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June 25, 2009


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Jon Jacobs

The idea of handing the prospective employer a bit of potentially useful information that shows you've thought about their business problems and can help solve them, is in principle a very effective asset for landing a job offer.

But I think the author muffed the execution, in the retail-store scenario presented above.

If you as a candidate managed to generate an original business improvement idea that really and truly might help that employer, you'd be wasting a great asset by stating it in your cover letter. Why? Because cover letters rarely get read. And if they do get read at all, they'll be read first by HR - who would never have a clue whether your business improvement idea was good, bad or in between. So if HR screens you out after reading (or not) your cover letter, then that great medicine you formulated specifically for that prospective employer, will have done nothing to make you stand out...because it never reached the eyes of the individual who it might have impressed.

Instead, if I had an idea I thought would impress a hiring manager, I'd hold onto it until I actually met that hiring manager.

In other words: Don't waste it in a cover letter; save it for the interview!

In fact, if my first interview was with HR, I'd probably even save the idea for the second interview, when I'd expect to be meeting the actual hiring manager. THAT's the guy (or woman) whose business problems you have to solve. Not an HR screener.

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