Writing a Cover Letter For An Executive Position

by fred 8. February 2011

You may have written a cover letter before, but an executive cover letter needs something really special. It cannot be "just another cover letter" that simply tells a prospective employer you want a job interview because these jobs are very high profile, because they have lots of competitors, and because you're going to have to really look like you know what you're doing. This means your cover letter should be absolutely perfect.
Don't just send a cover letter that's not grammatically correct, boring, or just "average" to substandard. Would you go to an interview in faded jeans, a ratty T-shirt, and flip-flops? Why not? Answer that question, and you know why your cover letter should be perfect as it's your "first impression," the one you present to the prospective employer.
Why should your letter be different? 

For one thing, you're not just applying for any old job. Many more people will be reading your letter than would normally happen with "just any old job." They're going to be screening out poor candidates before choosing the best ones to interview. This means that several people in the company, from human resources to the vice president or maybe even the big boss is going to read your cover letter (and your resume), as well.
Because higher caliber employees in the company are going to be reading your cover letter, it has to stand out and be much better than the average cover letter. Your cover letter has to be much more sophisticated than the average cover letter.
However, it doesn't mean using exaggerated, convoluted, extravagant, pretentious language that will simply make you look insecure and idiotic. Instead, easy, concise writing that gets to the point and then finishes rapidly and cleanly is best. Remember that this is going to be the first impression they have of you, so you want it to showcase the best of you.
You need to show that you are willing to take responsibility on the job, that you are efficient, bright, that you work well with people, and that you're easy to get along with. Most importantly, you want to show that you are a problem solver, because that's why companies hire executives. You have to solve some kind of business issue that the company is facing, and you have to show them that you can do it. You do this by showing how you fixed other similar situations. 
Lastly, be sure the recruiters who are going to read your executive resume cover letter understand that you have a "can-do" attitude and that you really enjoy the type of work you are applying for. After all, executives spend a lot of time on the job, so you have to show that you're up to it.
One last thing. End your cover letter telling the reader what he or she should do to ease the hiring process. Something like "I look forward to hearing from you so that we can discuss this position in details. Please call me at [number] at your convenience, to set up a time to do so." Then, sign off with "Sincerely," and your name. That's it. You got a cover letter that should certainly get your foot in the door, and show that you're a great candidate for the job.

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