By Danny Rubin
Kill the cover letter?
I don’t think so.
In an article called “Kill the Cover Letter and Resume,” Jesse Singal at New York Magazine proposes we do away with the pair because they are boring, inefficient and littered with social and racial biases.
Here’s a prejudice I would love an employer to hold: “This person’s cover letter is so damn good that now I am biased and want to interview him.”
Every one of us has experiences and knowledge employers crave…even from an internship, as a volunteer or in college. Problem is, we don’t always know how to convey it.
I hope you find the cover letter template below useful. It contains my best writing/editing practices and is an appropriate length. ***Note: It’s a fictional scenario.***
Two main components of an effective cover letter, in my view:
- Begin with a memorable story to catch the reader’s attention and demonstrate ability (more info on storytelling).
- Relate how your skills and experiences can help the company with its challenges.
Learn to tell your own story, and doors will open. [TWEET]
The Template for an Effective Young Professional Cover Letter
The job: Entry-level program associate at a non-profit. Duties include research, event planning and assisting senior-level managers. See footnotes at the bottom for additional info.
To Whom It May Concern,
I looked up at the sky and couldn’t believe it: storm clouds.1
For months, my team and I had prepared for the annual Dance Marathon charity bash, in which students dance for 24 hours straight and raise money for children’s hospitals.2 We had the campus quad reserved and the event ready to go. Then, out of nowhere, a huge thunderstorm threatened to ruin everything.
As team leader, I quickly organized our group to take the dance party inside the gymnasium, notified all participants about the location change and worked with an audio/visual tech to ensure the music played indoors. Within hours, we had Dance Marathon back on track and, in the end, collected $11,000 for charity, the most we ever raised.
My name is John Doe, and I want to be your next program associate. I know it can be challenging to organize, plan and execute big events, and I am ready to work hard for the [name of the organization].3 Issues and setbacks can appear without warning, and it takes determination to work through them.
As I researched your organization, I learned a great deal about the inspiring work you do with [reference a client or project]. I also read about challenges in the nonprofit sector.4 For people to donate today, it’s essential to reach them in unique and meaningful ways, particularly online. I spend a lot of time on various social networks and would do my best to bring fresh thinking to the table.
Above all, I am excited to take my hands-on skills of social media and event planning and put them to use for your organization. I enjoy being part of a group, know how to work quickly and always finish what I start.5 I also try to be curious and explore what I don’t know.
The Dance Marathon incident taught me the importance of quick decisions and staying focused despite a hectic situation. I am ready to bring the same work ethic and energy to your team.6
Thanks for the opportunity, and I hope to hear from you soon.
1. Start with a unique story; hook the reader.
2. Give concrete details. The more specifics, the more colorful the anecdote.
3. Demonstrate how the story applies to the job you want.
4. Prove you researched the company and understand its challenges in the broader marketplace. (more on this topic)
5. Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story at the top.
6. End by referencing the beginning; bring the cover letter full circle.
The cover letter I wrote is (hopefully) memorable and proves the person is right for the job.
Remember: you have tremendous life experiences. Think hard, bring them to the surface and make your job application impossible to forget.
What’s the toughest part of the cover letter for you?
Featured: itupictures (Flickr)
June 3, 2014
Make people care or they walk away.
June 9, 2014
An NTLB guest post from Therese at The Unlost.