Cover Letter or Value Proposition Letter? When to Use Each

When to Use a Cover Letter and When to Use a Value Proposition Letter

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A cover letter and a value proposition letter both provide information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for. However, there are differences between the letters.

The Difference Between a Cover Letter and a Value Proposition Letter

A cover letter typically highlights what you have done in previous positions, whereas a value proposition letter explains what you will do if you are hired for the current position. Thus, a cover letter often focuses on the past, and a value proposition letter focuses on the present and future.

Cover letters and value proposition letters also differ in length. A cover letter is typically 3 - 5 paragraphs (about one typed page), whereas a value proposition letter is often much shorter – about 100 - 150 words.

Both documents can be very useful in the job search process, but it is important to know when to use which document.

When to Use a Cover Letter

When an employer asks for a cover letter. If a job application specifically requests that you send a cover letter with your application, be sure to do so. If you do not follow directions exactly, you risk having your application thrown out.

When you need to explain something on your resume. If there is something on your resume that could give a hiring manager pause – an employment gap, for example – your cover letter is your chance to explain these circumstances, and emphasize why you are the right person for the position. A value proposition letter does not provide enough space for you to explain these things, so write a cover letter when a longer explanation is needed.

When to Use a Value Proposition Letter

When an employer does not specifically ask for a cover letter. When a job application does not specifically request a cover letter, you should still send a letter that explains your qualifications for the position. However, you can choose to send a value proposition letter in place of a cover letter if there are no specific directions.

When you are conducting a targeted direct mail campaign. If you are emailing prospective companies to see if they have any job openings that fit your abilities, consider sending a value proposition letter rather than a cover letter. Busy employers often do not have time to read an entire cover letter, and will likely appreciate the directness of a value proposition letter. They will also appreciate a letter that emphasizes what you can do for their company.

When to Use a Combination of Both

If you decide to write a cover letter, you can still include aspects of the value proposition letter to make a unique, compelling cover letter. Below are tips on how to write a cover letter that has the attributes of a value proposition letter.

Focus on the present, not the past. Tell employers what you can do for them. Even when you write a paragraph about your experiences, begin or conclude the paragraph with a sentence that explains how you will bring these experiences to the employer’s company. For example, you can say, “I am confident that, as I did at Company X, I can increase brand awareness while cutting your marketing budget by at least 10%.”

Emphasize value. Employers want to know what tangible results they will get by hiring you. A great way to demonstrate how you can add value to a company is to include numbers in your letter. Numerical values offer concrete evidence of your skills and accomplishments.

Be concise and direct. If you want to write a cover letter that resembles a value proposition letter, try to keep your letter concise – about three paragraphs maximum. You can be even more concise by including bullet points that emphasize your unique qualifications and/or accomplishments. Bold particularly strong words or phrases to catch the employer’s eye.

Letter Sample: Example of a Cover Letter With a Value Proposition