The resume and cover letter I read this morning contained a number of mistakes I routinely see. The candidate is a supply chain professional from one of the biggest and best known manufacturing companies.
The cover letter was long, a full page, but it had very little substance. The bulk of the cover letter was content straight from the resume. In fact, there is nothing in the cover letter that isn’t also in the resume. In addition to the substance of the cover, there was a lot of hype. For example, the sentence below is taken from the middle of the cover letter:
I am an interpersonally-skilled team leader with a rapid advancement history and a unique blend of analytical and communication skills.
This sentence will do little to impress a hiring manager. The rapid advancement history is a plus, but the rest of the sentence is just hype. Even worse, the value of the characteristics isn’t clear. I doubt a hiring manager has ever said they need a person that is an “interpersonally-skill team leader” and has “unique blend of analytical and communication skills.” The hiring manager is focused on finding someone that can achieve specific results. Nothing in the cover letter references specific results and accomplishments.
This omission is emphasized in the resume. The resume starts with a Professional Summary. The first line is “Results-driven Logistics & Planning Manager with global supply chain management…” How can a person be results-driven, but fail to list a single accomplishment? It doesn’t make a good impression.
Another problem with resume and cover letter relates to the career progression of the job seeker. This individual spent more than ten years with his last employer. Then, more than six months ago, he stopped working there. There is no explanation why. There are many candidates who have been laid off due to a downsizing or facility closure. Despite this, a hiring manager is unlikely to assume the candidate way laid off. It is more likely the hiring manager will assume the candidate was fired.
If the job seeker was fired, this isn’t a deal breaker. He was with the same company for more than ten years and received a couple of promotions in the process. Most companies will look past a termination, if the candidate can explain why the problems leading to the termination won’t occur in the future.
- A Short and Concise Cover Letter: The cover letter needs to be cut down to under 100 words. At more than 300 words, it isn’t going to get read.
- Include Accomplishments in the Cover Letter: The cover letter needs to have some substance. Adding a couple of accomplishments demonstrating past successes can make a very good impression.
- Add Accomplishments to the Resume: In a 10+ year career, with a couple of promotions, the job seeker must have done something right. Include a few accomplishments on the resume.
- Explain the Gap in Employment: The job seeker has been out of work for six months with no explanation why they left their last position. Including a statement in the cover letter why the job seeker is unemployed can answer what is likely to be the top question by a hiring manager.
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