“So c’mon Jenna, give it to me straight, do I need a cover letter?”
It’s a valid question and one I get asked on almost every coaching call.It can be one of the more tedious aspects of the application process and depending on who you ask, everyone has a different perspective on why or why bother to include one.
Cover letters are said to be a value add to your application. Through your cover letter you have an opportunity to share your experiences in more depth. They’re also thought of as a tool to showcase your personality.
I think you can achieve these valid call-outs through a portfolio, a personal website or even LinkedIn, but nonetheless, let me bring it back to answering your question, do I need a cover letter?
The answer….is maybe…
I’m guessing it’s not entirely the answer you wanted to hear so let me save you some time and energy.
I’ve shared below my simple template for writing relevant and concise cover letters that’ll have you motivated to get started!
WARNING || LONG POST AHEAD, BUT WORTH THE READ. I PROMISE IT’LL SAVE YOU TIME IN THE FUTURE. AND, IF YOU’RE JUST LOOKING FOR THE GOODS…I.E. THE TEMPLATE, SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM.
First up, when MUST you include a cover letter? My general rule is to definitely include one when:
- The job posting asks for it.
- If you’re applying for a role where writing technique and skills are a key part of the job.
- If you’re sending an email to the hiring manager or recruiter directly sharing your interest in the role. *this is a great way to almost guarantee eyes on your application and increase your chance of booking an interview
Now, beyond the above, should you include a cover letter?
Well, at the end of the day it can’t hurt, as long as you write it with intention.
If you’re not interested in spending the time to craft something specific for the role you’ve applied to and the posting hasn’t called for one, I’d opt out of submitting a cover letter. There’s nothing worse than a poorly written one, that’s generic.
But again, I’m here to save you time and energy and I think this outline below will have you submitting relevant and concise cover letters every time.
My simple outline below answers these three questions:
- Who are you?
- Can you do the job?
- Will you add value to the department or organization?
Your job is to clearly spell it out for the reader on why you’re their next hire and not one of the 100+ other candidates who’ve applied...
Step 1: Let’s start with the intro.
You may have heard of ‘the hook’ in essay writing back in high school. Well, when it comes to cover letters, a hook is a great way to grab the attention of the recruiter/hiring manager by creating interest and enticing them to keep on reading.
The hook could be as simple as this ⬇️
“If you’re looking for a passionate and dedicated team member to join the marketing team and be your next great hire, please consider my application.”
Or this:“If you asked my current leader and co-workers to describe me, they would share I’m a passionate, dedicated team player who’s resourceful and often asks the question, ‘how can we be doing this more efficiently?’”
You could also start with a story.
“When I think back to my early career visions, I always imagined I’d be working in a position that supported the growth and development of an entrepreneur’s dream.”Let your personality guide you in how you choose to frame up your intro. Make sure to also include WHY you’re applying for the role.
Step 2: Next up is the body of your letter. This will be your longest portion of the cover letter and is where you’re letting the reader know your ability to get the job done.
In this section you’ll land the value you’ll bring to the organization. I recommend sharing two experiences that are most relevant for the role.Leverage the job posting to determine what the best two experiences are to highlight.
Let’s assume the position you’re applying for mentions cross functional relationships and project management as important components of the role.
Here’s an example of how this could sound ⬇️
“I have over 3+ years leading projects and building trusting relationships with cross-functional partners. During my time at 123 Inc. I partnered with the IT and Payroll teams to launch a new applicant tracking system. The timeline given to complete the project was 2 months to have it ready for a busy holiday hiring season. Through my clear project planning and consistent meetings, I was able to launch the system with my cross-functional partners to the entire organization by the expected timeline. I know my ability to build trusting relationships quickly contributed to the overall launch success.”
*Remember that you’ll want to keep the examples relevant to the role you’ve applied for. For this example if an applicant tracking system isn’t an important aspect of the role then this might not be the best example to share. I also recommend bolding any pieces in your letter that you want to draw attention to.
Step 3: It’s time to bring’er home!
Don’t let your beautifully crafted cover letter dwindle at this point! Stay with it and finish it up with a compelling wrap.
- Summarize what you’ve shared in one sentence (don’t forget to keep this relevant to the position).
- Let them know where to find you.
- Thank them for their time.
What this could sound like is ⬇️
“With my passion for leading projects coupled with my experience and ambitious attitude, I believe I’d be a great support in contributing to ABC’s future initiatives.I would love to continue sharing with you why I would be an asset to the team and can be reached at www.suziemontage.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and 555-5555.Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing next steps,“
Now that we’ve walked through each section, let’s see what it looks altogether and keep scrolling for the cover letter template.
Dear Monique Lachance,
If you asked my current leader and co-workers to describe me, they would share I’m a passionate, dedicated team player who’s resourceful and often asks the question, ‘how can we be doing this more efficiently?’
I’m Suzie and I’ve been working in the retail industry for the last 5 years. I’ve been following ABC’s journey and saw that you are currently hiring for a Human Resource Specialist.
With my HR certification and over 3 years experience working directly in the HR department, I believe my experience will be a great addition to the team. I have over 3+ years leading projects and building trusting relationships with cross-functional partners.
During my time at 123 Inc. I partnered with the IT and Payroll teams to launch a new applicant tracking system. The timeline given to complete the project was 2 months to have it ready for a busy holiday hiring season. Through my clear project planning and consistent meetings, I was able to launch the system with my cross-functional partners to the entire organization by the expected timeline. I know my ability to build trusting relationships quickly contributed to the overall launch success.
I have experience building strategy and creating standard operating principles to bring efficiency to the human resource department. In my most current role as Jr. Human Resource Specialist at 567 Inc., I’ve been very involved in the full employee lifecycle including developing ways we can measure the success of our hiring process; monthly turnover reporting, bi-annual compensation analysis and quarterly exit interview reporting are all areas I’ve developed process and reporting for.
With my passion in the field of Human Resources coupled with my experience and ambitious attitude, I believe I’d be a great support in contributing to ABC’s future initiatives.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing next steps, Suzie
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Simple Cover Letter Template
If you asked my current leader and co-workers to describe me, they would share I (insert how they would describe you relevant to what the position is looking for).
I’m (name) and I’ve been working in the (insert industry) industry for the last (insert #) years. I’ve been following (insert company name) journey and saw that you are currently hiring for the (insert position).
With a (insert certificate/designation/education) and over (inset #) years experience (insert skill and ability that aligns with the role posting), I believe I would be a great addition to the team.
During my time at (insert company or position) (share relevant experience #1 including how you accomplished this, the impact it had on the organization/department’s success and how this will be of value in this new role).
In my most current role as (insert position) at (insert company) (share relevant experience #2 including how the experience you gained is valuable to the new organization/department).
I believe my passion for (insert relevant passion for position) coupled with (insert experience) and (insert experience) make me an excellent candidate for the role.
I would love to continue sharing with you why I would be an asset to the organization and can be reached at (insert email/personal website if you have one) and (insert phone #).
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing next steps,
(insert your name)