You Want to Know What Hiring Managers Think? I’ll Tell You What Hiring Managers Think

Everyone hates the notion of customizing their resumes and a lot of people seem to think writing a cover letter is a waste of time. So I’m here as a hiring manager to tell you: If you’re not doing these things, you’re blowing opportunities.

You Want to Know What Hiring Managers Think? I'll Tell You What Hiring Managers ThinkSorry to be so harsh, but I’ve been sifting through a lot of resumes lately. Dice is looking for a staff writer/blogger, you see, and I’m the guy who gets to do the hiring. Now I know that writers/bloggers aren’t the same thing as application developers or QA folks, but some aspects of hiring are pretty broad. So I thought I’d share some observations as I go through the process. Here’s what comes to mind after doing my first week of screening:

Believe the job description: Even if you think some corporate dweeb has loaded up the posting with an impossible combination of skills and requirements, assume they mean it. In some cases, you’ll have to work pretty hard to sell yourself on what you think are the most important aspects. But in other cases, not meeting a requirement is probably an obvious clue you’re not going to be considered. For example, when I say our job is in the Silicon Valley area, I mean it. New York and New Jersey are on the east coast, last I checked. And Southern California isn’t particularly close to Palo Alto, thank you very much. To the people who live outside the Valley or the Bay Area: I stopped reading when I saw your address.

Proofread: Okay, I’m frankly amazed at this one. And a little annoyed. Accuracy counts. It counts in writing/blogging, it counts in QA, it counts in project management. If you can’t spell correctly in a job application, well, when DO you sweat the details? My personal favorite this week: The person who said they’ve written for the "new York times."

Cover letters matter: I use cover letters and resumes together. I scan the cover letter quickly, then go on to the resume and give that a quick read. Then I go back to the cover letter and read it more carefully. Then I go back to the resume to see how it backs up the arguments made in the cover letter. I do look at resumes that come without cover letters, but I never feel I’ve got a sense of the person in those cases, which makes it less likely I’m going to want to talk to them. My point: If you don’t send a cover letter, your resume better show me a spot-on perfect match.

Believe the job description II: The minimum qualifications we listed are:

Degree in Journalism or related field
Strong reporter with 2-4 years experience
Background in business journalism and/or technology journalism preferred
Familiarity with blogs, video blogs and other areas of online publishing
Ability to create and manage HTML pages and websites using tools such as blogging services, Dreamweaver and Photoshop
Understanding of technology industry
Self motivation and ability to work under deadline pressure

I don’t want to be an old-fashioned hack, but what part of that exactly screams "advertising" to you? Or "consumer product marketing?" Yeah, yeah, the lines can be blurred sometime, especially in trade journalism, which is essentially what we do here. But still…

Pay attention to me, I’ll pay attention to you: And here’s where customization comes in.  If you send me the same resume you send to everyone else, I’ll know. I’ll know because the fit between you and me won’t be obvious. The same’s true with the cover letter. If all of your work’s been in consumer products – and I don’t mean the iPhone – I’m not going to see how you’ll be able to write about IT. I might love your clips about art gallery openings, and your video samples of neighborhood meetings might show how well you interview with a Flip. But I’m still not going to call you, because all I care about is blogging about tech. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you had samples like that you didn’t include?

I’m just one person, and each manager approaches hiring in a different way. But it’s true we’re looking for a certain someone who can solve a particular problem. How you approach applying for a job tells us a lot about how you’ll approach your work.

More on this later, as we move along. Meantime, if you know someone who’d be interested in the job, send them my way, will you?

– Mark Feffer

Comments

  1. BY Jon Wyderka says:

    Your blog article makes perfect sense. If you’re not really a fit for a particular position, you really should be looking for a fit, not sending to opportunities for which you will not be seriously considered. There is a fit for everyone, but you need to fill your pipeline and continue to look for places where your ability and experience are needed and asked for. – Jon Wyderka -

  2. BY Jon Wyderka says:

    Your blog article makes perfect sense. If you’re not really a fit for a particular position, you really should be looking for a fit, not sending to opportunities for which you will not be seriously considered. There is a fit for everyone, but you need to fill your pipeline and continue to look for places where your ability and experience are needed and asked for. – Jon Wyderka -

  3. BY Joyce says:

    I agree with you, Mark. I’m also a hiring manager, and though each approaches applications differently, I tend to think that when you send just a resume, you’re not working very hard to land the job and probably just hitting the “Click here to apply” button a lot.

    If the resume isn’t spot-on or, at a minimum, meeting significantly more requirements than any others I’ve seen, then the applicant had better spend some time explaining how they’re expecting to bridge that gap.

    When job-hunting, I type out a short, customized (but slightly form) letter to accompany my resume. It doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes and when I hit the “Send” button, I at least feel like I made a pitch for being the best candidate for the position.

  4. BY Joyce says:

    I agree with you, Mark. I’m also a hiring manager, and though each approaches applications differently, I tend to think that when you send just a resume, you’re not working very hard to land the job and probably just hitting the “Click here to apply” button a lot.

    If the resume isn’t spot-on or, at a minimum, meeting significantly more requirements than any others I’ve seen, then the applicant had better spend some time explaining how they’re expecting to bridge that gap.

    When job-hunting, I type out a short, customized (but slightly form) letter to accompany my resume. It doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes and when I hit the “Send” button, I at least feel like I made a pitch for being the best candidate for the position.

  5. BY Jen says:

    I’m with David – what about when you are looking to relocate, but want a job first? I put it in my cover letter, and sometimes my resume, but still not one call from outside of my local area. Advice?

  6. BY Jen says:

    I’m with David – what about when you are looking to relocate, but want a job first? I put it in my cover letter, and sometimes my resume, but still not one call from outside of my local area. Advice?

  7. BY Ishan says:

    Dear Jeremy :

    Sir, You are absolutely cent per cent correct. In this spineless economy ( which was ‘eaten up’ by Wallstreet Wolves!) , Hiring Manager and Recruiters Acting as If they are God and we the Job Seekers are some kind of Dirt Bags.
    I have answered in person, stupid Questions of Hiring Managers and Recruiters to whom, if I had to scan for hiring, I will reject in the first 3 minutes !
    In this dire economic times, Hiring Managers and Recruiters do need to understand that acting ‘ God ‘ may satisfy their Ego , but most basic level of Common Sense and Ethics does not allow that.
    I wish you Very Best Luck for your Job Search, Mr. Jeremy !!
    On a Side note, nothing personal against Mark Feffer ..My Observation / comment is at a ‘ Big Picture’ of Recruiting Community !! In a nutshell, Mark’s article does provide valuable inputs.
    Thanks,
    - Ishan

  8. BY Ishan says:

    Dear Jeremy :

    Sir, You are absolutely cent per cent correct. In this spineless economy ( which was ‘eaten up’ by Wallstreet Wolves!) , Hiring Manager and Recruiters Acting as If they are God and we the Job Seekers are some kind of Dirt Bags.
    I have answered in person, stupid Questions of Hiring Managers and Recruiters to whom, if I had to scan for hiring, I will reject in the first 3 minutes !
    In this dire economic times, Hiring Managers and Recruiters do need to understand that acting ‘ God ‘ may satisfy their Ego , but most basic level of Common Sense and Ethics does not allow that.
    I wish you Very Best Luck for your Job Search, Mr. Jeremy !!
    On a Side note, nothing personal against Mark Feffer ..My Observation / comment is at a ‘ Big Picture’ of Recruiting Community !! In a nutshell, Mark’s article does provide valuable inputs.
    Thanks,
    - Ishan

  9. BY Hiring says:

    I’m hiring. I read cover letters for the same reasons Mark Feffer does. Keep it to a page, though. I’ve seen some really long ones that are hard to sit through.

  10. BY Hiring says:

    I’m hiring. I read cover letters for the same reasons Mark Feffer does. Keep it to a page, though. I’ve seen some really long ones that are hard to sit through.

  11. BY Karin says:

    Good article. I agree that a cover letter is important. I used to hire people and it does differentiate a candidate. Additionally, editing and eliminatomg all errors.

    To the 20 something that cannot get employed, perhaps if you learn to puncuate and use paragraphs for readability it would help. Sorry, I was an English major and a writer.

    But most of all, you need a better attitude. My daughter is graduating from college with two majors and a minor. I encouraged her to work while going through school so that she could gain some experience. I also told her that just because someone is a college graduate and experienced doesn’t mean they can automatically get a top end job.

    So what if you can do the job in your sleep? Others can do the job easily too, and they probably have years more experience. The difference is that they are willing to work themselves up to the top or to take a step background in order to advance. It sounds like you are not willing to do that.

    Sorry, but you have a lot to learn.

  12. BY Karin says:

    Good article. I agree that a cover letter is important. I used to hire people and it does differentiate a candidate. Additionally, editing and eliminatomg all errors.

    To the 20 something that cannot get employed, perhaps if you learn to puncuate and use paragraphs for readability it would help. Sorry, I was an English major and a writer.

    But most of all, you need a better attitude. My daughter is graduating from college with two majors and a minor. I encouraged her to work while going through school so that she could gain some experience. I also told her that just because someone is a college graduate and experienced doesn’t mean they can automatically get a top end job.

    So what if you can do the job in your sleep? Others can do the job easily too, and they probably have years more experience. The difference is that they are willing to work themselves up to the top or to take a step background in order to advance. It sounds like you are not willing to do that.

    Sorry, but you have a lot to learn.

  13. BY Karin says:

    Good article. I used to hire people, and I agree that cover letters do differentiate candidates.

    To the 20 something that is still unemployed, I am sorry, but I disagree with you. Writing is a talent. Of course, I am a bit prejudiced as I have earned my living doing so for the past 15 years.

    But, I am not surprised that you are still unemployed. You have a terrible attitude. In this economy, many people with a lot more experience than you are looking for jobs–any kind of jobs–to meet their bills. They would be more than happy to have a job, even if they could do it in their sleep. Grow up.

  14. BY Karin says:

    Good article. I used to hire people, and I agree that cover letters do differentiate candidates.

    To the 20 something that is still unemployed, I am sorry, but I disagree with you. Writing is a talent. Of course, I am a bit prejudiced as I have earned my living doing so for the past 15 years.

    But, I am not surprised that you are still unemployed. You have a terrible attitude. In this economy, many people with a lot more experience than you are looking for jobs–any kind of jobs–to meet their bills. They would be more than happy to have a job, even if they could do it in their sleep. Grow up.

  15. BY Bill Berry says:

    SoCal IS about ~400 miles from Palo Alto. That has never stopped me from moving up there to work. 3 different times. Ever heard of re-locating? After the job is over, I go back to LA. Dismissing candidates based on an area code is wrong.

  16. BY Bill Berry says:

    SoCal IS about ~400 miles from Palo Alto. That has never stopped me from moving up there to work. 3 different times. Ever heard of re-locating? After the job is over, I go back to LA. Dismissing candidates based on an area code is wrong.

  17. BY Swapnil says:

    So far, from my short experience as a job seeker, all I can say is job seeking is one of the most frustrating process that one can undergo, made more frustrating by the (understandably) ruthless approach adopted by recruiters/hiring managers.
    That said, of all the times I’ve been through an interview, I couldn’t see anyone (and I mean ANYONE) even referring to my cover letter as such during the whole process. So, I have my reservations about it. Maybe it has a lot to do with the job profile (e.g. You wouldn’t expect a technical person to be much of a philosopher and at the same time, if he sounds to dry in his cover letter, his cover letter along with the resume is going to the trash bin), but overall it didn’t bring “me” any fortune.
    At last, though the article touched few (and obvious) important things, it covered nothing new. Except I learned that, these days, a candidate in NJ shouldn’t apply for a job in CA, which was a piece of… (you know what !! )

  18. BY Swapnil says:

    So far, from my short experience as a job seeker, all I can say is job seeking is one of the most frustrating process that one can undergo, made more frustrating by the (understandably) ruthless approach adopted by recruiters/hiring managers.
    That said, of all the times I’ve been through an interview, I couldn’t see anyone (and I mean ANYONE) even referring to my cover letter as such during the whole process. So, I have my reservations about it. Maybe it has a lot to do with the job profile (e.g. You wouldn’t expect a technical person to be much of a philosopher and at the same time, if he sounds to dry in his cover letter, his cover letter along with the resume is going to the trash bin), but overall it didn’t bring “me” any fortune.
    At last, though the article touched few (and obvious) important things, it covered nothing new. Except I learned that, these days, a candidate in NJ shouldn’t apply for a job in CA, which was a piece of… (you know what !! )

  19. BY Zachary Most says:

    Mr. Feffer’s perspective is one data point from a hiring manager. My own experience hiring engineers for microprocessor design is quite similar.

    The cover letter in many cases these days is the body of the email your resume is attached to. It can highlight connections between the posted job requirements and your qualifications, or professional connections between the candidate and the hiring manager; places you’ve both worked, or people you both know. It’s part of the sales pitch, so it focuses on what the hiring manager wants, and in many ways it’s easier than most sales jobs because your customer has already said what they want.

    Broadcasting resumes to a large number of openings makes less and less sense as you increase in specialization. You become very qualified for a smaller number of jobs. So for a high skill individual, or even someone who wants to be perceived or compensated like a high skill individual customizing resumes and cover letters makes a lot of sense.

  20. BY Zachary Most says:

    Mr. Feffer’s perspective is one data point from a hiring manager. My own experience hiring engineers for microprocessor design is quite similar.

    The cover letter in many cases these days is the body of the email your resume is attached to. It can highlight connections between the posted job requirements and your qualifications, or professional connections between the candidate and the hiring manager; places you’ve both worked, or people you both know. It’s part of the sales pitch, so it focuses on what the hiring manager wants, and in many ways it’s easier than most sales jobs because your customer has already said what they want.

    Broadcasting resumes to a large number of openings makes less and less sense as you increase in specialization. You become very qualified for a smaller number of jobs. So for a high skill individual, or even someone who wants to be perceived or compensated like a high skill individual customizing resumes and cover letters makes a lot of sense.

  21. BY Zachary Most says:

    For Jeremy and Ishan-
    Sure, there are hiring managers who have unrealistic expectations for resumes and qualifications. Complaining about the dirt you’re digging in doesn’t help you find more diamonds. You need to improve the quality of your mining equipment, which is what this article intends to help you do. If you approach a manager in a completely professional way, i.e. polish your presentation and do your home work, a reasonable manager will reciprocate by treating you well and maybe even offering you a job. If he’s not reasonable you probably don’t want to work for him anyway.

  22. BY Zachary Most says:

    For Jeremy and Ishan-
    Sure, there are hiring managers who have unrealistic expectations for resumes and qualifications. Complaining about the dirt you’re digging in doesn’t help you find more diamonds. You need to improve the quality of your mining equipment, which is what this article intends to help you do. If you approach a manager in a completely professional way, i.e. polish your presentation and do your home work, a reasonable manager will reciprocate by treating you well and maybe even offering you a job. If he’s not reasonable you probably don’t want to work for him anyway.

  23. BY Peter B. says:

    Mr. Feffer:

    If the applicant’s current address is your number one criterion for the job, you should say so. Perhaps you could say “The applicant’s current address must be within 100 miles of Palo Alto.” If you can’t pay to relocate applicants, you should tell them. Putting this as the first item in your “qualifications” list would communicate its importance. I have read a number of job descriptions similar to yours and always thought that relocation was an acceptable option.

  24. BY Peter B. says:

    Mr. Feffer:

    If the applicant’s current address is your number one criterion for the job, you should say so. Perhaps you could say “The applicant’s current address must be within 100 miles of Palo Alto.” If you can’t pay to relocate applicants, you should tell them. Putting this as the first item in your “qualifications” list would communicate its importance. I have read a number of job descriptions similar to yours and always thought that relocation was an acceptable option.

  25. BY David Jones says:

    I am presently working for the Finding David A Job company. This is no joke. I have to look at it that way. I have two questions. I am fifty years old and looking for a position in the Industrial service field. I have what I think is a very good resume that showed twenty three years with the same employer-one and a half years ago. Since then I have been working anywhere I could to bring some money into the house while I look for something I can retire from. When I had a job board look at my resume they said I should concentrate on what I had done recently. I think I should show the varied experience and good record I have. Which Is right? And could you please explain what I need to include on a cover letter and why? Thank you.

  26. BY David Jones says:

    I am presently working for the Finding David A Job company. This is no joke. I have to look at it that way. I have two questions. I am fifty years old and looking for a position in the Industrial service field. I have what I think is a very good resume that showed twenty three years with the same employer-one and a half years ago. Since then I have been working anywhere I could to bring some money into the house while I look for something I can retire from. When I had a job board look at my resume they said I should concentrate on what I had done recently. I think I should show the varied experience and good record I have. Which Is right? And could you please explain what I need to include on a cover letter and why? Thank you.

  27. BY Paul M. Mrozinsky says:

    I received an email today from:
    Response@candidateseeker.com, stating the following:
    Your Resume Contained Potentially Unsafe Attachments
    Please resubmit your resume as an RTF, TXT or DOC format file without images. Do not zip the file or send another format as our antivirus software is finding it suspect.
    Thank You

    I had a letterhead logo, a JPG file insert, I developed on my cover letter, and the cover letter was a standard Office 2007 MS Word document. It appears that it may be difficult to stand out apart from the crowd with technical enhancements to your resume or cover letter because of what the email security companies are looking for in their definition of unacceptable items.

    Respectfully,
    Paul M. Mrozinsky

  28. BY Paul M. Mrozinsky says:

    I received an email today from:
    Response@candidateseeker.com, stating the following:
    Your Resume Contained Potentially Unsafe Attachments
    Please resubmit your resume as an RTF, TXT or DOC format file without images. Do not zip the file or send another format as our antivirus software is finding it suspect.
    Thank You

    I had a letterhead logo, a JPG file insert, I developed on my cover letter, and the cover letter was a standard Office 2007 MS Word document. It appears that it may be difficult to stand out apart from the crowd with technical enhancements to your resume or cover letter because of what the email security companies are looking for in their definition of unacceptable items.

    Respectfully,
    Paul M. Mrozinsky

  29. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time in ten to twenty years when there will be a shortage of qualified people. At that time hiring managers will be begging for qualified applicants. They will then read resumes without cover letters in great detail and will not be too concerned about a minor typo.

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes and cover letters. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They are able to bridge the gap between my current residence and the prospective job location, among many other things of great assistance to me.

  30. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time in ten to twenty years when there will be a shortage of qualified people. At that time hiring managers will be begging for qualified applicants. They will then read resumes without cover letters in great detail and will not be too concerned about a minor typo.

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes and cover letters. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They are able to bridge the gap between my current residence and the prospective job location, among many other things of great assistance to me.

  31. BY John May says:

    The managers are making it almost impossible for people to find jobs. By combining 2 or 3 job descriptions into one, there are few people who can meet all of those requirements.

    Most people can’t meet their minimum application quota if they only apply to the jobs where they meet every qualification.

    Mark should complain to the government employment offices: we HAVE to apply for work in order to be able to collect UI.

  32. BY John May says:

    The managers are making it almost impossible for people to find jobs. By combining 2 or 3 job descriptions into one, there are few people who can meet all of those requirements.

    Most people can’t meet their minimum application quota if they only apply to the jobs where they meet every qualification.

    Mark should complain to the government employment offices: we HAVE to apply for work in order to be able to collect UI.

  33. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time when there will be a shortage of qualified people. Hiring managers will then be begging for qualified applicants and read resumes without cover letters in great detail and not be too concerned about a minor typo.

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They can bridge the gap between my current residence and prospective job locations, among other things of assistance to me.

  34. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time when there will be a shortage of qualified people. Hiring managers will then be begging for qualified applicants and read resumes without cover letters in great detail and not be too concerned about a minor typo.

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They can bridge the gap between my current residence and prospective job locations, among other things of assistance to me.

  35. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time when there will be a shortage of qualified people. Hiring managers will then be begging for qualified applicants and read resumes without cover letters in great detail and not be too concerned about a minor typo.

  36. BY Jack B. says:

    There will come a time when there will be a shortage of qualified people. Hiring managers will then be begging for qualified applicants and read resumes without cover letters in great detail and not be too concerned about a minor typo.

  37. BY Jack B. says:

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

  38. BY Jack B. says:

    A more useful comment for the currently unemployed is to develop relationships with professional recruiters at good staffing agencies. They have an incentive to work with you, since their commission comes from your placement. Professional companies use staffing agencies effectively. A hiring manager needs to hire quickly and manage a project, not scan thousands of resumes. Judicious use of a quality staffing agency is an excellent return on investment for both employer and employee.

  39. BY Jack B. says:

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They can bridge the gap between my current residence and prospective job locations, among other things of assistance to me.

  40. BY Jack B. says:

    For the record, I am not a recruiter. I am currently in the job market. My most promising leads are through networking with professional recruiters. They can bridge the gap between my current residence and prospective job locations, among other things of assistance to me.

  41. BY Frank T. says:

    Thank you for the information Mark. I thought it was me not getting in the door of the IT world, it was my resume and cover letter.

  42. BY Frank T. says:

    Thank you for the information Mark. I thought it was me not getting in the door of the IT world, it was my resume and cover letter.

  43. BY David says:

    I absolutely agree with most of your comments about Cover Letters, Resumes, and properly positioning yourself (as an applicant) for an opening. What I do question is, why do you stop reading when you see a non-local address? Of course, I don’t know if your ad mentioned “only local applicants will be considered”; that’s a fair answer. But, if not, why won’t you consider someone who is willing to relocate, especially if it’s on their own dime? I’ve been trying to do just that (different locale), and I sense the same thought process is in effect; trash the application if it isn’t local. Just trying to see what the rationalization is.

  44. BY David says:

    I absolutely agree with most of your comments about Cover Letters, Resumes, and properly positioning yourself (as an applicant) for an opening. What I do question is, why do you stop reading when you see a non-local address? Of course, I don’t know if your ad mentioned “only local applicants will be considered”; that’s a fair answer. But, if not, why won’t you consider someone who is willing to relocate, especially if it’s on their own dime? I’ve been trying to do just that (different locale), and I sense the same thought process is in effect; trash the application if it isn’t local. Just trying to see what the rationalization is.

  45. BY Arulin says:

    Ok, Mr Longwind, for one, cover letters are a serious waste of time when I can spend you an sampling of my work in a link. Secondly, I’ll agree speccing your resume is like speccing your character in WoW, a shadow priest isn’t what you want healing your Pally. Spec a resume to the job or don’t bother applying. Enough said and did it in one paragraph.

  46. BY Arulin says:

    Ok, Mr Longwind, for one, cover letters are a serious waste of time when I can spend you an sampling of my work in a link. Secondly, I’ll agree speccing your resume is like speccing your character in WoW, a shadow priest isn’t what you want healing your Pally. Spec a resume to the job or don’t bother applying. Enough said and did it in one paragraph.

  47. BY Arulin says:

    Oh btw Mark, if you want a brown noser, buy a gerbel, cheaper and more cuddly. Cover letters = brown nosing, I perfer not to.

  48. BY Arulin says:

    Oh btw Mark, if you want a brown noser, buy a gerbel, cheaper and more cuddly. Cover letters = brown nosing, I perfer not to.

  49. BY Eva says:

    Good point and good reminder. Sometimes I feel that I spend a lot of time customizing and “no bite”. Then I send a bunch of uncustomized resumes/cover letters– and still no bite. However because I am sending out more applications, I feel like I am more productive. And this is a good reminder that it might not be the case.

  50. BY Eva says:

    Good point and good reminder. Sometimes I feel that I spend a lot of time customizing and “no bite”. Then I send a bunch of uncustomized resumes/cover letters– and still no bite. However because I am sending out more applications, I feel like I am more productive. And this is a good reminder that it might not be the case.

  51. BY abdul says:

    An eye opener and very well explained.

    Thanks Mark for such a useful gear you provided for us – job seekers.

  52. BY abdul says:

    An eye opener and very well explained.

    Thanks Mark for such a useful gear you provided for us – job seekers.

  53. BY Chris Van Slambrouck says:

    The information you just related backs up what i’ve been taught since day one. I’ve always felt that i had about 15 seconds of “view time” from a hiring manager with my resume in their hand. Don’t make it “frilly” as that kills it right there and make a point of being as meaningful specific as possible. No one wants to make any attempt a waste of time. Odds are if a person uses common sense then they have a better chance to have “that second look”.

  54. BY Chris Van Slambrouck says:

    The information you just related backs up what i’ve been taught since day one. I’ve always felt that i had about 15 seconds of “view time” from a hiring manager with my resume in their hand. Don’t make it “frilly” as that kills it right there and make a point of being as meaningful specific as possible. No one wants to make any attempt a waste of time. Odds are if a person uses common sense then they have a better chance to have “that second look”.

  55. BY Jeremy Went says:

    Dear Mr. Feffer,
    Having read your advice on how to better one’s job search with tailored cover letters and a resume that is directed, I have to say, that I am a little bit angry that I wasted a few minutes of my time reading this. I think that anyone on earth with two eyes and two hands under the age of 40 could blog meaningfully about technology without a journalism degree or a west coast tenor. I am a twenty plus year veteran of financial engineering and have easily adapted to every new project I have undertaken since, indeed, every project I have undertaken has been different from the last. This is the nature of work. I should also note that I have been unemployed for the last two years and career that I have worked at so hard has been diminished to a laundry list of acronyms and hit counts on a piece of paper. I have endured being interviewed for days at a time for a job that I could do in my sleep. I have been tested on the quantity of petrol stations in the United States and have even been asked to reveal my families whereabouts when I am unreachable by phone. Sir, a tailored cover letter is not what your readers need but to be treated like human beings by hiring managers and recruiters alike. I appreciate that in this economy every detail counts but I am afraid that really all you are doing is frustrating your readers more by giving them some kind of false hope. I now have a collection of about 20 or so different resumes and cover letters and still no hit. I wonder if a young Robert M. Pirsig had sent his resume to you whether or not you would have stopped reading it after his address¿

  56. BY Jeremy Went says:

    Dear Mr. Feffer,
    Having read your advice on how to better one’s job search with tailored cover letters and a resume that is directed, I have to say, that I am a little bit angry that I wasted a few minutes of my time reading this. I think that anyone on earth with two eyes and two hands under the age of 40 could blog meaningfully about technology without a journalism degree or a west coast tenor. I am a twenty plus year veteran of financial engineering and have easily adapted to every new project I have undertaken since, indeed, every project I have undertaken has been different from the last. This is the nature of work. I should also note that I have been unemployed for the last two years and career that I have worked at so hard has been diminished to a laundry list of acronyms and hit counts on a piece of paper. I have endured being interviewed for days at a time for a job that I could do in my sleep. I have been tested on the quantity of petrol stations in the United States and have even been asked to reveal my families whereabouts when I am unreachable by phone. Sir, a tailored cover letter is not what your readers need but to be treated like human beings by hiring managers and recruiters alike. I appreciate that in this economy every detail counts but I am afraid that really all you are doing is frustrating your readers more by giving them some kind of false hope. I now have a collection of about 20 or so different resumes and cover letters and still no hit. I wonder if a young Robert M. Pirsig had sent his resume to you whether or not you would have stopped reading it after his address¿

  57. BY Richard Muldoon says:

    Based on personal experience, I say that cover letters are unimportant. Not once have I ever received an interview from a cover letter, no matter how detailed and relevant to the posted job description.

    Unemployed job seekers simply cannot spend so much time writing cover letters that produce no measurable positive results. In the time spent writing one good cover letter, I could instead apply to dozens of other jobs, and probably at least receive an interview or two.

  58. BY Richard Muldoon says:

    Based on personal experience, I say that cover letters are unimportant. Not once have I ever received an interview from a cover letter, no matter how detailed and relevant to the posted job description.

    Unemployed job seekers simply cannot spend so much time writing cover letters that produce no measurable positive results. In the time spent writing one good cover letter, I could instead apply to dozens of other jobs, and probably at least receive an interview or two.

  59. BY Mark Feffer says:

    @Everyone: I really appreciate all the replies. Of course, I had some thoughts of my own, which I’ve posted here:

    http://career-resources.dice.com/articles/content/entry/you_don_t_want_to

    Check it out.

    Mark

  60. BY Mark Feffer says:

    @Everyone: I really appreciate all the replies. Of course, I had some thoughts of my own, which I’ve posted here:

    http://career-resources.dice.com/articles/content/entry/you_don_t_want_to

    Check it out.

    Mark

  61. BY Bill says:

    I can reason with the comments for ” hiring manager” but what about the nimwit hr indiv who normally calls you first to get their feelings if your credible or not? They normally haven’t a clue as far as what type of an indiv would fulfill the responsibilities of the job but are the gatekeeper for you to get to the hiring manager.

  62. BY Bill says:

    I can reason with the comments for ” hiring manager” but what about the nimwit hr indiv who normally calls you first to get their feelings if your credible or not? They normally haven’t a clue as far as what type of an indiv would fulfill the responsibilities of the job but are the gatekeeper for you to get to the hiring manager.

  63. BY Dan Johnson says:

    Nice article, lots of lively response.

    And Arulin — about your cuddly friend, it’s spelled Gerbil, with an “i”.

  64. BY Dan Johnson says:

    Nice article, lots of lively response.

    And Arulin — about your cuddly friend, it’s spelled Gerbil, with an “i”.

  65. BY Mark Feffer says:

    I see a lot of comments – not just in this thread, but in other places, too – I see a lot of comments about how HR people aren’t qualified to judge candidates with technical or other specialized expertise.

    I can’t speak for other companies, but here the HR folks screen for the basics and send their thoughts over to the hiring manager. (It’s not HR who picked the first round of people to talk to, I should mention. It was me.) Does the candidate seem to meet the basics of the job description? What do they offer the company? How do they fit into the manager’s needs? HR weighs in, but leaves it to the hiring manager to determine the next step for each candidate he’s expressed an interest in so far.

    The good part of that is HR moves the process along. Lord only knows how long it would take to get to a decision of I had to make all the preliminary calls. Plus, it means there’s more than one perspective involved, and that’s a good thing.

  66. BY Mark Feffer says:

    I see a lot of comments – not just in this thread, but in other places, too – I see a lot of comments about how HR people aren’t qualified to judge candidates with technical or other specialized expertise.

    I can’t speak for other companies, but here the HR folks screen for the basics and send their thoughts over to the hiring manager. (It’s not HR who picked the first round of people to talk to, I should mention. It was me.) Does the candidate seem to meet the basics of the job description? What do they offer the company? How do they fit into the manager’s needs? HR weighs in, but leaves it to the hiring manager to determine the next step for each candidate he’s expressed an interest in so far.

    The good part of that is HR moves the process along. Lord only knows how long it would take to get to a decision of I had to make all the preliminary calls. Plus, it means there’s more than one perspective involved, and that’s a good thing.

  67. BY Dana Oliva says:

    Remember this article is about what hiring managers/recruiters are looking for. The article does not make an argument that the practice is ethical/right. What you should be focusing on is satisfying “their” requirements to get your foot in the door. Whether this makes sense or not is of no importance what IS important is getting your foot in the door. You should have also noted that several recruiters who chimed in use the same techniquies for identifying good candidates. If your current method for landing a job is not working and you are not “fitting the profile” then why not make a suggested change? At the very least it will improve your chances rather then flagging your inquiry for employment opportunity as a complete waste of time. Think of the hiring manager as your customer. Satisfy the customer and there is a chance you will secure the contract. Good Luck to everyone on securing a job, your economy needs you!

  68. BY Dana Oliva says:

    Remember this article is about what hiring managers/recruiters are looking for. The article does not make an argument that the practice is ethical/right. What you should be focusing on is satisfying “their” requirements to get your foot in the door. Whether this makes sense or not is of no importance what IS important is getting your foot in the door. You should have also noted that several recruiters who chimed in use the same techniquies for identifying good candidates. If your current method for landing a job is not working and you are not “fitting the profile” then why not make a suggested change? At the very least it will improve your chances rather then flagging your inquiry for employment opportunity as a complete waste of time. Think of the hiring manager as your customer. Satisfy the customer and there is a chance you will secure the contract. Good Luck to everyone on securing a job, your economy needs you!

  69. BY john says:

    This is a very frustrating time in our history. Jobs? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that lands jobs. It’s not what you know, It’s if you talk the “big” talk. This government has been selling us out for the last forty years. Jobs going to India and China is just the start. Twelve “duncan donut” indians overseas now do my job. Why? Greed. This depression hasn’t bottomed out yet, it’s going to get worse. Many jobs have been eliminated forever as corporations know they can make good profits without experienced workers. But don’t blame yourself for not being able to get hired. Keep at it… don’t get bitter, get better. Develop a thankful heart as you will all get through this difficult time. Finally, take advice cautiously. Everyone seems to have the answers, but they don’t.

  70. BY john says:

    This is a very frustrating time in our history. Jobs? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that lands jobs. It’s not what you know, It’s if you talk the “big” talk. This government has been selling us out for the last forty years. Jobs going to India and China is just the start. Twelve “duncan donut” indians overseas now do my job. Why? Greed. This depression hasn’t bottomed out yet, it’s going to get worse. Many jobs have been eliminated forever as corporations know they can make good profits without experienced workers. But don’t blame yourself for not being able to get hired. Keep at it… don’t get bitter, get better. Develop a thankful heart as you will all get through this difficult time. Finally, take advice cautiously. Everyone seems to have the answers, but they don’t.

  71. BY Marcus Sletten says:

    “Remember this article is about what hiring managers/recruiters are looking for. The article does not make an argument that the practice is ethical/right.”

    See that is a fallacious argument. That, to me, is akin to “oh, they are getting into your personal life, snooping your emails, and torturing someone, but thats the way they do business. It may not be moral, but focus on accepting it to get in.”

    I am sorry, this is the same when we get “right to work” states, and employers get around discrimination laws by firing someone for “bad performance”. At least non right to work states they have to show WHERE they had bad performance. So it gives the AD laws no teeth. It’s not ethical or moral, but hey; it’s how they do business.

    Ethics should be a foundation of any corporation. Greed and bureaucracy is the current foundation for most, it seems to me.

    At least, that’s how I see it.

  72. BY Marcus Sletten says:

    “Remember this article is about what hiring managers/recruiters are looking for. The article does not make an argument that the practice is ethical/right.”

    See that is a fallacious argument. That, to me, is akin to “oh, they are getting into your personal life, snooping your emails, and torturing someone, but thats the way they do business. It may not be moral, but focus on accepting it to get in.”

    I am sorry, this is the same when we get “right to work” states, and employers get around discrimination laws by firing someone for “bad performance”. At least non right to work states they have to show WHERE they had bad performance. So it gives the AD laws no teeth. It’s not ethical or moral, but hey; it’s how they do business.

    Ethics should be a foundation of any corporation. Greed and bureaucracy is the current foundation for most, it seems to me.

    At least, that’s how I see it.

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