A well-written executive cover letter allows you the opportunity to give a more thorough explanation of your resume, without reciting it word for word. You want a hiring manager to take a quick look at the overall appearance and want to read more – want to know what you bring to the table. Your job search letter should exude confidence, motivation, and enthusiasm for the position.
As an executive, you are competing for the top positions in the top companies. Your resume and cover letter really need to shine. If you are applying to any C level positions, such as CEO (Chief Executive Officer), COO (Chief Operating Officer), CIO (Chief Investment Officer), or CDO (Chief Data Officer/Chief Development Officer), among many others, you will need to set your application apart by having a strong cover letter that showcases your experience, record of professional achievements, and skills.
Writing a senior executive cover letter is your first opportunity to highlight important details that may not be the focus of your resume. This is the time to showcase how your personal traits will change the outlook of the company you wish to work for and address any career obstacles or red flags. Implementing the ideas, tips, tricks you will find below to write a great cover letter to apply for a job will help immensely.
Take the time now or later to review these sample application letters for executives or other professionals applying for a new position.
Expert Cover Letter Writing and Formatting Tips
Research the Company
Your executive cover letter is the place where you can emphasize why you are interested in the organization you are applying for. One way to distinguish yourself from other candidates is to do research on the organization or company. While you should have scoured the job description and learned about the company while writing your resume, take another look and ensure that you have direct correlations between the company mission and goals and your past accomplishments stated in your cover letter.
If you see a specific area for development within the company, state that, professionally, in your cover letter and explain how you will improve the issue. This demonstrates your interest in their particular organization as opposed to submitting a standard cover letter.
Rather than solely focusing on how your potential future company could be improved, let the hiring manager know you are ready to step in and help the company reach its goals. Explain how you can help bring about positive changes. Changing the focus from the business to you will help ensure you do not get too negative on the company.
Example Statement Using Company Research:
“This company has a great reputation as an innovator and leader in the industry. But like everything else that is great, there is always room for improvement. As far as I can tell, the business’ lead generation is not as proactive as it could be. Right now, there is a lot of reliance on word of mouth and other passive lead generation. The company may be better served with a little more initiative in lead generation. I have experience designing and implementing these exact policies.”
Tailor the Cover Letter
The last thing you need is a generic cover letter for a position you are applying for. You will be competing with dozens or 100s of other well-qualified executive candidates. Your cover letter should be solely focused on the job opportunity you are wishing to interview for. Ensure that you tailor the cover letter to best suit the job description, the company mission, and how your qualifications match what the organization is looking for in a new executive.
Reviewing a cover letter sample for a Chief Executive Officer will provide a visual of how to implement these top writing tips and strategies.
Address Your Cover Letter to a Specific Person
Whenever possible, do some digging to find out the person’s name who will be reading your cover letter and resume. Some hiring managers may not care that the letter is addressed to them specifically, however, why not set yourself apart from the competition? Most importantly, do not send a generic cover letter that is used for every executive or management position you apply for. This could potentially turn off a hiring manager and not get you that interview.
If you are applying via email, do not attach your cover letter, copy and paste it into the body of the email. Some hiring managers will go straight to the resume and bypass the cover letter altogether. You can review other samples here.
Achievement Examples Relevant to Position / Company
An executive cover letter is your opportunity to provide open-ended value statements on what you can offer the company in that specific position. Executive branding in your job search letters is critical in all your documents, including your LinkedIn profile.
Scrutinize the job posting and pick out the necessary qualifications, key requirements, and organizational priorities and match your achievements to those needs. Make it plain and clear that you have what it takes to deliver results on these important things.
For example, if a company values honesty, financial transparency, and giving back to the community, mention that you are a:
- “founding member of a youth group where I established governance, developed program guidelines, and offered strategic planning”, or
- “managed various projects to identify and evaluate business solutions while adhering to program funding and forecasting appropriate financials”.
End with a Call to Action
When you close your letter, make sure you ask for a meeting. Briefly relay how you will benefit the company and how excited you are for the opportunity. You can state that you are looking forward to hearing from them, or that you will connect with them in a week to follow up. Ensure that you thank the reader for their time and consideration and that you look forward to hearing from them.
One Page Length
Keep your cover letter to one page. Whether you are printing or emailing your application package, you want the first thing the hiring manager sees to be a well-constructed letter that highlights key personality traits and accomplishments applicable to both the position and the company. An application letter is an excellent place you can communicate your personality. It’s like having a conversation while remaining professional. Let this be the place you reiterate some key facts about how you would be the best fit for the position.
Formatting: Match Your Executive Resume
Ensure any of the job search documents you create with your application are consistent in formatting. This means that they should carry the same:
- font style and size
- borders, if applicable
Do a double check to make sure everything looks the same before you submit.
Modern Layout/ Template
As with all formal letters, your executive cover letter should include the current date, address of the organization you are applying to, and a salutation with the name of the hiring manager or individual that will be reading your application. The basic layout should be about four paragraphs long, including a solid introduction, middle section detailing your career achievements, and a concluding paragraph re-stating your interest in the position and your appreciation for considering your qualifications.
Read and implement expert strategies to create the perfect cover letter. Don’t underestimate the value of a modern style note with convincing content.
You want to open strong, therefore ensure your introduction paragraph catches the attention of the hiring manager so they are more likely to move your resume over to the interview pile. Include the position you are applying for and, most importantly, the company you are applying to.
This shows that you have tailored your cover letter to that specific organization and have taken the time to do your research right off the bat. Use strong verbs to get your intention across, for example, try using “established” instead of “led” when talking about your leadership qualities.
Take a look below for a couple examples of introductory paragraphs for specific executive roles:
“With years of success in the industry, I am eager to join XYZ Services as your next Chief Executive Officer. My proven track record of identifying strategic growth opportunities in diagnostic testing services over the past 20 years with be beneficial. It is my goal to leverage my vast experience in ensuring sustainability, profitability, and fiscal accountability of company visions by pursuing a new challenge. As a well-established professional who has spearheaded numerous successful projects and championed talented, productive teams I know we should meet.”
“With a stellar record of increasing market share, profitability, and product offerings, it is with great pleasure that I submit my resume for President of ABC Industries. I believe that you will recognize that my innovative and strategic business approaches are exactly what ABC Industries is looking for to lead it to the next level.”
This paragraph is an excellent place to reference a mutual network connection. If you are not completing a networking letter specifically, then in your introductory paragraph, make note that you have a mutual associate, such as:
“Our mutual associate Steve Smith referred me to this role and believes I could make a great addition to your company.”
The middle two paragraphs of your executive cover letter should be focused on highlighting your value to your prospective employers. Do not hesitate to include performance metrics; use numbers as often as possible to showcase the significance of past results and how they relate to the needs of the company.
Ensure to make that connection between your achievements, your expertise, and your experience and the needs and goals of the organization. Your C-level cover letter should market your fit with the company, so make sure when you are describing your accomplishments that you are using powerful, descriptive, yet concise wording.
Explain how your personality traits make you more suited to the role as opposed to the other candidates. It is important to position yourself as the best executive for the job and by using strong language and descriptive characteristics, you are sure to make it to the top of the list of interviewees.
Sample Middle Paragraphs
Take a look at the paragraphs below to get a better idea of how to word your achievements and traits in an executive cover letter for a CEO and CIO, respectively:
“My expertise lies in driving beneficial business development, profit and oversight, and excellent staff development and leadership to expand shareholder missions and organizational goals. Throughout my 15 years of professional experience, I have become adept in overseeing a wide range of economic and operational projects to ensure the highest business performance and realize substantial revenue enhancements. As well, I have had success in mentoring and establishing talented teams that will consequently make a significant contribution to your bottom line.”
Throughout my career I have been able to achieve the following in addition to designing reliable and high performing digital solutions with XYZ Company:
- Restructured a failing project that was costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars within my first year of employment with ABC Computer Solutions.
- Implemented a company-wide budgeting system that resulted in major cost savings.
- Established and mentored four IT departments with a total of 100 staff members.
- Oversaw and developed all aspects of the positioning of corporate information systems to support overall operations, management, and decision-making.
The inclusion of bullet points when describing your achievements allows the reader to home in on what you have been successful at in your previous positions in a concise way. It highlights the information in an easy-to-read manner and sets your executive cover letter apart from the competition.
Last / Concluding Paragraph
Finally, the concluding paragraph in the executive cover letter should be your call to action. This is the final push to market your qualified skills and personal traits that make you the right candidate for the position. Reiterate some of your relevant skills mentioned previously, re-convey your interest in the company and ask for the interview. Don’t forget to end your cover letter by thanking the employer for their time and consideration.
Two Examples of Ending Paragraphs
“As a dedicated, strategic, and high-achieving executive, I welcome the opportunity to further discuss how my expertise and commitment will help Taylor Inc. reach new heights within the industry as your next President. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
“With vast experience in corporate financial direction and team leadership, as well as my exceptional analytical capabilities, I am eager to provide outstanding service within your company as CFO. I look forward to discussing my relevant qualifications at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.”
Review and Proofread
Spelling, grammar, and overall language on your cover letter must be impeccable and show your ability to be a professional. Your capacity to communicate clearly and concisely on your executive cover letter will be a direct reflection of your ability to lead a team, strategize important business decisions, and achieve overall company fiscal responsibility.
Go back through your letter over and over again, the last thing you want is a well-crafted cover letter to come into the hands of a hiring manager and get put to the bottom of the interview pile because of bad spelling or grammar. Have someone else read over it as well, this gives a non-biased interpretation of what you have written and a second set of eyes on proofreading.
Wrapping it up
The best executive cover letters are those that demonstrate a good fit, use powerful language, and are flawless in their formatting and grammar.
Ensure that your letter reiterates your specific skills associated with the position you are applying for, as there will no doubt be lots of other applicants in competition with you. You want your executive cover letter to stand out against the competition and showcase your qualifications, accomplishments, and personal traits and prove that they are the best fit for the organization.
Employers want to hire a top executive who will be an excellent cultural fit and can help the company move forward, so make sure you convey how you will add value and why you are the right executive to hire.
Take these executive cover letter writing tips into account to draft your job winning letter and boost your career success with your next position as a CEO, CFO, COO, CDO, CIO, CPO, President, Director, or Board Member.