15 5 / 2012
Applying en masse
This last weekend was a major push for me. Over the last few months, I’ve worked, reworked, started over, redesigned and repackaged more versions of my résumé than I care to count (if I was doing version control I’d probably be on v8.9.27).
I’m quickly learning the art of the cover letter. Should I always include one? I’ve always assumed that I should, but I think there’s a possibility that including one has hurt me at times. I’m thinking from the perspective of a busy recruiter. What if a recruiter only spends a minute looking at my application documents and spends most of it on my cover letter? That time is probably better spent going over my qualifications. Some jobs I have applied to are a great match to my experience—if I apply and I have the skills, I probably shouldn’t have included a cover letter. Some jobs are a stretch—I hadn’t served in the exact role for which I was applying, but am qualified based on overlapping/related experience—those jobs need a cover letter (or a streamlined résumé, or both). Some companies explicitly state that they want a cover letter (I also include one in the body of an email if I’m applying that way), but I’d appreciate companies letting me know up front that they won’t read my cover letter (it’d be a huge time saver!). Facebook only allows for one file upload with each application, so I’ve submitted for jobs differently: submitting for a job with a combined document (cover letter and résumé) and, for another job, skipping the cover letter entirely, allowing my experience to speak for itself.
My cover letter, when I do send it, is in this format:
<Greeting that also mentions job position>
<Bulleted list of my applicable experience>
<Some personal qualities that make me a good fit for this position>
<Exit that sounds pleasant and is a call to action; essentially asking them to read my résumé for more information and let’s talk soon>
<Full Name & Contact Info>
I admire one company that only allowed what they called an optional “cover blurb” limited to 140 characters. You’d think this would be difficult, but I found this to be absolutely freeing! They further impressed me by saying that “All applications receive a response.” This was refreshing since I have been utterly ignored by some companies (even a swift rejection is better than no response at all). It felt good to empty my application queue—it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
I’m only applying to jobs I’d actually accept (as long as offered with a healthy work environment/culture and competitive salary/benefits). I’m hoping one of these opportunities comes through, but I can’t stop looking yet. I’ll be using Huntsy, Path.To, and SF Craigslist more than ever.