The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly Resume Cover Letters

It is not an unusual request for a cover letter to accompany your resume when responding to job postings. Resumes reflect the candidate’s professional accomplishments and career paths. Cover letters convey skills and alignment to the requirements described in the job posting. It’s the first impression you make on potential employers and recruiters and serves as an example of your writing skills. Take the time to make it great.

A cover letter should not be part of your resume. It should stand on its own merit. If the request is for a one page cover letter then make it one page describing your work and skills aligned to the job requirements.  While your resumes may still make it through without a cover letter, not providing one when requested may give the impression you’re just applying for the sake of applying, can’t follow directions, or your lack of attention to detail.

The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly

A good cover letter conveys an understanding of the organization, its mission, and illustrates how the candidate’s professional background can help the organization reach its potential and goals. It conveys accomplishments and with demonstrated results and how the candidate’s talents align to the key requirements. It shows you took time to research the organization, the position, and have a vision on how you will be the right fit for the organization.

A bad cover letter is one that give the impression you’re just filling in the blanks for the sake of complying with a cover letter request. Statements such as, “I have the experience for the position” or “Please contact me to discuss how my skills fit the role”, don’t convey a commitment or understanding of the role or the organization.  Connect your experiences and skills to the job requirements.

And then there’s the just plain ugly! What gives it away?  Headers and footers aren’t updated, prompts such as “insert info here”, and template instructions that aren’t removed. It conveys lack of attention to detail and can leave a negative first impression before the candidate’s resume is reviewed.  

Here’s a quick test

Here’s a simple test as you compose or review a cover letter alongside your  resume. If you were the hiring manager or recruiter, how would you critique the letter? Join the conversation at Careers Blossom powered by Harvest Development Group.


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