Want Your Resume to Be Noticed?
Make Your Cover Letter Shine
I wrote earlier about a job application process I was managing (it was weird to be on the other side of the desk for a change!). Of the approximately one third of applications that I received with cover letters, about half or so included generic and unimpressive varieties. The applicants had an idea that they needed to send something with their resumes, but their techniques did not hit the right tone or level of appropriateness. These letters looked a lot like this one, which is word for word (although anonymized for the purpose of reprinting):
Dear Hiring Department;
I am excited to apply for the Employment supervisor for youth w/mental health issues (in your city) that has been advertised. While my resume will provide you with an outline of my education and experience; the following information highlights additional personal and professional strengths:
- Creative, resourceful, and flexible; able to adapt to changing priorities, maintain a positive work attitude and strong work ethic.
- Expert juggler of multiple projects and achieving on-time completion of various projects, while exceeding expectations.
- Excellent anticipatory skills; adept at foreseeing unanticipated problems.
- A clear, concise, and logical communicator; competent at building rapport with clients and colleagues.
Please find attached my resume for your further review. A cover letter and resume cannot possibly tell you if I am the right candidate for your position, so I look forward to hearing from you in the future, for a more personable meeting. Thank you for your consideration.
Can you imagine my reaction to this type of letter? It certainly beat the type sent by the other half, which hardly referenced the position at all, making the candidate sound like he or she was simply blanketing the universe with resumes (one simply included the words “Thank you.”). The only thing keeping me from sleeping through this letter was its impossibly bad format, which made me want to see how awful it was going to get. I also noticed the terrible grammar and formatting, which certainly did not endear the candidate to me.
Of course, my point is that your resume and cover letter should look nothing like the foregoing. It should be engaging, succinct, and address the hiring manager’s needs, not yours. Your professional resume and cover letter writer knows how to select the right language that will make the hiring manager or recruiter want to read your career documentation, so if you don’t feel confident that your skills are in promoting your area of expertise, you might want to consider hiring someone who does this every day.