Don't Simply Recap Responsibilities in Your Cover Letter


Continuing our series excerpted from our new, free white paper, Cover Letter Reboot: A Crowdsourced Update of Traditional Cover-letter Advice for Today’s Job Search, which you can download here. If you prefer not to download, you can read the contents here. WhitePaperScreenshot.jpg In this part of the series, we asked hiring decision-makers what they look for in a cover letter. Each post over the next several days will reveal one decision-maker’s response: I want to see a cover letter that understands what I as a hiring manager am looking for rather than the “recap” of previous job responsibilities and tasks completed. I do that by counting the number of “you/your/yours” versus the number of “I/me/my/mine” in a cover letter. A cover letter that has more instances of “you/your/yours” tells me (as a rule of thumb) that you are speaking to my needs, and not your own. I like a bullet list of key accomplishments that can be backed up with quantitative data — real numbers — that prove to me you have a “proven track record.” A list of responsibilities and tasks says nothing about accomplishments. I also look for how well the candidate understands what I need in the way of a solutions-provider and problem-solver.

— J.T. Kirk, J.T. Kirk Industries, author of Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0: Getting to and Staying at the Top of the Hiring Manager’s Short List in a Confused Economy (May 2011) See all the parts of the white paper/Cover Letter Reboot package: Cover Letter Wish List: Hiring Decision-Makers Reveal What They Want to See in Cover Letters, Hiring Decision-Makers Cite Top Cover-Letter Mistakes that Disqualify Job-Seekers, and Cover Letters That Wowed: Hiring Decision-Makers Describe Winning Cover Letters.