Cover Letter Examples

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • How do I write a cover letter?
  • How do I find a name to address my cover letter to?
  • What do I include in a cover letter

This cast gives examples of cover letters for particular roles.

We get a lot of requests to look at cover letters. We also get a lot of emails from members who say, I can't create a cover letter for each application I want to make - it'll take too long. In this cast, we're going to show what the implementation of our cover letter guidance looks like, and how you can create a cover letter in less than fifteen minutes.

Ready?


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    Manager Tools Personal License
    Interviewing Series
    First Job Fundamentals   

A reframe I found to be helpful

For me, the biggest stumbling block was always the dictum: "Address it to a real person." I read this as "Spend lots of time, hours or even days, finding out the name of the hiring manager before you send your cover letter and resume." Big mistake. What the "Address it to a real person" dictum really means is "If you don't know--or can't quickly find out--the name of the hiring manger, move on."

Trying to suss out the name of a hiring manager for an advertised opening is like trying to learn the name of the engineer driving the train that is pulling out of the station. You're either on the train already or you've missed it. There's no point in yelling: "Hey, Mr. Steve Smith! Wait for me! Here's my resume and why I'd make a good passenger!"

In this economy, if I don't already know the name of the hiring manager, if I can't make a phone call and find that name within ten minutes, I might as well save my energy. My network is all that matters. These days, I only apply for jobs at companies where I already know the names of hiring managers. I used to think the "know thy hiring manger" rule meant that I needed to spend more time researching and writing cover letters. Now I realize the rule saves me from wasting my time pursuing dubious opportunities.

So many of my job leads came through Websites, craigslist, or the "jobs" pages of major employers in my area. Acme Industrials would post an ad for my dream job, and I'd start digging through all my contacts for some connection. I'd run Web searches. I'd scour back-issues of my college's magazine to find news of alumni who worked for Acme. This process could take me all evening, and it would yield a tenuous connection, at best. I'd be frazzled from an afternoon of cold-calls and E-mails and chasing Internet rabbits down holes. I'd be in a crummy mindset to write a compelling cover letter to the hiring manager. And by then, even a compelling cover letter wouldn't help me.

In this economy, when Acme Industrials advertises my dream job on Craigslist, it is going to get 100 resumes in the first hour.* Some of those people will be idiots, but most of them are going to be good enough to do the job. If I forgo a cover letter and fire off a resume lickety-split, I'm out of the running. If I send a generic "Dear Acme" letter, I'm out of the running. If I choose to spend a whole afternoon tracking down the name of the hiring manager, I'm out of the running. Because 100 people got their resumes in before mine, and I don't build my career on <1% chances.

If I want to work for Acme Industrials, I need to build my network proactively, so that I am all over people who work at all levels of Acme. I need to do this weeks or months before Acme Industrials puts my dream job on Craigslist. If and when I get a job at Acme, it'll be because someone in my network mentioned me to the hiring manager, and the hiring manager invited me to apply.

*The company I work for now put an ad on Craigslist last week, using some reasonably picky criteria, and we got 400 resumes in 24 hours. 50 of those candidates, on paper at least, were shockingly good.

Rites of Passage

Since ROP is one of the MT core recommendations, I was surprised that your recommendations did not include a couple key points: start the letter with a question and include salary history.  Did you specifically not include salary info and is there a reason why the MT recommendations differ from ROP?  

Too much IT

Just finished listening to the cast and I realized that the 2 examples were IT jobs. It would have been great to have three totally different jobs, wouldn't it ?

 

Good cast, IMO

Nicely done. Interestingly enough, I have a friend who's looking for an IT Project Manager position in Knoxville, TN. And I work in the IT business in the Knoxville area. That was a bit of a surprise when I heard that.

@lshufro -- I can't imaging including salary history in a cover letter. And if someone started with that in a cover letter, it would go in my reject pile immediately. That's just the wrong time in the conversation. As for what to start the letter with, the only thing I'd add to what Mark & Mike said was that if there's a company position number posted, I'd include that "I'm writing to apply for the Chief Welder position (#22454 on your web site)...." Usually, the position title is enough, but the number can be useful. Start the letter off with the bottom line up front, not some question.

Regarding Editing: Don't just read, listen.

I heard the tip on reading editing backwards a little while ago, it is great advice. One thing I recently remembered is my Mac has a fun little feature that allows you to have the computer read your paragraph. I find this is also a fantastic way to listen to how you come across. The computer is an unbiased reader and will say EXACTLY what you type without emotion or trying to make you sound better. I used it a TON with my cover letters and it helped me get my errors down so much that the only correction my friends could find was the one that I had put in. I'm not saying this to blow my own horn, but because normally I've ALWAYS had a lot of corrections from friends. 

Best of luck in your hunt!

Rob Fraser #next_pages_container { width: 5px; hight: 5px; position: absolute; top: -100px; left: -100px; z-index: 2147483647 !important; }

 

 This is really

 This is really informative. This cover letter is of great help. Jeffrey Kale Flagg

Follow up

 I've just found out about this website and absolutely love it. I've taken out as much smell as I possibly can out of my resume and am now moving on to my cover letter. 

You've mentioned that the last paragraph should mention when you're going to be following up with the hiring manager... but my past experience has shown that almost every email I've received from hiring managers includes  'due to high volumes of applications... we will contact only successful candidates..' or 'please do not call.'

So I'm always hesitant as I don't want to be a nuisance...

Thoughts?