I Beg to Differ

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As they say with opinions, everybody has one…

I just came across this recommended cover letter, and this reminded me that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I were this candidate, I’d say include nothing but paragraph 2 – unless you have a connection or introduction to the company. If they’ve already heard about you, I think it’s safe to say a bit more about your story. If you’re a stranger and submit a 500+ word cover letter, it’ll look generic (what’s generic professionally you ask? http://wp.me/pWfpN-q) and will probably not get read. It’d be skipped entirely likely, and then defeats its purpose of being your great marketing tool & first impression.

So if you have an intro to the company, then maybe throw in 3 bullets max about your value/accomplishments, and then sign off with your thanks & contact info (even if it’s in the resume, you want to make it ridiculously easy for them to get in touch with you).

Do also include in your cover letter other relevant info, i.e. if you’re applying to a position that requires relocation, outline your enthusiasm for moving to their location & that you’d be available to do so within one month of receiving an offer (or sooner!). Or if the position requests a salary history, I recommend putting your most recent salary in the cover (unless you’re in a step down position due to economic need, then you might want to skirt the issue). I hate seeing dollar amounts in resumes, I think it looks greedy (see tip #2 http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

I believe a cover letter should be a short introduction to who you are, what you can do that will benefit the company you’re applying to, and not much else. It is not a speech – you should not be ‘saying what you’re going to say, saying it, and then saying what you said’.

Just say it, and then prove it with your resume. Oh, and then use all your swagger and hustle to impress them at the interview. Then write the most sincere, politely thank you note you can muster with ZERO sense of pathetic desperation and minimal sucking up.  Then graciously thank them for their generous offer, but ask gently, is this open to negotiation? (More on negotiating an offer here & more to come another time: http://wp.me/pWfpN-x).

And don’t forget, have fun. Recruiters, HR people, and hiring managers are reading a LOT of resumes and cover letters. Don’t be afraid to use a drop of subtle humor to keep yourself and whoever may be reading your resume entertained. Yes stay professional, but that’s not the same as dull. Unless you’re an accountant. In that case rock on with your dull self.


Salary Negotiations


Very well said – but I firmly believe in reviews. If you can’t negotiate a salary you want (but are taking the position regardless) then I always recommend requesting both a  3 month, 6 month, and 1 year review. Worst the employer can do is say no. 

I.e. you want to make $70,000 at your new position; you made $60,000 at your last position, and were laid off. The best thing to do is ask for the $70K, and if you receive a counter offer of $60K, as for a reviews to bring you up to the salary you’d like. 

If the employer agrees, do everything in your power to get this put into your offer letter (b/c in today’s economy you never know if the person making you the offer will still be there in 6 mo.). 

Good luck getting what you’re worth – but don’t overestimate that in today’s market.