Guy Kawasaki shares his experience posting an announcement on craigslist. He point out how important a good cover letter is:
Write a cover email that addresses the position. Two people simply attached their resume to their response. I pushed back on one and suggested that he write a cover email. He copied and pasted my job description to, I guess, let me know which job he was applying for. Needless to say, both candidates didn’t get serious consideration. I don’t know about other employers, but the thing I can’t stand the most is laziness. Although, to be fair, the ad was for a position at the worst website in the world.
I hired a lot of people when I used to lead web teams at ASHA and I reviewed more resumes than I care to remember. A good cover letter that showed the applicant actually read the position description and thought about how they could contribute stood out like a shining beacon of hope. My usual vetting process on applications was something like this:
- Rapid sort of those who obviously didn’t fit the job. Anyone who included a tailored cover letter would make this cut. I could usually cut out a third to a half of applicants at this stage. Each one got about 5 seconds of my attention.
- More careful review of cover letters and resumes to cull more applicants who clearly did not meet what we were looking for.
- Send what was left to the team for review and comment and then pick four or five to come in for interviews.
As you can see, a good cover letter got you past summary review and into a more in depth look at your merits. A cover letter is well worth your investment of time and effort.
A final note on the hiring process for applicants:
- The purpose of a cover letter is to get the employer to look at your resume.
- The purpose of a resume is to convince the employer that they should interview you (the cover can help with this as well).
- The purpose of the interview is to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job.
If you design each stage with those goals in mind you’ll do better than 99% of the job seekers out there.