We work with applicants all the time who are unaware of a cover letter’s intended purpose. Some use cover letters to cram in as many skills and career wins as possible, like a well-narrated resume; others use cover letters as a very cursory means of introduction to a prospective employer.
Of course, both approaches are inherently flawed, given that a great cover letter is neither an expanded resume nor a half-hearted introduction: it is an opportunity. Beatrice in HR/recruiting may not understand what the Senior Manager of the Retail Strategy Group does on a daily basis, but she knows a stellar cover letter when she sees one.
So what IS Beatrice looking for in your cover letter? The best cover letters accomplish the following:
• Map to the prerequisite and/or desired skills for a given position.
• Complement and expand upon the content of the resume, bringing cohesion and humanity to your story.
• Convey genuine understanding of and passion for the prospective employer/ organization.
• Present transferable skills (both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’) as well as demonstrated impact on other organizations (professional and/or academic) and communities.
The most effective cover letters achieve all these elements, wrapped up in one impeccably articulate [proverbial] bow. They get your foot in the door for an interview. In fact, some of our clients have shared their interviewers’ positive, unprompted feedback on their cover letter and resume. While we are confident this is in no small part due to our impact, we are equally confident that 99% of cover letter writing is underdeveloped and subpar.
Given that cover letters are a strong barometer for one’s communication skills and professional presence, it makes sense that some top MBA programs are requesting them in place of traditional essays. With diligent work (try budgeting 3-4 hours vs 30 minutes) your cover letter can land you an interview, and set the stage for a successful hiring process.
Looking for feedback on your cover letter and/or resume? Visit us at www.ivyeyesediting.com for a free assessment, or sign up for our cover letter/resume editing package.
Ivy Eyes Editing