Palladian Career Resources

The Pontificating Cover Letter

The Pontificating Cover Letter

Occasionally, I receive a resume or cover letter that tries to convey the capability of the job seeker by giving their opinions on management issues.  This is what I ran into today. The first line of the cover letter is:

The art of motivation and the need for qualified managers will always be essential to the population at large.

I really don’t know what the motivation is to pontificate on the “art of motivation” but statements like this don’t help a job seeker.  A cover letter should be designed to create interest in your resume and answer any key questions your resume doesn’t cover.  A cover letter is first and foremost a sales letter. A statement of the value managers provide to our society doesn’t help sell the job seeker. 

I’ve run into instructional statements like this a number of times.  Usually, they seem to come from one of two places – managers talking about leadership or technical people talking about the importance to quality.  There are exceptions – one resume I read a few years ago had an entire page about the importance of the music of Christina Aguilera. The worst part was that the job seeker was not pursuing a career in music or anything even close to the music industry. I wish I was making this up.

The example from the resume I read today really isn’t all that bad. It’s only one sentence and it’s far from being controversial.

Giving an opinion risks several things.  First, if the hiring manager disagrees with the conclusion, it will cause them to question the qualifications and judgment of the job seeker. I have run into examples that take a firm stance above a single leadership technique or style and alienate anyone with a different leadership style. Second, even if the reader agrees with the statement, they may consider it just a bunch of B.S. This can lead to doubt about everything the resume.

My feeling on opinion statements is that they waste my time.  I don’t read resumes to learn about management, leadership or quality – I read them to assess job seekers.

Remember that your cover letter and resume are sales pitches for why you should be hired. Extraneous information that doesn’t support that end should discarded.

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