David Silverman, an entrepreneur, executive, and author, writes about the best cover letter he’s ever received on Harvard Business Review.
He complains that most cover letters are terrible because they either recap the resume, are merely a formality, or get way too personal.
There are only three situations when a cover letter should be written, he says: when you know the hiring person’s name,when you know something about the job’s requirements or when someone refers you.
The best example he’s ever seen is short and sweet and goes like so:
I am writing in response to the opening for xxxx, which I believe may report to you.
I can offer you seven years of experience managing communications for top-tier xxxx firms, excellent project-management skills, and a great eye for detail, all of which should make me an ideal candidate for this opening.
I have attached my résumé for your review and would welcome the chance to speak with you sometime.
“Here’s what I like about this cover letter,” Silverman writes. “It’s short. It sums up the résumé as it relates to the job. It asks for the job.”
Do those three things and you’ll nail your CV. Or at the very least, you’ll wow Silverman.
Read more about why Silverman was amazed at HBR >>
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Plan on working on your cover letter this weekend? While there are plenty of resources out there—including ours!—Amy Gallo of Harvard Business Review recently compiled a list of tips for a great cover letters based on interviews with hiring managers and case studies. Both case studies are of nonprofits and include helpful advice for people looking to land a job in the sector. In one case study, a potential candidate wanted to work for the International Rescue Committee and applied for multiple positions. Here’s what she did to stand out:
Sarah Vania, the organization’s regional HR director, says that Emily’s letters caught her attention, especially because they included several video links that showed the results of Emily’s advocacy and fundraising work at other organizations. Emily explains, “I had prior experience advocating for former child soldiers, human trafficking survivors, vulnerable women, and displaced persons. It’s one thing to make statements in a cover letter, like ‘I can make a pitch, I am a creative person, I am thoughtful,’ but showing these qualities seemed like a better way of convincing the recruiter that the statements were true.”
Read the rest of case study and Amy’s tips on Harvard Business Review.
Amy’s advice and the insights from hiring managers confirm what we know about nonprofit hiring managers from our recent annual survey: genuine interest in the mission and hands-on experience (whether it be through a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity) are key to making a powerful first impression.
Come across any other helpful cover letter tips? Share them in the comments.
Tags: amy gallo, cover letter, Harvard Business Review
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