Cover Letter Manual

Heading/Date

Salutation: It's best to address your letter to a specific person (e.g., "Dear Ms. Jones:"), but use “Dear Hiring Manager,” if there's no way to find that out. Use “Dear Search Committee:" if the decision will be made by committee. Avoid stale salutations such as "Dear Sir/Madam:" and “To Whom it May Concern:”.

Opening Paragraph: Hiring managers are busy and do not care to wade through fluff. Your opening paragraph should clearly state the position for which you're applying. Include a reference code if requested and the referral source (e.g., recommendation from a current employee, etc.). Your opening may also include a synopsis of why you are a top candidate for the position:

Your position advertised on -------- site is an excellent fit with my qualifications, as the enclosed resume will attest. My background includes 10 years of success managing international sales programs, top-ranked regions and Fortune 500 accounts. I offer particular expertise in the high tech sector, with in-depth knowledge of networking technology…

Body: Your letter's body contains the sales pitch. This is your chance to outline the top reasons why you're worthy of an interview. When writing the body text, keep in mind that hiring managers are self-centered -- they want to know what you can do for them, not learn about your life story. Demonstrate how your credentials, motivation and track record would benefit their operation. Review your top five selling factors (the ones you jotted down when doing your company research) and weave them into the body, perhaps as a bulleted list.

Back up achievements with specific examples of how your performance benefited current and former employers. Precede your bulleted list with a statement such as “Highlights of my credentials include:” or “Key strengths I offer include:.”

Keep your letter positive and upbeat: This is not the place to write a sob story about your employment situation. Put yourself in the hiring manager's shoes -- would you call yourself in for an interview?

Closing Paragraph: Your final paragraph should generate a call for action, so express your strong interest in an interview and state that you will follow up soon to confirm your resume was received and discuss the possibility of meeting face-to-face.

Cover letter example

Dear (insert name or "Hiring Manager" if name is unknown):

Your advertisement on Monster for a (insert job title) fits my experience and qualifications perfectly, and I am writing to express my interest in and enthusiasm for the position. As an accomplished sales leader, I have achieved seven-figure revenue growth, international market penetration and successful product launches for leading global corporations during my career.

In addition to my desire to join your team, you will find I am a dedicated and driven professional whose recent accomplishments include:

  • An increase of international sales from 1 percent of the company's total revenue to 75 percent, capturing more than half of the entire --- market within two years.
  • Dramatic expansion of customer base, leading to seven-figure revenue growth rates that far exceed the pace of larger, more established competitors.
  • Development of a 75-member dealer network across the country.
  • Attainment of 100 percent customer retention rate through expert relationship-building skills and a commitment to a solution-focused, service-first sales approach.
  • Launch of a new St Petersburg office, expected to double sales revenue by 2006.
  • Introduction of three innovative product lines, following comprehensive market research and competitive-intelligence gathering.

Your software products are truly on the cutting edge of technology -- you offer products that can change the way a company conducts business on the Internet. I am excited by this technology and would be able to translate this excitement to a business benefit for your current and future clients. If you agree that my qualifications are a close fit to your needs, I would be delighted to meet with you personally to discuss strategies for expanding (name of company's) market presence.

I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (phone number) or via email at (email address). I look forward to our conversation.

Sincerely,
Signature

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