Hi everyone…welcome to the CONFESSIONS OF A HIRING MANAGER blog of Encygnium.com. I moved the previous posts from the “jtkirk.wordpress.com” blog over to here now that there’s a new name for the company and I’ve dropped the pseudonym. Check out the “About” page for the details.
OK…so, some other hiring managers are blogging that cover letters aren’t important and that “no one reads them anyway.” They just don’t get it.
First of all, some hiring managers read cover letters and you want the one who reads yours to bring you in for an interview. The reason many hiring managers don’t read cover letters is because they are usually the worst examples of half-hearted attempts by people to sell themselves. A cover letter is never about you—it’s always about the hiring manager’s needs. Until job applicants realize that, cover letters will continue to be unread and miss the point altogether.
Your cover letter serves the same purpose as an introductory letter if you were a consultant seeking new business. Such letters are written from the perspective of “I know your industry and the challenges you face; I know you need a game changer and a solutions provider for your team or business, and I have a demonstrated record of accomplishment to show that I can do the same for you.”
Here’s what the best cover letters contain (see my book, Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev 2. 0 for many annotated examples of both good and bad cover letters):
- Addressed to a specific individual (ideally, the hiring manager)
- Contains a bullet list of quantified accomplishments pulled from your résumé (actual revenues earned, costs avoided, percentage improvement, etc.–a “proven track record” is proven by quantified data, not just your say-so)
- Takes an assertive position that you are the hiring manager’s problem solver he or she has been looking for
- States clearly that you will call the hiring manager in a fews days to “discuss further how you can be a value-add contributor to the company’s bottom line.” (and make that call!)
- Your cover letter contains more instances of “you/your/yours” than “I/me/my/mine”–it’s a rule of thumb indicator that signals whether your cover letter is directed at the hiring manager’s needs or your own.
- One page or less in length
- Does not contain the words “please” (as in “Please consider me for the position….”) or “love” (as in “I have always loved your company’s products…”)
- Your cover letter is a summary of what you have to offer…its purpose is to get the hiring manager to move from cover letter to résumé
In the competitive job market and this economy (or any economy), you essentially have to take the job away from your competitors. No more namby-pamby “I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience” closing lines. Either you want the job or you don’t. You have to insert yourself into the hiring cycle rather than rely on chance and people feeling sorry for you–it never has worked that way before and I don’t see it changing in the future.
The cover letter is but another important document in your Professional Skills, Knowledge, and Experience (PSKE™) Portfolio that attests to your being perceived as just the expert the hiring manager was looking for.
Don’t neglect a carefully crafted cover letter…it is a critical component of your works history that attests to your expertise, and is an initial point of entry for additional details on your abilities, accomplishments, and capabilities.