The ultimate Cover Letter – the answer you are looking for!

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If you got to this from anywhere on the internet, this is the answer to How To Write A Cover Letter: because you want to start typing the best cover letter you have ever written right NOW!

But, from my point of view there are three more important things, but you want this because you have to get the application out of the door today – probably in the next hour, so you don’t miss tonight’s post!

If you were me, you would understand there are three steps which are slightly more important than this one, and that come before it. Just for clarity they are:

  • Do research the company you are applying to – know what they do, and the name of the person you are writing to
  • A Cover Letter is a sales document NOT a summarised CV/Resume – save the meat for the CV/Resume
  • And that like retail, the answer is in the detail – buy some nice paper and envelopes, spell check your final version, and have at least two friends read it before you send it out

But you want step four, the answer – and that is……

How To Write the First Line of a Cover Letter!

I wrote a blog on one of my other sources, about how to test your CV/Resume for effectiveness – it was called The Five Point “why was I rejected” test. It explained that unless your CV/Resume fully answered that you both met the required job specification and had more than was required in the first half page of your CV/Resume, then your application was most likely to end up in the “thank you for your application….” pile.

Well, in a way you are right to focus on the first line of your Cover Letter, as that will define whether the reader is engaged and will read further – or switch off after “Dear Sir.”

What are the elements of a great and engaging first line of a Cover Letter? Well, if you had gone to step1 first, you would know you should be writing to a named person, over a “Dear Sir.” When companies take the time to say in their adverts or on their websites “please apply to Mr/Ms X” then they expect you in step3 to pick up on that detail – its all part of the test of application to work for them.

So, what should you write on that first line? Well NEVER, EVER, EVER write either “I am writing to apply for….” or its alternate of “Following your advert in….” OR “I am writing to your great company.” The first two are simply points of administration, and having seen 50 applications before yours the yawning and lacking a coffee HR administrator who has full delegated authority to sift applicants form the HR Director will simply not wake from his/her slumber with either of them.  With the second one – well, they already know they work for a great company, and it will wake them up: just about enough to say “yeah, we know – fail!”

So, what do you write in that first line? Here it is, and its simple……

  • Read the job advert
  • Pick up the first three skills
  • Extend the lengths into those from your CV/Resume
  • Finish the sentence out with “are the proven skills I can bring to the post of (insert job title/position).”

It is the ultimate summary of step2 – a Cover Letter is a sales document, not a summarised CV/Resume.

So, if you were applying for a  post as manager in food retail, and they asked for food retail experience of X years in developing a new store, by both gaining a market penetration target by binding and building your own new team, you could write to Mr Smith……

 

Dear Mr Smith,

RE: Application for position of Regional Retail Director

20 years (ie – if they ask for 10, and you have 20 – say 20, not 10!) food retail delivery in the (XYZ geography) with (X, Y and Z) companies, for whom I opened (X) stores and gained all agreed targets in 6months by focusing on my team building and operations are the proven skills I can bring to the post of Regional Retail Director of (insert target companies name)

 

Have you got that? Let’s just repeat it……

  • Read the job advert
  • Pick up the first three skills
  • Extend the lengths into those from your CV/Resume
  • Finish the sentence out with “are the proven skills I can bring to the post of (insert job title/position).”

So, applying for the post of dBase administrator with XYZ company, requiring PeopleSoft skills and basic project management to Miss Jayne Smithers would read….

 

Dear Ms Smithers,

RE: Application for position of dBase Administrator

5 years Peoplesoft dBase experience across four major project installations and operations, managing with both internal delivery points and external contracts to deliver them all on time and $250k below combined budget are the proven skills I can bring to the post of dBase Administrator of (insert target companies name)

 

If you want the advanced course, there is one sub rule – if you can add a financial number to show a saving against cost, but delivery on time – then do it!

That’s it, nice and simple.

Good Luck!

Tags: #cover letter