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That moronic thing called cover letter and other HR tomfoolery

 
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Why do companies insist on it, especially when they are hiring for entry level or junior positions ? Junior position resumes are short. So, scanning it quickly
is not too hard. If they want essays and prose, then hire English majors or gender studies majors instead of developers. I wonder if HR's are generally lazy
and jobless people, especially the ones in small companies. Worse, they don't even respond with a generic message which at least tells you that they got
the application or rejected you.

Recently, I applied for a job and got a reply after 2 weeks After the phone interview, they said they would get back. I waited for 3 days and they told me
to wait more. I called after a week and then they told me to wait more. After one week, I called them again and they said I have not been selected. That was crazy.

I wonder why HRs do this ? Why can't we bypass these human keyword scanning drones and have a mano a mano tech interview instead ? Let them stick to pencil
pushing and surfing on facebook all day.
 
Rancher
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With this attitude you will not easily get a job, irrespective of your skills. I hope for you that "Ali Gordon" is not your actual name, because that is now burnt.

As to your question: If you can't put down in a paragraph why my organization benefits from hiring you, why would my organization hire you?
 
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Ali Gordon wrote: If they want essays and prose, then hire English majors or gender studies majors instead of developers.


Writing is a job skill. You need to be able to document your code, work on design documents, write emails, etc.

When I was in college, I had a "form" cover letter. In hindsight, this wasn't a good idea because it was more about me than the company I was applying to work for.

Also, the resume (in theory) is the same for every employer. The cover letter is a chance to say "I see you work with A. That's exciting because B. Further, I experimented with A on my own and learned D."
 
Bartender
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Think of it as just another chance to prove you're better. If half your fellow job applicants have the same credentials as you, but can't conceive a word over two syllables or have trouble distinguishing between "they're" and "their", you're top dog.
 
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Some companies ask for cover letters, some may ask you to fill in a long and involved application form collecting the same information, and some may try to acquire the information some other way e.g. via a comprehensive CV or a preliminary telephone interview. I guess the aim is to try to filter out some of the applications before they get to the expensive and time-consuming interview stage. The logic of it doesn't really matter: it's their money and their risk in taking you on, after all, so if they want you to provide a cover letter to help them decide if you're suitable, why not play along?

In some organisations, you have to get past the HR filters before the relevant manager even sees your application, while others will ask somebody with a tech background to help sift the applications. And it's true that some HR people are indeed lazy/incompetent (as are some IT people), but in my experience most of them either lack understanding of technical work, so they have trouble identifying the relevant skills/experience from a brief resume/CV, or they are simply swamped in applications, especially for junior roles. So they may use the cover letter and a certain amount of "buzzword bingo" as a crude filter to cut down the number of applications they have to take forward. And it's quite usual for companies to declare up front that they will only be contacting successful applicants. Again, it's not necessarily a smart approach but if that's how they want to do things, your best bet is to improve how you play the game.

Ali wrote:If they want essays and prose, then hire English majors or gender studies majors instead of developers.


Funny you should mention that. My degree was in German, and some of the best and most adaptable developers I've worked with also had non-CS degrees (or no degree at all). Communication is also an important skill in IT, as is the ability to see beyond the narrow confines of a rigid focus on technology.
 
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I have observed that many big corporations in US have outsourced job application management to other companies altogether (who use some or the other s/w to accept applications) or have licensed some software on their own for this purpose. This s/w basically collects all the bits and pieces of critical data found in a resume and thus avoids the need of submission of an actual resume. I have also seen that there is a place when your can enter cover letter and other similar stuff. On top of this, they do allow you to attach your resume as well. A generic email is sent automatically after submission.

My understanding is that besides making the process more efficient (for them, that is), they also have a legal obligation to prevent discrimination and this process provides documentation if they are ever accused of discrimination.

You will probably now understand why instant response is almost impossible.

As others have mentioned above, if they want cover letter, you give them a damn good cover letter Many jobs may not need any cover letter and if you feel that the job you are shooting for has no need for it, then don't include it or may be just a one liner will suffice. I don't think I ever submitted a cover letter for contracting positions and I had no issues.
 
Ali Gordon
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Can I just say it like this ?

What I bring to the table -

X years of dev experience, with projects in J2EE.
Hibernate 6 month
Spring 3
JSP & Serv 1
Git 1 yr

What I am familiar with - Swing, Ruby, NoSQL.

If you need more info, please refer to attached resume.

Thanks for your time.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Instead of a perfume filled love letter like the one below, in which I liken job hunting to finding a date -

I am writing to express my love for this company. I was looking for someone who would love me for who I am,
a J2EE dev, not those lame, no-substance python coders in bars. Then, on monster, I found you, you who was
tired of all those idiot unfaithful py coders, searching for someone like me. I felt we could have chemistry.

I am smart, funny, caring, independent and know a thing or two about jsp, servlets, hibernate and spring. I have
done 2 projects in J2EE in which I blah blah...

I hope that you will at least say no thanks or a hi to my proposal to court you. I spent hours writing this
syrupy stuff for you. I hope I am not boring you to death. Don't judge me by my modest looks or cover
letter. Look deep into my resume, you will probably find that I could be the one for you.

If you what you see, then lets talk and see where things go.

Yours,
Serial job seeker - who modifies and regurgitates this long letter in the hopes of hitting on companies.
 
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When a company is recruiting they are not just looking for someone who can do the job advertised. They are looking for someone who they think will fit into the culture of the company, i.e. someone they think the existing team members will get on with. Unfortunately if I received your resume that exhibited the kind of attitude you're putting across here I would likely file it in the bin. As much as you may dislike the "game" of recruitment and job hunting, if you want to win then you need to play it to a certain degree. If your attitude is "This HR recruitment stuff is nonsense, this is me, take it or leave it" then I'm afraid more often than not people will probably leave it.

(a side note: J2EE hasn't been called J2EE in over a decade. It's called Java EE now. Be careful not to make your experience look irrelevant by careless naming. Unless of course your experience was in the late 90s / early 00s then calling it J2EE is perfectly valid)

Edit: Grammar fail
 
Dieter Quickfend
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Tim is right. On top of that, unless you just want to be a code monkey who sits behind his desk all day following cryptic specifications and talks to no one, your job requires basic communication skills. If you are unable to even write a cover letter, how will you explain what you've done and why you did it to a business representative? How will you get along with UI designers who don't understand your prerogative and project managers who want to impose an impossible workload on you? I'll answer that for you: You won't. You don't have the necessary communication skills. With a little bad luck, you'll end up in an organisation where politics is really important, taking the necessity for good communication skills to the next level.

In my previous project, I learned to stop sending notification emails to some departments, because those departments had nothing better to do than analyse and recontextualize a two-sentence mail to be able to blame me for something unrelated. One word they could interpret differently and you had a big fight over who was to blame for production issues. 'The requirements might've been wrong, and you did fix it as you went along with development, but you *did* send an email that this functionality had been developed as required. Which is not true and we will use this to do our next development on your budget.' This is also what you're dealing with.

My greatest failure in my career as a developer is not code-related, but my inability to explain to a test manager, who was a 'de facto' project manager, why I refused to add milliseconds to a web service request depending on the time zone of the requestor. I had to round up a bunch of managers and analysts who DID understand why and all of us were still unsuccessful to convince him that it was not a good idea. We had to go over his head to solve the situation, and I made an enemy that day. I have since taken several communication classes, which will benefit me greatly in the rest of my career.

So you see, communication can be extremely important, and IT people can be extremely bad at it. But you have to understand that in the corporate world, success more often than not will depend on proper communication.

Unless, of course, you just want to be a code monkey for the rest of your life.
 
Paul Anilprem
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Ali Gordon wrote:Can I just say it like this ?
....


Not really sure what kind of an answer are you looking for. No one can answer this except yourself. It is also a fact that in many places, nobody cares about the cover letter. If you want to take that risk, sure you can write just that. If not, go with something else.
IMHO, no matter how strongly you feel that cover letter is moronic nonsense, you can't convince the world as long as you are a job seeker. May be once you become CEO of a big company, you can innovate in this area and attract talent just like yourself!
 
Ali Gordon
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Paul Anilprem wrote:

Ali Gordon wrote:Can I just say it like this ?
....


Not really sure what kind of an answer are you looking for. No one can answer this except yourself. It is also a fact that in many places, nobody cares about the cover letter. If you want to take that risk, sure you can write just that. If not, go with something else.
IMHO, no matter how strongly you feel that cover letter is moronic nonsense, you can't convince the world as long as you are a job seeker. May be once you become CEO of a big company, you can innovate in this area and attract talent just like yourself!



Okay, I get the sarcasm. I guess I'll just keep it very pithy to save my time and their time. Hopefully, things will go well.
 
Paul Anilprem
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Sorry, I didn't mean it as sarcasm.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Ali Gordon wrote:Can I just say it like this ?

What I bring to the table -

X years of dev experience, with projects in J2EE.
Hibernate 6 month
Spring 3
JSP & Serv 1
Git 1 yr

What I am familiar with - Swing, Ruby, NoSQL.

If you need more info, please refer to attached resume.

Thanks for your time.


No. Here's why:
1) J2EE is an old acronym - you don't sound like you know what you are talking about
2) "Serv" is not a word. Servlets is. I'd wonder if you use IM slang all the time. After all, you use use uncommon abbreviations in a formal letter.
3) Some of your experiences are listed in months and others in years. Does that mean you have 3 months of Spring experience? What should I assume?
4) If you cut corners on a cover letter, why should I believe you won't on the job.
 
chris webster
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Maybe you could think of it as a quid pro quo.

You say you want a potential employer to go straight to the face-to-face technical interview. But a technical interview often involves taking several people off their current work so they can review your application against the job requirements, conduct the interview itself and discuss your performance afterwards. This might work out at 1 hour per candidate (more if there's a coding test), and the interview might involve the project manager, a senior developer and (in some organisations) an HR person to ask the fluffy questions and make sure the interview is conducted in accordance with company policy. So that's 3 person-hours of work, from more senior (= expensive) people than you, that you want them to invest in dealing with your application. And right now they don't know you from Adam.

So isn't it reasonable enough for them to expect you to spend an hour (at most) putting together a sensible cover letter explaining why they should invest their time and money in you as a candidate and - potentially - as an employee?

Or to put it another way:

Willy Brandt (former Chancellor of German Federal Republic) wrote:If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann muessen Sie Deutsch sprechen.


I knew that German degree would come in handy one day!
 
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