Cover Letter Essentials

Cover letters, or cover emails, are a necessary evil to landing an interview. It’s annoying to have to craft a brilliant, succinct and distinctive email when many interviewers toss them aside and dive right into your resume. But then again, there are those hirers that won’t get to your resume if they don’t like your cover letter.

As the influence of texting, Twitter and other shortened forms of communication have permeated our society; the cover letter has trended toward a shorter format. One career blogger I read recently was lobbying for “cover notes” allowing the hirer to move on quickly to the good stuff. So, what do you include, if you know you shouldn’t include much?

Always include a reference to the person who connected you to the hirer if there is a genuine connection. That reference alone may shift you to the Consider pile. Next, while you don’t want to reiterate your resume, if there is some aspect of your background that would make you ideal for the job, briefly refer to it in the cover letter. If the job is a stretch relative to your previous experience, show how some section of your resume is actually pertinent to the job in question. Lastly, everyone likes flattery. Without being obsequious, mention something about the company that attracts you to it.

Remember too, while hirers respect humility and thoughtfulness, don’t overdo it. I received an email from a young professional interested in joining my consulting business. She wrote, “I know that this may be too much to ask but I was wondering whether I could take a half hour of your time, although I would understand that you may be tied up.”

The respect quotient in that letter was way over the top. Remember, you will be an asset to the prospective hirer’s company. Plus, generally when you send a cover letter and resume, the executive receiving it is in a hiring mode. You may be doing her a favor.