Here at LiveCareer , we maintain contact with a wide network of hiring managers who often share their thoughts and observations with us about the staffing process. As they review cover letters, they tend to see the same issues again and again, and they often wish they could explain certain things to their candidates. But since they simply don’t have the time to respond personally to every application they receive, we’ll take the liberty of sharing some of their thoughts. Here are a few of the things hiring managers wish you knew about the cover letter review process.
“We really like cover letters. We actually love them. Without cover letters, each resume is just a laundry list of facts, and we struggle to get a sense of the candidate’s personality, meaningful experience, personal passions, and working style. Since personality and cultural fit matter more than technical skills, we’d be lost without cover letters. So make the most of them. Don’t assume they don’t matter, and try not to dash off a few minimal lines like “Dear Company, Please see my attached resume. Thank you.” If you do this, you miss an important opportunity to impress us and let us know who you really are.”
“Unfortunately, we get a lot of resumes from candidates who aren’t honest about their accomplishments and credentials. Not to sound jaded, but it’s hard to place trust in a candidate based on a resume alone. Some of the candidates we hear from seem willing to say anything, or claim anything, just to land an interview. We see everything from fictional college degrees to long tenures with companies that never existed. A cover letter can help you back up the honest claims you list in your resume. If a claim sounds exaggerated, the information in your letter can add dimension, support, and believability.”
“When I narrow the applicant pool and start issuing interview invitations, I base my decisions on the cover letter. Period. I ask for resumes, but it’s the cover that I use to make the final call.”
“The secret to a successful career comes down to two words: write well. Okay, maybe five words: Write well and speak well. Words have meaning and power, and those who hold strong command over the language will always sound more intelligent, more trustworthy, and more deserving of respect than those who don’t. Even if the job you have in mind doesn’t seem to require much skill with spoken and written communication, let me tell you, it does.”
“The more you talk about our company and the requirements of our specific position, the more we’re going to like you. It’s a simple truth of human nature: People like talking and hearing about themselves, and our hiring managers are no exception. Tell us about us. Research the company and use the information you find as you draft your cover letter.”
Keep Your Reader’s Needs In Mind
As you write, edit, and polish your cover letter, keep your reviewer in mind and don’t pass up a single opportunity to turn the spotlight in your direction. Get help from the LiveCareer’s cover letter building tools to give yourself every advantage.