A Hand-Written Cover Letter!

We received a hand-written cover letter from a candidate today.  It’s the first one I’ve ever seen, so I’m pretty excited.  (We do not require hand-written cover letters.)  It sure is an easy way to stand out.

So I got to thinking–what does it mean?  What goes through a candidate’s head when choosing to write a cover letter by hand?  So I searched online for advice on the topic one way or the other.  It turns out the only real advice I found is to never write a cover letter by hand.

Cover letters, like resumes, need to be mistake-free.  I bet it would take me five tries to write a letter by hand and make it look good enough to submit.  Some people have the patience necessary to write cleanly and beautifully; I do not.  Maybe that’s why I appreciate the effort so much.  I really like the letter.  I feel like it’s more of a personal communication, rather than a form submission, and I’m interested in meeting the candidate all the more.

I suppose this is one of those things, like so many others, that fall into the category “It’s a great idea if you can pull it off.”  Just like using a non-standard font or paper, or a creative layout for a resume, it can help and hurt a candidate’s chances.  The right person can nail it.  The wrong person will blow it.

Most “gimmicky” job search ideas are too hokey.  For example:

  • Sending a gift with the application
  • Scenting the paper with perfume
  • Printing on bright or glittery paper
  • Including a photo on the resume
  • Using a website as the application

We’ve seen all of these gimmicks and more, and they don’t help.  But I think writing something by hand, when it’s so much easier to do it on the computer, is a nice touch if the candidate has good penmanship.  Especially on a Monday when all the resumes look the same.


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