Part II of III Part Series – Designing Your Cover Letter, Controlling References, and Personal Information”

Your Cover Letter:

This document although appearing to become a thing of the past, can be critical with the variances it possesses, as to a how you can format and deliver it. Find out how this is done in the organization you are applying at. In these days of being so gadget-busy, people may not take the time or review or find any value with a covering letter (I hope I am wrong here). This document may be applicable where traceability is needed, such as government jobs, requiring compliance and formalities. In such events comply and meet their standards without getting frustrated by the bureaucratic process.

Your cover (7) letter document when noticed does offer an opportunity for your hiring manager or recruiter to evaluate your writing skills, thought process, assuming it bears the appropriate language of communication, acceptable within the norms of the organization you are communicating with. In most cases it is in English, although may be different elsewhere for official needs.

If you do have to add a covering letter, some organizations practice accepting cover letters appended to the top or bottom portion of your résumé, like an “all-in-one” file. Ensure that you number and footnote all pages carefully to help storing and easy retrieving. With organizations not on the technology band wagon get your page numbered so that your documents can be easily recovered in case of separation or an accidental mix up with someone else’s or vice versa just in case. Again, research what the modus operandi is with that culture and just Nike it! [Just do it.] To find out their current practice, tap into networks such as Linkedin and research best practices and determine their widely acceptable norms available at your keyboard tips. An excuse of “I don’t know of anyone working there” is just lame to fly these days. Have you heard “What is your problem kid, didn’t you ever have lamb chops,” one of the key cast in Jurassic park who lamented, when the frightened kid expressed her pity for the lamb devoured by the beast. So what is your problem CSP, aren’t you on Linkedin or are you just a signed-up card carrying member like how I used to be? To not be an active member on Linkedin is as good as living under a rock, let alone signing up and doing nothing. Work it without expecting the job fairy to visit you overnight, raise questions, and even answer them. For CSPs toward a 90-day transition, align résumé “claims” with achievements on your Linkedin profile.

By networking efficiently and effectively, a cover letter wouldn’t be a requirement (outside of government type job applications) as you already have a foot in the door toward your opportunity. At this point the playing field changes while you have entered the arena where verbal communication, body language, dress code, your attitude, and other face-to-face general behavioral traits are under the gun. You are now adding words to your name and your voice assuming you had some kind of a telephone screening interview. This is an area outside the scope of this blogged article and I would release one in this space later this summer, based on the demand from readers and the value they would expect…

Our Professional and Personal References:
This  information component of your résumé is much more vital today given the rampant networking ongoing in the web wide world out there. As they say, it is important what you know, however, critical as to whom you know and now more essential than ever, on how far and wide is that person known to the decision makers in the organization? This has recently shifted to “it is important what you have accomplished and more so on what you project that you can accomplish, while critical as to who will vouch for your accomplishments and how are they regarded in that industry? Are they reputed and have high credibility, just like they told you in graduate school when you cite references on your publication, the ones you cite must also be well cited elsewhere and not just a reference line to fill some white space (remember the dirty old trick from Part I blog on Monday). Select credible references after seeking their concurrence and their willingness and passion to contribute toward your success. Some bullets on this aspect are shown below:

  1. Do not list references on your résumé – Just like your underwear is not for display in public.
  2. Provide it when the employer asks for it without drowning them into it upfront.
  3. Share your résumé and successful gory war wound stories with your referrals – don’t be bashful.
  4. Validate such war stories with your referrals as hiring managers will cross-check both versions.
  5. Offer email IDs of references to ensure hiring manager documents communications with them.
  6. Emailing has benefits as referrals may not be ready for a knee-jerk impolite mobile telephone call.
  7. Create an environment to interchange contact information to schedule, helping you track it.
  8. Email your hiring manager while sharing references, requesting them to schedule prior to calling.
  9. Update referrals on your status with a particular employer to help them plan proactively.
  10. Sustain your relationship with your references and do not be “opportunistic” in any way.
  11. Thank them before, and after their role, and yes, again, past an offer reject or acceptance.
  12. Lastly, ask your referrals as to what you can do in your capacity making it a two-way street.

Privileged Personal Information:
This is a delicate piece of the hiring process, although some organizations in some countries operate within forced legal boundaries. They are occasionally barred from discussing it especially at any stage of the interviewing or hiring process. Those very employers in a different part of the world can get away if these legal restrictions don’t apply. For example, in the USA, it is illegal of employers to ask of your age or marital status at any point in your interviewing process. However, hiring managers are no dummies while assessing your age based on so many “give-away” forehead bubble gum wrappers you may have exposed either in your résumé or while small talk on the telephone. One counselor even mentioned commenting about something personal can give away your inclinations in such areas that may bias the hiring manager’s decision. In Linkedin, a person’s history is literally spelt out that anyone could make a wise estimate of your age and so don’t get bent out of shape with it, instead engage in discussing your DNA or your USP. So obviously, you should avoid volunteering personal information as recommended below:

1. My Full Legal Name spelt out – Avoid it and use that nick name you thought wasn’t glorifying!

a. Use a nicked first name (if possible) and for sure insert your last name in its legal form.

2. My Age or Date of Birth (DoB) or Your Picture?

a. Avoid it! Not the time for a precinct mug shot or an immigration/passport application!

3. My Sex or Gender?

a. Avoid stating it, as your name in most cases will give it away if they are that interested!

4. My loving Parent’s Name or Details?

a. None of anyone’s Godly concerns!

5. My Marital Status and/or Number of Children I have?

a. Even the online dating professionals advise you against it, so why shouldn’t you avoid it?

6. My Passport and Personal Information (Especially in Asia)?

a. This is not a consulate office for a visa application (just general résumé information).
b. We are not talking about casual labor job application in locations abroad either.

7. My Visa Status (for those on F-1 or H1-B status yet to possess a green card)?

a. When in need, they will ask, while they are themselves walking on egg shells on this aspect.
b. We are not dealing with immigration, or border enforcing authorities here. Just relax!

Cited References (In continuation with the Part I):
(7) “Do you need a cover letter?” by Allison Doyle, March 2009, Alison’s Job Searching Blog,


2 thoughts on “Part II of III Part Series – Designing Your Cover Letter, Controlling References, and Personal Information””

  1. User Avatar

    Some additional tips is to use today’s technology in your favor. If we are answering applications via on-line or email, make use of that fact. Include links to additional information or linkedin profiles. Keep your job resume descriptions concise, tight and directly to the point of what the application is asking for. Then include links to further details, if they want to follow.

    Also — as Shree recommends, feel free to change your resume to better fit the on-line application or email requests. Gone are the days where we have to make 60 hard-copy resumes and post mail them out. Take advantage of the flexibility that online and soft-copy resumes, references and cover letters afford us.

    1. User Avatar

      Hi Ms. Rose,

      Good afternoon and many thanks for your efforts and time toward your meaningful comments here.

      Since this is an article written for a global audience,I addresses them toward organizations outside of the US where (government and other non-high tech type scenarios) font and format matter on a hard copy.

      Your comment about soft copies make a lot of sense and in fact I should have also quoted that in the US web filters actually disregard format and font uniqueness.

      In light of this candidates need to build content in such a way that font and format are seamless to such websites and other search engines that don’t create the garble while downloading such documents.

      Becoming more efficient and leveraging other source of networking as LinkedIn is also vital and the article mentions of discussions relating to LinkedIn in another upcoming post.

      Glad to see that you have reinforced and provided your original thoughts here for our PM professionals and other reader customers.

      Hope to see some responses on this forum on the value of keeping in mind such aspects when it comes to building an effective and efficient resume.

      Have a safe memorial weekend.


      Dr. Shree Nanguneri
      CEO, MGBS Inc.

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