Cover Letter Disasters: Q and A

Cover Letter Disasters: Q and A
This week, we answer questions from a few readers with serious cover letter issues. Make sure you don’t find yourself in any of these positions!

Question:

I’ve held the same job with the same company for the past three years. But when I applied to work here back in 2012, I didn’t know that my cover letter would be kept even after I was hired. As it turns out, my cover letter is part of my permanent personnel file, along with my resume, reference list, and other application materials. Recently, my manager went back into this file to evaluate me for a potential promotion, and one of the claims in my application is now being called into question. I may have slightly exaggerated one of my accomplishments, and now this blunder might cause me to lose my job. What should I do?

Answer:

Don’t panic. Losing a job isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean the end of your career, either. But what’s done is done, and the claims you made years ago can’t be taken back. From this point forward, answer honestly if you’re presented with further questions…And of course, the next time you apply for a job, keep your claims clear and verifiable.

Question:

Earlier today I had a job interview, and something odd happened. Halfway through the interview, I began to realize that one of the claims in my cover letter had been interpreted incorrectly…by a large margin. My letter describes a successful project from my past, but I completed this project as a member of a very talented team. I think the interviewer assumes that I accomplished this victory by myself. As a result, I think I might actually land this job based on a misunderstanding. What should I do?

Answer:

Do you honestly believe you can handle the job? Or do you feel like you’re about to step in over your head? What’s at stake? Is there a chance that people may be hurt, including yourself, if you accept this responsibility? Until you actually receive an offer, you have plenty of time to set the record straight. Only you can decide if this course of action is the wisest.

Question:

Because my last job involved a very narrow, specialized corner of my chosen field, recruiters seem to think that I have no experience in other narrow corners of the same field, which isn’t true. I implement software platforms related to financial management services, but recruiters seem to think this is ALL I do. I’ve been passed over for several jobs that suit me perfectly because of this misunderstanding. How can I keep this from happening again?

Answer:

You have a classic problem: People who specialize in type A widgets are often overlooked when employers need an expert in type B widgets. But sometimes recruiters don’t recognize this, and they don’t have enough in-depth industry experience to understand the truth: widgets are widgets, and your experience is easily transferable. You’ll need to find a way to make this clear. In your resume summary and the text of your cover letter, find a better way to describe the job you’re looking for. Widen your description to encompass your entire field of expertise.For more on how to create a cover letter that accurately describes your skills, talents, and areas of strength, rely on the resources at MyPerfectResume.