Cover Letter Conundrums (Part 2 of 3)

By Mary Carden, CPRW

In the second installment of my cover letter series, I’m going to dig into more complicated circumstances that affect your fitness for your target job. If you read through the required qualifications in a job ad and notice some potential issues, this post is for you.

7. I’m interested in multiple positions at this company.

While this might seem like a thorny topic, it’s actually very straightforward to address this in your cover letter. If there are two (or more) open positions that interest you, but you don’t want to write multiple cover letters, you should make that clear to the hiring manager. A flexible candidate can be a hiring manager’s dream! They will work with you to find out which opening is right for you, and may even arrange multiple interviews so you can gain exposure to several parts of the organization.

Say something like this: “My interest in Amazon extends beyond the Product Manager job (ID: 1234) to include similar positions within product marketing (ID: 5678) and customer experience (ID: 9012). I look forward to discussing with you how my qualifications can best meet Amazon’s needs.”

 8. I’m not sure which job level/title/seniority is the best fit for me.

Some companies post open-ended job announcements that can be a little vague. They might include multiple job titles, list multiple levels of seniority, or even omit the job title altogether. It can be confusing to navigate this type of application process when you’re not sure what the hiring manager expects from you.

In a single sentence, describe your relevant qualifications to justify why you are good fit. Here’s an example: “Given my five years of experience programming in Python, I believe I am qualified for the Senior Software Engineer position.”

If you’re not sure where they will place you, you can say this instead: “I look forward to discussing with you which position/level/title is the best fit for my background and skillset.”

 9. This job requires a certain credential/license and I’m in the process of obtaining it.

It might be tempting to wait to apply for new jobs until you’ve finished that shiny new certification, license, or training program. That would be a mistake! Even if you’re halfway through the process of obtaining a new credential, that doesn’t mean you can’t start your job search. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job search takes approximately three to six months, so it’s best to initiate the process sooner rather than later.

Someone who’s actively investing in their professional skillset is always attractive; it indicates that you will also be willing to pursue continuing education in the future. Lifelong learners make excellent employees because they are adaptable.

In your cover letter, explain how far along you are in your training program and when you expect to complete it. If the program requires you to pass an assessment at the end (a good example is FINRA licenses), you can share the exact date of your forthcoming exam.

 10. I’m applying for this job to “get my foot in the door” at this company but I’m actually much more interested in a different department/functional role.

While honesty is the best policy in most cases, sharing this kind of information might hurt your chances of landing an interview. Some hiring managers will be reluctant to bring a new employee on board if they expect them to leave within the first two years. Recruiting, onboarding, and training are investments, representing significant up-front costs to the company. Understand that your future employer will want to see a return on that investment in the form of several years of service.

In this case, it’s best to wait. You can start a conversation about your long-term goals after you’ve landed the job and learned more about the process to move around internally. (Some companies require you to stay in your current role for a period of time before you can make that kind of hop.) Until then, keep those plans on the back burner.

In the next installment of “Cover Letter Conundrums,” I’ll discuss how to navigate red flags and other risks that could impact the success of your application.

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About Mary Carden, CPRW – Mary Carden is a resume writer and job search strategist. Her clients have achieved professional success securing interviews and job offers in virtually every industry. At the time of writing this blog post, she has written more than 500 cover letters, ranging from entry-level “first job out of college” applications to global searches for chief executive positions at Fortune 500 companies.

Author: Mir Garvy

I’ve written resumes for 2,000+ job seekers just like you—and helped my clients land jobs with companies like Amazon, SAS, Google, Duke University, Travelocity, Cisco Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Expedia, and IBM.