? Blend language from the job description together with nuggets of information that are unique to you.
As an example: Let’s say you are applying for an IT Project Manager role. Your first paragraph might read:
From contributing data to stand up cases that gain CIO buy-in to stakeholder management across diverse business lines—I love the challenge of successfully driving a large, complex project from concept to implementation.
In this case, the verbiage related to CIO buy-in and stakeholder management are unique to you, while the phrasing about large, complex projects aligns with what is commonly asked for in IT Project Manager job postings.
Paragraph 2: Dig Deeper And Get Them Excited About What Comes Next
The second paragraph must provide the hiring manager with some added context about your unique background, and set the stage for some career highlights that, to quote an old saying, “puts your money where your mouth is.”
Sticking with the IT Project Manager example, your next paragraph might read:
“Below are highlights from my years leading teams and projects at financial services organizations that underscore my ability to translate user requirements, develop a roadmap, and manage a budget, communications and reporting throughout.
Paragraph 3: Hard Hitting Highlights
Select three examples from your resume that you believe will best impress. Rather than a complete cut and paste, consider rewording these achievements.
In many cases numbers resonate more so than words, so be sure to include quantifiable examples wherever possible.
Paragraph 4: Say Goodbye While Refreshing Their Memory
In this fourth and last paragraph, be sure to thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read it (remember that not all managers do!)
Next, use this last bit of space to help the reader connect the dots to show them how you are uniquely perfectly suited for the role.
Using the IT Project Manager example:
I am confident my ability to lead million-dollar projects from end-to-end and jumpstart those long-stalled could benefit ABC Company. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Remember – you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make yours count with an impactful and disruptive cover letter that differentiates you from the competition.
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