We all need editors—people other than ourselves who can keep us honest, humble, constantly learning and improving. Perhaps the greatest danger is in assuming we’ve arrived and that no one can skillfully adapt or improve on our communication efforts.
There’s a strong correlative link between business success and communication skills. And there’s no more important communication tool than a cover letter.
While searching for examples of cover letters for students in my business communication class, I stumbled across a “Sample Technical Cover Letter with a Referral.” I asked them to rewrite it for added clarity, confidence, warmth, and professionalism. Below you’ll find the original letter, followed by my own rewrite and an invitation to suggest your own improvements.
Please accept the attached resume for the position of Technical Business Analyst as recently advertised on Monster.com. I’ve had the pleasure to review CompanyName’s website, and to speak with Jane Doe, a colleague at CompanyName, and am very enthusiastic about the position advertised. I believe that my combination of technical skills, consulting experience, and business sensibilities would serve CompanyName well in this position.
My foundation is as a developer in multiple languages and on many platforms. If the situation requires getting code done, I deliver high quality, clean, working code, quickly and correctly. I’m comfortable with structured code, databases, OO programming, and “specialty” languages such as might be found in workflow or business rules systems. I have every confidence that to the extent the position requires actual coding, I can sling code with the best.
To the extent that the position requires analysis of business rules and processes, I have specific experience in two main areas that are closely related.
On the analysis side, I was the Product Manager for a large system. In that capacity, I was responsible for extracting functional requirements from end users, customers, marketing, etc., and translating those requirements into detailed requirements.
On the business rules side, as the Product Architect for a suite of enterprise systems, I led the requirements definition and vendor and partner review for a collaboration system that included a business rules engine component. While I was not involved as a developer in these systems, I am quite familiar with this class of products and the salient features that define their value.
On a more general level, I believe I bring the broad “soft” skills you can have confidence in with a candidate that will represent CompanyName to your customers. I trust you would find me to be well-spoken, energetic, confident, and personable, the type of person on whom your customers will rely. I also have a wide breadth of experience of the type that gives you the versatility to place me in a number of contexts with confidence that the level of excellence you expect will be met.
In most situations, technical decisions must be made within the context of larger business constraints. Throughout my career I have strived to keep business issues in the forefront, be it as a developer implementing a test framework to capture defects as early as possible, or as the Product Manager for an enterprise system, allocating resources and prioritizing enhancements to meet strategic objectives. Focusing on business imperatives is a core value of mine, one that I bring to every project on which I work.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to review my credentials and experience. CompanyName’s blend of business strategy, market analysis, and information technology is very exciting. I hope that you’ll find my experience, interests, and character intriguing enough to warrant a face-to-face meeting, as I am confident that I could provide value to you and your customers as a member of your team.
Most cover letters are skimmed. Few receive thoughtful attention, so it’s important to cut to the chase, not arrogantly but confidently.
Warmth is important, but over-familiarity in the form of careless jargon and “inside jokes” is generally off-putting. Cover letters are important vehicles for conveying attitude, preferably of respect, positivity, responsibility, and willingness to collaborate.
Strengths and skills uniquely important to the hiring company and for the specific job must be highlighted, but not if they can’t or won’t be backed up by references.
Here’s my version of the same cover letter:
Please consider me for the Technical Business Analyst position recently advertised on Monster.com. My resume is attached. Based on my conversations with Jane Doe at your company, I am certain that my coding and business analysis skills make me an excellent fit for this position. I would be thrilled to share more about my qualifications in a personal interview.
As a developer in multiple languages and on many platforms, I deliver high quality, clean, working code, quickly and accurately. I’m also comfortable with structured code, databases, OO programming, and “specialty” languages in workflow or business rules systems.
Additionally, I have extensive experience with business rules and process analysis. As a product manager for a large business system, I extracted functional requirements from end users, customers, and marketing research and translated them into detailed requirements. As product architect for a suite of enterprise systems, I led definition and vendor/partner review to create a collaboration system that included a business rules engine component. Although I was not a developer, I gained significant familiarity with this class of products. Through framework testing, I captured and remedied defects early. I also became adept at allocating resources and prioritizing strategic objectives and business imperatives.
My colleagues find me to be well-spoken, energetic, confident, personable, and reliable. I’m also a skilled business decision-maker able to identify issues and focus on practical solutions.
Your company’s focus on sustainability is particularly exciting to me. I’d enjoy talking with you more about my fit for this position as well as for your company. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 to schedule an interview.
This cover letter could be written with improved brevity and focus in a variety of ways. How would you improve it?
Conna Bond is an associate professor of marketing and management and the co-founder of Pineapple Social Media and Red Canoe Creative.