Job-related rumors and myths have circulated around the web for years despite having almost no connection to reality. And some of the most pervasive misconceptions involve the resume and cover letter process.
There are a few reasons why these myths have such staying power, but the main reason is simple: Resumes, cover letters, and the application process are often private affairs that take place between individual job seekers and their laptops. And when something goes wrong, or a cover letter brings in one rejection after another, hiring managers don't always explain their decision. Without feedback, job seekers are left to fumble forward entirely on their own.
If you're in this position, fumble no more. Take a closer look at some of these common assumptions.
Myth #1: Hiring managers don't like reading cover letters
In reality, hiring managers DO like reading cover letters. Why? Because letters help them staff this position and complete a job that needs to be done before their companies and departments can move forward. If you envision your reader as a grumpy old man with a top hat and a monocle who considers your letter an intrusion and a bother, recognize that modern managers don't do this. Their success depends on company success, and company success depends on thoughtful, respectful, fully informed staffing decisions.
Myth #2: Hiring managers don't read, they skim
Some hiring managers skim, yes, but only during the first glance over your resume and cover letter. They'll go back again and take a closer look before making a final decision about your candidacy. It's still smart to have an attention-grabbing first line and a nice presentation, but details matter. And every word of your letter will eventually get the attention it deserves.
Myth #3: In this economy, people are just looking for a reason to reject you
On the contrary, they're looking for a reason to hire you. It may seem like managers are having a great time tossing your resume into the trash (over and over again), but they're not. The silence you're getting back is only a function of mathematics and high competition. Be patient. None of these rejections are personal.
Myth #4: Hiring managers can't tolerate typos
Yes they can. One typo never killed a hiring manager dead, and despite what you may have heard, a single typo almost never ends an otherwise promising candidacy. But typos do present an overall image problem. More than one can make a candidate seem like a generally sloppy and careless person.
Myth #5: You should always start your letter by wildly praising the company
There's nothing wrong with praise, in theory. But as with all social graces, the degree, the delivery, and the details of the moment can mean the difference between a letter that radiates confident warmth and a letter that's desperate and socially awkward. Keep your praise brief and genuine.
Myth #6: Cover letters aren't really necessary if you have a strong resume
Instead of thinking of your cover letter as a chore, consider it an opportunity. Attach a letter to your resume submission every single time you have a chance to do so. At the same time, keep in mind that very few cover letters can stand on their own, no matter how brilliant they may be. Your resume and your cover letter are a team, sent out into the world to represent you on two levels: One provides a hard list of your credentials, and one adds a voice and personality to that list and brings your application to life. Visit MyPerfectResume for formatting and editing guidelines that can help you make the most of both.