Thursday, September 26, 2013

Resumes are Useless…Cover Letters Rule…Really?

Resumes are Out…Cover Letters are In

Last week a post to one of the security groups I’m part of on LinkedIn caught my attention.  I don’t recall the details of the post itself but the message I took from the post was that “expensive” resume writing services were out and that fancy cover letters were in.

I clicked through and watched about half of the video that was connected to the post.

Right To The Point

When an email drops into my Inbox and it has two attachments, a resume and a cover letter, 100% of the time, I open the resume.  I made a call and asked the CISO I'm about to refer to in the next section of this article for his thoughts.  He too never reads a cover letter.

If cover letters are so powerful, how can that possibly be if they aren't even read?  It isn't that I never read cover letters but I never read a cover letter before I read a resume.

I read the resume because I need to know who the person is, where they are, how they’re educated, how they’re certified and in a very short period of time, I need to be able to determine by way of the person’s resume what they’re great at and what kinds of business problems they have solved in the past.

Very seldom does a resume that drops into my Inbox make it easy for me to determine what someone is great and how they'll add future value in a matter of seconds.  

The quality of a resume's communication is the issue, not the cover letter.

Your Resume Gets 5 Seconds of a Busy Executive’s Attention

Last week I wrote an article immediately after speaking with the CISO of a $70B Wall Street company. He told me that he gives a resume 5 seconds of his attention.  If the resume doesn’t grab his attention, he moves on.

A CISO Speaks Up About Hiring and Security Resumes


If the CISO of one of the nation’s largest companies has 5 seconds to spare to review a person’s resume, then when is he going to find time to review a cover letter?  He isn't!  It isn't just my opinion that he isn't going to read a cover letter, he just told me he doesn't read the cover letter.

When Do I Read a Cover Letter?

When a resume captures my attention and I’m interested in learning more about how the resume owner writes.  I’ll learn more about the resume owner’s writing style by reading their cover letter than I will from reading their resume.  If I have time to read a cover letter, I always read it after I read a resume.


I have no doubt that the producer of the cover letter video can write great sales letters and great cover letters. He produced a great video.

What I don’t want to see you do though is to disregard the importance of your resume’s quality and believe that the cover letter is the ticket. 

The cover letter can’t possibly be the ticket if it isn’t read.'s Security Recruiter Blog