Analyzing a Cover Letter

Julie Shenkman
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Hiring managers are seeking candidates who can accurately display their skills and experience. A well-written cover letter is often what moves candidates up the ranks during the selection process. By correctly analyzing each letter, you can maximize your time and identify the candidates that are best qualified for the position and worth calling in for an interview.

The format of a cover letter is important, explains Entrepreneurial Insights. Candidates who submit letters in a hard-to-read font with distracting graphics may think they are catching the attention of a potential employer when, in reality, they are turning off the hiring manager. Analyze the document for readability, paragraph indentation and spacing to ensure the it adheres to industry standards. A strong introductory and closing sentence are often the hallmarks of a good letter worth further consideration.

The length of a cover letter is also a key factor to consider when selecting candidates to interview. The letter should be short and concise. Candidates who submit documents that are longer than one page often include details that are not relevant to the position. Seek out applicants who can concisely explain how the position is an ideal fit for them while highlighting key skills and experience that are in line with the job advertised. Large amounts of unnecessary details and vague terms often indicate that applicants are not qualified, or that they are not focused and get distracted easily.

Hiring managers are looking for team members who are responsible and show great attention to detail. Scan the cover letter for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. Multiple errors are a sign that the candidate did not take the time to proofread, which means he is likely to make the same kind of mistakes on the actual job.

A well-written letter that accompanies a resume should also express the applicant's enthusiasm for the job. Understand why the candidate is applying, whether his personality traits are in line with the company's culture and if he is an effective team player. Analyze the cover letter for accomplishments, goals and examples of work ethic that show the applicant's potential to become a valuable asset to your business. Qualified candidates should provide examples of goals they met on previous jobs that are related to the position they are applying for. Scan the letter for keywords from the job description to get an idea of how the applicant's experience and skills fit the job requirements.

It may seem unfair to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to a cover letter, potential employers must scrutinize each candidate's ability to make a professional first impression. The person you choose becomes the face of your business to clients, so use the cover letter as a tool for gauging each applicant's ability to communicate clearly and concisely in writing.

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