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.