What Should I Include in My Cover Letter?

Illustration by Erik Blad
Illustration by Erik Blad

In Ask Help Scout, long-time customer service professional Mat “Patto” Patterson answers readers’ most challenging customer support delivery, leadership, and career questions.

Dear Patto,

For the last year I’ve been applying for remote support jobs with no success, and I am wondering if a stronger cover letter could make the difference. Do you have advice on what to include (or not include)?

Thanks,
Build Bella a Better Letter?

Hello Bella,

Job hunting can be so exhausting, and I sympathize with you. In the resume you shared with me, I see solid experience in customer service roles, so you have proven capability to do the work. That’s huge.

There’s plenty of advice on cover letters out there (and on customer service resumes), and I could offer some help there … but I won’t. It’s not because I am the Grinch of advice columns, but because I suspect your biggest challenge is not in the cover letter area.

I see you are based outside of the U.S. (like me!). Unfortunately, that can eliminate you from some roles immediately, and for other roles it may introduce a new complication that a business would rather not deal with.

My suggestion is to target roles where your location becomes a benefit to the hiring company. For example, look to a U.S.-based SaaS company that has a growing number of customers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and needs to expand their support coverage.

Suddenly, as an experienced support professional who can work daytime hours in the right time zone and who has worked with U.S. companies before, you are a really strong candidate.

Then all your cover letter needs to do is get that across quickly. Your pitch should be, “I’ve done this before, I am a safe bet, and I will represent your company well if you give me the chance.” If you have particular past experiences of working across time zones or with distributed teams, mention that, too.

I know from personal experience that as a busy hiring manager, those are the applicants you get excited about — the ones who solve problems for you instead of creating new complications.

So how do you find those roles? Here’s our general advice for finding remote work. Start in the SaaS support communities and the remote work Slack communities, and don’t be shy about mentioning your availability. These roles do come up, so you want people to know about you and the work you can do.

You can even try putting together a single-page website with your pitch as, “I am your first EMEA-based customer service person.”

By starting off your application process from that position of strength, you’re more likely to find the type of remote work you’re looking for.

Best of luck, from one excluded by “remote (U.S. only)” person to another,

Have a question for Patto?

Have a question for Patto?

Mathew Patterson
Mathew Patterson

After running a support team for years, Mat joined the marketing team at Help Scout, where we make excellent customer service achievable for companies of all sizes. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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