i love me some humility

I have a pet peeve: job applicants who tell me in their cover letter that they are without any doubt “the best” candidate for the job.

This amazingly bold statement is often made by candidates who, in fact, match very few of the requirements of the job. But even if that weren’t the case, come on. You don’t know who the other candidates are, and (unless you’re an internal candidate) you don’t know the needs of the job intimately. It comes across as overly cocky, naive bluster.

I understand why people do this — they’ve been told they’re supposed to display confidence. But humility matters too (and it’s rare that I’ve hired a candidate without some).

{ 4 comments… read them below }

  1. Susan Ireland*

    I agree. I also like a cover letter that is not (and doesn’t sound like) a form letter. A cover letter with some personality and that’s written specifically to the employer goes a long way to winning an interview. I have a bunch of sample cover letters on my website, which try to be professional, targeted, and friendly.

  2. Founder: Lea Setegn*

    I’m not sure I agree with you. I used a similar statement as the closing in my cover letter during an intensive job search earlier this year. I sent out 60 resumes (all cold calls; I didn’t break out my contacts on this one) and interviewed with a total of 20 employers. Between 5 and 8 of those interviews were in person, and in those cases, each interviewer agreed that I was, indeed, the person they needed in that position.

    I felt I was able to be this bold because I was changing careers, from more than a decade of newspaper journalism to administrative assistant. I had already worked for about 7 months as assistant to the CEO of a small ad agency. I knew what my skills were and how they had helped my previous employers, and I was able to articulate that.

    I did only receive one job offer out of all that, but I believe that’s because the majority of people I interviewed with told me that they were worried that I’d quickly grow bored in the positions I interviewed for. The one job offer I received was in the one place that didn’t say that — and now I work for the best bosses I’ve had who appreciate how much I can do for them, and who are already planning for how I can grow in the position.

    In the end, this marketing move paid off for me.

  3. Luciana*

    To me it is a relief to see a manager who thinks like that. I feel frustrated every time I’m asked a question such as “tell me why you are better than the other candidates.”

    Huh, I don’t know the other candidates. I know my strengths and skill set, but who am I to say that I’m the best? It’s your job (hiring manager) to figure out who is the best! Please ask questions that I’m actually in a position to answer :-).

  4. Lani*

    Luciana, if that happens again, ask to see the resumes of the other candidates so you can give a more accurate answer

Comments are closed.