Cover Letters – the long and the short of it

Mari Anoran is a terrific person and someone I have been honored to help along her career path. She gave me permission to share this recent email exchange about cover letters. She had a great question, and as you’ll see she is a good writer. She certainly revved my answer response into high gear. We thought this advice would help others with a similar question…

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Angela, do you have any advice on cover letters?  Mine tend to be short with a brief overview of my job experience.
Thanks!!!
Mari

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Mari, would you send me an example of your cover letter?  I like short… but I think it does need to speak specifically to the job you’re targeting…
Angela

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This was for a posting on CareerBuilder that was for an investment company.
Thanks!!!

Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to you in response to your advertisement for an executive assistant on CareerBuilder.com. As you can see from my enclosed resume, my experience and qualifications are a match for this position’s requirements.

I have a solid background as an executive assistant in the financial services industry. During the two years that I worked at McMorgan & Company, a family-owned investment company, I reported to the Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Information Officer in a challenging and busy work environment that required independent decision-making as well as being accountable for my work.

I look forward to an opportunity to personally discuss the position with you.
Sincerely,

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I like your cover letter, Mari, and don’t think it’s too short.  Short and succinct is good.  The only suggestion I could make that might give it more impact (and would, consequently make it longer) would be to add an accomplishment/result.  If you have any special accomplishments/results from that particular job you cited as similar to the one to which you were applying, you could add it in.  If not, don’t worry about it.  I am a believer in cover letters (I once asked a former manager who hired me why she brought me in – what attracted her to me since I didn’t have industry-related experience, and she said that I wrote a good cover letter and impressed her), but I think the resume is far more important.  What if the cover letter gets separated from the resume and is never read by the hiring authority?  What if they just don’t bother with reading it because they don’t have time, don’t like cover letters or don’t care?  Any accomplishment/result that would matter toward the job you’re trying for should be on the resume.  So, my feedback is that your cover letter is fine as is… spend the time punching up your resume and be succinct and professional (as you have) on the cover letter.

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