Sincerely, [ERROR: IMAGE NOT FOUND] John Smith
February 15, 2010 11:02 PM   Subscribe

CoverLetterFilter: Does including your handwritten signature in electronic versions of your cover letter show off your attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile? Or does it come off as cheesy/tacky/pointless as nobody will notice anyway, etc.?

Background: The presenter dude in some career advice/job finding tips seminar I went to a while back told me this was the case.

Me: University student, applying for summer & fall internships, jobs, volunteer gigs, scholarships and anything else someone like myself might apply for.

CL & Resume: pdf docs done in LaTeX. This only applies to places that require some sort of Cover Letter type thing sent electronically as a file or email attachment.

Sorry if this has been asked before, I swear I totally perused through the archives for a solid 5 minutes or so.
posted by shoebox to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I do it, but make sure that it's high enough resolution that it looks good, and, therefore, unobtrusive. I also make my letters PDFs. In Word docs, it's just weirder and draws more attention to itself.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:41 PM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also do my resume and letters in InDesign, by the way (or, rather, did so the last time I was looking for a job, a year and a half ago). I gather that LaTeX can be as fine-grained as InDesign for layout.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:42 PM on February 15, 2010

I didn't care when I was doing the hiring.
posted by salvia at 11:50 PM on February 15, 2010

Twee showing off.
posted by orthogonality at 12:27 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'll go with cheesy and lame. But then I don't hire people, I just hear my manager mock all the bad resumes and cover letters we get.
posted by herrtodd at 12:35 AM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: There are so unbelievably many ways that people manage to f up cover letters that the signature is the last thing I look at.
posted by fshgrl at 12:38 AM on February 16, 2010

I think it comes off as tacky. Just give the necessary info and don't burden the document with additional irrelevant information. So many CVs are overburdened with extras... best to keep it simple and include only what's pertinent to the position.
posted by mateuslee at 1:00 AM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: Seriously. Nobody will notice. I have gotten so many ridiculous cover letters that it is almost a relief when someone with decent writing skills and a sense of propriety turns up. Once I received a cover letter that opened a sentence with "So I'm slacking off at my current job..."
posted by emeiji at 1:00 AM on February 16, 2010

Also, "extra mile" would not be a pixely (or huge) bitmap image in an otherwise LaTeX generated document, but rather a nicely done vector version. I'd say pixels are tacky, vectors are just superfluous.
posted by themel at 1:11 AM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: Perhaps some people would notice it, but hopefully the places you want to get into are impressed more by your communication skills. That should matter more than any other details.
posted by Eastgate at 1:56 AM on February 16, 2010

If I got a cover letter in anything other than plain text in an email, I'd probably ignore it. And including a scan of your signature in the letter would seem tacky and desperate.
posted by lsemel at 1:59 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think it depends on what kind of jobs you're applying for, too. I wouldn't send my gussied up pdfs to programmers or scientific researchers; but I'm in book publishing, and here a well-designed page can be a surprisingly effective tool. Judge your audience.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:21 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

If an appropriately sized and formatted image, I think a signature looks much more professional than //john q. yesman//. I'm surprised that others view this as tacky, twee or desperate--I sure don't. But I work in the legal field where letters are routinely transmitted as PDF attachments.

Unfortunately, I'm with emeiji that most of the letters I open have other problems that keep me from reading that far down.
posted by applemeat at 5:45 AM on February 16, 2010

I wouldn't notice. Or care. It's all about the content of the letter, which in addition to being well-written, should also be easy to read, and easy for my stupid Lotus Notes to open.
posted by kimdog at 5:48 AM on February 16, 2010

Why would anyone put a real personal signature out there in the electronic ether, for strangers in an external, uncontrollable office system to capture? If fake, why disconcert a hoped-for employer who sees your real signature later?
posted by Bet Glenn at 5:50 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Only in an Acrobat (PDF) document, and it would depend on the job. It _does_ show attention to detail, and a certain level of knowledge and ability with assembling electronic documents. Is there a chance the new job will use that (maybe some kind of University Alumni Association assistant, or other job where you might relate to the public in written form)? If so, I'd do it.
posted by amtho at 7:29 AM on February 16, 2010

Comes off as cheesy, especially for an internship. Unless you are applying for a design position, there are limits to how much your resume can convey attention to detail. You definitely don't want to be sloppy, but if you overdo it, it comes off as fakery, like if you showed up to an interview wearing a tuxedo.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:13 AM on February 16, 2010

Best answer: I hired for student positions in a computer lab setting. I would have looked favorably at it from a "potential hire knows how to manipulate electronic documents and has some attention to detail" sort of way. Then again, I *never* saw something like that from the applicants who even bothered to include [the requested] cover letter in their application package.

All in all, I don't think there's much upside. The measure of it being done well is that it is not noticeable (except in cases where electronic document production is a responsibility of the position).

Data point: I generally do this for PDF files, but only PDF files. Too many unknowns otherwise.
posted by Fezboy! at 4:07 PM on February 16, 2010

Response by poster: I had a feeling this was going to the be the response. It seems to me that the final verdict basically comes down to............grey area; too many factors involved to predict success, like everything else about job hunting. I was busy for the last week, so I didn't get a chance to clarify: I'm in engineering and the positions I will be applying will primarily be in that category, but still I'm branching out into all sorts of things so that I can be shiny for grad school, etc.

Anyway, Thank you all for your responses. I'd love to mark practically all of them as best, but I absolutely hate reading askmes that are completely white, so I just picked a few that I liked.

fshgrl, emeiji:

I often heard these kinds of stories tossed around, but recently I got a chance to look at a few 'examples' our career office keeps of less-than-stellar CLs/Resumes submitted in the past by students and..............yeah.

Eastgate, applemeat, ocherdraco, Fezboy!:

Your responses were pretty much along my line of thought about the time of posting. Nice to see if I was at least somewhat right. Thanks.

Bet Glenn:

What I gathered from my signature question and the subsequent external forum lurking I did was that signatures only come into any security applications when the signer is required to verify that they did indeed make their mark.


Finally, I should add that I did ask my careers office place about this, and they recommended doing so for co-op positions, so thats what I'll probably be doing, but thanks all for the various perspectives and hints as to what places would consider something like this would be not outlandish. Thanks especially all of those who said it was tacky, so now that I know i wasn't completely off in posting this. I suppose for other non-co-op positions I'll leave the frills off :D
posted by shoebox at 8:44 AM on February 20, 2010

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