Usually I recommend keeping a cover letter short, especially a cover letter for a college graduate who is just starting her career. So I was interested when Maria (not her real name) sent me the following fill-in-the-blank cover letter template she created for various job applications.
Maria “broke” a few of my cover letter guidelines. She:
- Wrote a long letter.
- Used long dense paragraphs.
- Created a boilerplate, which takes the risk of sounding like a form cover letter.
- Used language that’s stilted and over the top, such as superlatives that just don’t sound “real.”
- Did not reference an attached resume.
Nonetheless, I thought Maria’s letter had value, and so I’m posting it here (with her permission). along with my revised version and comments.
Maria’s Cover Letter Template for a College Graduate
I am extremely motivated to pursue a challenging position in which I can ______ (accomplish a specific goal for company). I was immediately drawn to the unique opportunity to ______ at your company. My resume will show that I have been proactive in pushing myself throughout my professional experience, my education, and athletics. I have repeatedly achieved success in my endeavors, and will stop at nothing to do the same for your company. I am currently going through the interview process with a few companies in Chicago, but I am particularly interested in the opportunity at ABC Company.
I will be able to draw on multiple past experiences to help me succeed in this role. The position description states that you are looking for someone who ______ . In my current position at ABC Insurance, I have established and developed numerous new broker relationships, exceeded sales goals, created new strategies and practices to increase productivity, and became a trusted adviser to my clients. In an internship with ZYX Insurance I worked with a team focused on creating programs to streamline the launch of products to a new market segment. While I was at ZYX I gained significant senior level management exposure while hosting numerous employee meetings. Further, I learned commitment and dedication while being a Dean’s List student and athlete on a National Champion D1-AA football team.
Please let me know if there is any further information that I can provide in support of my application. I look forward to the prospect of working for ______ , and discussing this opportunity with you in the near future. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Revised Version of Maria’s Cover Letter Template
I edited and reformatted Maria’s template (below). Here’s what’s different in the new version:
- Doesn’t seem long, even though it’s actually a little longer than the original. That’s because it has more white space and looks quicker to read.
- Has no dense paragraphs. Bullet point statements are used to highlight important qualifications that were previously buried in big paragraphs.
- Sounds less like a form letter. I inserted more fill-in-the-blanks to encourage mentioning the company name and specific job opening.
- Is toned down. I deleted some of the superlatives and over-used phrases. For example, in the first sentence I changed “I am extremely motivated” to “I am motivated.”
- References an attached resume.
I am motivated to pursue the ______ position in which I can ______ (accomplish specific goal) for ______ (name of company). I have been proactive throughout my professional experience, education, and athletics, repeatedly achieving success in my endeavors. I will stop at nothing to do the same for your company.
I am currently going through the interview process with a few companies in Chicago, but I am particularly interested in the opportunity at ______ (name of company).
The position description states that you are looking for someone who ______. (Make this a bulleted list if there are more than two qualifications.)
In my current position at ABC Insurance, I have: (Customize the following two lists to target each job application.)
- Established and developed numerous new broker relationships.
- Exceeded sales goals.
- Created new strategies and practices to increase productivity.
- Become a trusted advisor to my clients.
In an internship with ZYX Insurance, I:
- Worked with a team focused on creating programs to streamline the launch of products to a new market segment.
- Gained significant senior level management exposure while hosting numerous employee meetings.
Also, I learned commitment and dedication while being a Dean’s List student and athlete on a National Champion D1-AA football team.
My resume is attached. Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide in support of my application. I look forward to discussing the prospect of working for ______ (name of company).
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Is It Okay to Use a Cover Letter Template Like This?
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s cheating to use a cover letter template. As long as you’re careful to customize it for every job, you’ll have an effective letter.
The one thing you don’t want to do is send a cover letter that sounds like a form letter. However, I think Maria’s new fill-in-the-blank cover letter template provides a good foundation for structure and ideas, along with flexibility to target it for each job application. For that reason, I’m giving it a thumbs up.
Customizing the template is key! For example, this college graduate needs to adjust the bullet points for each application, listing only ones that support her job objective and customizing them to support each job opening she goes for.