Cover Letters / References & Job Hunting Beefs

I’m not a huge fan of Cover Letters, I feel that a resume should be enough followed by which hopefully comes, an interview. That being said could you write one cover letter that applies to any position or do you have to write multiply cover letters, and what the should you write in a cover letter ?

Also what is the deal with References I find it biased, what if you worked/work for someone that regardless how much time you gave them they will slander your name for many reasons, what if you have been out of the work force for a long time and have no references it is it is alot of bureaucracy that keeps getting added.

There once was a time that you could walk into a place with your application and either you got the Job right away or you waited a few days for an interview, employers didn’t like that because of time. Then employers decided that Faxing resumes was easier because they didn’t get many applications/resumes because at the time most people didn’t have a fax machine and would forgot (although faxing your resume is not completely gone it is still being used) Then employers started to get faxes of resumes and they found that too much as everyone (mostly everyone) had access to fax machines. Fast forward mostly everyone has a computer regardless of income and employers want you to email your resume because heck the ‘Delete’ key is the way to go though 1000 resumes, but some employers found that too much <sigh> Now employers like to rely on recruiters which can shift though thousands to find that ‘perfect employee’ which doesn’t exist. I really wonder if hiring is a game to some employers.

I write my cover letters under the assumption that whoever reads it isn’t going to read into it too much and just wants the answer to a number of basic questions, such as:

Typical pleasantries
Why I want to work at x company
What my skills are
Why a move to x company will allow me to progress in my career

Outside of that basic template I tailor it to whatever company I’m applying for, and so far it’s not let me down.

References have always annoyed me as many employers are more than happy to hang them over your head and make you jump through hoops to get a reference you won’t even see.

Depending on what you do you can take steps to assure an employer that you are a good employee. Keep track of all your successes at a company and build a solid portfolio with testimonials from clients you’ve worked with. If you’re a designer show what you designed and highlight where clients have praised it, and if you’re a developer show sites you’ve built and preferably keep a Github profile with code you’re written in your own spare time or company code you’ve got explicit permission to release as open-source.

I wouldn’t trust my own family to write me a reference that would represent me as a working man. All I can say is to make a reputation for yourself as a hard-worker that does what is asked of you and you’ll probably end up with a good reference. If you can justify it to yourself then you’ll probably get a good reference from your employer.

The whole recruiter thing has been long-documented by developers sick of having to embed tracking code in Word documents and having to stuff their Resume/CV with buzzwords to be included in jobs you’ve done for years.

All I can say on this is that I feel your pain, and if you want to be a part the solution and not the problem redirect your focus to job communities that actively try to do away with such things. Sites like StackOverflow Careers are a good starting point and many popular bloggers have decent job boards, like Joel Spolsky and the guys at 37signals.

All I can say on this is that I feel your pain, and if you want to be a part the solution and not the problem redirect your focus to job communities that actively try to do away with such things. Sites like StackOverflow Careers are a good starting point and many popular bloggers have decent job boards, like Joel Spolsky and the guys at 37signals.

Sites such as StackOverFlow post Jobs that don’t require references ?!?! I don’t quite understand it looks like a recruiter site to me, but that is just my first impressions I know I’m wrong.

I’ve not really used it apart from getting a couple of job offers, but you create a basic CV-like profile, listing previous experience, favourite languages, etc. Employers are then able to send you job offers. You can also look amongst the jobs there and apply for them.

The idea of it is that if you’re a good programmer and you can show that either through projects, a high reputation score on SO or through other means you’re able to land a job.

Outside of that basic template I tailor it to whatever company I’m applying for, and so far it’s not let me down.

When you say you tailor your cover letter, do you tailer it in the sense you change parts around without a complete overhaul or just who you are sending it to ?

I structure most documents for reuse (probably the inner programmer showing itself), so that if I need to use it for something else I can just swap parts out and use one section to state specifically why I want the job. It’s typically something along these lines:

Dear [COMPANY] Representative (or the persons name if you know exactly who you’re sending this cover letter to)

I am writing in response to your advertisement on the [WHERE I FOUND THE AD] in [PLACE] for a [JOB TITLE].

[What I’ve been up to recently. For example, if you’ve just finished your degree it’s best to put your expected results, what you aim to do after and what you studied]

[Note previous employment and/or internships. Go into great detail in regards to what you did for each company, your projects and what technologies you used]

After reading your job description, I am confident that I possess the skills and qualities that you are seeking for this position. As my previous experience shows I have worked with a number of companies as a [PREVIOUS JOB TITLE(S)] and have largely found success through [WHATEVER YOU DID FOR N COMPANY].

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this position in further detail. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview, please contact me by home phone at [PHONE NO] or by e-mail at [EMAIL ADDRESS]. I have enclosed my CV for your review, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,
[NAME]

As you can see it’s fairly basic, but depending on the role you’re applying for it can be easy to customise, and I’ve largely been extremely successful using this cover letter and trawling through university jobshop listings for internships and paid work. The last time I used it with my CV I applied for eight places and received offers to interview from each.

Thanx, hopefully I can tailer one around those guidelines without having to read the endless pages on the subject :slight_smile:

Most of your cover letter is always going to be the same, you just need to tailor it to the position and perhaps to the company in question. Your experience is going to be the same regardless but if they have a list of qualifications it’s always good to address each item in the letter to show that you are qualified.

For me, it’s annoying to even write Resume. Of course, I do write my resume but problem is that it sounds too plain. Even if I am the most active programmer… the laziest programmer in the team can write much better resume than myself. I guess that itself is a skill as well… such a thing called BS…

I agree, how many times you hand in a resume just for them to hand you another form /application for you to fill out that you must put the exact same information on as you have on the resume, mostly I just add that they can find the resume attached. Anyone can whip up a resume, why I think the interview is really your resume, not the resume it’s self.

In most cases when I have created or changed my cover letter it is after looking through a bunch of job ads having gained an overall understanding of the divides that exist throughout the industry. I than write something specific to meeting the desires of one or two and only apply for jobs that fit within the criteria, not every programming job there is. Not all programming, design and development positions are created equally. Some companies require more of a specialization in a certain area placing less emphasis on others. Others place less emphasis on specialization desiring someone who is at least willing learn or has a well rounded knowledge of certain topics though perhaps not a “expert” in any single area. One position might require knowledge of both print design and web design. Another might require knowledge of just front-end technologies. A development job might just focus on a single central application language whereas another is more concerned with being able to satisfy both front and back-end needs. Your best chance of finding a position is one which somehow your current skills can be used or non-development skills may come in handy, if you have switched careers, unrelated education or such. The cover letter should play to your strengths not only in direct relation to the position your looking for but indirectly if possible also. That is probably often where cover letters can come off to BS as some or exaggerated. However, its the name of the game. The better you can sell yourself without a flat-out lie the more opportunities you will have.

With that said, I don’t think anyone enjoys writing resumes and lesser cover letters. That said its a necessary part of finding a job. I will go against the grain and say that a single cover letter can be written that will function for multiple job submissions. I know it does because I have done it. The only thing changed each submission was the title of job and company, nothing more. Is it probably better to craft a cover letter specific to each job – of course. However, if there is one thing I can’t stand its writing covers blah…

In the past I haven’t done that bad sacrificing individuality for reuse with cover letters.

I haven’t had an issue with references – yet. For the most part I’ve been told the references I have work in my favor. At least for the time being.

Cover letters demonstrate your communication skills. It’s your introduction to the prospective employer, your method of communicating what you are looking for, and, most importantly, how you can satisfy the needs of what the employer is looking for.

You can probably reuse large chunks of cover letters. But each one will have to be custom-tailored to whomever you are sending it to.

A bad cover letter can doom you even before the resume is evaluated.