Writing a Killer Cover Letter: The 3 C’s

Cover letters are critical to your success. They introduce you and are an indicator of your intellect, selling and business savvy and confidence, as well as your professional experience and skills. Résumés are more impersonal documents that contain information and facts, spun to sell your value. A résumé is rather rigid document at best.

Approach your cover letter with as much respect and care as you do the résumé; it can make or break you.

Cover Letters: Traditional

Traditionally, there have been three parts to a cover letter:

  1. The introduction: Usually an obligatory statement that mentioned the position you were applying for and how you learned of it (clarifying, perhaps; but boring, absolutely).
  2. The body: One or two paragraphs that summarized your experience and career goals (all about you; not good).
  3. A final paragraph: Often an invitation to review your résumé and request that the screener call if interested (a weak ending if you think about the fact that you’re the product meekly asking the buyer to consider “trying” you).

Cover Letters: The 3 C’s

Susan Whitcomb, author of several best-selling résumé, letter and job-search books, coined 3 “C” phrases that simplify and get to the heart of what the letter’s key pieces of connecting should be:

  • The Carrot: An introduction that is fresh, interesting and relevant. In English 101 class, this is also referred to as the hook. Get the reader to read on from the get-go.

    • Sample:
      A second grade teacher made the difference in my life a difference that guided me to be a role model to students rather than a disrupter out on the streets or worse.
  • The Corroboration: Content that shows an intelligent understanding of the employer’s needs and confirms your ability to fill those needs. This has to be about what you can do for them; not a summary of what’s already in your résumé.
    • Sample:
      Working with special needs and under served student populations, such as District 123 serves, is my area of expertise! I also understand that one of your biggest challenges is keeping up with the demands for English as a Second Language; I can help here too! Here are some my successes relevant to District 123’s stated needs:
      [follow with 3-4 bullets of quantifiable, relevant accomplishments
  • The Close: A confident finish that might suggest a meeting or invite the reader to take further action. Ask for the interview with confidence! Convey that you have no doubt there will be next steps!
    • Sample :
      There are intangibles difficult to convey on paper. This is a fit! A personal meeting would help us clarify the great fit I sense it to be! I can duplicate the above (and more) to contribute to District 123’s continued success, and I look forward to the next step!

Cover Letters: More Tips

Cover Letters more tips


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