Because it can be difficult to figure out how to write a great cover letter, I decided to put a sample together to show you what I’m talking about in earlier posts on cover letters. The text in regular type is the draft I reviewed, and the ALL CAPS text are my comments. In brackets are the pieces of information specific to the employer to which you are applying. This is a winning format – meaning, you are more likely to win interviews with this cover letter format.

[Date]

Human Resources
[Employer Name]
[Employer Address]

To Whom it May Concern,

It is with great enthusiasm that I am applying for the [Title of Position] at [Copmpany]. As an avid public radio listener, I have long been a fan of [Company].
IMPORTANT TO ADD SOMETHING HERE ABOUT WHY PLACE INTERESTS YOU – FLATTERY GETS YOU PLACES – TAKE SOMETHING FROM THEIR MISSION, WEB-SITE, THE JOB POSTING, TO SHOW YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION. My resume is enclosed.

As you will see from my resume, I have managed teams at two equally extraordinary institutions, [xyz] and [abc]. In these two positions, I have met or exceeded established goals. Some specific accomplishments include:

  • Designing and implementing fundraising strategies generating more than $1m in revenue
  • Instituting systems to improve operational efficiency
  • Successfully engaging key stakeholders in joint ownership of processes and solutions

HERE IS WHERE YOU NEED PARAGRAPHS, INSTEAD OF BULLET POINTS. BULLET POINTS GO IN THE RESUME. IN A COVER LETTER, THEY SEEM TO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE RESUME AND GIVE PEOPLE PERMISSION TO IGNORE THE RESUME. PLUS, THE READER HAS TO DO TOO MUCH WORK READING BULLETS.

YOUR JOB IN THE COVER LETTER IS TO CONNECT THE DOTS, LITERALLY, BETWEEN THE JOB RESPONSIBILITIES/REQUIREMENTS AND YOUR EXPERIENCE/SKILLS.

CONSTRUCT A WELL-WRITTEN NARRATIVE PARAGRAPH THAT OPENS WITH A GENERAL STATEMENT OF A POINT THAT ILLUSTRATES HOW “THE POSITION PLAYS TO YOUR STRENGTHS…” AND THEN AN EXAMPLE THAT DESCRIBES HOW YOU USED SPECIFIC SKILLS TO ACHIEVE A PARTICULAR IMPACT.

THE KEY WORD IS “DESCRIBES” BECAUSE YOU ARE PAINTING A WORD PICTURE THAT CONVEYS A LOT IN ABOUT 5-7 LINES (3-4 SENTENCES). CHOOSE ONE KEY FOCUS.

ADD A REFERENCE TO HOW YOU THINK THIS EXPERIENCE WOULD TRANSLATE TO EMPLOYER, WHY YOU KNOW YOU COULD RAISE THE PROFILE AND FUNDING OF THIS IMPORTANT INSTITUTION.

REMEMBER, THE JOB REQUIRES PERSUASIVENESS, SO DEMONSTRATE YOUR ABILITY TO PERSUADE.

Prior to working with non-profit institutions, I worked as a corporate human resources/training and organizational development professional. With 10 years of progressive experience, I have specialized in building new functions or increasing the efficiency and capability of my group. Areas of strength include:

  • Leading and managing staff
  • Executing projects with many detailed tasks
  • Communicating with all levels of an organization
  • Managing budgets and analyzing and presenting data
  • Cultivating relationships

AGAIN, PUT THESE INTO A PARAGRAPH, RELATING IT TO THE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER’S WORK.

It is my passion for [organization’s mission and work] that make this opportunity very exciting. I LIKE TO ADD SOMETHING EFFUSIVE ABOUT THE PLACE – “IT WOULD BE AN HONOR TO CONTRIBUTE TO [EMPLOYER’S] MISSION TO…” OR “I’VE LONG ADMIRED [EMPLOYER’S] REPUTATION FOR [XYZ] EXCELLENCE…” – DEFINITELY USE THE EMPLOYER’S NAME!
ALONG WITH SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEM PERHAPS INTERESTED IN TALKING TO ME – “BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS MUCH MORE I CAN SAY ABOUT HOW I WOULD ADD VALUE TO [EMPLOYER]”

I would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss my credentials with you further. You can contact me at [telephone number] or at [email address].

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you very soon.

Sincerely,

I will post a rewritten cover letter so you can see what difference it makes to use my suggested changes.