The Making of an Attention Grabbing Cover Letter

by Rebecca Stewart If you have ever been in charge of hiring, you have probably had the daunting task of reviewing hundreds of cover letters - boring, generic cover letters.  And if you have ever applied for a job, you have probably been guilty of writing said cover letter. I/m talking about the mundane, lifeless cover letters, similar to this one:

To Whom It May Concern,I am applying for the pilot position with your company.  I have flown many different types of aircraft, from Cessna single engines, King Airs to a Citation Bravo. I meet your experience requirements. My professionalism, promptness and flying abilities will be an asset to your organization.  I offer excellent leadership skills.  Attached you will find a copy of my current resume. Thank you for your consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Pilot

Now ask yourself –

  1. What makes this applicant different than any other that comes across the employers desk?
  2. Would I read this whole letter if it came across my desk?
  3. Would I continue on and look at the “attached resume”?
  4. Would I hire this applicant?

If you answered NO to any or all of these keep reading… A cover letter is the first impression a potential employer sees of you.  Saint Jerome, an early theologian, once said, “First impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind.” So do you want that impression to be a bad one or a fantastic one? Your cover letter needs to be personal; it needs to grab the attention of the person reading it.  It also needs to be written by you.  Yes, I said you.  You cannot hire someone else to write your letter... that would be their cover letter, not yours.  Can you ask for help, search the Internet for ideas, and bounce ideas off of friends?  Sure, but make sure its your work, not the work of someone else. To start your cover letter, it is best to gather as much information as possible about the company that is offering the employment opportunity.  Make every attempt to address your cover letter to the chief pilot or the person who is accepting resumes within the company.  Next, get in the mindset of trying to fulfill a need the company has and address that need in your cover letter. You are probably saying to yourself, “yep – they need a pilot, I am a pilot … need met!” But do you? Many companies look for diverse employees.  Employees that are able to fly an airplane, but that also have other qualities that might eventually suit a chief pilot position or director position.  When you write your cover letter, think of your potential, tapped and untapped, and express it!  Finally, make it personal and emphasize your strengths.

Dear Mr. Smith, It is with great pleasure that I submit to you my resume seeking the Citation first officer position with Acme Drilling.  My understanding is that Acme is a growing company with growing flight department needs.My flying career began in the Houston area working for XYZ flight school.  My goal has always been to fly for Acme; however, I knew I would have to move out of the area in order to build the necessary time and experience to apply.  The past five years I have spent in New Mexico gaining the experience and flight time necessary to apply with Acme. My current position has allowed me to gain experience in aircraft acquisition, hiring of new pilots and development of pilot training schedules on multiple aircraft; skills that will be an asset to Acme’s growing flight department. As evidenced by my resume, I have an extensive background in the aviation industry and business.  My skills in communication, planning, organization and leadership are applicable to any organization and will benefit Acme’s flight department now and into the future. I am available at your convenience to discuss my resume and experience in more detail. Sincerely, Pilot

A cover letter is also a good place to address a gap in your resume. For example:

I resigned from my previous corporate flying job, in early 2005, to stay home and raise my children who are now school age.  My family relocated to south Louisiana a year ago and I am looking forward to rejoining and contributing to the corporate aviation industry.

Employers receive hundreds if not thousands of cover letters.  You want yours to stand out and get noticed.  If possible, talk to the person through your cover letter and let him/her know why you are different and why they should flip the page to your resume. Remember to make it personal and highlight your abilities!  

After you have your cover letter and you are ready to apply for pilot jobs, join!