Three secrets to a standout cover letter

Three secrets to a standout cover letter

I usually get a flurry of emails and LinkedIn connection requests after a major presentation or some media coverage. This was certainly the case after my interview in last Sunday’s Star Tribune.

One message in particular caught my eye. The individual, we’ll call him Bob, is in career transition. In his message to me, he included a detailed list of his qualifications and what he was looking for in a new opportunity.

Glancing at his list, he was obviously very talented. And I found his direct request for assistance very refreshing. But I knew he wasn’t getting his point across to prospective employers. He had years of experience, a proven track record and knew what he was looking for in a position. But what was missing was a message that grabs attention. This is how you land the interview which leads to that position you crave.

Three secrets to a standout cover letter

  1. Make every word count. Your cover letter doesn’t need to be long to make an impact, but it does need to be “tight” to keep the reader’s attention. To accomplish this, stay focused on your goal – to obtain an actual or informational interview – and eliminate unnecessary words in your letter.
  2. Write for the reader. Your cover letter should be focused on the reader and what they care about.  Instead of describing what you’re looking for in a position, explain why you fill the prospective employer’s needs.
  3. Use proof points. Proof points are the evidence of your value. They prove what you can do. Instead of including a laundry lists of skills or activities, list your accomplishments. Make it clear what you would bring to a position. For example, “I’ve implemented a process that increased sales by 30% and reduced expenses by 25%.”   

Like many other job seekers, Bob was overly focused on his own needs.

He started out by writing…

I am in career transition after helping an owner improve and sell his business, and now look for a new opportunity.

I suggested he start with a proof point…

After boosting a medical supplier’s revenue by 45% in just 18 months, I helped him sell his business. Now I’m exploring new opportunities.

Bob then listed every detail of the kind of companies he wants to work for  — nearly four paragraphs worth — and he closed with “as always I wish you great health and success.”  

I told him to pare it down to the most crucial business drivers and end presumptively …

If your company is underperforming, with a positive yet distressed EBITDA and revenue of $25-$250M, I can help.  

Whether you have a large division of multiple manufacturing sites or you’re a stand-alone company, the right strategy will help you increase performance.

If you would like to learn more about my capabilities, let’s get a meeting on the calendar.  

If you need help with an important message, let’s talk. Many senior-level job seekers turn to me for advice or ghostwriting. Thanks to my work with CEOs and other executives, I often know exactly what they’re looking for in a job candidate. I may have even written that job description.

Click here to schedule an introductory call with me.

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Melissa DeLayRead all author posts