What Your Cover Letter Says About You

This was me, after receiving a well written, tailored cover letter:

In my ten years of experience reading and editing cover letters, I have seen the full spectrum of cover letter content.  I have read cover letters as an employer hiring candidates and as an editor before it goes to the hiring manager.

I spent the first four years of my career as a Human Resources Recruiter for a social service agency and read many cover letters for a range of positions, from entry-level to executive level.  One thing that I could always tell by reading the first few lines is if someone wrote their cover letter for the job I had open, or if someone wrote one cover letter for all jobs.  It was pretty clear at that point, that this person didn’t really care about the job they were applying for, so why would they be good at the job?

An employer is looking for two things when they ask for a cover letter.

  1. They want to see if you are a good writer and communicator. Take your time.  Structure your cover letter. Proofread!
  2. They want to see if you cared enough to write why you are the best fit for their job and their organization. Stating generic sentences like “I am the best candidate because of my previous experience and education” says nothing to the reader about you or why you would be a good fit for them.  Instead, try “In reading your job description, I see that you are looking for someone with my experience: 6 years of retail work and a track record of accurate record keeping.” Connecting your past experiences, skills, and education with their job description is the best way to get their attention.  Also, be sure to include the correct organization name and job title!  You would be surprised to know that many candidates submit an old cover letter written to a different organization.  That is an instant ‘no’ in a hiring manager’s decision making process.

So, to conclude, you should ALWAYS tailor your cover letter, write it well, and have someone review it!  It can be the difference between getting called in for an interview or not.  Click here to learn more about writing cover letters.

Best Regards,

Cover Letter Connoisseur

By Sara Shepherd
Sara Shepherd Director, Employer Relations