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by Lisa Marsh
Mar 16 2016
No matter how much time or money you have invested into crafting that killer executive resume, if your cover letter does not make the grade, it is unlikely that recruiters or potential employers will be motived to open your attached career document.
The importance of having a well-written, persuasive and professional cover letter cannot be overstated, but it is something that many senior-level executives struggle with. Since there's such a short amount of space to make a positive first impression and explain why you are suited to the role, BlueSteps has provided three simple steps to help you on your way.
Step One: Writing Your Introduction (Defining Who, Why, What and How)
Who? The recruiter or employer can learn a lot about you from how you address him or her in your first salutation. If you spend time researching the name of the hiring professional and addressing the email directly to them, it will demonstrate to the reader that you have done your due diligence thoroughly, whereas “Sir or Madam” can appear generic, lazy or under prepared. You can easily find the name of the hiring manager by searching on Google or LinkedIn. Even if you don’t get it right, showing that you have tried harder than everyone else to do your research will set you apart.
Why? Your cover letter is your chance to explain why you want to work at that specific company, rather than at any company. Therefore, it is important to personalize your cover letter and explicitly mention the name of the company within the text, followed by a brief explanation of what interests you about them.
What? You also need to use the cover letter to pitch to the employer what you can do for them. This can be done by giving the recruiter an insight into your background which will encourage them to learn more by reading your attached resume.
How? Make sure you start out with a strong opening paragraph, using strong verbs throughout.
Step Two: Writing Your Middle Section (Value and Traits)
Value: Conveying your potential value to the prospective company should be your primary focus in this section. You should outline how you plan to contribute to the company’s success based on research of the company’s goals, accomplishments and opportunities. Make your case stronger by including impressive performance metrics when relevant.
Traits: Explain how your personal traits make you suited to the role and put you ahead of the competition. It is important to position yourself as the best possible candidate for the role, using powerful language.
Step Three: Writing a Powerful Conclusion, Editing and Sending
Conclusion: Your cover letter should whet the reader’s appetite and leave them wanting to read more about you – either through your resume or by arranging an interview. Make sure you use a positive call to action for the reader at the end of the cover letter to either ask for an interview or direct them towards your resume.
Editing: It is compulsory to have perfect spelling and grammar. Your cover letter helps recruiters and potential employers evaluate your core writing skills; and when presented with a large selection of applicants, the first step for hiring professionals is to cut out those who have made basic spelling, grammar and typographical errors. Therefore, it is vital to proof-read your cover letter, or ask a friend to proof-read it with you.
Sending: When sending your cover letter by email, it is advisable to copy and paste your cover letter into the body of email, instead of sending it as an attachment. Sending a cover letter as an attachment is a common mistake made by executive applicants, as most hiring professionals are not going to take the time to open it.
Remember, this is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and you only have a few seconds in which to do so. The creation of an impeccable cover letter can be tricky, but it can also be the key to landing your job.
If you would like assistance from a team of best-in-class executive career expert writers to create the perfect cover letter for you, click here to find out more.