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Cover Letters

Why Do I Need a Cover Letter? 

Cover letters have a different focus than your resume. They provide an opportunity to: 

  • Personalize
  • Highlight characteristics 
  • Draw connections 
  • Demonstrate writing ability

Cover Letter Strategies 

  • Address the cover letter to the hiring manager, executive or recruiter
  • Keep it concise:  no longer than one page
  • Customize to the job description: use key words
  • Personalize your core message
    • Do you have an internal contact?
    • Why do you want to work for their company?
    • Why do you believe you are a good fit?
    • Indicate why you are passionate about their company, product or service.
    • Show that you’ve done research on their company.   
     

Cover Letter Format 

  • Date
  • Address
  • Salutation 
  • Paragraph 1: Display interest and knowledge of the company.
  • Paragraph 2: Outline key qualifications, relevant to the opportunity.
  • Paragraph 3: Demonstrate fit or why they should hire you.
  • Paragraph 4: Indicate follow-up plan.
  • Closing

Sample: Paragraph 1 

January 17, 2011

Jennifer Jones, Vice President of Marketing
Digital Solutions
114 Elm Street
Cary, NC 27601

Dear Ms. Jones,
I am writing to apply for the Director of International Sales position (912345), which was forwarded to me by your colleague, Greg Erickson. I am very interested in the position, as I have worked with Digital Solutions on a number of joint partnerships and have been impressed with the strategic direction of your international sales efforts. I am familiar with your current sales model, distribution channels and corporate partners.

*Tip: Address the letter to the specific contact. Include the job title and requisition number. 
...................................................................................................................................................
  

Sample: Paragraph 2

In my role as Director of Sales at Lynx Networks, I have managed a sales team of over 100 employees in a number of geographic locations, including Latin America. I have developed and led several strategic initiatives, which increased our Latin America sales by 23%. My previous experience has spanned all aspects of the sales cycle, from product development to account management. My expertise in the field has strengthened my management approach and has provided a keen business sense, in terms of market development.

*Tip: Highlight the key qualifications that are relevant to the position.
...................................................................................................................................................

Sample: Paragraph 2, Alternative 

Your Requirements   My Qualifications  
 5-7 years senior management experience  Over eight years combined experience as Director of Sales and Senior Manager, Business Development 
Experience managing global teams  Managed a sales team of over 100, in Latin America 
International business development expertise  Developed new sales channels, increasing Latin America sales by 23% 
Oversee strategic partnerships Negotiated two corporate partnerships with revenues over $1.2M 


*Tip: In lieu of writing out paragraph 2, you can also use a table format to outline the position requirements and your qualifications. This makes it very easy for the hiring manager or recruiter to see how your skills are a fit for the position. 
................................................................................................................................................... 

Sample: Paragraph 3

Digital Solutions has had strong sales and record growth in the US over the past year. I would be interested in helping to establish a stronger presence internationally and grow the sales force to meet those needs. I think there are additional opportunities to leverage joint partnerships, with current vendors, which would increase market share.

*Tip: Demonstrate why they should hire you.
...................................................................................................................................................
 

Sample: Paragraph 4

I look forward to discussing how my qualifications would be beneficial in this role. I will contact you next week to see when we might discuss the position further. Thank you very much for your consideration.
................................................................................................................................................... 

Closing

Sincerely,
Mark Ritter
(XXX) XXX-XXXX
XXXX@gsb.stanford.edu

 Enclosure: Resume

*Tip: Be sure to indicate when you will be contacting the company. Also, include your cell phone number and email address. 
 

................................................................................................................................................... 

Final Tips 

 

  • If you are emailing your resume, use the body of your email message as the cover letter. Do not attach a separate letter.
  • When applying for positions online, always include a cover letter, if they offer the space to do so.
  • Always proof read and edit your cover letter. 
  • Customize the cover letter to each opportunity.