I recently saw a great cover letter tip that at first blush I thought wouldn’t still be in an issue. However, as I thought about it more, I realized that this tip is a good reminder for all of us to remember:
Top tip: don’t start your cover letter with ‘Dear Sirs’.
If this seems like a minor point to you, you’re wrong. Those two words alone suggest a leaning towards prejudice – you’re presuming that only men are worth getting the attention of for this hiring decision.
I don’t expect every applicant to find out the name of the recruiter or hiring manager involved (though kudos to those who do), but at least take the seconds needed to come up with a greeting that doesn’t cast us all back 6 decades.
Respect shouldn’t have to be asked for.
I’ll admit that it surprises me a little that some people still do this. These days it’s not that hard to understand that the hiring manager or some other person that’s reading the letter and influencing the hiring decision might not be a sir. Seems like common sense to me, no?
However, I still think it’s important to consider the principle that’s described here. Do we have any gender biases that we need to consider? Do we have any prejudices that will be reflected in our resume, cover letter, or other application information? These are becoming important things to consider as you search for a job. Many companies are starting to really value diversity and people who understand these nuances.
Of course, this goes well beyond the cover letter and can be even worse in person. A common example is assuming a person’s position based on their gender. The best advice is to never assume and to treat everyone you meet with respect. Even if the person is an administrative assistant that’s helping with interview logistics, they’re bound to talk if you’re rude and disrespectful.
The best option is to have done enough research to know who all the important players are in the organization that’s interviewing you. With resources like LinkedIn, this really isn’t that hard to do (granted some of them don’t look very much like their LinkedIn picture).
Have you ever seen gender assumptions cause problems for you or someone you know when they’re searching for a healthcare IT job? Share your stories and experiences in the comments.