Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cover Letter Suggestion (Make it a Love Letter)

In working with one of my career coaching clients on their cover letter, I made the analogy that a cover letter is like an early-stage love letter (back in the day when I presume they were more common).

The objective of both a cover letter and a love letter is to communicate similar points:
  1. You're interested in them and want them to consider you as a candidate
  2. You have a lot to offer and would be a good match
  3. They should contact you for a date/interview to learn more
While I've never created a cover letter this way before, it would be an interesting and creative approach to the dreaded task of writing a cover letter. Here's the format:

Quick introduction -
  • We met at John's party on Friday night and your bright orange top caught my eye. / I saw your posting on and have heard great things about your company.
Why you're interested -
  • You seemed like a very interesting and fun person to get to know better. / From what I've read about Acme, you're working with some interesting cutting edge technologies.
Your strengths, accomplishments, and your unique value compared to other candidates (emphasis should be on the things that will appeal most to them) -
  • I'm an accomplished road-biker, financially and emotionally stable, loyal, caring, supportive, and have been promoted twice in the last year in a prestigious consulting firm. / I'm exceptionally good at researching complex problems, working in teams, and staying on-task (last year, as Project Manager, my 5 primary projects came in early and under budget).
Flatter them by sharing what you think makes them special -
  • Your smile is like a breath of spring, your voice is soft like summer rain./ Your CEO is a thought-leader, your client list is impressive, and your e-commerce strategy is second to none.
Explain why you'd be a good match -
  • It seems like we share a common interest in athletic activities and would have fun together. / I concentrated in nanotech during undergrad and am a strong proponent in using it in the health sector.
Why you'd make their life better -
  • I will make you laugh every day. / I will make your clients happy through exceptional project management.
Show them you're passionate and serious about them; ask for what you want -
  • I have always been attracted to independent and dynamic women and I would love for you to accompany me to the next cotillion. / Ever since I was young, I've wanted to use technology to help people; I share Acme's vision and would be motivated to be a member of your team.
Remember to steer away from controversial or sensitive information up front and make sure they know how to get in touch with you.

Also, since they're a great prospect (naturally, you treat every one as a great prospect), and you're persistent, you should mention that you look forward to hearing from them and will be following up in a week if you haven't heard from them.

This love letter approach just might work... Oh, New Job, New Job, wherefore art thou, New Job?


Lee Knight said...

Here are a few additional suggestions from the recent NY Times article, "A Cover Letter is Not Expendable" (

"If you really want to make an impression, make a hard copy of your cover letter and résumé and send it to the hiring manager by regular mail. Attach a handwritten note that says, “Second submission; I’m very interested,” Ms. Piotrowski said. “I’ve had clients double their rate of interviews simply from doing that,” she said.
Another misguided thing people do is to make the cover letter all about them: “I did this, I’m looking for, I want to ... I, I, I.” Structure your letter so that it stresses the company and what you can do to help it reach its goals, Ms. Piotrowski and others said."

Anonymous said...

It is a good idea to practice at doing a letter. Show it around to friends, family and let it sit for a day or two and then go back to it. You might want to polish it a bit then.