The cover letter game?

Subject: The cover letter game?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 07:19:04 -0700

Sue Gallagher noted that <<Upon reflection, I've concluded that in
all my years of hiring tech writers, I've never seen a cover letter
that's convinced me to interview a candidate despite the information
(or lack of) on a resume.>>

Well, I almost lost my first job in this business through a cover
letter, and got the job because of the absence of one... sort of. I
got a call from a manager at IBM, who had just received my resume on
his desk (Personnel had stripped off the cover letter), and wondered
just what the hell someone with my resume thought I was doing
applying for a job as a technical writer. I explained to him just
what the hell I thought I was doing (i.e., I repeated what I'd said
in the cover letter), had an interview an hour later, and had a job
the next day.

It's been many years, so I can't say whether the resume was
poorly done (probably not, since it got me an interview and a job) or
whether you really do need to make your resume and cover letter work
together to make the sales pitch. I'm on my third job now based on
this approach (unless you count a few freelance jobs I got through
cover letters accompanied by a resume), and can't imagine not using
both. But there are a few caveats: the cover letter must be flawless,
_short_, and tailored to the job (by highlighting which skills relate
to what the company is looking for). Ideally, it should be in the
form "As we discussed, Sue, here's the letter. How's the ol' better
half and the kids?" <g> OK, what I _really_ mean is that you should
be sending the letter to a person, and ideally one who's asked you to
send the letter, rather than simply firing off a form letter into the
black hole at the heart of the Personnel department.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.


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