For many job seekers, the cover letter is an opportunity to sell themselves and differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition. For entrepreneurs, the cover letter is a way to really sell their story and remove any doubt to the potential employer about an entrepreneur’s commitment to someone else’s business.
I will attempt to break down the traditional three paragraph cover letter for entrepreneurs:
First Paragraph: Introduction
In the introduction, this is where you want to first state your entrepreneurial history, the status of your current businesses (because employers want to make sure you aren’t in a “vague” situation – they need to know you are serious about looking for employment), the specific achievements at your business and how they relate to the position you are looking for.
Example: For the past 5 years, I have been the Co-founder and CEO of ABC Co. ABC Co, which was sold to XYZ Co in June of 2010, was a 20 person consulting company specializing in online marketing for small to mid sized businesses. I specifically worked with clients on Search Engine Optimization and feel my 5 years of experience would be an excellent fit for your Manager – SEO position.
Second Paragraph: The specific job talents
You want to go into further detail about the specific work you did at your company. You don’t want to mention off topic items (i.e., responsible for office management, talent acquisition, etc., etc.) unless they are requirements for the position. Instead, focus on how you drove strategy on that specific skillset and provide two or three examples. And to add a personal, entrepreneurial touch, explain how you thoroughly enjoyed working on that specific talent.
Example: I drove SEO strategy for small to medium sized companies. I gathered requirements from the client, created a plan, and drove the strategy with a team of three. I worked with a mid sized toy company which lead to a 20% increase in sales. I worked with a large e-commerce company and drove traffic up 7%. I thoroughly enjoyed working copywriters and web developers and also enjoyed gathering requirements from the client – it was one of the best parts of owning a marketing consulting company. I really enjoyed wearing multiple hats and performing these functions.
Third Paragraph: Social Media and thanks
This is where you thank the employer for considering you. As a unique touch, if you followed my advice in my previous article, you probably also have a few blog posts or a twitter account that helps demonstrate your acumen in that specific area of business you are pursuing. This would be a great time to show off your work. Show the employer your mindset and thought process. Show that even though you ran a company, you spent a lot of time doing “hands on” work in your business.
Example: I thank you for reviewing my resume and would welcome the opportunity to speak further. Please also visit my blog on Search Engine Optimization and my Twitter account at SEOEntrepreneur to read my insight on the art of search engine optimization.
Ben Cathers is a young entrepreneur and author who successfully built three different internet startups before he was 19. Ben is the author of Conversations with Teen Entrepreneurs and was named in 2005 by CNN as a member of “America’s Bright Future.” Ben has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, FOX News, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo! Internet Life, The London Sunday Times and in over 40 different publications. Ben maintains a blog on social media and entrepreneurship at BenCathers.com and is on the advisory board of BranchR.com, ZepFrog Corp and iGot2Know LLC.