Telling Hiring Managers What They Want

I receive cover letters on a regular basis that try to define the hiring criteria for the hiring manager.  Most hiring managers know what they are looking for when hiring.  They might have some flexibility in the criteria, but generally they know what types of skills, experiences and abilities will make someone successful.  As a job seeker, it’s a waste of time to try to persuade them to change their criteria.  Despite this, some job seekers lead off their cover letters with instructions for how to hire. 

The cover letter I read today did just that.  Below are the first few lines of the letter:

Today's market require a sales representative that is versatile, competitive, unrelenting and strategic.  If that set of skills can also harness the new technologies found in the marketplace, then you have a solid member to any organization that is positioning, marketing and selling their product. I am such an individual. 

The qualities mentioned above sound good… versatile, competitive, unrelenting, strategic and able to harness technologies.  They may not be the top priorities for the hiring manager.  An ability to cold call, generate referrals or up sell clients into higher margin products may be the key concerns of the hiring manager. Focusing on a different set of skills will not win the hiring manager over.

This tactic has one other major problem.  There are hiring managers who will read the cover letter and picture the person telling them how to run the department. A manager does not want someone who will question and challenge every decision and assignment. This is too time consuming for a manager. The manager may want input and ideas from time to time, but they also want a person who will follow the systems and processes. 

The job seeker could easily change the cover letter to highlight the same skills but not lecture the hiring manager.  For example:

I am a committed, competitive and unrelenting sales professional, able to adapt quickly and focus on strategic activities that will grow sales.  I have consistently used new and cutting edge technologies to gain an edge over my competition in the marketplace.   

This intro focuses on the job seeker, not the hiring criteria.