How to Save Your Cover Letter from the ‘DELETE’ Key!

By

Skip Freeman

Skip Freeman

Let’s face it, many, if not most cover letters are . . . well . . . to put it as diplomatically as possible . . . extremely B – O – O – O – R – I – N – G and largely without any apparent direction or focus. They are also essentially a waste of time, both for the job seeker who writes and send them, and certainly for the recruiter or hiring manager who receives them. That’s at least part of the reason most of them get the same treatment—they either end up in the “circular file” or, if sent through Email, quickly and summarily get the old “delete” key treatment.

Below is an example of the typical cover letter, sent either through the mail or via Email, that I—and most other recruiters and hiring managers—receive each and every single business day:

Dear Mr. Freeman

Attached is my resume for consideration for any sales positions that you may have. Please give me a phone call to review my credentials and how I may be of value to one of the clients you represent.

Sincerely,

Mr./Ms. Job Seeker

What, specifically, are the problems with such a cover letter? Let me cite just two of the more glaring deficiencies.

First, the job seeker asks for “any sales position that you may have.” Does he or she really mean any sales position? Of course not. If, for example, the job seeker has a background in, say, insurance sales (something that we can’t learn from the cover letter, but it is hoped we will learn from the “attached” résumé), would he or she really be interested (not to mention qualified for!) in a chemical sales position I might be trying to fill? Again, of course not.

Second, has this job seeker honestly given me (or any other recruiter/hiring manager) any compelling reason(s) to pick up the telephone and make the call to him or her? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO! Has he or she included any kind of “value proposition” in the cover letter to arouse my interest and get my attention? Again, the answer is a resounding NO!

So, how, exactly, is an effective cover letter designed, one that stands a very good chance of getting read? Below is an example of a cover letter that certainly could be expected to catch my attention, as well as the attention of most other recruiters and hiring managers.

Dear Mr. Freeman: (NOTE THAT THE CORRECT PUNCTUATION TO USE IN THIS SALUTATION IS THE COLON, NOT A COMMA AND CERTAINLY NOT A SEMI-COLON)

Are your client companies happy with their time to market and sales to date, or are you of the opinion that there’s room for improvement between now and the end of this year? Do they have all the new business revenue they want and deserve? Do they have all the fresh ideas that will help them surpass their strategic goals and objectives? (WHAT A GREAT LIST OF PERTINENT, ATTENTION-GETTING QUESTIONS!)

With this year just flying by, do you think there is enough time left for any changes and the improvement that change can bring? If you could present a sales professional to your client companies who is sitting on a $20 million pipeline, is that something you would be interested in? ($20 MILLION PIPELINE?! WOW! YES, THAT IS SOMETHING A RECRUITER OR HIRING MANAGER WOULD BE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT, HUH?!)

If any of these initiatives are of interest to your client companies, why don’t you make your last business call of this day to me. I’ll be prepared to answer any questions you may have about my ideas and solutions and how we might be able to put them both to work for your client companies. (NOW THIS IS SOMETHING UNUSUAL IN A JOB SEEKER’S COVER LETTER—HE ACTUALLY ASKED FOR THE ORDER!)

I’ll be in my office today between 3:00 and 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time if you would like to contact me. My number is 678-123-4567. Otherwise, I will reach out to you Friday, October 1, at 10 AM ET. (I HAVE TWO CHOICES HERE: I CAN CALL THIS JOB SEEKER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AT THE TIMES HE IS AVAILABLE, OR I CAN SIMPLY WAIT AND EXPECT HIS CALL! ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, THOUGH, THIS JOB SEEKER IS DETERMINED TO VISIT WITH ME! P.S. IT’S VERY LIKELY THAT, IF HIS RÉSUMÉ IS AS SOLID AND AS WELL-THOUGHT-OUT AS HIS COVER LETTER, IT WILL BE I WHO CALLS HIM FIRST!)

Thank you for the consideration.

To greater success,

Mr./Ms. Job Seeker

To be sure, it takes a little more time and effort to create a cover letter like the second one presented here. But, when you consider that sending a generic, anemic, boring cover letter like the first example shown can only be expected to result in its being “trashed” by a recruiter or hiring manager . . . well . . . spending the extra time and effort literally becomes a “no-brainer,” doesn’t it?

______________________________________________________________

Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

 Visit or contact Skip at his book website, http://www.headhunterhiringsecrets.com

Comments (1)

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  1. Kasandra Mck says:

    I just want to say that you sound like an incredible individual and I hope that one day, people will read such a paraphrased biography of myself and have the same reaction that I have had to yours. You are admired!

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