#8: Cover Letters…why only 1% are worth reading

24 Feb


Most cover letters are more self-serving to the person presenting themselves than beneficial to the recruiter/hiring manager reading them.  Does your cover letter talk more about what you expect a company to do for you?  How about telling me why you chose my job to apply to?  What about my corporate value proposition do you identify with?  How you are qualified for my open job?  And finally, how you feel you can immediately add value to my team.

Cover letters need to be new and different for each job you apply to.  They need to speak specifically to the company and to the posting.  There are a lot of job seekers that apply to multiple, varying positions at the same company.  That is dangerous for many reasons.  Recruiters are good at names.  That is part of the job.  I can remember the name of the first guy I ever interviewed.  Seeing your name flash across our desk 12 times in one week because you keep applying to our database – isn’t a good strategy.  It solidifies that you don’t know what you are looking for, and you are just blasting me with your information to try and get a bite.

Job-seeking is NOT a numbers game.  It may have been years go – but not anymore.  There are too many players.  It’s not about calling into the HR person everyday and sending a letter a week to the same company to try and get your foot in the door.  It’s about standing out as the best person for the job.

Companies look for the higher level, professional, strategic thinker nowadays rather than get flattered by someone who REALLY wants to work with them.  The economy has forced companies to run lean and mean, meaning they need A-players, strategic, big-picture thinkers in every role. You are not presenting yourself that way by applying to a Systems Analyst, a Project Manager, an Executive Assistant and Sales Role in the same day – and with the same self-serving, vague, canned cover letter.

My point, relating back to the cover letter is – if you do feel qualified for multiple positions at a company – that are similar in nature then of course it will be appropriate for you to submit your resume to all.  But be careful how you package yourself.  Don’t waste my time by applying to jobs you are clearly unqualified for because you feel that my job is to draw names out of a hat each day and by increasing the amount of names you submit, you are increasing your chance of scoring an interview.

FACT: Don’t assume your info is being sent to the same recruiter either.  Often, in either high growth companies or larger organizations, if you apply to 3 different jobs, your applications will go to 3 different recruiters.  This is why your cover letter needs to be legitimate, and relevant to the specific position.

In conclusion – cover letters aren’t a one-size fits-all canned introduction letter that just talks about you.  It is an application to a job.  You are not only submitting it to make yourself look attractive in general, you are submitting it to look attractive to a specific company to do a specific job.  It is in the cover letter that you should itemize how you are a good fit for the company and the position.  Why you like the company.  What you’ve done recently that is completely relevant to what I’m looking for in the job description that you replied to.  Don’t tell me where you were born, or what GPA you had in High School.  Respect my time, and make this letter short, sweet and relevant to ME.  If you choose not to submit a cover letter – fine.  You are putting everything in your resume, so it better be good.


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