Provisional Blog

Hiring? Look Out for These 5 Cover Letter Red Flags

January 17th, 2017

You often hear about resume red flags. But what about cover letter red flags? As the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, Provisional knows this document can play an important role in the hiring process – especially when you’re making decisions about whom to interview. To help you filter out weak candidates and focus on the best, here are 5 cover letter red flags to be aware of:

A boilerplate cover letter.

When candidate cover letters start to sound the same, it’s probably because they are. Many candidates will simply copy and paste a boilerplate cover letter from the Internet and simply replace the contact information and make a few tweaks. But if you want to hire the highest quality candidates, look for unique, well-written and professional cover letters.

Incorrect contact information.

When a candidate sends you a cover letter addressed to the wrong person – at the wrong company – it doesn’t speak well to their attention to detail. Clearly, they didn’t proofread or check it before sending it along to you. If they have an otherwise perfect resume that exactly fits your needs, it may be worth overlooking this mistake as a slip-up. If not, though, it’s could be a sign of the poor quality work to come if you hire this person.

No cover letter at all.

Some candidates don’t see the point in sending in a cover letter. But that’s simply an indication that they don’t understand simple job search etiquette. And if they’re not professional during the hiring process, what are they going to be like once on the job?

A cover letter that regurgitates the resume.

A smart candidate knows their cover letter is an opportunity to sell you as to why they’re a good fit for the position. That’s why they’ll use it to explain why they want to work at your company, or what unique value they can offer. What they won’t do is repeat the exact same information that’s already on their resume.

Poor grammar and spelling.

Don’t judge a candidate too harshly for one minor spelling mistake (unless you’re hiring a proofreader or editor). However, if a cover letter is full of incomplete sentences, poor grammar and misspelled words, then it demonstrates a candidate’s lack of professionalism and attention to detail.

Don’t have time to screen dozens of cover letters and resumes? Having a hard time finding high-quality candidates? Ready to outsource the hiring process? Provisional can help with all of these issues and more. Since 1994, we’ve been the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, placing over 6,000 direct-hire and temporary professionals with companies in Seattle, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene. Contact us today. We’re ready to help you find the people you need, whether on a part-time, temporary or full-time basis.