When you’re going for the top job at an organisation, it’s vital that your cover letter presents you as an expert candidate with a wealth of experience, confidence and ambition. Unlike other roles or industry cover letters, yours will also need to promote your capacity as a resilient leader. Here are our top tips for nailing your next executive cover letter.
Executive cover letter do's
- Do keep it short. One page is the maximum for cover letters, with the ideal length between 250 - 350 words, or around four paragraphs
- Do address your cover letter to the correct member/s of staff
- Do tailor or customise your executive cover letter for each role you apply for
- Do take the most impressive parts of your resume to use throughout your cover letter
- Do highlight the most influential and successful projects you’ve worked on
- Do mention board memberships, elite organisation memberships or prestigious accolades you have earned
- Do show that you’ve done extensive research about the company or organisation you want to work for
- Do end your cover letter by thanking the employer for their time
- Do always run a thorough spelling and grammar check before submitting your cover letter
Executive cover letter don'ts
- Don’t use out-dated or unprofessional contact details. Always use the most recent, most relevant, and most professional
- Don’t use company-specific language or terminology. Stick to what is known and understood at an industry level
- Don’t simply copy or rewrite your resume in your executive cover letter
- Don’t call out skills or experience gaps in your cover letter. If this needs explaining, it can be done later in your resume
- Don’t get bogged down in your past experience only. At this senior level you should include your visions for the organisation or indicate how you can achieve something new
This cover letter example is strong because it employs general cover letter writing best practice. It is neatly and clearly formatted, the contact details are correct and easily referenced, and it is within the prescribed one page limit.
For senior level or executive role cover letters, the details or specifics of your accomplishments are particularly important. You’ll likely be up against highly qualified and competitive candidates, so it’s important that you use every opportunity in your cover letter to prove your worth.
In this executive cover letter example you can see that each new paragraph heralds a unique way in which the candidate is most suitable for the role, whether it’s her 10 years spent in the industry, international market experience, or national awards. The example cover letter is also strong because it shows positive leadership experience and an enthusiasm for new ideas and innovation. Because executives are leaders of their organisations, it’s critical that your strengths as a determined and likeable leader are detailed clearly.
The way in which you write and communicate key messages in your executive cover letter is just as important as the actual experience and content you include, so make sure yours is suitably formatted, neat, and easy to read for every role you apply for.
Take a look at our cover letter tips hub for more cover letter writing tips and examples.