How to write a strategic cover letter

Often I am asked to provide a sample cover letter for my clients, of course, I am happy to write a cover letter for my clients. One is now provided in every package. The problem is that sending a cover letter I wrote for someone else won’t help. What the job seekers need is a strategic cover letter. For me to successfully write the cover letter, I need the job description they are targeting or at least a job description for a role they want.

How to use a job description to write a strategic cover letter

The goal of a strategic cover letter is to prompt the employer to call you for an interview. One of the mistakes many job seekers make is to use the same cover letter for every position. Cover letters need to address the specific needs of the employer.

Take a look at the job description. Identify the paragraph that defines the position. For example:

You will contribute to one of the most ambitious technology projects in crypto today: building a trustless custody infrastructure for the trillion-dollar digital asset industry.

We are looking for a seasoned, highly motivated Chief Information Security Officer to develop and implement a comprehensive information security strategy for our company. You will also ensure that our IT security system adheres to regulatory requirements and analyze threats to our logical environment in real-time. This will include strategic vision, scoping of requirements, designing, development, implementation, incident response, budgeting and compliance to all necessary protocols, regulations and legal requirements.

Identify what the company is seeking in your strategic cover letter

Key to this job description is the phrase:

develop and implement a comprehensive information security strategy

You need to define how you can fulfill this requirement. If you completed a similar project, illustrate what you did. In anything you have done that is confidential or proprietary, respect the company you have worked for and eliminate specifics but still share the contributions you have made.

Clarify how you fit the requirements

Take a look at these requirements:

  • 10+ years experience as a Chief Information Security Officer.
  • Recognized security expert in multiple areas, with cross-functional team experience.
  • Engineering expert capabilities of challenging the reasoning of other engineers.

At this level of a role, the requirements are often very specific and you should assume that the company carefully planned the requirements. This is another reason to read job descriptions thoroughly.

One strategy that clients and I use in writing their resumes is a clear focus on accomplishments. We position the most critical success stories at the top of the resume in a highlights section. In addition, there are numerous success stories positioned throughout the resume. Repurpose the success stories in the cover letter to substantiate your skills and illustrate how you are the best candidate for the role.

Your close in the cover letter must include an “ask.” Ask them for the interview:

I welcome the opportunity to further discuss my qualifications and how I can be an asset to your organization. Please contact me to schedule the next step in your interview process.

With this strategy, you are letting them know that you want the job and giving them an opportunity to reach out to you.

Add your contact information to the signature block

It is critical to have contact information in the signature block so that the hiring decision-makers can reach out to you. Phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL. (This assumes your LinkedIn profile is ready. Don’t make these 7 Fatal LinkedIn Mistakes.)

When you apply for your next role, make sure you include a strategic cover letter. You will increase your chances of being called for the interview.

Reach out to me to learn how I can help you win your next role.

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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