Personal Cover Letters Are Important

Posted By Debbie on September 13, 2013

I believe in personal cover letters. When I look at a job or contract, I write a cover letter that best describes me based on the job, company, etc… I don’t copy/paste the same thing to everybody. I address people by name where I know their names.

I also keep a Zoho database of the recruiters who have been nice to me. Not all got me jobs. Some were just really nice! Anybody who sucked didn’t make the list. I keep that list carefully so that only recruiters I liked are on it. In many cases, I ask first if I can add them to a list to hear when I’m available.

So it was a big surprise to get an email today from a guy I’ve never heard of. This was the entirety of his email (other than his signature directing me to his site), plus his resume was an attachment I didn’t open. Name and certain details removed to protect his anonymity, though since he’s job-seeking, he might like the publicity!

[Name] has over 18 years of experience in business strategy, interactive product design, user-centered design methodologies, and software development. His extensive product management and engineering expertise enables him to balance user needs with business goals and engineering constraints in a way that sets him apart from other designers. His success stems from his ability to understand and bridge complex user needs, business goals, and technical constraints.

He has designed and developed products used by some of the leading companies in the world ([Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company]), innovative and agile start-ups ([Unknown Company], [Unknown Company]), and industry-leading design agencies ([Agency], [Agency], [Agency], [Agency I’ve heard of], [Agency]). His products have been used by [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], [Famous Company], and [Famous Company]. In 2004, he designed the world’s first mobile social network and launched it at [Famous Tech Conference], the world’s preeminent technology launch conference. The resulting press referred to it as “the darling of [Famous Tech Conference]” and coined a new term, “MoSoNo” (mobile social network). His design and account leadership resulted in one of the early successful location-based service applications, [Company I’ve never heard of], which was in the top five most downloaded applications on its cellular carrier’s deck. In October 2011, his latest product release received the [Award name] of the Year award at the 98th [Conference Name] Conference. He has a B.A. in Architectural Design from UC Berkeley.

That was it. No hello. No, “Hi, Deb.” No, “Deb, I met you at [thing] and thought you might be hiring.” Just this totally spamming, unfriendly, non-human blast.

Of course, I had to write back and ask WTF. His response was that he was emailing hiring managers he’s worked with in the past, and I was somehow on that list.

Thing 1, I don’t buy that. Thing 2, you’re that self-proclaimed awesome and you have to spam people to find a job? I have a much smaller resume, and I have no problem finding a job.

Here’s what I think really happened. I think he stumbled on this site. I think he didn’t read it very well… not much further than it’s some sort of UX consultancy. I think he went straight for the Contact Us page, and grabbed my email address.

I think he didn’t notice that we’re not hiring. No jobs page. Nothing on the contact us page about how to get in touch if you want a job.

Personal Cover Letters Are Important

Do we know each other? How? Do we share contacts in common? Did you see an open job on my website? (You shouldn’t have… I’m not hiring!)

When I email my database of recruiters, I give them the information they need most. My latest resume. Where I live and how far I’m willing to commute. What types of jobs fit me well, what types of jobs will never be right for me. What companies I refuse to work for. And since it’s an email to people who know me and not a public broadcast of any sort, what I tend to get paid per hour. I send it as bullet points with blank lines in between.

Recruiters normally get that and have NO questions since I’ve answered them all. They just start throwing job ideas at me. Efficiency!

Even looking again at this guy’s cover letter, it’s so all over the place. I have no idea what he really wants, what job he feels will fit him best, where he’ll commute to.

Personal cover letters AND not spamming people are important. And I asked this guy to make sure no email addresses at my domain are on any of his mailing lists. I didn’t hear back. Good luck, job seeker.