The Bionic Cover Letter | I AM TECHNOLOGY blog by Trey Warme, San Diego
There are abundant theories on the usefulness and validity today of including a cover letter in a resume submission packet. Several industry expert recruiters have told me that a resume cover letter is now obsolete, outdated, that they (the recruiter) are your cover letter. I’ve also been told by almost every interviewer I’ve had the opportunity with which to meet that they were highly impressed by my well written cover letter, also that they rarely see cover letters today, and that because of my impressive cover letter my resume immediately went to the top of the pile of hundreds of resumes, I’ve bee told up to 400-700+ resumes before, for consideration on the ‘short-list’ of applicants to call back.
A well-written cover letter is no substitute for a professionally formatted resume containing the desired list of skills and experience to back up your claim of you being the best candidate to fill the role for which you’re applying. A resume is where you concisely list your applicable experience and skills. Your cover letter is where you get to show a little you in presenting why you are an employer’s absolute best choice. Nothing I’m about to tell you is gospel or universal for all situations. You will need to gauge the effectiveness of a cover letter and the best format which to present your skills and experience for your industry. As an engineer in the super competitive high-tech industry, which maybe at times a personality challenged industry with an employer’s highest value often placed on current technical abilities, and where businesses traditionally pull from separate gene pools of applicants for those with people skills or those with an analytical nature, an awesome cover letter can give you a considerable advantage over your competition by providing you an opportunity to display your skills from both talent pools.
An amazing cover letter is not a one-time sit down and your done activity. I spent the better part of a year receiving intense help from family and friends refining my original cover letter upon first graduating college, the content of which has remained under development for the decade and a half since. Like your resume, your cover letter is sales! You are selling you, and who knows you better than you and the people who love you? Your cover letter will be best if you can have people you know, and who know you well, help you critique, edit and shape your cover letter around an accurate portrayal of you and what you want to achieve. If possible, also try to get recommendations from hiring managers, business leaders in multiple industries and people you trust and admire in your industry. My cover letter support team began with insights from a senior editor in one of the largest international financial institutions, a government attorney dealing with OSHA compliance and one of Fortune magazine’s selected top 40 women entrepreneurs in the world, and has since grown to include feedback from my many connections in varied business sectors made since. All I can say is ask for help! Ask again. Then ask somebody else. Keep asking!
I don’t claim to know any secrets that you couldn’t figure out on your own without a little time and effort on your part. My wish is to save you some trial and error by sharing with you a winning cover letter format that can be easily altered to fit the current job for which you are applying. The best part is, the format is simple and once you’ve done it once, it is easy to change to fit the current job for which you are applying!
Start with a business letter format. I generally start with a block format, or really a modified block format. If you know the person’s name that will receive your resume packet, address your cover letter to them. If you don’t know their name, try to find it out. Do a little research on the Internet and try to find their name. If it feels appropriate or you know someone in the company, maybe call and ask the name of who will be receiving your resume. There is nothing sweeter sounding and that feels better to someone than calling him or her by his or her name. If you don’t know their name, don’t sweat it, you will still knock their sox off with your incredible cover letter!
The basic, simple format is 1) in the first paragraph state the job for which you are applying and then give three reasons in three separate sentences why you are the best candidate for the job. 2) Next, you’re going to elaborate on the three reasons you gave in the first paragraph in three separate paragraphs, one for each reason. You pepper the paragraphs with your experience and skills matching the stated job requirements in the advertisement for your desired position. 3) You button the letter up with a closing paragraph where you ask for an interview. 4) Finally, one marketing trick, you close with a P.S. to restate your desire to interview for the position, which is the primary message you want the reader to take away, and because whether or not they took the time to read your entire letter, our eyes are trained to always read a P.S. That’s it! You’re free to fill in and edit all the content however best suits you for the job which you’re applying.
Please realize, my writing skills may leave a lot to be desired. All I’m trying to share with you now is a winning cover letter format. Here’s an example with the key formatting tips just presented in italicized parenthesis below to give you an idea:
100 Very Large Bank Avenue
San Diego, CA 92007
December 29, 2014
Dear Jane Doe,
(state position for which you are applying)I am applying for the Customer Service role with Very Large Bank advertised on LinkedIn in San Diego, CA. There are several reasons why I am a strong candidate for this position. (reason 1) I am a highly skilled customer service representative derived from over fifteen years of customer service experience with several leading financial institutions. (reason 2) I am a communicative, synergistic team member who’s adept in working closely with customers and team members to ensure the full scope of customer service objectives. (reason 3) From the obtainment of my BS in Accounting and subsequent immersion of cumulative industry experience, I possess a thorough command of business and personal accounting strategies plus the ability to articulate service features into valued member benefits.
(reason 1 elaborated, peppered with skills meeting specific job requirements listed in ad) Very Large Bank would benefit from my high-level acumen of customer service that aligns with your published customer service strategy as well as my comprehensive expertise in the intricate lower-level modules of successful financial customer account management. New and existing Very Large Bank product sales opportunities would be improved by my proven record of initiative to drive account portfolio sales strategy, produced from my effective written and verbal communications and further enhanced by my desire to deliver the absolute best customer service possible.
(reason 2 elaborated, peppered…) I am a collaborative group member with demonstrated group synergy accomplishments in multiple financial services institutions. Along with practiced work group skills, I bring a multitude of experience influencing key decision making leaders and directing strategic financial changes that increase the business impact of accounting operations, on top of my relentless drive for absolute client satisfaction effecting from a selection of customer advocate roles. My developed people skills would be valuable resources promoting the continued success of Very Large Bank customer service operations.
(reason 3 elaborated, peppered…) I have kept my education current with a passion for learning emerging accounting methodologies that advance business accounting effectiveness also furthering my practical knowledge with my progressively accountable financial service proficiencies. I have a detailed understanding of the accounting requirements in many industries and feel confident in my ability to build rapport, create trust and persuade long-term relations with Very Large Bank customers. I want to benefit Very Large Bank, the industry leader in banking customer service, with my breadth of experience and customer first approach while continuing to amass key competencies for growth to address increasingly challenging organizational opportunities.
(closing paragraph, ask for an interview) I offer Very Large Bank my unbridled enthusiasm generated by my belief in the product as being the best, along with my motivation to be the top performer, accompanied by my discipline and ingenuity attained from my prior financial services customer account management leadership roles. My diverse professional and educational backgrounds would be true additions to your customer service team. I would like to request an interview at your convenience. Thank you for your consideration.
(marketing trick, P.S. in bold) P.S. I would like to restate my desire to interview for the Customer Service role. Very Large Bank is at the top of my list of companies for which I want to work. I can be reached immediately at 888-867-5309. Thank you for your time and the opportunity!
Thank you for reading! Writing this has been extremely helpful to me as I’m currently in the process of dusting off my resume and re-editing my cover letter to apply for new jobs. Thank you for this opportunity to share!
- What do you think?
- Have you had success including a cover letter along with your resume submissions?
- Are cover letters obsolete?
- Do you have any tips to add?
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