If you’re applying for business development manager roles then you’re likely already aware of the quantity and quality of competition.

Depending on the length of your job search you’ve probably also drafted a number of CV or cover letters that despite showing qualifications and experience aren’t getting the response you want.

To help your cover letter stand out and to help your overall application here are some tips on what to include.

The basics of your cover letter.

As a rough guide, a good cover letter should be approximately half an A4 page as a minimum, and no more than two full pages of A4 (but avoid making it this long if you can). 

If possible, it should be addressed to a specific recipient and be signed with ‘yours sincerely’ followed by your name at the bottom.

Once you have the basics down, the actual content of your cover letter is very much up for debate.

What should you include in a cover letter?

In terms of personality, some of the core traits you want to show as a prospective business development manager are that you are: 

  • proactive
  • confident
  • able to manage multiple projects and clients
  • ambitious 

It’s easy for any applicant to say that they possess these traits, but the next level applicant shows it. The way to do this effectively in your cover letter is to talk about experiences where you showed these traits.  For example, instead of just saying you’re proactive, you could explain a situation where you saw an opportunity for new business and you made it happen.

Instead of saying you’re good at cultivating client relationships, actually explain the history and challenges of a real relationship you have in detail. This has the added bonus of adding a human element to your application.

What should you not include?

Don’t just regurgitate your CV! Your CV is the place to show the facts and details, the cover letter is your opportunity to explain them. 

Your CV and cover letter should dovetail,  but as two separate documents written in two separate styles; one largely informative, the other largely descriptive.

Furthermore, try to not come across as over-confident. For Business Development Managers, it can be tempting to list the brand names of any new business you’ve managed to bring in. There’s no harm in name dropping at all, but be sure to include context in your cover letter to help you come across as confident and thorough, not arrogant.

What can give you the edge?

Try where possible to tie your success to commercially-driven objectives. Saying you hit your targets in your cover letter is great, but explaining how you did this (for example, through undertaking market analysis and adapting strategy accordingly), is the way to stand out.

Punctuating it with statistics to back it up will make you stand out. To summarise, if you can confidently say yes to the following points when submitting your next cover letter, you’ll be well on your way to securing the role:

  • have you ensured your cover letter is the right size, format and that the basic structural tick boxes are covered?
  • have you explained (not just listed) your best and only most relevant personality traits?
  • have you avoided duplicating parts from your CV?
  • have you come across as confident but not too confident?
  • have you backed up your statements with facts and statistics to add authority?

Take a look at our CV hub to download a cover letter template.