Cover Letter: How Does Yours Stack Up?

Make sure your cover letter stacks up! Guidelines for putting it all together.

Make sure your cover letter stacks up! Guidelines for putting it all together.

 On your journey to an excellent Cover Letter,  you have found a promising job post, done your interpersonal and online research of the company and its culture, brainstormed your key skills and experience that match this position, and started to construct stories that describe your accomplishments in interesting and memorable ways.

In this final installment on Cover Letter Basics, we’ll briefly review how you can piece the key components together to make your cover letter fluid, reader-friendly, and persuasive. We’re talking “Big Blocks” here:

Answer these questions in your opening paragraph:

Who are you?  (“I’m a second-year MBA student at the Simon School, University of Rochester, concentrating in Finance.”)

What do you want and how did you find out about it? (“I’m writing to express my interest in the position of financial analyst, which I learned about on my school’s career center website”).

What are my KEY QUALIFICATIONS  for this job? (a brief personal branding statement):  In one or two sentences, try to capture as much of YOU that matches as much of THEM as you can.  Is the company looking for excellent analytical and quantitative skills, communication and teamwork abilities?

(Don’t just parrot the company’s wish list–use unique information succinctly so that even if the reader only looks at the first paragraph, she or he will immediately appreciate your potential.  Mentioning work in the same industry, high profile companies, and accomplishments with measurable results is a sure way to catch your reader’s attention.)

Here’s an example of utilizing company names to attract immediate reader interest:

  • “I have developed superior problem solving, cross-functional management, and strategic communication skills through my previous experience at Boston Consulting Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Daiwa Securities Group.” 

And here’s a statement that adds some zing to more general information by alluding to former experience in the consulting industry and by using (appropriately) confident phrasing:

  • My industry experience, innovative problem solving ability, successful teamwork and ability to communicate effectively would make me a strong asset for Deloitte.”

Make your case in Paragraph 2 or the main body of the cover letter:

In each of the key sentences above, the writer went on to specifically support each attribute named with specific examples of accomplishments in each area. Explain each of the qualifications you’ve identified in your personal statement in Paragraph 1 in detail, providing examples that support your argument. (You can separate the body of the letter into multiple paragraphs that each talk about one basic qualification, as well, or you may choose to line up the key information using a “T” or “Q” chart format, where you state company’s needs on one side of the “T” and your matching skills and talents on the other.)

Wrap it all up in the final paragraph(s):

Briefly restate your key arguments.  Demonstrate your eagerness to be part of the organization (and why).  Though protocol for the next step in the hiring process may differ, always express your sincere hope that you may have the opportunity to share more about the ways you feel can contribute to your reader’s organization!

Good luck!  Make sure to follow the Zuroski Consulting blog for more insights and information on your professional communication!

– EZ