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When Cover Notes Work Better than Cover Letters

"Good things, when short, are twice as good." - Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Swamped with emails and phone calls, deadlines and program changes, staff issues and meetings, most managers these days are challenged more than ever to be efficient with their time. To them, reading a long cover letter that makes a detailed case for hiring a candidate may be as frustrating as a meeting that goes on without getting much accomplished, or a phone call with a client who just keeps talking. So when you send a carefully-crafted, succinct cover note, it can be like a breath of fresh air.

Why a Cover Note can be more Effective than a Cover Letter

  • Slingshot response - If managers read long cover letters at all, they are likely to breeze through them to see if the name of the candidate or referrer is familiar, or to look for red flags like spelling errors or tone. They know that they get the information that is most useful to them from the resume itself. Later, if there is need for further consideration, they could refer to the cover letter but most likely would just ask the candidate questions in an interview. Therefore, wordiness can render a cover letter ineffective. A quick cover note, on the other hand, acts like a slingshot - a simple, effective tool that motivates the reader to go straight to the resume.
Written for BrainTrack External link as a guest post on Susan Ireland's Job Lounge External link

Positive Comments

"I agree 100 percent with everything you write here. It initially makes my clients incredibly nervous when I provide them 300-word-max cover letters. But then they put themselves in the hiring manager's shoes and suddenly, they see how much better a short cover note is. I'd testify under oath to how effective this can be!" - Elissa Poma

"Ellen, your idea of sending a "Cover Note" instead of a cover letter looks good and more importantly it is a welcome innovation in the field of job applications." - Cover letter format

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