Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover letters should cover some ground

Sarah E. Needleman (she has lots of interesting stories, doesn’t she, WSJ, Mar 9, 2010), says some hiring people toss cover letters, while others read them.

Me, I would read them—the resume can be done by someone else, but usually to make sense, the cover letter is the applicant’s “own work.”

Still, many people don’t use them—and so using one can set you apart.

The letter should he tailored to the company and the job requirements.

Point out content on the company’s website to customize the letter.

Comment on a trend in the industry.

Maybe check the hiring manager’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

If you have gaps in service—explain. One applicant even said he had spent 18 mos trying to launch his own business. Obviously, since he was applying for a job, it hadn’t worked out—but the admission showed he was honest and entrepreneurial.

Oh—and about making each letter personal? Hiring managers have software that can compare letters now.

Oh, it’s a mean old world out there.

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