Have you ever been curious to see exactly what someone wrote in a cover letter that worked? Like word for word? Well, same. That’s why we’re taking a look at Real Cover Letters That Got the Job. We bring you actual cover letters that real people submitted for jobs they ultimately landed—and you’ll get the scoop on why they worked.
Annie Breckling doesn’t like to leave her job applications to chance. She doesn’t want to rely on applicant tracking systems or overloaded recruiters sifting through hundreds of resumes to pick hers out of the virtual pile. When she’s after a sales position, she makes sure to get people’s attention using the same skills she’ll need to be successful after she’s hired.
That’s how Breckling—who’s worked in marketing and spent over a decade selling learning solutions into HR and L&D departments of Fortune 500 companies—got an enterprise account executive role at The Muse. She didn’t stop at submitting an application. She also directly emailed The Muse’s Founder and CEO, Kathryn Minshew.
The Cover Letter
Breckling submitted the same letter in a text box in her online application and in an email to Minshew, where she added a simple, “Hi Kathryn.”
I understand The Muse is looking for an Enterprise Account Exec and I’d love to chat! I sold a similar type of career recruiting tool the Apollo Group/University of Phoenix developed. I love that you’re working to help companies connect and find the right employee for the right position. It ultimately helps companies save money by reducing turnover and increasing performance, productivity, and the bottom line. The right career fit creates happier, engaged, and less stressed employees. Companies are hungry for solutions like this as hunting good talent is like finding a needle in a haystack.
I’m passionate about recruiting and L&D and have extensive new biz and account management experience selling educational solutions into C-level HR/L&D execs at F500 companies. Plus, I have a solid cache of C-level contacts at F500 companies.
I’m available Jan 8-11, 14-18th and would love to meet and talk more about the position and where the company is heading. Is there a day/time that works best for you?
Why This Cover Letter Worked
Muse Founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew forwarded the email Breckling sent to Lauren Roberts, Associate Director of Talent Acquisition, who reached out to talk to Breckling and get the hiring process rolling. Here’s what Roberts says:
What were you looking for in candidates for this role?
This was for an enterprise account executive position. For us that is all new business. I want somebody who’s good at prospecting and cold outreach and has worked with Fortune 1000 accounts, navigated complex sales, and is used to longer sales cycles and larger deal sizes.
What caught your attention with this candidate?
It was her approach to outreach. She submitted her cover letter [the usual way] but also reached out to [Kathryn] like a true salesperson. She actually used the same messaging in her email that she did for her cover letter but that didn’t bother me because the messaging was so good. She got people’s attention. That was a good first step. She approached it like a salesperson would approach reaching out to prospects.
And then if you look at her cover letter itself, this is such a good example of how a salesperson can [demonstrate] their sales abilities in a cover letter. As a sales person, you can use your cover letter [to show] what you might write in an outbound email to a cold prospect. I wish more salespeople would show their ability to be good salespeople through the job apply process.
What stood out to you in her cover letter?
She goes right to what the need is. Then she goes into why she’s a good fit, what she knows about the company. And she gives a really nice elevator pitch as to what the value proposition is for The Muse’s product, which demonstrates that she knows our space and knows how to talk about the value of what we’re doing.
Then she goes into selling herself a little bit more. And she closes her cover letter much like a salesperson would close a cold outreach email, which is a call to action. She didn’t leave it open-ended. I wouldn’t say that that’s necessarily the best approach for everyone, but for a salesperson, absolutely.
How did her cover letter help her get the interview and/or the job?
I probably still would’ve spoken to her after looking at her resume, but it made it very quick and easy for me to understand that this was someone I wanted to talk to. I didn’t have to go digging through her resume to get a sense of if she had the right experience.
How the Letter Got Written
About six months after joining The Muse as an enterprise account executive, Breckling looked back at the cover letter that helped get her the role.
What was the number one thing you were hoping to communicate in your cover letter?
I think the number one thing to me was to show that I understand what the company does. I’m almost giving a mini sales pitch of how I would sell the company and the product.
Why did you email the CEO with your cover letter?
I’ll reach out to the CEO in a cover letter if the organization is below a certain number of employees, where I think that they might be connected enough to the employee base that that might resonate. Also, from a sales perspective—and this is a sales role—my role is to reach out to C-level [executives] and to get a meeting. So I’m trying to show that if I could get this meeting with you, then I’m actually demonstrating my skill as a business development executive.
There are so many ways of just slipping through the cracks. Especially now companies tend to screen people out in an automatic process. This is my kind of personal branding to stand out and get noticed. It’s rare for someone to reach out to the CEO. If that high-level person gets back to you and then sends your email to someone to say, you should have a conversation, then you’re going to get a call.
Photo of person sitting at a table typing on a laptop courtesy of lechatnoir/Getty Images.
A longtime word nerd and bookworm, Stav studied history and dance at Stanford and later journalism at Columbia. Before joining The Muse, Stav was a staff writer at Newsweek, where she wrote about everything from Nazi hunters to Chinese adoptees to Good Girls Revolt, the real story and fictionalized TV show about a 1970 gender discrimination case at the magazine. She prefers sunshine and tolerates winters grudgingly.More from this Author