Harvard Business Online
About Cover Letters
When you know something about the job requirement
When you've been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2) Under those conditions, you can help your cause by doing some of the résumé analysis for your potential new boss. To illustrate, here's the best cover letter I ever received: Dear David: 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. Best regards, Xxxx Xxxx Here's what I like about this cover letter: It's short. It sums up the résumé as it relates to the job. It asks for the job. The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me. Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on. And that means the writer isn't just showing me skills related to the job, he's showing me he'll be the kind of employee who offers up solutions—instead of just laying problems on my desk. What do you think? Have you ever secured a job thanks to a cover letter? What's your view on the value—or lack thereof—of cover letters?