Career advice: What's your best cover letter tip?

posted 5 months ago in Career
Post # 2
9175 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Honestly, if a video isn’t a required part of the application, I wouldn’t do it — I feel like it could do more harm than good, especially if you haven’t yet spoken to anyone to find out more about the job and what exactly it entails, and especially at 5-7 min long (which would probably feel like an eternity for those who actually click the link).

If you’re set on doing it, I would just prepare for it not being watched at all and would make sure all other aspects of your resume/cover letter are solid.

Post # 3
7629 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

bluejaybride :  as a former hiring manager I’ll be real with you – I struggled to get through this post and I definitely wouldn’t watch a video. Be clear, concise, and specific – I’ve got 100 other resumes to read if you don’t grab my attention in the first 3 sentences I’m moving on. 

Post # 5
1224 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I would not recommend a video, unless creative use of media is a core responsiblity of the role and a strength of the organizations.


For the cover letter:

– 3-4 paragraph structure with paragraph 1) ~3 sentences intro/context/name dropping (if you’ve met someone in hte organization that had an impression on you and you are confident would speak favorably of you, name drop them); 2) opening sentence explaining the 3 strengths you bring to the table (e.g. communicating for results, leadership, analytical problem solving) and then back up sentences SHOWING (not telling) how you delivered impact through each strength.


Don’t: “I have strong communication skills and was often responsible for presenting to different audiences of varioius levels”

Do: “I delivered a 6 month change management program on XYZ by aligning stakeholders from executive level to frontline staff through frequent workshops, formal steering committee presentations, and one-on-one meetings”

Paragraph 3: if you have extensive knowledge about the organization, drop in 2-3 sentences on the org’s mission, strenghts, profile (whatever) and what you find impressive about it. (optional – only do this if genuine and don’t come across as brown-nosing/flattering)

last paragraph: wrap up and next steps. 1 sentence summary of strengths being a good fit, 1 sentence on why the company is great, 1 sentence thanking them for their time and looking forward to discussing the role in more detail. 

Remember, the cover letter should be action-oriented (not descriptive) and convey impact/results that you’ve delivered. Sell yourself using direct language (no flouncy/esoteric wordiness).

Maximum one page (including formal address and date on top and signature at bottom).


ETA: This is advice for standard business professional cover letter writing. If the organization is very creative focused or grassrootes – you may want to drop some of the formality (e.g. formatting and letter structuring). 

Post # 6
1224 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

bluejaybride :  I again recommend against the video, but if you are gung-ho on including make sure it’s maximum 2 minutes (seriously, they’ll have made up their mind in that time and 5-7 minutes…nobody got time for that).

second, if you include it, stand by it. No wishy washy “I’m attaching but I’m nervous about attaching, I’m not sure if I should have attached…please be nice to me”. 

Last, please don’t attach a video unless this is a specific competency core to the organization! 

Post # 7
4493 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Keep it short and specific. If I’m reviewing it, I want to be able to read it quickly and see how your skills relate to the job I am looking to fill.

Judging by the “caveat” you included above, wordiness might be a challenge for you. Focus on short, to the point sentences. It should be less than 1 page and only a few sentences per paragraph. Use for format TravelingBride31 suggested.

  I’m not sure about the advisability of a vidoe, but I doubt anyone will watch one over a few minutes, unless it was required. If I opened the file and saw it was 12 minutes, I wouldn’t watch it.


Post # 8
692 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2020

I agree with TravelingBride31 and will an add an additional idea on how to show more than tell: 

Incorporate the key skills and responsibilities from the job description, using their words or phrases, and connect those key words to specific experiences from your background. Even if you don’t have experience doing this job, you should be able to make connections like, “I’ve developed Skill X through my experience with Position or Project Y, which has prepared me to take on Job Responsibility Z.” Your ability to convince the hiring manager of those connections is what will keep you in the pack with applicants that have more directly transferable experience or credentials.

Do you have any professional experience with giving presentations or leading meetings? Or similar experience from volunteer community outreach projects? Honestly a couple of conference or workshop presentation citations in a resume would do much more than a video for most hiring managers, unless the video is of an actual presentation recorded at a conference or event. 

Post # 10
7629 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

bluejaybride :  ehhh…not crazy about your caveat. Just skip it. The key things that stick out to me are something about my company – show me that you wrote a letter to ME about THIS JOB, not just slapped a generic cover letter together. 

Post # 14
2539 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

You’re getting a lot of good advice, so i’m just going to urge you to listen to the PP’s.

Skip the video

Keep your cover letter concise, and relevant. Go through anything you can related to the job and company. Job description, company bio. Try to mirror the way they talk, their values, and job duties to directly relate your cover letter and resume to be as close to an exact fit as possible. 

IMO (and i’ve worked previously in recruiting), try to keep your cover letter and resume to 1 page each. 

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