March 1, 2000
THE COVER LETTER
In two words: Write one. Be sure you proof it, too, and customize it for each employer. The cover letter is where the really astounding things come up, like the following:
~ One man emailed something along the lines of, "I am Dean I do great HTML, why shouldn't you hire me?!!!" The same person also neglected to attach his resume, sending a URL instead. We printed out his letter, I wrote "because you're a chump" next to his question and his email was circulated around the office for a laugh. Lesson learned.
~ Another candidate applied for a Production Assistant Position, and his cover letter contained the following statements:
"I am greatly interested in your opening for a public relations assistant."
"I look forward to being a part of your advertising team."
"Objective: to establish a career in the publishing industry." (atop the resume)
Mind you, the resume was sent for an advertising assistant job posting.
It's not difficult to write a cover letter. Show your interest, briefly discuss any strengths you may have or inconsistencies you'd like to explain -- like the four-month stretch where you were unemployed, playing with your Playstation, and loving it -- and get out. Be sure to include contact info and thank the employer for his or her time. By the way, that Playstation phase you went through should be omitted for now.
Don't just electronically spell-check and grammar-check your document. Read it. Better yet, write it, take a walk, and read it half an hour later. Nothing in Microsoft Word could save the poor young woman who wrote me about her dreams of landing a job "in the pubic relations industry" (although several of my coworkers thought it'd be a novel career choice).
Stare at your letter before you send it, never assuming it's correct. I've mis-addressed cover letters myself, and I know that when I get one written to the wrong person, I immediately discard the candidate as having a sloppy work ethic. Be sure you send one resume at a time, too -- no multiple-recipient emails allowed.
The Cover Letter
Two Things You Can't Do Wrong, No Matter How Poorly You Do Them