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Friday, October 29, 2010

2 reasons your cover letter sucks

Two reasons your cover letter sucks:

1. It doesn't exist. You just send your resume. Adding a three-sentence note in the email doesn't count.

2. It exists, but it might as well not, because it just repeats the same info that's on your resume. Think about this for a minute: Why would an employer want a cover letter that just gives them the same information as you are already sending them in the next document? Answer: They don't.

99% of job applicants, I'm talking to you. Go redo your cover letter and tell me something that isn't in your resume!


Joey said...

My 2 cents-I look at your resume first. If It sucks or you don't have my minimum qualifications I don't care what you put on your cover letter because it's going in the trash unread along with you resume.

Benedetta said...

This is a great and effective post!

Jennifer said...

I'm studying abroad in the UK and helping out with a hiring process. We have a score sheet based on the job posting, and if you don't acknowledge each of the qualifications mentioned in the posting, you're marked down. Also, if you just mention "I have some marketing experience," that gets you one point where telling me what that experience entails gets you two or three points. The opinion is, we can't assume anything about a job title - if they don't tell us, we don't know. And from what I'm told, this is practiced pretty widely in the UK (although I'm sure there are exceptions).

I thought it was an interesting (admittedly lengthy) way to approach writing a cover letter.

Cosmic Noodles said...

Thank you! I hate it when there is no cover letter.

If you're applying as a seasonal grounds keeper, then ok.

But if you're applying for anything that requires written communication - it's necessary to include a cover letter!

JC said...

I was taught in college that the cover letter was a must with a resume. But many of my recently graduated friends don't send one, and then they wonder why they don't get a call-back. Cover letters express your interest in the position and what you would bring to it. A resume without a cover letter shows, in my opinion, that you are just sending out applications without thought while keeping your fingers crossed that someone, ANYONE, will call you back.

Someone I network with told me that she immediately tosses out all applications without a cover letter. Then, she tosses out applications with cover letters that don't express true interest in the job or in the field (she said that those cover letters are generally bland and generic sounding). She only calls applicants who had a good resume and cover letter that backs up their ability to do the job and their genuine interest in the field.

I just read your cover letter post and I agree with all the points, especially point #2. I applied to some "dream jobs" knowing that I didn't have certain qualifications. I expressed this in the cover letter - "I do not have experience with X skill but I have located services/classes/guides here and would be willing to spend my own time and resources to learn it." I already accepted a job position, but one of these companies contacted me for a phone interview. I think it's important to acknowledge you don't have a skill but have attempted to find resources to help you learn that skill - which shows that you truly want the job being posted and would make interviewers give you more of a chance in getting the job.

Richard said...

Another mistake I've seen is people who send the same covering letter with every application. You've got to tailor your covering letter to the company and position you're applying for, or it looks like your application is one of many, and that you're just desperate for any job, and aren't actually interested in the job you've applied for.

Who do you think is going to get considered for a position? The guy who send the generic covering letter saying how he would be interested in 'the position' at 'your company', with a list if skills that don't actually apply to the position, or the guy who has read the company web site, read the job description, and sent a covering letter that mentions how well they'd fit in with the company culture, and why your skills would suit the position at hand?

JC said...

I was thinking more about this post and have another thing to add =) I got the impression from a lot of my friends who don't write cover letters that they simply don't know what to write about or what they could bring to the company that they are applying to. I think they think that cover letters are for seasoned professionals. I think many college students, being new and (mostly) inexperienced in the workplace, feel they don't have much to offer with their skills and education. I believe that's selling us new grads short. There's a lot we can talk about in a cover letter and they are very easy to write once you get the basics down!

For example, when I wrote cover letters, I brought forth my education and how it related to the job I was applying for. I'm in the health field, so I would talk briefly about how my education enhanced my understanding of the field and what values/foundations of my coursework related to the company. I would also mention my jobs and activities and what "transferable skills" I could bring to the table. I found that helped a lot in writing cover letters and didn't make me look like I had nothing to offer other than "fresh meat" in the working world =)

Which makes me think of another point (hehe) - some of my friends who worked as bar hosts and waiters throughout school refuse to put down these jobs on their resumes! Although it's not related experience, I think they should still be put down because of essential transferable skills - customer service, dependability, teamwork, managing school and a job at the same time (multitasking? time management?), overall learning how to be a good employee (coming in on time, staying later if need be, working hard your entire shift, handling money, etc). It's much better to put these jobs down than leave your resume blank, which would show gaps in your work history and make your interviewer wonder what you were doing while in school.

Anonymous said...

So if I am sending an e-mail to an employer with my resume and cover letter as an attached file in a word document, should I copy my cover letter in the body of the e-mail even though it's like a page long? Or should it better to write in the e-mail, "Attached is a cover letter and resume?"

De Minimis said...

I always have the e-mail be my cover letter, with the resume attached. I figure why make them download an extra file.

Anonymous said...

I think that YOU RECRUITERS should do YOUR JOB as well. I really don't care if you have tons of resumes to review IT IS YOUR JOB! We, job seekers, need to send out tons of resumes in order to get an interview. Recruiters sometimes don't have time to read cover letters at all although I do send them. SO THEN RECRUITERS DO YOUR JOB BECAUSE WE DO OURS!