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The Cover Letter: A Powerful Executive Briefing

A woman writing on a notebook next to a laptop.

​Not all job postings require you to upload a cover letter, and some resume databases don't even allow it. But if you get the chance to do so, take it. 

When you send a resume to someone directly, as an attachment to an e-mail, your e-mail acts as a cover letter and creates a first impression of you for the hiring manager. If it's not possible to e-mail the hiring manager directly, uploading your cover letter to an employer's database increases your discoverability and speaks to your professionalism and genuine interest in unique ways.

Recruiters and hiring managers see a well-written cover letter as a sign of professionalism. Taking the time to craft the letter demonstrates your genuine interest in a particular job and company and showcases your communication skills.

Let's look at a powerful and easy-to-create cover letter format: the executive briefing.

The Executive Briefing Cover Letter

When you use the executive briefing structure for your cover letter, you leverage a sophisticated but easy-to-understand format. You'll list the employer's major needs for the job down the left side of the page and the skills you have to meet those needs down the right side of the page.

You can see in this example that the executive briefing format works well because it zeroes in on important information, which makes life easier for the reader. This is an example of an HR Executive Director in the nonprofit world:



John Smith

City, State555.555.1234



Dear :

As a seasoned HR Executive Director of large nonprofit organizations, I offer vast experience in all aspects of nonprofit management, including volunteer recruitment and training, collaboration with executive boards, strategic planning, public relations, and special events management. The following executive briefing highlights how my background meets your stated position requirements.


You Require:My Qualifications:
Resource development & fundraising expertise with a proven record of developing and implementing revenue-producing special events
  • Experience planning marketing strategy and directing successful fundraising campaigns ranging from $.5 million to $200 million.
  • Demonstrated ability to increase fundraising by identifying, cultivating, and soliciting donors, including HNW and UHNW individuals and corporate partners.
Nonprofit management experience
  • Over 16 years building cooperative and productive community business relationships.
  • Experience developing program, organizational, financial, and administrative plans with the boards of directors of philanthropic organizations.
  • Strengths in recruiting, hiring, training, and motivating professional staff as well as promoting active and broad participation by volunteers.
Strategic planning & goal achievement
  • Strategic vision and planning skills to help position organization for growth.
  • Ability to build collaborative relationships with the Board of Directors, business and community leaders, government officials, and not-for-profit organizations to craft strategic plans.
  • Exceptional organizational analysis abilities to identify organizational opportunities, and strategies to move the organization forward.
  • Attention to keeping the Board of Directors informed of significant developments and trends in the field.
Financial management experience
  • Experience developing and implementing sound financial practices to maintain the organization's financial integrity through proper recordkeeping and reporting to achieve annual financial objectives.
Skill in communications/publicity
  • Ability to maintain a high public profile and act as a spokesperson and writer to communicate a compelling vision and build support for the organization's mission.
  • Proven talent for public relations initiatives to support organization's activities and events.
Programming experience
  • Success in directing and implementing public outreach programs; designing, developing, and implementing educational materials for seminars, exhibits, and special events; as well as planning and scheduling lectures and tours.

You will see how my attached resume fleshes out these details, showing a motivated professional with the skills you seek. I look forward to hearing from you and will contact you in a couple of days to arrange a time for us to meet.



John Smith



Skimmable and to-the-point, the executive briefing neatly matches the applicant's skills with the employer's needs. It's easy for the applicant to write and the recipient to read—a win-win situation.

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR.

From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.


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