A cover note is a helpful tool to share your resume. More importantly, executives expect a cover note with a resume. In a recent survey of executives done by USA Today, 84% of executives polled expected to have a cover note accompany the resume.
If your resume is the “meat and potatoes” of who you are and why you’re the best candidate for the job, your cover letter is the appetizer. It’s the brief CUSTOMIZED introduction of who you are and what you have to offer.
When you start drafting your cover letter, here are three guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Customize your note for the recipient. Making the document specific for an individual, organization, industry, etc. helps to tighten the focus and attract the reader’s attention.
2. Provide concrete details over abstract ideas. This is particularly true when sharing career highlights. You won’t share everything you’ve done, but by providing three to four examples of quantitative successes, you whet the appetite of the reader to learn more.
3. Keep it brief, ideally less than one page, ideally 3-4 paragraphs. The purpose is to encourage the reader to review your resume. Therefore, provide enough to encourage additional discovery on their part.
Suggestions for each paragraph are as follows:
- In your first paragraph, explain your interest in the organization and why they are receiving your correspondence.
- In your second paragraph, shine the spotlight on 3-4career accomplishments, with an emphasis on those most relevant to the opportunity or organization you’re pursuing. (Quantify your accomplishments rather than use subjective phrases.)
- The third paragraph is your opportunity to discuss any preferences (location, time-lines, etc.) as well as any appropriate action steps.
If the potential employer has requested any additional information (salary requirements, technical skills, or anything else) dedicate a fourth paragraph to providing these details.
Lastly, when sending your cover note via e-mail, this brief note should be in the body of the e-mail, not sent as an attachment. Make it easy for the reader to engage in your correspondence.
Sample Cover Letter
This forwards my interest and resume for XYZ role in your organization. During my career, I’ve demonstrated expertise in this area and have a strong interest in your organization because ljlej LSJEIJ iedjlfij. Additionally, I have studied at xyz and have degrees in abc.
Highlights from my career that are applicable to this role and your organization are:
- Grew business from x to y over z time
- Led team that saved $x over y time
- Led innovation of new products that achieved revenue growth of x, reversing 3 year erosion and gained industry recognition
Joining your organization is an appealing challenge. I believe my skills can be used to help achieve the goals of this role and more. I’m open to relocation as needed. Please let me know a date/time to speak with you further.
Your New Leader