Executive cover letters are not dead yet!
And they can be an effective way to help the recruiter or hiring manager identify your talents and capabilities as a viable candidate for a job opening.
A well-written executive cover letter can also help you stand out among your peers.
Your cover letter should exude enthusiasm, motivation, and drive. The reader should be able to see at a glance how well you communicate, and what emotional intelligence you bring to the table.
Here are a few cover letter writing tips:
- Not sure whether to write a cover letter? It’s surprising today that some executive job seekers don’t send cover letters at all. While it’s a speculated theory that only 50% of cover letters get read, writing a cover letter is your opportunity to highlight important details that might not be highlighted in your resume. Don’t squander that opportunity!
- Cover note or cover letter? Either is fine, however, if vying to write the best cover letter, use business letter writing etiquette. A cover letter does give you the opportunity of a more thorough explanation of what’s covered in your attached resume, along with a few standout statements that align your experience with the organization’s needs.
- Don’t just summarize your resume in the cover letter. Your cover letter should add something new to help you stand out as the perfect candidate, not just reiterate your resume. You can showcase work habits, personal traits, and why you’re interested in the job. It is also a great place to explain industry changes or other issues that may be important to point out.
- Leave out the sales pitch. Recruiters and hiring managers have heard every cliché there is. A simple straightforward cover letter that explains why you’re a strong match is a better approach. Showing examples that match your experience to the specific qualifications they are looking for is an extremely effective approach.
- Formal or friendly tone? Don’t be overly casual (no slang) and keep in mind that spelling and grammar really do matter. Keep the tone and language conversational, engaging, and friendly.
- Show a strong interest in the job. A compelling letter will make a convincing case that you’re interested in the opportunity presented. Explain why – paint a picture in the mind of the reader why you would be a perfect fit.
- Customize each cover letter. While it’s good to have a cover letter with basic content that can apply generally, you don’t want the recruiter or hiring manager to think they are reading a form letter. Tailor each letter to the specific job so that you really stand out as a good candidate.
Executive Cover Letter Samples
Google Images offers an array of executive cover letter samples that you might find helpful. For a customized cover letter, written specifically for you, contact me. I’d be happy to help.
Filed Under: Resume & Cover Letter Writing
Nearly every time I talk with executives about their job search and the career documents they need the long-standing question comes up…
Do I really need a cover letter and is it really being read?
Some executives will tell me that they personally don’t read candidate cover letters (the reasons: they are usually not well written, sound canned, not tailored, etc.). Others will tell me that they do read them—some before they read the resume and others after they read the resume, looking for consistency between the two documents and interest in their company and the position.
They also tell me that a focused and well-written cover letter that supports the resume or CV will attract their attention over a candidate whose letter is poorly written or who does not provide one at all.
So, can a cover letter distinguish you from other candidates and help you in your search?
The answer: Yes, with some employers and some executive recruiters. Like many things in job search—there is no absolute—and you will never know which employers or executive recruiters want to read your letter unless they state this information (which they don’t typically do when you respond to a posting).
However, when it comes to cover letters, the following points will guide you in what to do.
1. In general executive recruiters (retained or contingency) aren’t interested in lengthy cover letters,and some won’t read a cover letter, preferring to delve into the resume.
They do advocate a brief introduction inserted in the body of the email.
BlueSteps presented a webinar last week for executive job seekers and featured a panel of three retained executive search consultants (US and international) who addressed the topic of Top Strategies for Networking with Executive Search Consultants. The question about cover letters came up.
They advised executives to write a brief introductory email (resume or CV attached to the email) stating the facts: the executive position you are seeking, your geographic preference, the reason you are in the job market, if you are open to relocation, etc. Keep in mind that if you have a mutual contact that referred you, it’s also helpful to include that information in the opening line and even subject line.
As an aside I want to mention that I personally know executive recruiters who want to receive a lengthier (one page only though) cover letter. They view the letter as an additional supporting document to introduce themselves (their ROI qualifications), get a sense of the person behind the “facts” and how they communicate in writing—all of which they say helps them to get to know the executive a little better as they initially screen documents.
2. According to surveys conducted over the years in the careers industry, two-thirds of hiring authorities will read your cover letter.
Some employers will read your cover letter first, some will read it after they read your resume/CV, and some won’t read it at all. Just like a lot of things, it comes down to a personal preference.
Some job postings or applications mention submitting a cover letter and resume/CV. That’s always clear cut. Other employers don’t mention it, but don’t assume that your letter won’t be read if they don’t ask for it. So unless you are told otherwise, include a cover letter—especially when it comes to posted positions.
3. Write targeted, compelling letters that demonstrate how you are a mutual good fit with your target employer.
Be prepared and include a focused one-page cover letter or eNote (about 150 words or less pasted in the body of your email message) that compels your audience to open your resume and want to learn more about you.
Start with an attention-capturing statement about your expertise and value proposition. For example:
Your need for a CEO with deep experience in turnaround leadership that revives financial and operational performance to achieve sustainable, profitable growth is my expertise.
Or…if you have a connection:
John Marland, Vice President of Sales at Company X, suggested that I reach out you to about your company’s need for a Chief Marketing Officer.
Make sure to provide specific examples of your contributions (a few) and strengths in the body of your letter. Match their needs with your promise of value and pinpoint the ROI you will deliver.
Bottom line: You wouldn’t want to lose out on an opportunity because you didn’t include a cover letter for the hiring authority or executive recruiter that considers letters an important part of the job search process.