my go-to "this job is MINE" cover letter template
First things first, let's start with a dose of the truth: While I know and fully understand the purpose of cover letters, I don't particularly care for them. Didn’t care for them as a recruiter, don’t particularly care for them as a career coach, (definitely) didn’t care for them as a candidate. BUT, me not particularly caring for cover letters doesn't mean I’m not pretty damn good at writing them.
As a former recruiter and current career coach, I read careless, confusing, and even downright unacceptable cover letters on a regular basis, and I also read eloquent, thorough, and concise cover letters from students, candidates, and clients.
In this post, I’m going to lay out the cover letter writing process as simply as possible, and I'm sharing the formula that I use when writing a cover letter for a job opportunity that I just know is MINE.
Your cover letter should accomplish 3 things:
- it should tell the reader what role you’re applying for and what drew you to apply for it,
- it should tell the reader why you’re qualified for the role, and
- it should get to the 2 aforementioned points as quickly as possible.
Your cover letter is not the letter form of your resume, nor is it a laundry list of your career highlights with a hint of a mention of the employer and role you’re applying for -- it’s an opportunity to build a genuine connection between you, your skills & experience, your role of interest, and the employer. Write accordingly.
The 3 main parts of the cover letter are THE INTRO, THE BODY, and THE CONCLUSION. DASSIT. Please don’t go on writing forever, because I can assure that recruiters and hiring managers don’t plan on reading forever. Brevity is your friend.
Let’s break it down:
The goal of your intro is to grab readers’ attention, state your interest in the job opportunity and the employer, and provide some context on what drew you to apply for the job opportunity. Talk about what makes THIS role at THIS company/organization/institution special. Review the job description(s), company website, social media accounts, company LinkedIn profiles, and employee LinkedIn profiles to learn and reference key details about the employer as well as the skills required for the role within your cover letter.
Here’s an example:
“Connecting people to opportunities and possibilities is what gets me excited to wake up each and every day, and this is exactly the mission that Google’s Staffing Channels team is charged with. As a former HR business partner and current corporate recruiter, I am thrilled to apply for Google’s Staffing Channels Specialist position. Google’s commitment to learning more about their candidates, demystifying the hiring process, and advocating for candidates with internal hiring managers deeply resonates with my passion for career development. I am eager to leverage my skills in building and developing relationships with candidates, hiring managers, and fellow employees to make an immediate impact within Google’s Staffing Channels team as an engaging, strategic, and creative teammate.”
YOUR BODY PARAGRAPHS
The purpose of your body paragraphs is to share 2-3 examples (MAX!) from your professional experience: you’ll describe your RELEVANT roles -- generally, your current role and an additional example, the RELEVANT skills and experiences you’ve gained within these roles, and how these skills and experiences can be directly applied in this job opportunity. Without repeating your resume verbatim, let readers know your selected roles, RELEVANT responsibilities, and any RELEVANT accomplishments. Have you guessed what the operative word is here?
If you’re wondering how to decide which examples to select for each cover letter, reread the job description and focus on the key responsibilities. Think about the projects that you’ve worked on throughout your career, the skills you’ve gained, the varied experiences you’ve had -- select the 2-3 roles where you’ve used the skills and/or produced the results required for this specific job opportunity. If none of your previous or current roles perfectly align with this job opportunity, highlight the examples that most closely resemble the skills and experience required for the position.
I’ve put together an example of one body paragraph here:
“For the past four years, I have been thriving in my role as a recruiter at Company ABC, hiring over 200 employees into temporary, internship, and full-time corporate roles. I rely heavily on my interpersonal and organizational skills to create and manage open relationships with teammates, hiring managers, and candidates from the initial phone screen to offer decision. In this role, I have become a recruiting and career development subject matter expert, and serve as a warm and encouraging job search confidante and guide for candidates, which resulted in my 100% offer acceptance rate throughout during the last calendar year. As a Staffing Channels Specialist, I look forward to serving as this same guide for diverse Google-caliber talent, communicating the nuances of Google’s hiring process, as well as exploring candidates' passions and interests to create tailored experiences in every type of interview setting -- whether it be over the phone, on Google Meet, or when individuals step through the doors.”
The closer! Another opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position as well as (briefly) highlight your skills, and a chance to end the letter on a strong note. The goal of the conclusion is clear: leave a meaningful and compelling last impression.
Here’s a super short conclusion:
“I could not pass up the chance to apply for a role that connects my recruiting and career development skills and will allow me to have a profound impact on the lives and experiences of Google’s candidates and future employees. I am ready to join Google as the next step in my career!
Thank you for your time and consideration.”
And that’s it! Really. Stop writing.
Some other things to keep in mind as you’re drafting your cover letters:
- Direct your letter to a specific person -- preferably, the hiring manager; however, it doesn’t matter if the person you’ve selected is not the correct hiring manager; what matters is demonstrating that you’re willing to do the research to find and select a person who works there
- Your cover letter should not be more than 1pg long -- aim for 1/2 - 3/4 of a page
- Proofread your letter, proofread it again, then have a friend, mentor, and/or professional review it and provide you with constructive feedback -- if nothing else, your cover letter is a writing sample subject to evaluation by recruiters and hiring managers; be sure that you’re submitting a clear, impactful, error-free letter
What’s your biggest struggle with cover letters? Tell me on Twitter!
If you’d like some detailed feedback on your cover letter,
click the button below to request a critique!