Melvin Day, Managing Director

By Mel Day, Managing Director

I recently read a great article on Linkedin by speaker / author Natasha Bowman, asking what red flags in an application or interview were deal-breakers. 

Bowman contends that some of the best people she has ever hired would have been black-listed elsewhere for one of several faux pas, such as:

  • Spelling mistakes in CV
  • Limp handshake 
  • Lack of higher education
  • Being a mother
  • Being older
  • Having served a prison sentence 

Whilst she has a point on all of the above, of greater interest to me was what lay further down in the thread: Business Insider journalist Shana Gaynor reposted an interview with tech CEO Jason Fried, who said of Basecamp

“We basically throw résumés out the door. A résumé doesn’t say anything really about what someone is capable of – we’re always about getting to the realest possible thing, so we can cut through all the fog and find out if this person can do what they say. 

“Let’s say Basecamp is hiring a designer. We will give a candidate for that job one week to complete a project – and pay the candidate $1,500 for the work. Then we will ask the candidate to walk us through their thought process in a written summary of the project. This step is crucial. We only hire good writers because Basecamp’s employees work all over the world and they communicate mostly via writing. If you can’t make your points clear and concisely – if you can’t go into detail in a way that doesn’t spark more questions than you’re answering – then you’re just not going to work out well here! 

“That’s why a solid cover letter is key. Can someone sell us on themselves in a very brief letter that’s so well-written and so well-thought out that we’re like – this person knows how to communicate!?  If there are ever two equally qualified candidates, but one is a more skilled writer, we will always hire the better writer.”

Pretty powerful stuff I think you’ll agree. And at Marketing Moves, we have a generational divide it seems!

On the one hand, I actually don’t think cover letters are worthwhile anymore! Perhaps it’s the level I generally recruit at, but of more importance to me are the key details in the CV that tell me if the person has the experience required for the role.

On the other, the younger members of our team really like them and think they give candidates a chance to get across their story and personality before we even get to the CV. 

And by cover letter, we don’t mean the usual spiel where people say how they can work well independently whilst also performing as part of a team, and are confident they can add value to the organisation. Instead, we mean what you liked to do as a child that fuelled your passion in tech, the big deliverables of your current job and your ideal future career path – what do you want to be remembered for?!

It’s for reasons like this that we want to meet with every candidate – to get the ‘true’ picture. Our philosophy is that it’s not just how many candidates you know, it’s more how well we know each candidate!

Which camp are you in – are you a stickler for the mighty Curriculum Vitae or have you pitched your tent firmly in the Cover Letter camp? Leave your comments below!

Melvin Day, Managing Director

To discuss in confidence how Melvin and Marketing Moves can support your organisation’s growth, please contact Melvin by any of the means below.

+44 (0) 20 3911 6757
+44 (0) 7967 678 002

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