Great Resumes Fast » Cover Letters » Do Executive Candidates Need to Use a Cover Letter?

When executives are looking for ways to stand out in a job search, it can often come down to creating a great cover letter. Yet all too often, people applying for an executive position will omit the cover letter entirely, thinking that an executive cover letter is unnecessary. However, you need to remember that a potential employer is going to spend only a few seconds reviewing your resume, especially if they have no reason to pay extra attention to it. Introducing yourself and your qualifications to them with a clever cover letter will get them interested and have them focusing more closely on what your resume says. Your cover letter can help you to stand out significantly in your job search, and, to be blunt, it is simply too important to ignore.

In short, if you find yourself asking “Should I write a cover letter?,” the answer is yes! Executive candidates do need to use a cover letter.

So, as an executive, how do you make your cover letter stand out? Let’s take a look at how you can approach writing an executive cover letter to capture the attention of two potential audiences—recruiters and hiring managers/executives.

Give a Recruiter a Short Introduction

When it comes to executive recruiters, the cover letter isn’t quite as important as it will be for hiring executives and other higher-ups, but you still need to include one. Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to communicate information that helps you demonstrate your interest in and qualifications for the job—things there just aren’t room for in a traditional executive resume. For example, you can explain why you are willing to relocate, you can really make an effort to establish your personal brand, or you can speak to why you are looking to change industries and why you will be able to do so easily.

Establishing your personal brand will make you stand out, while explanations that address concerns a recruiter might have upon seeing that you live far away from the position or that you are coming from a different industry encourage them to not dismiss you as a candidate immediately. Your resume can’t offer these explanations effectively, and seeing them up front and right away in your cover letter will help the recruiter overcome hesitation and increase their willingness to pay attention to the qualifications and accomplishments that are in your resume.

Give Hiring Executives What They Want

While recruiters are looking at your resume to get to the bedrock of your skills and qualifications, other executives in charge of hiring want to know who you are as a person and how you fit in with a company’s culture and goals. Your cover letter is a reflection of your professional personality—and it can carry a lot of weight with hiring executives.

When writing an executive cover letter that is going directly to a hiring manager, you need to demonstrate that you have knowledge of their company and that you have a reason for being particularly interested in working for them. You know that you have to tailor your executive resume; it’s just as—if not more—important to tailor your executive cover letter as well.

Personal branding should also be a part of a cover letter going directly to potential employers. In establishing your personal brand in a cover letter, you should link it to the company’s mission or culture. Make it clear that you have a vested interest in helping them move forward and succeed. Don’t go in-depth into your specific experience—that’s what your resume is for—but instead touch on the high points, expanding on the best information that you don’t have the space to further explain on your resume.

If you need to offer explanations like those mentioned in the section on recruiters above, then do so, but keep in mind that when you are writing directly to a company they will be more interested in what you can do for them—writing a personalized, compelling cover letter means saying what you bring to the table for them, and not the industry as a whole. Offer explanations if needed, but focus on your personal brand and why you are a good fit for that specific company.

Ponder This Fact

Did you know that studies show that nearly two-thirds of hiring managers and executives take the time to read cover letters—with nearly half of them considering a cover letter a make-or-break part of your resume? You have no way of knowing if the company you are applying to falls into this category, but with so many hiring executives demanding cover letters, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you are pitching a company directly, without any job ads or open position announcements, you certainly want to write a cover letter so you are ready to pitch yourself to the company.

The hiring process can be long and repetitive for many positions, and having a cover letter and executive resume that stands out from the crowd is incredibly important. Leaving out a cover letter is leaving out an opportunity to impress a potential employer, or is even relegating your resume directly to the rejected pile as they see you couldn’t be bothered to put the time into a cover letter. Don’t put your career at risk just to avoid writing a cover letter.

I say all this recognizing that just like resume writing, writing a cover letter can be tough and time-consuming, especially if you are applying to more than one opportunity and need to write several. But it’s worth it to put the time into writing a great cover letter, even at the executive level.

At the end of the day, a well-written, professional cover letter is more than just an option or a formality; it is an obligation. It is your chance to establish yourself as a brand and pitch yourself to the company. It is your chance to get the attention of an employer or a recruiter right away and make them pay attention to your resume to really learn about your skills and achievements. As you write your cover letter, make it unique to each company and each position—and be sure to include performance metrics!

When You Are Ready for Interviews Now

We employ the above tips and many more interview-winning resume and cover letter writing strategies through our professional resume writing service. The resumes we write have delivered an exceptional 99.6% interview-winning success rate for our clients and shortened job searches by 6+ months. Our professional resume writing service is collaborative, one-on-one, and completely customized to you and your job search goals. The professional resume writers at Great Resumes Fast know that an effective cover letter and resume requires understanding your skills, experience, and career goals and is much more than just plugging information into a template. You’ll work with a writer who talks to you to really understand your career and your career goals—two things that are crucial for personal branding and the creation of effective cover letters and executive resumes. With certified resume writers who have industry and human resources experience, we know what it takes to get results for you.

If you’d like to see examples of the job documents we create, head on over to the samples page of our website. To find out more about our services, click here: YES! I’m ready to shorten my job search and start interviewing!

Are you tired of your resume being rejected by applicant tracking systems? I know how frustrating it is to submit your resume and receive no response. I hate seeing qualified people never breakthrough the screening process. It shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I created this guide and I encourage you to download the FREE PDF so you can start seeing better resume response rates!

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. ExpressLogbookLoan on July 11, 2015 at 1:51 am


    Do Executive Candidates Need to Use a Cover Letter?

  2. […] I explain in this article (, it’s especially important that you have a strong executive cover letter if you are pitching a […]

  3. […] to apply for a job? Yes. Yes. Yes. Even if the job description doesn’t specifically ask for one, you need to write a cover letter to accompany your job […]

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