Question Proposed on LinkedIn: Are Cover Letters Too Inauthentic? Note: Pain letters are also referred to as cover letters by some of these experts.

Others’ Responses:

– So far as writing to the hiring manager is concerned, that is generally what I recommend. Every letter should display the writer’s personality, and should never, ever be a ‘standard covering letter’.

– Better than a cover letter and resume, however, is a value proposition letter–also sent through snail mail. There’s an abundance of material on the internet about how to write a good one, so I want go into details. There are also plenty of instructions on how to write a good cover letter, too. When people denigrate the cover letter, it’s because they’re used to reading transmittal letters–“enclosed please find … ."  That’s like saying no one should write love sonnets, because the last Valentine’s Day poem you read said, "Roses are red, violets are blue … .” There are people who can make every step of the job search into an art form, and many of them are sharing their knowledge on the internet–for free! Seek, and ye shall find.

– My first rule of marketing is break the rules.Napoleon said audacity is everything,he who dares wins.Not only use snail mail but handwrite the envelope mark it strictly private and personal.Use punchy direct bar room informal language say it as it really is. Stand out be different is my message to my clients.If you want a meeting(never an interview)ask for it!

– I read your article as well as Liz Ryan’s and reward for that deals with how to make a “formula letter” not look like one. I understand that the hiring manager has to plow through umpty-leven resumes and covers and many will look almost identical. The sample pain letter at the end of Ryan’s article demonstrates that we should court the manager – good strategy. Especially if replying to advertisements of openings. (Better yet, network until you know her or him.) Set yourself apart – also fundamental yet tricky. I love the suggestion to research the company and know what would be painful for them. I applaud seeking out the name of the hiring manager and writing personally.  Here’s my remaining question. If one sends a ‘pain letter’, does one send a resume? That is, how far away from the norm would you suggest we coach our clients to go?

– What is “zombie Language”? it is not explained in the article any more than “plain letter” is. I fundamentally disagree. A well written cover letter should put flesh onto the bones of the CV. It should give the reader an insight into who you are, why you want to work for their company, what you have to offer, how you can add value whilst also appealing to what they are looking for by echoing back at them how you can fill their requirements.
To me the cover letter and the CV work hand in hand, with the cover letter introducing the person and the CV stating the facts about their achievements. Both should be tailored to the recipient and not follow any kind of formula or be standard to every application.

– It’s interesting just how many applicants ignore the importance of the cover letter as a sales document. In a discussion in another group, people were saying that cover letters weren’t necessary or relevant because of the rise of the Application Form. I think the point here is that cover letters need to stand out (and snail mail is one way of achieving this), demonstrate personality, be addressed to the right person and so forth. Many people also ignore or don’t know that the majority of the better jobs aren’t advertised anyway, so being proactive (and having a good LinkedIn profile) is the way to go.

– Most of the cover letters I’ve seen are “canned”, and, as such, serve no useful purpose because they don’t really address the job or employer in question. Others I’ve seen gush emotionally about how this individual wants to work for your company or is an exact match for the job in question. I exaggerate a bit, perhaps, but all in all, yes, they are inauthentic. I analyzed some of this in depth and discuss what’s really going on in my article But what’s most important, and what often makes an astonishing difference, is learning how to deconstruct the job description and using that knowledge in any cover letter which I’ve described in step-by-step detailed instructions in an eBook Cover Letters That Get Interviews. The surprising outcome occurs when anyone gets to the interview stage; desconstructing often allows the interviewee to take control of the interview in the most innocuous way.

– Letters that don’t address the specifics being asked for (I like your expression ‘deconstruct the job description’) or are sycophantic, make it easier to reduce the ‘must read’ pile to a more manageable size! It is relatively easy to help clients to interpret advertisements and job descriptions, and then to state clearly and succinctly that they fit the bill, without being gushy. Not everyone listens though.

My Response:

– Play any and all games that go along with job hunting. Some hiring managers still want a cover letter, so send it to all of them. It will never hurt you. However, make sure your cover letter is geared toward showcasing your matches skills with the open position or express your functional business plan for the company and how you can help drive them forward by hiring your given skill sets.

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