I got a lot of questions asking about the infamous "cover letter." The question I got most was: "How should I write a cover letter / what should go into it?"
Word. Let's solve this little puzzle.
First of all, I'll start by saying that I believe "cover letters" (an actual one-page letter that sits on top of a resume) are close to useless in my line of work. 90% of the time, a cover letter should be replaced by an email (with a resume attached). The other 10% of the time is most likely because you're applying COLD (aka... the "send and pray" method of applying to jobs) through a job board like jobscore.com or some other site. I'm not a big fan of applying cold . It wreaks of future failure, and in the world of probabilities, simply does not put you in strong contention. But, if you do have to apply cold, I suggest still using my same format below.
So, here's my advice for the 90% crew. Write your cover letter email / letter like this. THREE PARAGRAPHS gangsters. Three.
HERE IT IS
I would like to submit my application for the position of Associate Product Manager at CampusLIVE. I was recommended to apply by Bob Bobinski. Bob and I grew up together in Andover, MA and he is a close friend. I've been speaking to him daily to hear his input on your company, your market, and your recent developments. It all sounds very exciting.
I believe I am a great fit for CampusLIVE. While in college, I have worked hard to excel in athletics (as a three sport Division-1 athlete), academics (as a Finance and Engineering double major), leadership roles (as Co-Founder and President of the Entrepreneurship Club), community service (as Fund Assistant to the World Peace Nonprofit), and entrepreneurship (as Project Manager at Wyziwiz, Inc). I have taken it upon myself to venture far beyond the classrooms of UMass in undertaking leadership roles, and have done it with extreme persistence.
I understand that the position at CampusLIVE calls for someone who is a leader. Someone who can handle many things at once and who has initiative. I believe I have all of these attributes, and I would love to prove this to you. I would very much appreciate a few minutes of your time to discuss this position. Please let me know what day and time works best for you. I will make myself available for whatever is most convenient for you. Thank you sir for the opportunity.
NOW THE RECAP
WORD! There are a few things I did there. And I'll write them out to make my points.
- I introduced the email with "Hi." Not "Hey." Not "Hello." Not "Dear" ... "Hi." Use "Hi."
Paragraph 1: Say why the HECK you're writing.
- I began by saying why I am writing. "I'd like to submit my application."
- I then mentioned a person who recommended I apply. If you are applying cold to all of your positions, you're bound to get a cold response back. Instead of going in cold... go in "warm." Find someone in the org structure who works there and get 10 minutes of their time. Impress them. And tell them you're thinking of applying for "x" position. If you can't impress someone within the company, how are you going to impress the guy running the show (who has dollars and cost saving on his mind at all times)? Get them to believe in you and use them as a reference. It will make a WORLD of difference. 9 out of 10 hires we make here come out of a recommendation from a current team member. 9 out of 10.
- Show your excitement by actually saying the word "excited." --> "It all sounds very exciting."
Paragraph 2: Say what's so special about YOU and show you're a LEADER
- Say that you are a great fit for the company. Don't wackweed around it. Say it. --> "I believe I am a great fit for CampusLIVE."
- Then. Write one big long sentence by bolding topics that you excel in and then in (parantheses giving the bolded word some detail). --> Ex: "athletics (as a three sport Division-1 athlete), academics (as a Finance and Engineering double major)...". This is a really effective way to show that you are a renaissance man/woman in a short amount of space. After reading this paragraph, the job interviewer / HR person will be saying: "Holy smokes. This kid's a beast."
- In the concluding line, mention that you are striving to "venture far beyond the classroom in undertaking leadership roles." Who doesn't love someone who is a nerd, but who also has work ethic across other areas of their life? Everyone loves that!
Paragraph 3: CLOSE THE DAMN DEAL
- Mention that you realize the position calls for "a leader." Every company is looking for leaders... not followers. So say it, as straight forward as you can.
- Mention that you know the position calls for someone who can "handle many things at once and who has initiative." This shows that you can clearly take on a ton of stuff and also are super excited to take on more work (without being told to do so, which is the KEY).
- Challenge the interviewer / HR person to take you in for an interview: "and I would love to prove this to you."
- CLOSE the deal! Close the damn deal! Your goal as an applicant is not to APPLY. It is to CLOSE. Close the deal by asking for their time. For a day and time that works for them. Tell them that it is at their convenience. And that you will work around their schedule.
- End with "Thank you for the opportunity." A job is an opportunity. Show that you realize that by SAYING IT.
- Signature: I always go with "Kind Regards" for first timers. If I know someone well, I end with Regards. Whatever your closing signature is, include it, and stick to it. I suggest "Kind Regards,"
- Put your name after the signature.
BOOM. There you have it. Cover letters / emails in ten minutes or less. Shazam!
Now, tell me what you think.