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Proven Ways to Craft a Great Cover Letter

Justin Tyler

There is a myth I keep hearing regarding the relevancy and need of a cover letter.  A lot of people that I converse with believe that cover letters are rarely viewed and have a minimal stake in the outcome of hiring decisions.


Cover letters still hold value, are often required to submit in job postings and are frequently read by hiring managers to determine who is the best fit for the vacant role among the shortlist of final candidates.

The general purpose of a cover letter is to showcase how your knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs) and experience make you the best qualified candidate for the position.  Recruiters and hiring managers want to predict how successful you will be in the new position as well as evaluate your fit within the organization.

So, what are the elements of a winning cover letter?

The first section to address is the Contact Information and Letter Opening sections.  The following things will be found in these sections:

Contact Information:

·       First and Last Name

·       Résumé Tagline

·       Telephone Number

·       Email Address

·       LinkedIn URL/Relevant Social Media Handles

·       City, State and Zip Code

Letter Opening:

·       Hiring Manager First and Last Name

·       His/Her Professional Title

·       Organization Name

·       Address

·       City, State and Zip Code

Here are some key tips to remember:

·       Use a professional email address only that uses your first name, last name and/or middle initial, if applicable



·       Never use your work email address!  That’s just common sense!

·       Use only “modern” email providers like Gmail or you can opt to use your personal domain email.

·       Ensure that your contact information (first and last names, résumé tagline, telephone number, email address, LinkedIn URL, social media handles and address) are consistent across your résumé, cover letter and social media profiles.

·       Write “Dear Hiring Manager” if you cannot find the name of the hiring manager.  You also have the option of writing “Dear Hiring Team,” as well.


Depending on the organizational culture and norms of the company, I would opt to personalize the cover letter by addressing the hiring manager by first name using “Dear John” IF the culture and company are more casual.  For a suit-and-tie corporate setting, it would be in your best interest to address your cover letter in the following manner:

·       Dear Miss Davis

·       Dear Ms. Davis

·       Dear Mrs. Davis

·       Dear Mr. Davis

It is always the best approach to personalize the cover letter when applicable because there is a human connection when a person addresses a letter directly to our attention.  If the cover letter is also masterfully written and appeals to how you will further the organization’s success, there is a very strong chance that you will be remembered and potentially called for an interview.


Now, it’s time to define what will make-up the general content of a winning cover letter.

Opening Paragraph:       Grab the attention of the hiring manager

Body Paragraph:             Display your qualifications, top achievements and why you can be successful at their organization

Closing Paragraph:         Demonstrate why you are a great culture and performance fit for the organization

Opening Paragraph

The first few sentences of the opening paragraph will make-or-break your chances with hiring managers as they will decide if your cover letter is worth reading more.

If you do not want to entice hiring managers to read more, then write this run-of-the-mill statement:



“I would like to express my interest in the Sales Manager role advertised on the Indeed job board.  As a regional sales manager with 9 years of experience, I am positive that I can excel in this role.

Blah. Boring. Mundane!

These opening statements are inadequate because they do not convey value and offer minimal details that suggest success.  Essentially, you are communicating with the hiring manager that you will be successful in this role because you have the prerequisite experience for the position.

Let’s take another stab at the opening paragraph by providing value statements and details that indicate future success in the role that you are applying to.



“As an ardent follower of ABC’s sales strategies, I was ecstatic to identify your position for the Regional Sales Manager position.  I am positive that I can contribute to overcoming ABC’s upcoming challenges.  I have extensive experience leading transformative change in sales at several Fortune 1000 companies with budgets over $10 million annually.  Moreover, I have consistently exceeded sales targets by 75% and have expanded business in 4 new states in the past year.”

If you were the hiring manager, which opening paragraph will have you scrambling for the candidate’s phone number to give him/her a call?  Your cover letter’s opening statement should entice hiring managers to read on…, and on…, and on (to the second and third paragraphs).

Body Paragraph

The second paragraph will help you define how you will specifically help the organization succeed (based off their job description).  Based on the organization’s needs, let’s say that ABC is looking for (1) team-oriented sales manager that has the (2) ability to attain talent and develop teams into top performers, then an effective body paragraph will directly address these exact needs.


“In my current role at DEF, I have supervised all phases of our regional sales team contingents, including the recruitment, selection, orientation, training, scheduling, coaching, mentoring and discipline of employees, using a team-building and professional development approach (1).  Last year, I was principally tasked with leading transformational culture change within our regional teams to improve individual team member professional development and performance (2).  Fast forward a year later and 4 out of 12 team members were promoted to roles of higher responsibility and our regional team set a regional sales milestone by exceeding sales quota 100% for the year (2).

It is an integral practice to first understand an employer’s definitive needs in a candidate in order to expertly identify and support your qualification around these needs.  There should be a clear relationship between what the employer needs and how you have fulfilled those needs through past and current achievements.  Therefore, it will be much easier for hiring managers to anticipate your success level in their organization.

Closing Paragraph

The third paragraph needs to state your desire for this particular role and company.  As much as hiring managers hire talent because candidates have the right skill set and experience, it is equally important to hire a candidate that will both enjoy working for the company as well as enjoy working with colleagues in the new work environment.

Thus, your third paragraph should identify what the company is focusing on (requires research) (1), state your interest in this initiative (2) and repeat that your KSAs match with the company’s direction (3).

Here’s how it’s done:


“I am aware that ABC’s current initiatives involve the expansion of our consumer base by redefining how the organization does business with consumers (1).  This strategy is a complimentary match for my personal and professional interests and an intriguing opportunity to increase social media branding and engagement as well as instituting a solid customer referral incentive (2).  I would be honored to leverage my knowledge of social media brand positioning, proven customer referral process and a strong incentive program to achieve avant-garde results with this initiative (3).


The proper ending to cover letter is just as important as the beginning because you do not want to waste the momentum and interest of the hiring manager.

Continue to show your value by reiterating how you can fit as their next hire.


“I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your sales, objectives and show you how my success at DEF can translate into individual and team sales growth at ABC.”

There is no need to repeat the repeated by saying tired statements such as “Thank you for your time and consideration” and “I hope to hear from you soon.”

Don’t become needy because you are not coming off in a position of strength.  Maintain confidence that your value and company fit throughout the cover letter.

At last, you can end your cover letter with the following formal closings such as:

·       Thank You,

·       Sincerely,

·       Sincerely Yours,

·       Respectfully Yours,

·       Regards,

To add a personalized touch, you can add your digital signature after the formal closing to further cement the personalization of your cover letter.

Create Achiever-Based Statements

Justin Tyler

Make an honest attempt to quantify what you do.  Give recruiters a proper scope of “how much” so they can relate your achievements to predict your potential success at their organization.  The proof is always found in the details.



·       Achieved 95% spike in customer satisfaction ratings through frequent customer visits; developed customized action plans to exceed customer expectations, conducted product in-services and executed individualized sales strategies

·       Secured TRD’s “On the Spot” award FY 2016; publicly recognized with 2 additional sales awards FY 2017

·       Drastically revamped bottom-tier sales territory by steering cost minimizing strategies and professional development; generated record-setting $70k in gross sales in the first 90 days in position


·       Significantly increased sales for 8-member team

·       Reduced costs in sales territory

Using the STRONG example, it will be undeniable for recruiters to not see the quantifiable, tangible impact that they are looking for.  They will be compelled to call you to see how you achieved these results.

One approach to build powerful, achievement-based statements is the PAR method (Problem-Action-Result).  This approach is the standard “language” for recruiters and hiring managers.  Indirectly, listing achievements in the PAR method prepares you to answer interview questions that challenge you to state specific examples.

Problem:            Previous employer wanted to bolster customer retention

Action:                Conducted customer service training and wrote corrective action plans

Results:               Increased customer retention by 38% in 9 months

Example of Achievement-Based Statement:

“Increased regional customer retention by 38% in 9 months through rigorous customer service training in 6 states and executed corrective action plans based on customer satisfaction surveys”

Also, impactful statements can be qualitative, too.  Every statement does not need quantifiable proof, but where can you find the qualitative evidence?

·       Awards, honors or recognition (formal or informal)

·       Performance evaluation feedback and scores

·       Promotions, career progression and added responsibilities

·       Leveraging training, courses, professional development that helped you achieve results

Make Your First Impression Your BEST Impression!

Justin Tyler

Just like introducing yourself confidently and memorably to a person of interest for the first time, the same premise holds for your résumé, as well.  After adding your Contact Information to your résumé, it now demands a strong, notable introduction to recruiters and hiring managers.

On average, recruiters take 6 seconds to scan your résumé on average between conducting a phone screen, answering emails, deciding what to eat for lunch, writing notes in their recruiting database and posting a message on their Facebook page.  Oh, I forgot to mention that recruiters at busy organizations are probably working on 4 other open positions that field an average of 250 applications per job post.

Yeahhh, time is of the essence for recruiters as well as what you first present to the attention of hiring managers.  You must do what it legally takes to earn recruiter’s attention because it’s too easy for them to turn down a résumé.

A proper Résumé Summary/Objective section should be short, concise and memorable.  It must showcase your experience, qualifications, achievement and top skills.  You are demonstrating why you are an outstanding candidate and potential future hire.


“High performing, enthusiastic sales leader with 10 years of experience motivating and leading diverse sales teams to achievement.  Consistently rated top 10% annually in territory sales across five states with over $50 million earned in total product sales.  Driver of high-volume sales and market share growth with key accounts.  Customizes sales, marketing and distribution services based on customer needs and interests.”

A Résumé Objective can also be utilized to demonstrate your professional value, but the difference lies in how to construct the statement and who should use it.


“Seasoned account executive genuinely interested in becoming a recruiter.  Possesses a recent track record of account acquisition with consistent monthly sales ranking in top 5% organization-wide.  Earned stellar retention ratings with less than 5% attrition.  Will apply patience and understanding of recruitment nuances and strategies to recruit and retain top talent.”

This particular job seeker desires a transition from sales to recruitment/HR.

Always position your résumé summary or résumé objective to focus on employer needs and how you can exceed their expectations.

Job seekers who should prefer the résumé objective are the following:

·       Career Changers

·       Students and Entry-Level Job Seekers

·       Job Seekers Targeting Specific Positions

Moreover, compliment your résumé summary/objective with your top core competencies and skills that are requested on the job description that is being used to build your résumé.


Wait, I don’t know if you caught that, but every résumé and cover letter MUST be based off the job description of your preference.  Yes, hiring managers scan your résumé in 6 seconds or less for your qualifications and vital keywords, but oftentimes, they are not the first set of “eyes” on your résumé.  It is the 21st century and the era of optimizing time, so it is only fitting that your résumé is most likely to be scanned and vetted by a robot.  Yes, a robot, through the form of an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).  This software scans résumés for specific keywords that were specifically listed on the job description.

How does this process work?

1.       Hiring manager scans résumés into a computer

2.       Hiring manager inputs keywords that the ATS will scan

3.       ATS scans résumés for their keywords

4.       ATS provides a grade/percentage on keywords found

5.       Hiring manager will/will not contact applicant for interview based on this score

Even worse, if you spell something that has different variations (like the acronym MBA v. M.B.A.), you can be penalized without your knowing.

Thus, literally mirror the exact spelling on the job description.  Use phrases verbatim, but don’t get too carried away with copying every keyword on your résumé, especially if you can’t support them with your work history and achievements.