Does Your Executive Cover Letter Need a Makeover? By Abby Locke
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Well, there's no time when that philosophy is more critical than when you're looking for a job. As your first encounter with the hiring team, the cover letter you craft is critical.
When properly written, a cover letter serves as a personal introduction to your executive resume. The trick is to make an impact with your cover letter without revealing all the information in your resume. The document should market your personality, qualifications, achievements, and more importantly, enthusiasm.
Overall, your cover letter should contain four to five brief paragraphs and generally be kept to one page. Follow the tips outlined below for a strong, personalized sell.
FIRST PARAGRAPH - Make a powerful statement in your introductory paragraph.
This section of the cover letter serves as your personal introduction and sets the stage for the remainder of the document. Use this paragraph to give the reader an overall impression about one or more of the following:
What achievements have been consistent in your career?
What value or benefit do you bring to the employer?
What is your professional/ corporate reputation?
What are your core competencies or areas of expertise?
Low-Impact: "Your recent posting on the HYPERLINK "http://TheLadders.com" \t "_blank" TheLadders.com for the Director of Sales position closely matches my qualifications and experience. I have enclosed a copy of my resume for your review and consideration."
High-Impact: "Implementing marketing initiatives that increase product/service sales, expanding market share and improving corporate brands are ways I add value. As an accomplished sales professional with deep expertise in sales management, marketing prowess and business acumen, I am well-qualified to serve as your next Director of Sales."
SECOND PARAGRAPH - Highlight a recent career accomplishment. Now that you've captured the reader's attention and piqued their interest, support your introductory statements with hard evidence. Use a recent accomplishment (success story) from your current position to demonstrate your capabilities.
Low-Impact: "In my current role as Chief Operating Officer, I oversee a $25 million which impacts the programming and services for over 3,000 customers in the Washington DC area."
High-Impact: "More recently as the COO of the National Coalition on Civic Participation, I came onboard in the midst of internal chaos. At that time the organization faced many financial uncertainties. Working hard to forge partnerships and alliances, I was able to garner over $10 million in operational support. With this, I was able to bring the organization to the forefront of the industry in less than six months."
THIRD PARAGRAPH - Draw attention to key accomplishments and career milestones. Continue to build energy in the third paragraph of the letter. Use this time to provide a bulleted list of your career achievements. Make sure to indicate the position and company for each milestone. Examples: Low-Impact: "Was efficient by developing and implementing a shipping system." High-Impact: "Saved company over $250,000 annually by proactively renegotiating new service agreements with existing vendors (Technology Manager - ABC Communications) ."
FOURTH PARAGRAPH - Sell your soft skills. Here's your opportunity to top off your pitch with two or three final statements about your soft skills (leadership, relationship building, personal brand). Examples: Low-Impact: "My leadership and relationship building skills are finely tuned to bring you to the next level." High-Impact: "While my enthusiasm for Teleconnect Solutions, Inc remains, the telecommunications market has experienced slower growth than originally anticipated. Consequently, I am seeking new professionalchallenges that could benefit from my strong, decisive leadership and top management performance."
CLOSING PARAGRAPH: Be aggressive. Once you reach this portion of the cover letter, don't make the mistake of ending on a passive
note. Today's job market is too competitive for the meek. End your cover letter with a strong finish by letting the reader know that you
will follow up by phone or email.
Low-Impact: "I look forward to your call."
High-Impact: "While secure in my current position, I am confidentially seeking new executive challenges. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about the contributions I could make to your company. I will contact you on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 to schedule a possible interview."
In closing, never forget to thank the reader for their time and consideration. Employ these strategies and you will have a cover letter that places you at the top of pile.
HYPERLINK "http://www.technologyladder.com/rds?et_id=611981816&dest=http://www.premierwriting.com/profile.htm&link_id=21" \t "_blank" Abby M. Locke, Executive Director of HYPERLINK "http://www.technologyladder.com/rds?et_id=611981816&dest=http://www.premierwriting.com&link_id=22" \t "_blank" Premier Writing Solutions, is a Nationally Certified Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Strategist who helps senior-level professionals and C-level executives achieve personal success with customized, branded executive resumes and career marketing documents. Her resume samples have been published in Nail the Resume! Great Tips for Creating Dynamic Resumes, Same-Day Resumes, and Quick Resume and Cover Letter Handbook.