[07.01.10]
94 great comments!

Introducing The TruFocus Cover Letter Template

I don’t like cover letters. So I decided to create a cover letter template.

professional cover letter, professional resume template, good cover letter, cover letter templates, professional cover letters, cover letter, jobs seeker, job search, professional resume, cv templates, cv, business, cover letter template, templates, employment, recruitment

Never have. Because I think they are often poorly written and over-played.

A bad combination.

They are, however, a great place to stub your toe on the way in the door. If you are into that kind of thing. Like tripping on the way up to your prom date’s front porch.

Assuming cover letters get read, that is. Many don’t.

Why?

Because I think that potential readers see it solely as a selling document. Nothing of value. And that is often the case.

Busy HR managers want to get right to the meat. Your professional resume. A faster and more direct route to determining whether you are worth pursuing.

And as far as the “poorly written” ones go, I have a post you need to read that will help you avoid an obvious issue. Please read the cover letter segmentation study. It outlines the types of cover letters that can only hurt you.

But since I wrote about this professional resume template, I’ve had a lot of questions about a companion cover letter template.

So that’s what I am offering today. And as with the professional resume template, I’m sure I will make a lot of you happy.

Finally a cover letter template I can use with confidence

There will be others, however, who won’t share that enthusiasm. They will criticize both the format and the content I suggest. I appreciate that criticism even more! Because, in the end, we will have an important discussion about communication strategies during job search.  And then you can decide for yourself.

I write from my own experience. As a 22 year hiring manager and a former job seeker. And I think this gives me a unique perspective on job search strategy and psychology.

I’ve been there. Struggled through the hiring and job search process on both sides. Trying to make the best decisions I could. Just like you.

So, naturally, I call this my TruFocus™ Cover Letter Template.

But before I share the template, let me remind you that I don’t like cover letters. Did you get that earlier?

But when done well, here’s three things a cover letter can do for you:

1. Tell the HR Manager, Recruiter or Hiring Manager what job you are applying for – sounds simple, doesn’t it? But I wonder how many professional resumes have fallen prey to the “not sure where to put this one” pile. Especially in big companies that get more letters than Santa Clause.  And you can also use a cover letter to provide specific answers that were asked in the job listing (salary history, certifications, etc)

2. Introduce you as a candidate – kind of like a handshake and a smile during the first five minutes of a job interview, the well-written cover letter quickly communicates your personal brand. What they can expect if/when they meet you.  SO if you are a really friendly, outgoing person in real life, don’t come across the opposite because of a bad cover letter.  For example, if your name is Bill (your friends call you Billy), don’t introduce yourself as “William James Bancroft III”.

3. Customize your approach to an individual company – we’ve all tried to do a few things on the resume to make it stand out. And to emphasize different aspects of our experience. We may re-order our key strengths or write a slightly different positioning statement. A good cover letter allows the reader to imagine you in the role before even reading about your specific skill and experience.  So the template has a few places where you can do just that.

So here goes.  Deep breath.

Name and Contact Information

Same as on your resume.  For consistency and to ensure that you can be reached if the resume gets separated in transit.

Name and Contact Info, cover letter, template, trufocus

Date and Address Lines

The only thing unique to mention here is that you should have the first name, last name and a title for your target. It can be the hiring manager or the lead HR person.  It could also be addressed to the networking contact you found who works at your target company.   I would rather you not send your resume to: “Hiring Manager” or “HR Department”.  Do your research via Linkedin, the company’s website or your network.  Make it personal. 

Date and Address Lines, cover letter, template, trufocus

Dear X

I’m sorry, but “Dear Sir or Madam” is outdated.  I prefer using a first name (since you did all the work to figure it out already).  Plus, there is a confidence in using the first name.  Kicks off the relationship with equality vs. immediately placing you below the reader.  Read my post about why politeness may be hurting your job search.  Now, there are exceptions.  If you live in a country or work in an industry/culture where use of a first name is inappropriate, go ahead and use what is culturally OK.

Dear X, cover letter, template, trufocus

Subject Line

Here you need to be real clear about the position.  So that the reader knows that you are applying for the “territory sales manager position based in Toronto”.  Not the one in New Jersey or Hong Kong.  Big companies often have lots of open positions.  Be specific.

Subject Line, cover letter, template, trufocus

Introduction

As mentioned above, one of the benefits of sending a cover letter is to introduce yourself.  Look to your great elevator pitch for key points about yourself.  Like a verbal handshake and a smile.  Keep it light – not serious or aggressive.

Introduction, cover letter, template, trufocus

Work Philosophy

Your work philosophy comes off your networking biography and is intended to explain in just a few sentences, how you approach your work.  How you are different from hundreds of others that do your same job somewhere in the world. Again, keep it conversational and interesting.  Have friends read it to see how it feels in the head of others.

My Work Philosophy, cover letter, template, trufocus

Three Reasons

The goal here is to give your reader a quick place to go on your cover letter if they are just scanning.  People scan when they are on your way into your resume or are looking for things to remove you from contention (e.g. no degree).  So write these as if it is the only thing someone will see.   Adapt this section for each job you apply for to make sure that your skills/accomplishments are viewed as relevant.

Three Reasons, cover letter, template, trufocus

Closing Statement

A quick summary is all that I’m looking for here.  It is also your moment to ask for an opportunity to interview for the position. Again, this is not a place to be heavy-handed.  But be direct and confident.

Closing Statement, cover letter, template, trufocus

Signature Line

I’m not a fan of huge thank you’s before or after an interview.  I do appreciate the opportunity to interview.  After all, someone needs a job and someone has one available.  So it’s hard to know when to say thank you in job search.  Because if I am a good candidate for them, this is a win/win situation.  I will be solving a problem for them.  We should be thanking each other, right?  For your signature (which should be hand-signed whenever possible), I use my first name.  This is not an application or legal document so I stay consistent with my approach above.  First names.  And then I finish with my full name and my positioning statement.  To reinforce everything above and link to my resume.  Where that statement is the first thing they’ll likely see.

Signature Line, cover letter, template, trufocus

Now it is your turn. What do you think?

If you are sold, you can download the cover letter template on the career downloads page.

Hint: if you are reading this in a LinkedIn group and would like a copy of my sample, please comment below with your e-mail address instead of publicizing it unnecessarily online. It keeps your information private (only I can see it) and it is easier for me to stay organized.

Another hint: Because this post is longer than average, consider printing it out. But only do it if you will use it. We want to be earth-friendly too.

Photo Credit

If you like this post and don’t want to miss any new templates, tips or tools from Tim’s Strategy, you can sign up for the RSS feed or e-mail list.  It’s easy!


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: | | | | | | | | | |
Categories: Cover Letters And Resumes
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  • Great tool, Tim. Like the simplicity- minimalist but meaningful content. Particularly like the use of the work philosophy statement for focus- for the reader and more importantly the candidate. One additional suggestion/thought re: Subject line (you may have addressed this elsewhere): If the cover letter /resume is being sent to someone as result of a referral, the referring person’s name belongs in the subject line, probably first. Reason being, and I’m speaking to the ‘choir’ here, people get tons of email – will only open one from someone they don’t know if the name of someone they do know – is available. I’m going to suggest this to several people- thanks again.

  • Great tool, Tim. Like the simplicity- minimalist but meaningful content. Particularly like the use of the work philosophy statement for focus- for the reader and more importantly the candidate. One additional suggestion/thought re: Subject line (you may have addressed this elsewhere): If the cover letter /resume is being sent to someone as result of a referral, the referring person’s name belongs in the subject line, probably first. Reason being, and I’m speaking to the ‘choir’ here, people get tons of email – will only open one from someone they don’t know if the name of someone they do know – is available. I’m going to suggest this to several people- thanks again.

  • Hi Lenore – Great point about strongly emphasizing the name of your referral. Really important! Either in the subject line or in the first line of your introduction. Thanks for building on this post . . .

  • Hi Lenore – Great point about strongly emphasizing the name of your referral. Really important! Either in the subject line or in the first line of your introduction. Thanks for building on this post . . .

  • Chris P

    Tim,
    Thanks for the cover letter advice. Please send me a copy of your template.

  • Chris P

    Tim,
    Thanks for the cover letter advice. Please send me a copy of your template.

  • Kelly Kaiser

    Tim, I’ve been researching ways to re-vitalize my cover letter & resume & appreciate the adivce! Please provide me with a copy of your template at a time that is convenient to you. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  • Kelly Kaiser

    Tim, I’ve been researching ways to re-vitalize my cover letter & resume & appreciate the adivce! Please provide me with a copy of your template at a time that is convenient to you. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  • You’re welcome, Tim, these ideas all play off of each other well. The template is a very effective tool as is the resume. Thanks for creating and sharing.

  • You’re welcome, Tim, these ideas all play off of each other well. The template is a very effective tool as is the resume. Thanks for creating and sharing.

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  • Chris P – Your email address did not work. Can you confirm?

  • Chris P – Your email address did not work. Can you confirm?

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  • Ted Green

    Hello, Tim.

    Great post. I love your writing style. And congratulations on being one of this week’s top influencers! Please send a copy of your template. Thanks.

  • Ted Green

    Hello, Tim.

    Great post. I love your writing style. And congratulations on being one of this week’s top influencers! Please send a copy of your template. Thanks.

  • Betti

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your cover letter tip, great article. Please send me a copy of the templete.

  • Dimitri

    Hi Tim,

    Nice work on your article and thanks for the tips. I have been written more than 50 cover letters and lots of resume and even bought books and seek advice but still haven’t got anywhere with my job search. I recently graduated and desperately seeking work.

    Please can you send me a copy of the template.

    Many regards
    Dimitri

  • Dimitri

    Hi Tim,

    Nice work on your article and thanks for the tips. I have been written more than 50 cover letters and lots of resume and even bought books and seek advice but still haven’t got anywhere with my job search. I recently graduated and desperately seeking work.

    Please can you send me a copy of the template.

    Many regards
    Dimitri

  • Betti

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your cover letter tip, great article. Please send me a copy of the templete.

  • Kelly G.

    Hi Tim:
    Your post on OC Linked In couldn’t have come at a better time. I was recently laid off and need to revitalize my old cover letter. The whole process comes with dread for me, but not now since you’ve developed a wonderful template and great suggestions. Please forward the template when you get a chance.

    Best regards,
    Kelly

  • Kelly G.

    Hi Tim:
    Your post on OC Linked In couldn’t have come at a better time. I was recently laid off and need to revitalize my old cover letter. The whole process comes with dread for me, but not now since you’ve developed a wonderful template and great suggestions. Please forward the template when you get a chance.

    Best regards,
    Kelly

  • John Nero

    Tim –
    I like the template. It has helped me craft a much simpler and more staigthforward cover letter.
    I’d appreciate getting a sample copy as well.
    Thanks
    John

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  • Debi Sacco

    Great tips — please provide me with a copy of the template as well. Thanks, Debi

  • Debi Sacco

    Great tips — please provide me with a copy of the template as well. Thanks, Debi

  • Hi everyone – just finishing up my sample of the cover letter. Will send off soon! Thanks for your interest . . .

  • Hi everyone – just finishing up my sample of the cover letter. Will send off soon! Thanks for your interest . . .

  • larryheard

    I rather take this advice than using a generic resume template. This is a very helpful and concrete sample. Thanks!

  • larryheard

    I rather take this advice than using a generic resume template. This is a very helpful and concrete sample. Thanks!

  • Gary F. Stout

    Wonderful! I will adjust my CV in the future. I am a retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer and have been back in the Career Hunt for about 8 Months now. Still looking hard for Suncoast of FL, Tampa, Sarasota area positions, accounting, consulting, Loss Ascertainment, Prevention, Employee and facility saftey, security and work place violence prevention and resolution. Do you do resume rewrites?

  • Gary F. Stout

    Wonderful! I will adjust my CV in the future. I am a retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer and have been back in the Career Hunt for about 8 Months now. Still looking hard for Suncoast of FL, Tampa, Sarasota area positions, accounting, consulting, Loss Ascertainment, Prevention, Employee and facility saftey, security and work place violence prevention and resolution. Do you do resume rewrites?

  • Eva Wong

    Hi, Tim! I hope this message finds you doing well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I would appreciate it if you would please forward a sample to me, when you have had a chance to complete it. My cover letter is already in a similar format, but it can definitely use some revamping! Warm Regards, Eva Wong

  • Eva Wong

    Hi, Tim! I hope this message finds you doing well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I would appreciate it if you would please forward a sample to me, when you have had a chance to complete it. My cover letter is already in a similar format, but it can definitely use some revamping! Warm Regards, Eva Wong

  • Will do, Eva!

  • Will do, Eva!

  • Hey Gary – Good luck with your search! While I do not do resume rewrites, I do have career expert directory on the site that includes a number of very good resume experts. Click the link to do a quick search in your area. You can also use someone outside of your area – very common nowadays to use someone by phone!

  • Hey Larry – Glad to help. Good luck!

  • Hey Larry – Glad to help. Good luck!

  • Hey Gary – Good luck with your search! While I do not do resume rewrites, I do have career expert directory on the site that includes a number of very good resume experts. Click the link to do a quick search in your area. You can also use someone outside of your area – very common nowadays to use someone by phone!

  • Kathy Alexander

    Tim
    I loved the template, and would really appreciate a copy when you have the chance. I would also like a copy of the sample when finished. Thank you very much for sharing with us! Do you have any advice for “slightly” older workers, as well? I never thought I’d have to job hunt again, and it’s very difficult. I can use any advice you might have.
    Thanks again!

  • Kathy Alexander

    Tim
    I loved the template, and would really appreciate a copy when you have the chance. I would also like a copy of the sample when finished. Thank you very much for sharing with us! Do you have any advice for “slightly” older workers, as well? I never thought I’d have to job hunt again, and it’s very difficult. I can use any advice you might have.
    Thanks again!

  • Judy Mc

    great material! Please send me the templates!

  • Judy Mc

    great material! Please send me the templates!

  • Hi Judy – Your samples went out yesterday – thanks for coming to the blog and I hope these help you!

  • Hi Judy – Your samples went out yesterday – thanks for coming to the blog and I hope these help you!

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  • e_sfz

    I like your approach – most of the cover letters samples I’ve read online seem either dated or too formal. I’ve been running into experience creep (too much info) lately while writing mine, and I really dig your minimalistic approach. Curious to see what your sample looks like.

  • Hey, glad you like this format. It’s how I felt as well after i wrote it. 🙂 Sending my sample now . . .

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  • Frances

    Hi Tim,
    Thank you for sharing your cover letter and resume templates. I especially like the crisp outline for the cover letter to maintain focus on the targeted opportunity and effectively introduce the resume. A copy of your sample documents would be appreciated. Thank you.
    Best regards,
    Fran

  • Sent these out – let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for your feedback!

  • George

    Tim,
    Once again, you’ve provided me with a very helpful tool here for an effective job search strategy. Thank you and please keep the good information coming. Can I please have a copy of your own Cover Letter example? Much appreciated. Best

  • Hey George – No problem and glad you found this template helpful!

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  • Trey

    Tim- Thank you for posting this. Please send me a copy of your example letter.

    Regards,

    Trey

    hkshoop@yahoo.com

  • Hi Trey – Sending your sample now – hope it helps!

  • Krishna Jhaveri

    Dear Tim,

    Many thanks for this post – it was immensely helpful. I would like to see the completed version of the cover letter that you have.

    My e-mail id is krishna.jhaveri1@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,

    Krishna

  • Rodrigo Benavente

    I will appreciate a copy of your cover-letter sample. Thank you

  • Iancopley27

    Tim,

    Do you have a completed version. I think the template is great I just need a
    little inspiration for the content of my own.

    Ian

  • Hi Ian – tried to send to your email, but it did not work. Can you offer another email address? Thanks!

  • Iancopley27

    yes I have private messaged you on LinkedIn

  • Iancopley27

    Turns out we are not connected on Linkedin! I have sent you a request, you will have my e-mail from there thanks Tim.

  • Hey Ian – just accepted and tried the email again.  If that doesn’t work, drop me a note via the site’s contact page. 🙂

  • Hi Tim, 

    I stumbled on your tools last night and they’re eye opening and incredibly useful! Thank you!

    Now then, can I please have your sample? 🙂 

  • Hey Geoff – of course – will send this AM.  🙂

  • Donald L Lai

    please email me your sample! thankss

  • Sterling

    Hello Jeff,

    I’ve bookmarked your site over two years ago. Just came back to check it out again. Would love to receive the sample template. I am trying to help some friends that were recently laid off to get back up and relaunch their careers. Thanks!

  • Sterling

    Wow… I meant Tim. Not Jeff. Eesh. late night posting is not wise. My apologies.

  • No problem. I’ve been called worse. 🙂  Sure, sending template sample now . . .

  • Gailotley7

    Hey my name is Gail iam at Tafe, and I thought your approch was very stright to the point.

    Well done can i use this for my cover letter in my now course Please.

    gail.

  • Gailotley7

    I do appreciate your confindents in this insight, well layed out for me! Cool!!!!

    Gail.

  • Gail – You are welcome to use it of course! All I ask is that if you use it online that you include a link back to this site.  If you use it as a handout, just mention where you got it.  🙂

  • Loribeth Dalton

    Tim,

    This is great…takes the mystery out of what to include. I would love a sample.

  • Glad you liked it Loribeth. 🙂

  • Avnish N

    Hello Tim! Can you send me a finished sample at avnishnarula86@gmail.com

    Thanks
    Avnish

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