Cover letters illuminate how we can meet an organization’s specific needs by bringing together our professional accomplishments with our unique career narrative.
— Tonyalynne Wildhaber

ON COVER LETTERS

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Cover letters aren't dead yet. While not always required, cover letters are often the key differentiator hiring managers use when contemplating whether or not to hire you.

When stuck between two candidates for an interview offer, recruiters will commonly review cover letters to make the final choice between the two interview candidates.

In short, prepare and send a tailored cover letter unless you are instructed otherwise.

The latest statistics show 92% of hiring managers don't read cover letters but 54% admit a preference for candidates who send one. The same 54% statistic applies for referencing these letters when they're on the fence about hiring a candidate. 

A key mistake to avoid is focusing too much on  yourself. The cover letter is really about letting them know why you're the right person to help them solve their problems and meet their challenges head-on in a specific way. 

In summary, talk about your results and share how you will serve the company. 

WISDOM FOR ALL COVER LETTERS

  1. Absolutely no typos, grammatical errors, or short-hand unless industry-specific.

  2. Use 11 pt font or above, black & white text, and stick to professional fonts like Arial.

  3. Please don't ever write more than one page. Ever. 

  4. Clearly connect items from the job description to your prior experience with similar or identical projects or experiences. Highlighting the transferable nature of your accomplishments is absolutely essential to showing how you will serve the company.

  5. Share your achievements relevant to the job description in a compelling way.

  6. Demonstrate your authentic interest in their company without stepping into 'fandom.' 

  7. Refrain from talking about all your jobs or going into detail with your employment gaps.

  8. Personalize your opening; do not use 'Dear sir or madam' for example.

  9. Be your confident self in writing. Choose phrases like 'I am' versus 'I think' or 'I feel.'

  10. Include your contact information, including city/state. Make your heading of both resume and cover letter identical in formatting structure.

  11. Tailor each letter to the specified job. Refrain from using the same letter for every role for which you apply.

TYPES OF COVER LETTERS

THE BASIC COVER LETTER: 

Primarily used when the desired role is a straightforward fit for you.

  1. Short and sweet; less than one page.
  2. An opening paragraph of introduction and genuine expression of interest.
  3. Two more paragraphs that include three accomplishments--think projects and their impact--that directly relate to your desired role.
  4. Closing paragraph that illuminates the two key strengths you seek to leverage there.

THE CAREER NARRATIVE COVER LETTER:

Primarily used for a professional with 10+ years experience or those making an industry or career transition.

  1. A full one-page; no more and no fancy formatting to make it a one-page.
  2. A strong opening paragraph that captures their attention and your genuine interest.
  3. A paragraph that creates a common narrative thread throughout your experience.
  4. Highlight 2-3 key applicable career accomplishments and two of your key strengths.
  5. A paragraph highlighting your professional purpose--your 'WHY'--to show why you are inspired by this company's brand, mission, and the work they deliver.
  6. The closing paragraph is focused on your engagement with the company and your excitement to contribute in a meaningful way.
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COVER LETTER EXAMPLES

  • Reach out to The Courage Practice directly to see real-life examples which have been scrubbed of identifiable information for reference purposes. 
  • If you haven't already, you may also elect to obtain specific cover letter editing by The Courage Practice as an add-on service.

COURAGEOUS THOUGHT & ACTION EXERCISE

1. What are the key accomplishments I wish to highlight in my next cover letter?

2. What specific talents and contributions do I want to offer to this company? 

3. How specifically do my core values align with those of this organization to which I'm applying?

4. What is the key thing I want this company to know about me that they cannot readily see on my resume? 

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