Writing a cover letter for a management job isn’t the same as writing one for an entry-level position or an individual role. You’re expected to show higher-level business results, a sense of your leadership style and a vision of the big picture. It can be daunting.
One thing that always helps is personalization, says Susana Lee, training and organizational development specialist with Essential Federal Credit Union and president-elect of the Baton Rouge chapter of the Association for Talent Development. She says that once when her office hired a new chief operating officer, a gentleman came in with a binder full of information relevant to the organization. “He had clearly done research into our company and industry, and was prepared to help us solve our problems. His cover letter and résumé reflected that, and then he blew us away at the interview,” she says.
At the opposite extreme, others write letters referring to her company as a corporation, association or other incorrect words, she says. That’s not management-level, personalized writing; that’s probably a copy-and-paste error.
Here are a few other things Lee recommends including to make sure your cover letter highlights your readiness for a management role.
A cover letter for a management role needs to highlight your leadership and show you can achieve business results through other people. “A management letter needs to highlight more of an impact than an entry-level or midlevel job,” Lee says. “This is less about your individual contributions and more about your leadership.”
Whatever level you’ve been leading and managing at, have a short success story in your letter that proves you know the ropes. If you’ve led an entire company, share what you achieved in that role. If you led a team, “talk about the number of people you supervised, what they did, and show the outcome,” Lee says.
If this is the first time you’re applying for a management role, highlight a project or initiative you led, she says. Have good, specific examples. You can even mention classes you’ve taken if you’ve been a student learning about management. “This will show you have the concepts early on, something others who’ve been promoted without training may struggle with,” Lee says.
In a nutshell, you’re going to need to do some math. It’s not enough to say you “reduced turnover” or “increased sales.” People want measurable results. They want numbers.
“You should begin by describing what you do great,” Lee says. Then follow up with some quantifiable business results. An example she shares: She’s great at designing classes and delivering training, but why would a business hire her to do that without knowing what that investment will get them?
“I’m overhead. I’m not generating revenue, so what is my company getting for that money? I have to show return on investment. I have to show measurable business results,” she says.
Here are examples she cites of business results any hiring committee would be happy to hear: “I reduced turnover by 9 percent, saving the company $65,000 in onboarding and training costs.” “I increased quarterly sales by $200,000, up 6 percent from the same quarter the year prior.”
It’s important to remember that your cover letter is just a taste of what you can offer this organization. It’s a teaser to entice them into wanting more, so that they read your resume and then follow up with an interview. “It needs to be succinct,” Lee says. “It should never go over one page, and it needs a good closing.”
Her suggestion for a great closing? A very specific call to action. “End by requesting a meeting or a phone call. Give the interviewer some inspiration to follow up with you in a specific way,” she says. Even if you ask for a call and they want a meeting, that’s OK. You still appear interested and decisive. It’s much better than the generic “I hope to hear from you.” that will appear on other candidates’ letters.
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