Why I Won’t Be Reading Your Cover Letter

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.

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