Project Managers are well respected in the business world. And for good reason. They have the daunting task of leading major projects and achieving business goals. The success or failure of the entire program rests on their shoulders.
To cut it in the field, you’ll need to ensure tasks are completed, deadlines are met, budgets are followed, and resources are used efficiently. It involves collaborating and networking with key stakeholders, decision-makers, team members, and authorities. You’ll need to use specialized skills, tools, and techniques to bring together an entire project effectively.
If you think you have what it takes to make it as a project manager, you’ll need a solid cover letter to get noticed by recruiters. You need to convey your passion and highlight why you’re perfect for the role.
Continue reading to learn how to craft the perfect project management cover letter. We’ll discuss why cover letters are important, the different types of letters you can use, and provide you with an example to use as a template. We’ll also look at how you can learn the key skills needed to kickstart your project management career.
Cover Letter Basics
You shouldn’t repeat what’s already in your resume or try to fit your whole career in a cover letter. Instead, your cover letter should complement your resume, and add a personal touch to your job application. The way you write your cover letter distinguishes you from the dozens of other candidates applying for the role.
Ideally, you should write two to three achievements in your cover letter and add facts to back them up. It’s also a good idea to start with an interesting anecdote about yourself that shows your personality and why you’re right for the role.
Remember to include information relevant to the organization and hiring manager. By spending that extra effort researching the company, it demonstrates you’re passionate about the job.
The format and content of your cover letter should match the company and job profile you’re applying to. This means you’ll need to create individual cover letters for each application.
The letter should be visually appealing and the presentation should be catchy, yet formal. Always end with a concise conclusion and a call to action. Before writing a cover letter, you should consider the following points:
- How does your work experience and skills relate to the job requirements?
- How do your qualifications and certifications match the job requirements?
- Why do you want to work with the organization?
Types of Cover Letters
Here are a few different types of cover letters, and tips for changing your tone and style for each.
1. Ad Response
When a cover letter is sent in response to an advertisement, it’s known as an ad response cover letter. You should carefully read the job ad and craft your letter around it. Use vocabulary and project management phrases that were used in the advert. Try to engage with the employer and encourage them to read your resume over other applicants.
2. Cold Call
When a company hasn’t actively advertised for a position, you can send them a cold call cover letter. You need to structure parts of your letter as an inquiry. Let the recruiter know you’re available for project management work and interested in any future positions that may open up. Because you’re specifically targeting a company, cold calling can actually make your application stand out. They’ll be fewer competitors and you’re demonstrating a keen interest in that particular company, even if no job is currently available. Try to play on this fact and highlight why you’re passionate about the company and what they do.
A referral cover letter is used when you’re referred to the job through a business network, mutual contact, or an employee. Be sure to mention the name of the person who made the referral, towards the beginning of the letter.
4. Job Match
This type of cover letter is used when your profile matches the specific job requirements of the company.
5. Letter of Interest
If you’re inquiring about a job opening in the company as a matter of interest, then this type of cover letter is used.
A networking cover letter is used when you’re searching for job assistance or advice. This letter is written to contacts that you may have met while attending project management conferences, workshops, or industry events.
Why Are Cover Letters Important?
Cover letters are especially important when applying for project management roles. You need to be an effective communicator, have a strong initiative, and possess excellent leadership skills to become a project manager. This all needs to come across in your cover letter. Some of the reasons why a cover letter is important are as follows:
1. Make a Good First Impression
A cover letter is usually the first impression you'll make on the employer. A well-crafted letter can make you stand out amongst other competent candidates, and grab the attention of the recruiter.
2. Showcase Your Skills
It gives you the chance to present your skills and provide examples of how they’ve been used in the past. You should focus on skills that are mentioned in the job description and align with the company’s key requirements. This helps map your knowledge and experience to the needs of the employer.
3. Highlight Your Character
Cover letters allow you to add a personal touch to your job application. Apart from your qualifications and experience, they can be used to highlight specific traits like attention to detail or excellent time management. When matched with the employer’s expectations, it can boost your chances of success.
4. Demonstrate Your Enthusiasm
Recruiters often use cover letters to measure how serious and enthusiastic a candidate is towards the company and job opening. Make sure you research the company and the products and services it provides. This won’t go unnoticed. By putting in the extra effort, you’re demonstrating your passion for the role.
5. Prove Your Communication and Writing Skills
A cover letter gives you a chance to show off your writing and communication skills. These are particularly important in any project management role. You should write engaging, crisp, and to-the-point statements to keep the employer interested.
6. Highlights Strengths
While a resume is great for listing your employment history or educational background, it overlooks interpersonal skills that are harder to quantify. The cover letter is not only your opportunity to highlight your core strengths but provide real-world examples of when you’ve used them. Always be honest, employers will discover any false statements during the interview process.
7. Lead the Recruiter to View Your Resume
Hiring managers usually start with the cover letter. If they find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the resume. When writing your cover letter, your goal should be to create curiosity and encourage the recruiter to continue looking at your profile. It should act as an introduction to your application.
Components of a Project Management Cover Letter
1. Formatting It should be formatted like a professional business letter. The font used should match the one used in the resume. Basic fonts like Arial, Georgia, and Calibri work well. The font size should be 10 to 12. The standard margin should be 1” from all sides. Remember to add a space after every paragraph.
2. Header The letter header should give contact information (name, address, contact number, and email) about both the applicant and company. If you’re writing your cover letter in an email, provide your details at the end of the email after your signature.
3. Greeting Begin your letter by addressing the recruiter directly. You can use Mr./ Mrs./ Ms. “Last name”. If you don’t know the gender of the recruiter, just write their full name. If you don’t have their name, try to find it. Search job portals, company websites, and social media sites like LinkedIn. As a last resort, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager”.
4. Introduction The first paragraph, and especially the opening line, can decide the fate of your job application. Make sure it’s engaging so that the recruiter reads the rest of your letter. Avoid starting with bland statements like your name, and that you’re interested in a particular job in the company. For a project management position, you can tell a story that relates to your skills or aptitude for the job opening. If you were referred, mention the name of the person that introduced you. Referrals stand out more and set you apart from the other applicants.
5. Body This is where you discuss your qualifications and expertise, and how your skills would be a perfect fit for the role you're applying for. Mention any special achievements, certifications, and soft skills. For example, being a team player, organizational skills, leadership qualities, and strong communication skills. You can use bullet points to list prominent skills and achievements.
6. Closing In the closing section, restate those skills that make you a good fit for the job. Request an interview to discuss employment opportunities, and how you’d follow up. End with thanking the employer for their consideration.
7. Signature After complimentary closure, end the cover letter with your signature and name.
What to Avoid in a Cover Letter
1. Typos and Mistakes Spelling and grammatical mistakes are not acceptable. The employer has never met you, so your personality and attention to detail will be judged through this letter. If you make basic errors now, chances are you’ll make mistakes when working for the company. Always proofread before sending it.
2. Discrediting Past Employers Never badmouth or discredit past employers or bosses. Always write your letter in a positive tone and draft the letter tactfully.
3. Over Confidence It’s important to highlight your achievements in a cover letter, but don’t brag about them. Sounding overly confident may send the wrong message to the employer.
4. Long Letters Limit the word count to 200 to 250 words. If you really have to include more information, try to limit it to a single page. Your cover letter is used to attract the attention of an employer towards your application, so save the finer details for your resume.
Sample Project Management Cover Letter
You probably want to see these tips in action. Here's a sample cover letter for a project management position:
Dear Mr. Paul Johnson,
My friend John Lee in the engineering department of Descent Ltd. informed me that Descent is hiring for a Senior Project Manager. I was excited at the prospect, as with 12 years of experience in project management, and skills that are aligned with your organization’s need, I might be the candidate you are looking for.
I've worked with renowned names in the software domain, namely SoftComm and Agile Ltd., and handled various degrees of responsibilities, including handling critical projects from conception till the end. My key experience areas are problem resolution, planning, execution, controlling, and risk management. My strengths include budget negotiation and cost monitoring with a variety of stakeholders. On the leadership side, I believe in keeping teams focused, engaged, aware, and offer help to communicate and dynamically solve any issues on the professional front. I have experience working with Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall PM processes.
A sample of my notable contributions include:
- Evaluated 1500 software applications resulted in $8 million savings.
- Achieved the best project manager award in 2010 from the audit team.
- Executed a profitable project with a budget of over $120,000.
- Certified PMP and PMI-Agile Practitioner.
On the academic front, I hold a bachelor’s and master’s in business administration from Purdue University and graduated Summa cum laude. I believe my skills as a Senior Project Manager will be significant for your team’s present and future needs, as well as serve my commitment to expand my leadership skills in the PM domain.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Your Next Steps
As shown in the above sample, a cover letter for a project management job should highlight your experience with different PM methodologies, certifications, and prominent achievements. It should also show your leadership skills and convey your excitement and passion for the job opening. Don’t repeat all the information listed in your resume. Instead, try to summarize why you’re suited to the job. Together with a stand-out cover letter, you’ll also need up-to-date project management skills to get noticed. Join our PM bootcamp and learn how to effectively manage large scale projects. Your future project management career starts here.