June 29, 2005

Cover Letter: form follows purpose

The Cover letter is your initial sales piece. Its purpose is to get your resume past the initial screener and, once in the hands of the right person, to show you're a capable, productive, and intelligent candidate for the position. When you keep that in mind, the form of the cover letter follows naturally.

To show you're capable, the document must answer the questions asked in the job description, indicate where you found the listing, and show that you're a match. To prove your productivity, you must list your accomplishments in a manner the person doing the hiring will understand. To show your intelligent, you must have perfect grammar and spelling and be persuasive.

To repeat: cover letters are your primary sales piece about you. They should list your top accomplishments, special experience related to this job, and why you’re right for the company. And they should do it in a manner that is as creative, brief, and compact as possible. I've read so many boring coverletters from marketing professionals, designers, human resource managers, sales people. These positions require creativity and sales ability, you have to put that in the coverletter too.

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