Your Warm Application: Cover Letters
Welcome to Day 7!
Today, we’ll talk about cover letters. The purpose of the cover letter is to demonstrate a reason for why a DM should care enough about your candidacy to set aside time for you.
Cover letters generally fall into two main categories of badness:
1. They essentially restate points that are already on the resume.
2. They are puff pieces that make grand claims with no support.
The Modified Approach
For both the cover letter and your upcoming interviews, it’s good to have a bank of somewhat structured stories at your disposal. I call it a Value Story Database (VSD). Basically, it’s just seven to ten stories that are recollected and crafted around your narrative and are ready to deliver. These stories anticipate questions and are intended to showcase and telegraph value.
They roughly follow a simple Background/Action/Result (BAR) structure. Your cover letter would use one to three of these stories. They will support your “solution thesis,” i.e., your claim about why you are the solution to the company’s relevant problem or pain point.
Here is what you should mention in your cover letter:
1. Point out your “link” into the job—how you heard about it, your connection to it, and why it’s relevant or logical for you to explore it.
2. State your interpretation of the company’s relevant problem. Your understanding is that the company could use help with X.
3. State your thesis about how you can be the one to excel at addressing problem X.
4. Use stories that can be best molded to support the thesis. You may only have room for one solid story about how you have creatively/successfully solved a similar problem in the past.
5. State your proposal for next steps.
Now let’s craft a template of a good cover letter.
[X] – the problem or pain point
[Z] – the specific field/specialization
[Y] – the category of solutions you specialize in
[S] – the unique or specialized solution you provide
[A] – alternative but inferior solutions to yours
[IF] – factor causing inferiority of alternative solutions
[TR] – tangible results such as metrics, quantifiers, and achievements
Note: Obviously when filling this in and adding your own voice, it hopefully won’t read as “stiff” as this.
I’ve come to know a good deal about [company you’re applying to] by way of [project you’ve worked on or insider you know or other link to the job]. I am confident that a potential fit is worth exploring due to my extensive track record in [Z].
I understand that ABC Company has a growing need for [Z] [the targeted role]. Recent market fluctuations [or something or other] have led to [X], and we in the industry have had to respond with [S] [some unique insight you have into what may be causing the need]. I am a [Z] that does [Y]. I can help address [X], and I have extensive experience responding with various [Y] things, such as [S1], [S2], and [S3].
[STORY 1 Background:]
At XYZ Company, they were dealing with [X] in this way. They originally tried to solve this case of [X] with [A]. It ended up not being the best solution [and/or wasting a lot of time and money] because of [IF]. XYZ engaged me when looking for a more dependable and cost-effective solution.
[Story 1 Action:]
I was able to bring a fresh approach to the table by implementing [S1] in this particular way.
[Story 1 Result:]
My role of implementing S1 was the key factor in creating [TR1] and [TR2].
[Construct similar stories for S2 and S3 (depending on length/space).]
[Proposal for Next Steps]
Given the unique alignment of my skills with the apparent goals of ABC, I sincerely hope we can find time in our schedules to discuss this further. You’ll find an overview of my career highlights in the enclosed resume. My plan is to follow up in a week after you’ve had some time for review.
And then your sign-off.
Tomorrow, we’ll be moving on to discuss interview strategy and preparation.
Happy job marketeering until then,
Share with friends