Asking for Feedback on Your Cover Letter

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Asking for feedback on your cover letter is important because it offers an outsider’s perspective, and requesting that feedback after being turned down for a job is a great idea. Finding out why you didn’t get a particular job provides you with a glimpse of yourself through the employer’s eyes. However, hiring managers are often shy about telling you why you didn’t get hired, so it’s imperative to request feedback correctly.

Send an Email

Don’t call hiring managers to request feedback, because it puts them on the spot and forces them to think quickly. In many cases, they do not even remember who you are or which cover letter is yours. Not only is this annoying, but because they must think quickly, they provide less beneficial feedback. Instead, write your request in an email. An email allows employers to respond at their convenience and gives them extra time to re-examine your cover letter and provide thoughtful feedback.

Don’t Be Defensive

Asking in a defensive manner is one sure way to never receive a reply. If you ask in a way that sounds as if you are questioning the hiring decision or trying to change the decision, no one is going to respond to you, because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Instead, be friendly and make it clear you simply want advice on your cover letter. For example, ask, “What feedback can you provide about how I could improve my cover letter?” This question is not defensive. It shows you recognize your need to improve, and employers are more likely to respond than if you asked, “Why didn’t you hire me?”

Ask About Strengths

Even if you are not defensive in your request, many hiring managers are still hesitant about talking about their decision with you because they fear a lawsuit or being perceived as discriminatory. If the employer seems reluctant to provide criticism, change tactics and focus on your strengths. Ask for feedback on the positive areas of your cover letter. This lets you know what areas are working for you in your letter, allowing you to expand and grow.

Get Creative

Some employers simply have a policy to not talk about why they didn’t hire you or what is wrong with your cover letter. Instead of giving up, get creative. Try asking, “Do you have any advice for my job search?” This question is broader and doesn’t focus on the rejection. As a result, hiring managers often end up providing helpful feedback without even realizing it.

Having a great cover letter helps you get more interviews, and asking for feedback from a hiring manager is the best way to understand where your letter is failing. While you may not get the original job for which you applied, this feedback helps you craft a powerful letter that is sure to attract employers.


(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles /


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