Cover letters are still an important document in an executive job seeker’s collateral materials. They provide a good opportunity to build rapport with a recruiter or prospective employer. Comments expressed by more than 75% of hiring managers range from “somewhat valuable to very valuable” when evaluating an executive candidate for a position who presents a cover letter.
Eye appeal is important. A visually attractive cover letter is easy on the eyes of the reader. If it is overly verbose with lengthy paragraphs you might overwhelm the reader. Much like resume appeal, create short paragraphs and highlight important points in succinct bullets.
Originality counts. A recruiter and hiring manager can spot a generic cover letter in seconds. Review the job posting and customize your cover letter to focus on how your skills and accomplishments match the talent they are looking for. Having a good basic cover letter that you can modify for each job opportunity is key.
Relevancy matters. This is especially true if you are changing industries. Show how your skills translate to the new industry. And if you are staying in the same field, make sure you are highlighting experience and accomplishments that speak to the needs and problems of the position you are applying for.
Proofread, then proofread again. You don’t want to make a bad first impression. A cover letter with typos, poor spelling and/or bad grammar can kill your chances of being considered a good candidate.
Name drop. If at all possible, use your connections to help you get your foot in the door. A referred executive is appreciated in the eyes of the recruiter or hiring manager. It helps strengthen your position if someone can vouch for you.
Even with the online application process, don’t underestimate the importance of a cover letter.