Cover Letter

Why I Won’t Be Reading Your Cover Letter

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Is your cover letter ready to be sent out? Before you say yes, read this…

A little while back, we had an open position we were trying to fill. I was amazed—or should I say appalled—at the blanket responses we received from job seekers. Potential candidates sent us cover letters describing experience they possessed that was completely irrelevant to our opening; it was the same as someone having a degree in veterinary medicine but seeking employment as an IT director.

Did these job seekers really think going on and on for paragraphs about irrelevant experience was going to make me want to read their resume—or even more so—interview them?

I think I understand the dilemma here: Truly active job seekers are sending out countless cover letters as quickly as humanly possible—probably exasperated by the sheer volume of applications they feel pressured to submit. It’s not a shot-in-the-dark game, people. Or a game of numbers.

I truly don’t believe it’s a situation where you have to submit 200 applications to receive two call-backs. What it comes down to is a matter of focus and relevancy. Can you make the correlation between your experience and career background and what the employer truly needs? I’ll give you a perfect example.

We occasionally will have openings for certified or professional resume writers. We place an ad for the opening online with some very specific requirements and ask that the candidate respond with valid and convincing reasons why he or she would be the best fit. Some candidates go on and on—almost endlessly—about having authored books, written articles for medical journals, or their technical writing experience.

None of which has anything in common with resume writing—other than the word “writing.” This is frustrating to hiring managers as they are wading through hundreds of job applications. It almost seems like a waste of time. I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they tell me what I need to know?” I specify in the ad that I need to know about criteria A, B, and C—and whether you possess those skills.

Ninety-nine percent of job seekers fail to address their experience in these areas. Why? I am not sure if it’s laziness or a result of being overwhelmed—but what I can tell you is you’re only hurting yourself and your chances for an interview.

I know when you’re submitting as many applications as you can you may feel hurried, rushed, or like you don’t have the time to make a customized submittal. Truth be told, you’re wasting more time if you don’t. Take the time to specifically address each requirement in your cover letter, and provide the hiring manager with the absolute most relevant experience you have that matches the requirements of the position. You may be surprised at the results.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter.

69 comments

  1. Boring, yet SO typical.
    The same old (sob) story how poor (but superior!) recruiters are bothered by inferior applicants.
    Yet ….
    The title of this ‘article’ says one thing, the content – the other.

    Maybe it REALLY ‘is a matter of focus and relevancy’?
    ‘Can you make the correlation between your TITLE, and what the ‘ARTICLE’ IS truly ABOUT?’
    ‘Can you make the correlation between your AD, and what the employer truly needs?’

    Of course, it’s not superior recruiter mistake s/he advertises (in writing!) one thing, then demands something entirely different.
    That’s the job of inferior applicant to decipher what her/his ‘highness’ has in mind.

    ‘I’ll give you a perfect example.’
    A Ph.D. recently applied to a major semiconductor company.
    Talks with scientists/engineers – pure pleasure.
    They knew what they wanted, and dealt with matters in a rapid-fire, spot-on fashion.

    No ‘psychological’ games, no stupid qs about my favorite animals, colors, or which tree I would like to be and why.
    ‘hr’ – dealing with was a catastrophe.
    Lost my docs, demanded same thing for 5 times, took them forever to arrange contract, messed up my start date.

    I still hope one day I’ll meet a recruiter who knows what s/he is talking about.
    No stupid games, no reading scripts, no dropping things, no calling boyfriend during interview and setting up movie-date next weekend (happened to me!).
    List can go on and on.
    And can answer some basic ( gasp!) technical questions.

    Good luck to everybody.

    • I feel your pain. I’ve been having a problem with sometimes receiving an email that I didn’t meet the minimum requirements when I actually did. I don’t have a criminal record so I know that’s not it but the one main problem is that a lot of them are now running consumer credit reports. I mean seriously?! Most of the companies that are doing this aren’t even offering good salaries to begin with & then they have the audacity to run a credit report on me like they’re paying top dollar or they have you go through some 3 phase interview process just to make under $14/hr. It’s frustrating to say the least. Some companies won’t even acknowledge your submission even though you meet all the requirements. I even ask in my cover letter any feedback they can give me to aid me in my job search would be helpful…nothing. Now answer me this, how many times have you gotten hired somewhere & the employer tells you to refer anyone else you know seeking work? A lot for me…I don’t understand why they can’t return the favor of being kind enough to drop some advice to someone every now & then that may help them land a job. Even though you didn’t choose them…some people like me have been out of work for a year-some of which by choice but when they do look again, they have no idea why they weren’t picked. The sad thing is that sometimes, you’re not doing anything wrong on your cover letter or resume, they employers just have so many qualified applicants that somebody has to get cut. It’s like being in the top 10 of X-Factor or American Idol. Everyone is good but only one will get picked…you’ve gone so long not getting hired that you start wondering if it’s you & start changing things & then guess what?…wrong move…now you’re in the bottom pick this week. I don’t get some companies how they want simple cut & dry resumes & cover letters but they ___ sit there & expect you to fill out an application that takes over 15 minutes online & then have the audacity to have a 105 questioned survey that’s mandatory. Now that you’re thoroughly ticked, they tell you “oh yeah, we’re running a credit so basically if you’re score isn’t over 700 we basically wasted your time.” What jerks! They don’t have any means of following up usually either. You’re scared you may say the wrong thing while pointing out things you need from them. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know even how to tell them that my last job was so unprofessional & crooked that I left because I didn’t want my name tarnished by their bad behavior or my pregnancy be effected by their daily nonsense. How do you say that to an employer on why there’s a job history gap? (frustrated like you)

  2. As an Employment Counsellor/Career Developer I run workshops on Cover Letters and Resume writing. I use a marketing analogy

    You drive down the road and see a big SALE sign at a store, it draws your attention,

    As you get to the store, you see its Electronics on sale at 40% off and great I am looking for a new TV (you have what I am looking for)

    I go in and talk to the salesman who tells me why his TV meets my needs and closes the deal.

    Cover letter (SALE sign), start to pique the employers interest, so he reads your resume.

    The resume, more relevant details of interest to the prospective employer, what I have to offer (buyer-electronics, TV, stereos on sale)

    Interview – sell my skills and experience and how they will fit, meet and exceed your needs (40″ TV, with surround sound! ! !)

    Thank you note and follow up (close the deal)

  3. Jessica, I’m confused by your title. At first I thought the article was written by some cynical recruiter who was going to rant about what a waste of time cover letters are. You alluded to this but clarified by advising people to write a relevant cover letter, not something from left field. Nonetheless, I was expecting a post from someone who will not read cover letters, period. A better title might have been: Don’t Waste My Time with a Pointless Cover Letter. Besides, the title as it stands, coming from you, wouldn’t be good for your industry. BTW, great article.

    PS. When I share this, I’ll write a disclaimer about reading the whole article before passing judgement.

  4. Very good article on making your cover letter count! Cover letters are a funny thing. Sometimes they may hurt you more than help you as pointed out in the article (not relevant experience or skills). This can be true for people conducting career transitions. What are you going to write about? The fact that you are changing careers? That might not be a positive. In a “pure job search” (same job or closely related job) the cover letter should be helpful as you will be writing about relevant experience. The bottom line is that if you think your cover letter addresses the specific skills and experience and is well written, it should be used. I think the specific example in this article is a little off. A resume writer should have good writing skills and experience in writing. In some cases, general writing experience plus the other experience you have in your background (which is never pointed out in the article example) can be enough to secure an interview even though the writing experience is not resumes. All of this is covered in Job Transitions, “Guide to Changing Careers” which I will be happy to email as a 40 page attachment to anyone that is interested. Here is a specific example. This is real-life and applies to a client I am working with right now. He is a student at a major university in the Midwest. This university has a program where they bring in HR/Recruiter professionals from the business world to assist students with resumes. The HR professional from Target Corporation was assigned to this student. This HR/Recruiter has probably never written a resume for a candidate. They do not write the resumes for students at this university – they recommend what should be done to improve the existing resume. This Recruiter has a great deal of related experience such as REVIEWING resumes and cover letters so they know good formats to use and all the marketable terms and so forth. Plus they have demonstrated good writing skills in the past such as company brochures or writing a book and so on. I would submit that this would be a wonderful candidate for a “Resume Writer” position. The fact that they have never written a resume for a candidate is traded off due to the fact that they have corporate recruiting experience in addition to good writing skills. So, I think this Recruiter would BENEFIT from a well written cover letter despite the fact they do not have specific experience. This is a specific example but applies to many situations. Thanks John Karras, President Job Transitions, Inc.

  5. With reference to your statement:
    “I truly don’t believe it’s a situation where you have to submit 200 applications to receive two call-backs. What it comes down to is a matter of focus and relevancy.”

    I think you need to adjust your beliefs. I can offer you proof that it’s not my cover letter, nor my lack of relevant information on my resume nor cover letter that’s causing the problem. I have proof.

  6. I have over 30 years experience in the computer industry. I was hired straight out of college,then in 2010 I was laid off.I have been looking for work for over two years and one of the main points made to me during this job search was the importance cover letters provide for that initial introduction to the employer. So when I created my cover letter,I tailored in a way to explain how my work experience matches the job skills laid out in the job description.

    I have journeyed through my job search with the intention of creating a cover letter for any and every job I applied for. At the beginning of this month I submitted my latest cover/resume combo. And two weeks later, I received a call from the company asking to set up a phone interview. Of course I was excited for the response but when I talked to the initial contact, he informed me that the position they want to interview me for was not the one I applied for.According to him my job skills were such that the hiring manager felt I would be a good fit for their organization.

    Nevertheless, I took the phone interview and during the course of the interview I asked if they viewed my cover letter. The answer was NO, he did not! Had he done so, he would have seen I included in my cover letter the job name and req # which I was applying for.

    However,I did use the opportunity to discuss my background and told them which job position I had applied for. The hiring manager informed me he would pass my information over to the responsible manager and have them followup with me. So, despite this little hic up, I still believe it is important to provide a cover letter when applying for a job opening. It appears to me they may not be any hard rules about reading a person’s cover letter.Or, maybe it just depends on how busy the reviewer of cover letters/resumes must be, and they decide in that moment if they choose to be bothered with a cover letter or not ?

    Just sayin …

  7. It’s easy for people who are in the information industry who do lots of writing and such to create nice resumes and cover letters. It is more difficult for people who ‘do’ things that don’t involve writing or a plethora of office skills, to change gears and automatically know how to write. Yes, someone can pay to have a resume done, but sometimes the writer really isn’t that good. A former co-worker showed me his resume that a skills office said was the ‘latest style’, and it looked like garbage. Trying to find relevance from how they had presented the information, to a desired job, would be a lot of work. I submitted an old resume to my school’s alumni career development office, which was at an ag. + life sciences school. I asked the counselor about this other style of resume, and he said yes that was a different style but in his experience, employers wanted the old-style that clearly listed jobs, skills and education along with appropriate dates and accomplishments.
    Since I was in a field that did very little paperwork or technical writing, but spent most of my time doing things outside of any office, having to change gears and write cover letters felt very foreign to me, since it had been years since I had had to do anything like that. Many in the same boat have the same problem when looking for work. Assuming that all workers have done office work and technical writing skills, because you have them, is unrealistic.
    One thing that I would appreciate, would be to have someone write a few cover letter selections for ‘me’, based on my resume and the job listed. I could then take the most appropriate (and of course the most truthful) and submit to the employer.

    • Its not difficult to write a cover letter using a standardized format. You read the ad, pick up 4 or 5 key points, mention them in the cover letter and then address each item…the reader sees, Its a YOU NEED, I HAVE style.

      R.T. Giant
      123 Main St, Muskogee USA

      April 1

      Widget Manufacturing Lt,
      Big Ivory Tower Office
      New York, New York

      Dear Mr Hiring Man:

      Attached is my resume for the position of senior widget inspector as advertised on craigslist. Your ad indicates you need someone at least 5’10” tall, that can inspect widgets quickly and ensure quality production. In addition experience in operating a PS3 would be desirable.

      In my previous position, for 6 years I was the senior whatchamacallit inspector. Average production was 100 units a day, however due to my efficient manner of working and motivational skills, our team averaged 150 units a day with less than .5% failure rate. Although the whatchamacallit was designed for the gameboy, it was compatible with the PS3 system also and as part of our quality inspection it was tested on both systems. As senior inspector I also trained and mentored new employees to ensure continued high quality of product and workmanship.

      I believe my skills and experience will be an excellent fit within your toy making company.

      Thank you for your time and I will follow up within the week to further discuss how my qualifications can meet your needs.

      Yours truly,

      Mr. Reely Tawl Giant

  8. Cover letters may not always be necessary but how do you know when it is and when it isn’t. You don’t so you should always do them. Don’t be lazy, this job is going to determine a lot in your life. Also how about writing a thank you letter after an interview. So few people do that. Write one not only to the interviewer but the receptionist who greeted you. She has a lot more power than you think.

  9. Would you suggest that the cover letter be in paragraph style or points with bullets? As a career professional I would love to see some cover letter samples that you think are easy to read and are convincing to the reader of the applicants’ qualifications for the position. Thank you.

  10. How about making job hunting like a dating website, essentially? I like LinkedIn. I put my information in there one time, here’s my profile address-thing. And, my email. I’m not typing this @#$# 4,500 times, sorry. If you’re interested in having me as an employee, please give me a call/email. You don’t have time to waste on this, neither do I, if you really really really need somebody and you think I’d make a good candidate, here’s how to get hold of me. Have a great day!

    • Nope Nadda Disagree entirely. Prove to me that you deserve to be hired by me…be accurate and be focused on what I’m looking for.

      cheers

      • I could not agree more. That being said, should I find someone on LinkedIn who looks to have what I’m looking for, I am willing to make the first call.

        However, it’s perfectly ok to say no if you’re not interested, and I expect you to do so if that’s the case.

        If You do not say no, I will tell You what I expect (resume with or without a resume) and I assume you’re committed to make your best, to sell your value to the prospective employer. If this opportunity is half hearted, you had the chance to be accurate and focused on what I’m looking for, then you’re not the one.

        • I think he’s just frustrated & venting but to see that you would actually take the time to read what was typed on someone’s cover letter & resume is uplifting because as a job seeker, I frequently wonder if what I’m saying is actually being read. Sometimes I’ve had proof that it wasn’t.

    • Good luck with your job search, Bert, but with that kind of attitude, I don’t think I would be be taking you on. If I have a job to fill, I am looking for someone with the right skills and attitude who wants to work in my team, not a couch potato who is saying ” I have better things to do than communicate with a potential employer – if you want to talk to me, then its up to you to follow up.”

    • Job hunting is like speed dating. At least it is for women in Washington State.

      First I have to dial up or visit an employer who posted a job in the want ads (or craigslist).

      Next, I have to dress up and wear make-up as if I’m going to meet a guy at a Match.com event! Employers won’t take me seriously if I’m dressed casually. I’ve had employers (male & female) grade me via comment on what I wear (including if I’m wearing heels or not)! FYI– I always dress in conservative business wear to an interview. Heels aren’t safe to wear at certain times of the year in Seattle (thanks to the rain, hills, rocks, and pine cones on the streets).

      Finally, when the interview is over, I have to wait for a employer’s call back.

      To tell me that job hunting isn’t like a dating is a joke.

      • Dating= to create a long term relationship
        Employment – long term relationship

        Don’t wait for a call back, send a thank you note and follow up. Be proactive, not passive.

        • I feel the same but you know what I’ve noticed? A lot of the posted jobs on Monster, CB & Indeed aren’t listing their contact info anymore. They just have a vague description of what city they’re located in & that’s all you usually get. Then they give you the actual job description & requirements. It makes you feel so defeated before you even start but you fill it out anyway & hope you hear from them.

          • True Liz, however don’t rely on job boards. Get out there and network. In 47 years only 3 of my jobs were from applying to a position, all the rest from word of mouth, networking.
            Even with emails only, you can send a follow up email, inquiring if they received all the information correctly and when they will be making a decision for interviewing.

  11. You castigate job seekers for their poor job searching skills, yet you didn’t spot your grammatical error in the first few words of your article.

    It’s easy to make mistakes, isn’t it?

  12. I have noted several pieces of advice on cover letters, and now write a new one from scratch for each application, so that I can address each required skill or experience in a way that I hope will appeal to the recruiter. My biggest problem is that most of my applications go to agencies, who seem reluctant to disclose much information about the employer. I would like to know which company I’m applying to, so that I can do a little bit of research (check their website, for instance), and be in a position to tell them why they would want me as an employee, and how I see myself contributing to their organisation. I can’t do that if it’s all a big secret, can I?

    • I agree entirely. If recruiters want to get applications aimed at the job then they need to give details in the job advert. I’ve seen a lot of adverts in my field that left me puzzled as to what was wanted except an entry level teacher. With 20 years experience, why would I apply for that.
      cheers

    • Don’t use agencies. Research companies in your area who have the type of work you are seeking. Most have a contact us. Write directly to the managers of the departments, make follow up calls, arrange informational interviews.

      • Andrea, I work in Finance. EVERY company worth working for has a Finance department, so there are no specific companies in ‘my area’ to look for. Also, I live in London. There are thousands of companies in ‘my area’. Most companies use agencies to hire Finance staff, so I HAVE to use agencies. It’s not a choice!

  13. I was laid off as part of a massive reorganization. I always include a cover letter if there is a section for that, and my last paragraph addresses the layoff so that HR at least has some understanding of why I am unemployed and why my skills are transferable.

  14. I’m intrigued by how many ppl think a cover letter isn’t necessary. Sure a recruiter may skip straight to your resume, but a cover letter gives them a good chance to go back and see the full picture- you get to fill the gaps in… Plus add a hyperlink to your Linkedin account and you’re done.

  15. a while ago when I was looking for an employee the CFO told me: dont waste time reading cover letters. Just open up the resume and look at it for 30 seconds. If by then you see something inyeresting, keep reading. If not, go to the next one. I completely agree with him. Cover letters are just a waste of time.

    • LMR, I’m only using this typo ‘inyeresting’ to make a point, not picking on you specifically. My point is… even hiring professionals act like human beings and make mistakes. So why are candidates instantly rejected for making one typo, for example? Trust me, I get it. Selecting a potentially valuable employee from a hill of chaos is not easy. But sticky to a machine-like strategy does not enrich HUMAN RESOURCES.

      • You have all the time in the world to create your resume, cover letter and yet you miss a typing mistake. It’s easy to correct typos, yet you ignored it. Is this a reflection of the care you take on the job or your attitude (good enough).

      • As a Recruiter, let me chime in. I post a position that requires attention to detail. I receive a minimum of 200 resumes. You misspell something – and obviously didn’t proof read, or ask others to proof read your resume or cover letter, so why should I choose you over another candidate who did? I received a cover letter today that had four misspelled words. WTH? PASS. I want this person to design my website? I don’t think so.

        Slow down – take the time to make every word count. Write the dang cover letter, write it well. Review it backwards. Look at each word individually and get it right! It’s really not that hard.

        • As a job seeker, I will bypass the recruiters and get to the decision makers if at all possible.
          However you are correct, your resume/cover letter should be an example of your best work. Mistakes on something you had a week to look over, how many mistakes will you make under pressure. Once reviewed a client resume that had “attention to detaile”

        • As a job seeker, I must say that I totally understand where you’re coming from. You have every right to feel that way. You have a lot of money invested in promoting your business. The last thing you need is some goofball to mess it up & drag your business down with it.

  16. This all should be SOP for writing a cover letter. Make sure it is as relative to the position as possible. It may not be a perfect match but consider the hiring manager’s time and at least connect the dots. Another thought however is that job seekers are so dismayed at never hearing back from anyone-not even a form generated e-mail, that they tend to go into assembly line mode-not a good idea but understandable. Perhaps companies should make more of an effort to communicate even if ‘No’ is the answer. Works both ways.

      • It’s not that simple anymore. About ten years plus ago, a lot of jobs did leave contact info to follow up with but now, they usually don’t because they do not want to be annoyed with ten million people emailing them everyday or calling them everyday asking did you get my resume & what they think. They barely have time to get the job posted. Sometimes, even if they do list contact info, you still may not get an interview. Catch 22. We all have to just apply & hope for the best. I’ve researched via Google to find contact info on some of the companies I’ve applied to. I didn’t always get an interview. Nothing is a guaranteed golden key but I do agree that if the info is there, you should follow up.

        • Even it its an email address only you can follow up by email, if its an online application (those spawns of satan), there is usually some contact info somewhere on the web page. Businesses do not operate in vacuums.

          Talk to the delivery driver that supplies their office supplies, who signs the waybill? Who is the purchaser? Start a network.

          Look up a company (Lloyds of London) in a business directory, it usually supplies names, contacts, send an email or phone. Takes some research and investigating skills…..and determination.

          • LMBO! OMG! Andrea you pretty much so right about the “spawns of Satan” thing. lol. I’ll definitely take your advice. Thanks Andrea.

  17. These things happens because people like you make articles about TRANSFERABLE SKILLS… its annoying and ridiculous to observe that pundit A says one thing and pundit B says the opposite and then they write a new article to complain about each other’s opinion. WAKE UP PEOPLE, THAT’S THE WAY PUNDITS MAKE THEIR LIVING…. one day they show you red works perfect, the next day, its time for blue, next week, it will be black…. and you idiot, goes with them. Do what you think you should do!

    • Bruno, it sounds as if you may have misunderstood some previous article about transferable skills. If this is the case, there is hope for you, me and thousands of other job seekers desperate to find the next great thing. First off – attitude really is everything, so please stop such negative posts at those who seek merely to help you with the best information they can. Try to find a reason, any reason, to look on the brighter things in life, not the negative. This article was well written, targeted, and specifically states that you need to slow down a bit and write a targeted resume. I know the urgency and the rush to get out as many resumes as you can. I know the reasons why people do it and as the author advises, I know it does not help your chances. Second, understand that throwing each and every skill you possess onto a piece of paper does not help to endear you with the reader because somewhere in the midst of all those words might be one or two that matches the skillset required. If in fact you do possess the skills needed for a position that you are applying for, make it easy, very easy in fact, for the reader to identify the skills and qualifications that you have that would make you an ideal candidate for an interview. A resume does not get you a job, that’s your job, a resume only opens the door for an interview. Also keep in mind that some skills are very time sensitive. For example if you worked in an IT helpdesk 10 years ago, it’s very unlikely that most if any of those technical skills would transfer today. I am not a pundit. I make my living trying to help veterans, especially disabled veterans like me, return to work. I wish you the best in your future and hope you find the job you want.

  18. Excellent article, one I’ll be sharing immediately, but while I have NEVER been a fan of cover letters I also recognize that unless the posting specifically states not to include one, a candidate is probably better off writing one. Everything Jessica wrote makes perfect sense and it can be argued it is common sense but since common may be the most uncommon of the senses, articles like this are relevant, necessary and helpful. Thanks Jessica

  19. I could not agree more. I’ve just finished a round of reading numerous applications. What I found is that many do not possess the skill to write a good cover letter. It was pretty amazing and gruesome at times. And then I wonder, do they really think they will be called upon for an interview with such an appearance? BTW: of the few who actually managed to set up a proper cover letter, only a small number managed to emphasize that they possess the skills required. I kept wondering if the applicants suppose we (I) reason that they do?

    And when I receive such poor work, I rarely care to read the resume. If they do not manage to communicate well at this stage, how will they communicate once they’re hired??? brrrrr….

    As Jamie says; There are a lot of People out there missing the point. This is Your very first and most important step to get a chance to introduce Your self – that needs to be done well. There’s no second chance.

  20. In the age of social media and Google is there really a need for the traditional cover letter? Potential employers can find out just about anything about anyone if they so chose to. Job seekers are encouraged to have a LinkedIn account and if they haven’t why not?

    • Yes employers still want cover letters. It shows them you understand their need and how you will fill that need. Its about what I the applicant can do for YOU.
      If you (applicant) can’t tell me what you can do for me, I am not going to waste my time hunting online to see if you fit the bill. Tell me HOW you fit and why you are a great choice. A great cover letter demonstrates your communication skills, attention to particulars and problem solving skills.

  21. So how should someone who is looking to change careers show potential/relevance? Is being a successful technical writer too much of a stretch to apply for resume writing? In my case specifically, I will be transitioning from education to another career. What is the best way to display that I may lack specific experience, but have transferable skills? Thank you.

    • Transferable skills can be very relevant, but it is important to demonstration HOW they are TRANSFERABLE. Don’t just leave it to the HR rep/hiring manager to figure out; really sell how your experiences are relevant to the new field. So if you are a technical writer, demonstrate how that experience has prepared you to be an effective resume writer; be specific. And then, of course, demonstrate it by having a really well written and nicely formatted resume.

    • Having been a technical writer for 10+ years, and producing over 300 articles, brochures and manuals, I take complicated, convoluted procedures and rephrase them into relevant statements and procedures that are easily understood. The ability to take complexity, find the salient facts and present them clearly is vital in creating a resume that presents the important and necessary skills to the employer.

      In producing marketing brochures, a key point is to present the information in a manner that addresses the customer’s needs and generates interest and enthusiasm. This requires research and an understanding of the current market and customers’ wants. Cover letter: a summary that addresses the employer’s needs, generates interest and understanding of the position’s requirements.

      Having created successful marketing brochures and instructive manuals, clearly demonstrates the ability to present information in a manner that is clear, addresses a need, creates interest and generates the desired results.

      blah blah blah

      • Andrea,
        I have been advising students that a job search (including cover letters) is like a marketing campaign. Thanks for the succinct definition. I plan to share it!
        Cover letter: a summary that addresses the employer’s needs, generates interest and understanding of the position’s requirements.

      • Andrea, what do you suggest to do if you as well have needs that need to me met? While you may show the employer how you can help them…you fear that mentioning what you need off top may make them push you aside. I’m having that issue right now is why I’m asking. I don’t know if me telling them in so many words that you have these operating hours but I need this for this reason that can’t be negotiated & can you help me in spite of my schedule dilemma?

        • Unfortunately, not too many employers care about your needs. The most I would mention would be seeking a part/time position with flexible hours. You are limiting your options though. The detail is something I would bring up at the interview, not in a cover letter.

          • Yeah…I think you’re right…I’ll definitely keep that in mind. After reading Jessica’s articles & some of you guys comments…I thought my resume & cover letter was pretty good but now I’m doubting it again. I’ve changed it so many times that I’ve lost count but after reading all this last night. I took my resumes off of one site until I revise it. I think I’m going to do like 4 or 5 that look totally different from each other & see what happens. What do you think about mentioning career goals like returning to college on campus or online? Do you think it’s a good idea to mention that in a cover letter or how you may be looking for something closer to home? I found myself not using cover letters period until recently & to be honest was trying to avoid writing one for each & every company because I literally apply to at least ten jobs minimum a day so I had kind of a generic cover letter. I’m beginning to think the very thing I was going so aggressively trying to avoid doing…I’m going to have to do & that’s an individually company customized cover letter. (Sigh) I’m really new at writing cover letters & I’m just so afraid of saying to much or too little. I have a situation that’s limiting by itself. My husband & I really want to avoid needing a babysitter this year. My husband’s grandmother was watching my son before but she’s elderly. We have two kids now…concerned if she’s able to do such a thing even though she’s in pretty good shape. We don’t trust daycares at all. His schedule is one with rotating off days & stupid hours that’s positioned just enough to mess up your schedule. (2nd shift hours). So I’m trying to look for something full-time or part-time that’s overnight hours or has an end time that will have me home no later than 1:30pm so he can go to work & be there on time. I’m in a very job limiting situation. It’s discouraging at times to say the least but I’m not one of those women that just want to do the whole stay at home thing. I do want to not have a babysitter but I also want to contribute further to my family with money & have the ability to have money of my own. Most company’s don’t have many part-time positions or is flexible as I would like. Their schedules are 8-5 usually. I don’t know what to do anymore.

  22. Why write a cover letter? The cover letter offers the resume screener more opportunities to reject reading the resume.

    I would rather spend my time customizing the resume for the job. Writing a cover letter, in this case, seems superfluous.

    One should ignore my comments if a cover letter is requested, but I observe that the cover letter is rarely requested. Perhaps it is different according to one’s field or industry.

    • I’ve seen a few replies from readers questioning whether or not a cover letter is required and I can assure you that in my experience as a hiring manager, in various industries, that I refused to look at resumes for those applicants who did not bother to write a cover letter. Too many applicants hope that if they throw paper my way (some may call what they sent in a resume, but that would be a stretch), that I would use my mind reading skills to figure out why if they suddenly appeared in my office that all of my problems would go away, they could leave work early with a fat paycheck and go back to playing their PS3. Honestly, it was all about laziness and commitment. I never needed to give a reason as to why I didn’t read a resume, but it was simple – if you didn’t care enough to craft a well written letter to demonstrate more than a passing interest in working for me, I didn’t want to waste my time or yours interviewing you. Anyone can pay for a good resume but it takes talent and a small willingness to commit to write a cover letter and a targeted resume. I didn’t have any room in any of my departments for people who were too lazy to demonstrate that they weren’t. It was really that simple and although maybe a bit harsh, that is the truth of the matter.

      • I wish I had a friend like you or a connection even like you that I could email & ask them what they think about this or that because that would so help me in my job search. I’m a person that I want people to tell me straight up what’s going on as a job seeker, employers just usually don’t tell you that we didn’t hire you because your cover letter didn’t say exactly what I was looking for or your resume…that I didn’t like your font or whatever you know…? The disadvantage that job seekers have is that most of us don’t know someone like you & if they do, that person doesn’t have time to fool with things like that because they’re busy…which is understandable but…(sigh) I don’t know…I’m lost for words now…

        • Are there no gov’t sponsored employment services where you live. I am in Canada and work in a resource room for unemployed. We run workshops on Resumes, cover letters, interview skills, dress for success, presentation skills, goal setting…. all free for the unemployed. As well a critical workshop is self-esteem/confidence. Job searching is a full time, difficult task and can drag people down. Sometimes you need to take a break and treat yourself. Go for a walk, relax. I set up a schedule for daily tasks, 1 hour blocks….. scan newspapers/online, apply to 3 jobs, call 3 people (networking), follow up on previous apps.

          • Andrea, this is about the most triflin’ set up around my area. I’m in the boondocks but I have utilized the closest largest city to me. I’ve gotten set up through them & it seems the only thing they’ll offer you is the two cent jobs like 7-11, Pizza Hut, etc. I’m not saying I’m too good for it but I am saying that I am a 30+ year old woman with a family & that rooty pooty job salary isn’t going to cut it. I need above $14/hr. I just don’t see it with the unemployment offices here. I found that a lot of companies when you go in person to ask of their employment opportunities that they quickly refer you to their online site. So it’s like you have to go online & hope they contact you. One company I applied to was different from what I’ve done in the past but I do want to do something different from my past employment sometimes too. I try to give myself breaks sometimes but it’s challenging to say the least. lol. I’m a married woman with an 8 month old & a 2 year old. lmbo! Sometimes I get to pencil in time in my garden or get to play a video game or IOS game to escape. I definitely take advantage of when my hubby is home. We’ll all go to the park or go walking…wish I had some tennis gear…boy wouldn’t that be fun!

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