Writing a Cover Letter



  • How I feel when I'm writing a cover letter because it's required...
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  • I'm recruiting at the moment and the job ad asked for a covering letter. Despite this being a requirement in the ad, pretty much no-one included one, which has pissed me off. Basically, either people couldn't be bothered to write one, or they couldn't be bothered to read the ad properly.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm recruiting at the moment and the job ad asked for a covering letter. Despite this being a requirement in the ad, pretty much no-one included one, which has pissed me off. Basically, either people couldn't be bothered to write one, or they couldn't be bothered to read the ad properly.

    My POV is I have tons of experience and this is a tech job not one that needs elegant writing. I don't need to beg for your particular job when I have others I am applying for. Look at my resume and interview me and you will see how valuable I am.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm recruiting at the moment and the job ad asked for a covering letter. Despite this being a requirement in the ad, pretty much no-one included one, which has pissed me off. Basically, either people couldn't be bothered to write one, or they couldn't be bothered to read the ad properly.

    I used to bin those straight up. If you can't read and follow one simple instruction, then I don't want you.



  • @IRJ I do agree with you to a point.... But some view not having the requested documents a sign of inability to follow basic instructions. Not included, in the shredder it goes because it's incomplete.

    And in some cases, you can express things in a cover letter that can't be easily highlighted in a resume.



  • @IRJ said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm recruiting at the moment and the job ad asked for a covering letter. Despite this being a requirement in the ad, pretty much no-one included one, which has pissed me off. Basically, either people couldn't be bothered to write one, or they couldn't be bothered to read the ad properly.

    My POV is I have tons of experience and this is a tech job not one that needs elegant writing. I don't need to beg for your particular job when I have others I am applying for. Look at my resume and interview me and you will see how valuable I am.

    I agree whole heartily with this, we aren't English majors or people who's jobs rely on soft-skills (although those are helpful) we are entirely technical people with a technical job. Our resumes should cover almost everything that we have done and a cover letter really isn't going to add value to it. On top of that if you are interested in the resume then you could easily find out what a cover letter would go over in an interview which, I think, is a much more straight forward and honest means of determining if a person is right for the job.



  • My viewpoint on cover letters is that I hate writing generic letters. If you want a cover letter, I want a name to address it to. I've seen jobs say they want cover letters, and I can understand that. But to me, look at my resume and if they really want an explanation or more info, then call me in for an interview. Cover letters feel like a cop out to me. I get the whole "not following directions" bit if it says in the ad that it's required, but if you get one from me, it'll be so generic and useless (really and truly), I'll be including it basically just so you have something. A resume and an interview should be the process.



  • @coliver said:

    @IRJ said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm recruiting at the moment and the job ad asked for a covering letter. Despite this being a requirement in the ad, pretty much no-one included one, which has pissed me off. Basically, either people couldn't be bothered to write one, or they couldn't be bothered to read the ad properly.

    My POV is I have tons of experience and this is a tech job not one that needs elegant writing. I don't need to beg for your particular job when I have others I am applying for. Look at my resume and interview me and you will see how valuable I am.

    I agree whole heartily with this, we aren't English majors or people who's jobs rely on soft-skills (although those are helpful) we are entirely technical people with a technical job. Our resumes should cover almost everything that we have done and a cover letter really isn't going to add value to it. On top of that if you are interested in the resume then you could easily find out what a cover letter would go over in an interview which, I think, is a much more straight forward and honest means of determining if a person is right for the job.

    We are so on the same page....



  • Yeah, IT people aren't English majors, and shouldn't have to demonstrate elaborate writing skills. Now some do have those talents, myself being one of them. But mixing the technical requirements with the need to write eloquently on a cover letter is not a good move, in my opinion.



  • @thanksaj @coliver

    It's true that few people are as articulate as say @scottalanmiller is with being a word smith.. Okay... back to the real words I'd use.... Some of us IT'ers just aren't that good at writing..

    HOWEVER - my previous employer was a in the mental health / social services arena. They couldn't tell you the difference between a server or a desktop much less a DOS for a DDNS.. They could speak 'Latin' but didn't understand 'Greek'

    In some cases - (like that one) it was the cover letter that spoke not so much the resume.



  • @g.jacobse said:

    @thanksaj @coliver

    It's true that few people are as articulate as say @scottalanmiller is with being a word smith.. Okay... back to the real words I'd use.... Some of us IT'ers just aren't that good at writing..

    HOWEVER - my previous employer was a in the mental health / social services arena. They couldn't tell you the difference between a server or a desktop much less a DOS for a DDNS.. They could speak 'Latin' but didn't understand 'Greek'

    In some cases - (like that one) it was the cover letter that spoke not so much the resume.

    So they are non-technical people hiring for a highly technical position? Ok, I guess I could understand that... except instead of hiring you (or someone like you) they could have hired someone who's only experience was working part-time at staples (no offense A.J.) but simply padded their resume and cover letter with enough buzzwords and jargon to go over their heads.



  • @g.jacobse said:

    @thanksaj @coliver

    It's true that few people are as articulate as say @scottalanmiller is with being a word smith.. Okay... back to the real words I'd use.... Some of us IT'ers just aren't that good at writing..

    HOWEVER - my previous employer was a in the mental health / social services arena. They couldn't tell you the difference between a server or a desktop much less a DOS for a DDNS.. They could speak 'Latin' but didn't understand 'Greek'

    In some cases - (like that one) it was the cover letter that spoke not so much the resume.

    They are doing their hiring incorrectly then. Then need to have someone who is technical screening the resumes of new IT people. If they don't have that in-house, they need to use a hiring agency or something similar. Not that all those are perfect, but they need to know what they need and they need to be able to identify, from a resume, that a candidate is qualified to do the job. It's that simple.



  • @coliver said:

    @g.jacobse said:

    @thanksaj @coliver

    It's true that few people are as articulate as say @scottalanmiller is with being a word smith.. Okay... back to the real words I'd use.... Some of us IT'ers just aren't that good at writing..

    HOWEVER - my previous employer was a in the mental health / social services arena. They couldn't tell you the difference between a server or a desktop much less a DOS for a DDNS.. They could speak 'Latin' but didn't understand 'Greek'

    In some cases - (like that one) it was the cover letter that spoke not so much the resume.

    So they are non-technical people hiring for a highly technical position? Ok, I guess I could understand that... except instead of hiring you (or someone like you) they could have hired someone who's only experience was working part-time at staples (no offense A.J.) but simply padded their resume and cover letter with enough buzzwords and jargon to go over their heads.

    None taken. I was the exception at Staples. I know that 99% of Staples technicians would be lucky to even land an entry-level call center job.



  • I really think it depends on the positon. Helpdesk and Level 1 techs are a dime a dozen. You need any reason possible to narrow down resumes. When you are hiring for an admin position in infrastructure or systems, you want the best technical person you can get.



  • I remember Cover letters and dumb stuff like that being more critical when I had LESS experience



  • I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter. What you're basically saying is that you refuse to carry out my simple request because you don't believe it's worth doing. Regardless of whether you are right or not, we're never going to have a healthy working relationship with that kind of attitude.

    Anyway, my job is working for an SMB, and at SMBs I don't believe there are purely technical roles. We need all-rounders, so so called "soft skills" are a requirement. There is nothing here that is that technical, so I'm not just looking for the most technically skilled candidate.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter.

    Why?



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter. What you're basically saying is that you refuse to carry out my simple request because you don't believe it's worth doing. Regardless of whether you are right or not, we're never going to have a healthy working relationship with that kind of attitude.

    Anyway, my job is working for an SMB, and at SMBs I don't believe there are purely technical roles. We need all-rounders, so so called "soft skills" are a requirement. There is nothing here that is that technical, so I'm not just looking for the most technically skilled candidate.

    Yeah, the smaller the company, the more diverse your skills need to be. You don't hire specialist roles in the SMB, as a rule. You hire skilled generalists. Also, your point about soft skills being a requirement is kind of moot. You need soft skills in pretty much every job of every profession at every level. Even if you're the best person with <insert product here> in the world, you still need to be able to deal with clients and articulate issues in a professional manner.



  • @IRJ said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter.

    Why?

    I kind of agree with this. What you've just said is that you are expecting mediocre and that average is the standard to meet. At that point, what purpose does it serve? To me this reads "I want a cover letter for the sake of having a cover letter".



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter. What you're basically saying is that you refuse to carry out my simple request because you don't believe it's worth doing. Regardless of whether you are right or not, we're never going to have a healthy working relationship with that kind of attitude.

    Anyway, my job is working for an SMB, and at SMBs I don't believe there are purely technical roles. We need all-rounders, so so called "soft skills" are a requirement. There is nothing here that is that technical, so I'm not just looking for the most technically skilled candidate.

    I have no problem writing a cover letter... but it seems like you are only asking for it because that is normally what you ask for on a job application. I would write one if it were required but I don't think it would do anything to sell me above and beyond what my resume is already capable of. The cover letter really doesn't tell you about that persons soft skills... it potentially tells you about their friend's (or librarian sister in-law) who proofread and made significant changes to it... soft skills. The only time you will really ever find out someone's soft-skills is during an interview.



  • @coliver said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter. What you're basically saying is that you refuse to carry out my simple request because you don't believe it's worth doing. Regardless of whether you are right or not, we're never going to have a healthy working relationship with that kind of attitude.

    Anyway, my job is working for an SMB, and at SMBs I don't believe there are purely technical roles. We need all-rounders, so so called "soft skills" are a requirement. There is nothing here that is that technical, so I'm not just looking for the most technically skilled candidate.

    I have no problem writing a cover letter... but it seems like you are only asking for it because that is normally what you ask for on a job application. I would write one if it were required but I don't think it would do anything to sell me above and beyond what my resume is already capable of. The cover letter really doesn't tell you about that persons soft skills... it potentially tells you about their friend (or librarian sister in-law) who proofread and made significant changes to it... soft skills. The only time you will really ever find out someone's soft-skills is during an interview.

    Bingo!



  • @thanksaj said:

    @IRJ said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter.

    Why?

    I kind of agree with this. What you've just said is that you are expecting mediocre and that average is the standard to meet. At that point, what purpose does it serve? To me this reads "I want a cover letter for the sake of having a cover letter".

    Exactly what is the point? This is why I don't do cover letters since my writing isn't so great. It would only devalue my resume



  • I am sure @scottalanmiller will come in at some point and tell us how important cover letters are....lol



  • @IRJ said:

    I am sure @scottalanmiller will come in at some point and tell us how important cover letters are....lol

    I bet he agrees with us.



  • @IRJ said:

    Exactly what is the point? This is why I don't do cover letters since my writing isn't so great. It would only devalue my resume

    Well, one point is to see if the candidate is prepared to carry out my simple instruction, even if they disagree with it.

    Let me ask you this, do you also refuse to answer interview questions if you think they're pointless?



  • @IRJ said:

    @thanksaj said:

    @IRJ said:

    @Carnival-Boy said:

    I'm not asking for an eloquent covering letter, I'm asking for a covering letter.

    Why?

    I kind of agree with this. What you've just said is that you are expecting mediocre and that average is the standard to meet. At that point, what purpose does it serve? To me this reads "I want a cover letter for the sake of having a cover letter".

    Exactly what is the point? This is why I don't do cover letters since my writing isn't so great. It would only devalue my resume

    You aren't a horrible writer. I've seen your work. You're not bad. You're what I've seen from a lot of IT people whose writing I've seen. Writing eloquently requires a certain way of thinking that some have and some don't. I see a lot of people get into IT because they lack that way of thinking, which is more of a creative art than a technical one. That being said, many IT people have the same ability but manifest it through music or other art that isn't written. But if I was a hiring manager, I would look at technical first and foremost. Writing is important to me, and God knows I'm a grammar Nazi, but it's a much lower priority.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    @IRJ said:

    Exactly what is the point? This is why I don't do cover letters since my writing isn't so great. It would only devalue my resume

    Well, one point is to see if the candidate is prepared to carry out my simple instruction, even if they disagree with it.

    So... what you are looking for isn't an employee who is looking to grow and expand in their job... you are looking for a drone with unquestionable loyalty? Really glad I'm not applying for this position.

    Let me ask you this, do you also refuse to answer interview questions if you think they're pointless?

    I would ask what it pertains to and answer it with that understanding. If it was something pointless and they didn't give me a good enough reason to proceed or it was harmful to my position (or illegal to ask during an interview, which has happened) I would say I'm not comfortable answering that.

    Interviewing is a two way street, not only are you trying to learn about that candidate but they are trying to learn about your business and environment.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    @IRJ said:

    Exactly what is the point? This is why I don't do cover letters since my writing isn't so great. It would only devalue my resume

    Well, one point is to see if the candidate is prepared to carry out my simple instruction, even if they disagree with it.

    Let me ask you this, do you also refuse to answer interview questions if you think they're pointless?

    The only questions that are pointless are if they meet two criteria: they have no purpose and you already know the answer. Besides, if someone asked me a question on an interview, there is a reason for it. Now I ask you: why require a cover letter? You've stated you aren't looking for anything eloquent, which means that, at best, you're looking for average level writing on the letters. Now your point about following instructions I get, and agree with. However, I think you need to ask yourself why you are asking for a cover letter. What does it accomplish? If you have a mediocre standard for the letters, what do they prove? If you get what you're expecting, then it's going to not be worth much. If you get someone who can write eloquently, then you are pleasantly surprised, and maybe even impressed. Suddenly you're giving that person a closer look, which basically means you ARE looking for eloquent but not setting that as your expectation.



  • @coliver said:

    it potentially tells you about their friend's (or librarian sister in-law) who proofread and made significant changes to it... soft skills.

    See, this is perfect for me. It demonstrates that they've recognised their weakness and instead of giving up they've gone out and asked someone who does have the right skills in that particular area to help them. This is exactly what I'm looking for in a good IT guy. Give me someone who knows when and where to get help over one who only relies on his own skill-sets.



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    @coliver said:

    it potentially tells you about their friend's (or librarian sister in-law) who proofread and made significant changes to it... soft skills.

    See, this is perfect for me. It demonstrates that they've recognised their weakness and instead of giving up they've gone out and asked someone who does have the right skills in that particular area to help them. This is exactly what I'm looking for in a good IT guy. Give me someone who knows when and where to get help over one who only relies on his own skill-sets.

    But again... that really isn't what a cover letter tells you, since you really have no way of know when/who/if they went to someone else for help. It does tell you that this person is willing to take credit for work that wasn't their own and lie to you before you even get to the interview process.


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