A Cover Letter, Seriously!?!
So, I finally landed myself in a manager gig. Over the past 10 years or so, I have been part of interview panels, but now is my first time as a hiring manager. On top of that, I have three open positions at once, a contractor, a full-time resource, and a temporary backfill. It’s now that I come to understand the cover letter.
When it gets to professional jobs, we’ve all seen the job reqs, “Looking for 10 years of experience in a technology that has only existed for 5 years.” We know that no one meets all the requirements of a job posting, that’s pretty much a given. We also know that sometimes people are looking to switch fields. Have you been trying to do that and not get callbacks? Let me explain why.
Recruiters and Hiring Managers
Two groups of people will be looking at your resume. First, is recruiters and then, if you’re lucky, hiring managers. As I work in a niche technology, I try to review all of the resumes since the recruiters may not smell a rat as quickly as me. I’m guessing for most positions, the recruiters do the first screening and then the hiring manager might start looking things over.
“So what?” you ask. Well, In the past three weeks, I’ve looked at maybe 60 resumes across all the positions. A lot of them don’t align with the opening. Some are clearly way off with someone spamming every open position. Others look like they misread the posting. We’re looking for someone to run our Project Management software, not a Project Manager.
Where the Cover Letter Hits the Road
Well, say you’re that project manager and you’re looking to change your alignment. When I look at your resume, I’m going to assume you just mis-read the opening. However, a cover letter can correct my assumptions. You can point out how your experience as a project manager makes you the ideal candidate to run the software. In general, cove letters, for me, act as a foot in the door. You have an extra 30-60 seconds of my attention, use it well. Highlight why you want the position and what you bring to it.
Cover letters really do distinguish you. At an entry level job, not so much. At a professional job, where no one ever meets 100% of the requirements, they can illustrate why you want to work somewhere. So yeah, it’s a pain in the butt, but if you really want that job, spend 10-15 minutes customizing your cover letter before you send in that application. If you’re applying for one of my openings, it really will make the difference. I don’t say this out of conceit, but I’ve had some applications and resumes where I just can’t comprehend the fit. A cover letter can square that circle super quick while I might otherwise be left confused and put that candidate aside.
So, what are your thoughts on cover letters? Do you submit them when applying for jobs? If you’re a hiring manager, do you agree with me as to their importance? Let’s hear your opinions.
Image Credits: bearstache