Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear CR: What Do You Think Of My Cover Letter?


I'm a fan of your blog. Can you take a look at this cover letter and tell me what you think?

In lieu of a traditional cover letter I am going to list a few of the top reasons to hire me:

I have extensive administrative experience
I have an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm
I am organized and pay great attention to detail
I have the ability to prioritize & multi-task
I have knowledge of various computer programs
I am fantastic on the phone
I have lived abroad twice (China and Brazil)
I am self-motivated and a positive supportive team player

As a result of my varied experiences, I have learned how to work in various situations with varied goals. I have amazing time management skills and regularly exceed my scheduled goals. Regardless of what position I have been put in my team members and managers whom have worked with me frequently comment that working with me is both a pleasure and inspiring!





There's nothing wrong with your cover letter, but my gut reaction is that it doesn't do much to stand out. Administrative tasks, experience living abroad, computer skills, and various levels of enthusiasm are all good, but they don't set you apart. Any motivated job seeker will have most of those skills. You also sent me your resume, and there were some interesting tidbits in there that didn't make it into your cover letter.

I'm going to write a short sample paragraph that might be what your cover letter could look like. You didn't indicate what type of job you're interested in, so I'm going to pretend you're applying for a position as a Development Director for a international nonprofit...


I'm applying for the Development Director position, and here are the top 3 reasons you should interview me:

* Excellent fund raising experience - raised $XXXXX for my current employer over last 12 months by writing grants and directly soliciting our donor base via telephone.
* Strong international experience - have worked for last 2 years working with government offices in Africa, have lived abroad in China and Brazil, and I speak conversational Portuguese and Mandarin.
* Natural event planner - you'll see from my work as a filmmaker that I can initiate and execute complex projects, and this makes me a natural fit for organizing fund raising events (especially if we provide original video content!)


You need to write something in your own style, but the basic idea is to brag about your accomplishments. On paper it is more effective to showcase your experiences and background than trying to focus on traits such as being a hard worker and detail oriented.

Keep in mind that lists are most effective with 3 to 5 points. Also, you probably don't need to start off each line with adjectives like "excellent" or "natural", especially if your accomplishments are truly impressive, but a little fluff is okay. Just don't pump yourself up too much :)

Hope that helps!


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