The Start Off With an
Unrelated Inspiring QuoteCover Letter –
of the resume mailing mills encourages its customers to send only a
one-page letter, without a resume, that starts off with an inspiring
quote from Winston Churchill, John Kennedy (or perhaps Groucho Marx?),
or another comment designed to demonstrate that the sender has
tremendous insight. After uplifting the reader with this, the
letter adds a couple paragraphs about the person’s career and
encourages me to get in touch.
Dear Job Magician:
you know that
it took people thousands of years to figure out how to tame fire after
it was first discovered?
it might seem like it’s going to be that long with technology. Like
fire, technology spreads fast. Unless you have someone on your team who
is an experienced “technology tamer” you can get burned. …
may come as a surprise to you, but I was well aware that it took
thousands of years to tame fire. Nearly every 2nd grader
that, too. And anyone who has spent more than three weeks in any office
setting knows that taming technology is important.
At the worst,
something like this is an insult to the reader’s intelligence. More
sensibly, this is a waste of valuable selling space. Your cover letter
should start off with something that makes the reader want to read
more, not skip to the next resume. A better lead-in would be:
the VP/Information Technology at the $225-million custom systems
manufacturing division of McElhinny Industries, I oversaw the
development and implementation of an enterprise-wide system that
enabled us to cut the time on our orders from receipt of order to
shipment from 66 days to 38 days, while saving an average of 13% in
you more interested in hearing more about this person? Is this a more
convincing way to demonstrate that he’s a technology tamer than
starting off with an odd statement about the discovery of fire, or a
quote about Our
Finest Hour from our dear Mr. Churchill?
These one-pagers remind me of Marlin Perkins’s Wild Kingdom
TV program, when he would take a break from the animal action and
remind us that, “Just as the tiger protects its cubs from the wild,
Mutual of Omaha will protect your family in case of
For those of you who are too young to remember Marlin Perkins, these
metaphors were a running joke for at least a generation.
hate to tell you this, but I throw all of these inspirational quote
letters away. They never contain enough information for me
anything about the person (and since they don’t contain a resume, I
can’t find out more without chasing down the person, and I’ve never
read anything in one of these letters that has made me want to put
in any effort to dig for more).
Your cover letter needs to
hook the reader right away. Start off with something
that clearly demonstrates achievement. And include a resume ( I have
never called a prospect who has sent a teaser cover letter without a
resume, either). And maybe someone on the other end will give you a
For a guide on how to write a cover letter that will keep someone
reading, click here.