March 17, 2016

Stop telling your applicants what you want to hear from them.

How to avoid receiving copy-paste personality traits in cover letters.

by Christian Høeg

Companies are no longer just hiring based on hard skills. Soft skills like personality traits are definitely being regarded as well. Browsing through the biggest job sites, you’ll find a common structure of writing ads. It’s essential that companies clearly define the needed skill sets and experience for a position. However, do you really need to explain what kind of personality you are looking for?

No. It gives a candidate the perfect opportunity to press copy-paste, making the cover letter close to worthless. Unless you want to check for grammar.

“My analytical skills are great, but I lack creativity.”

As an example, look at the Carlsberg job ad. Under Candidate Characteristics they state that they are looking for someone who is:

  • Positive, constructive and improvement-oriented
  • Creative with analytical skills

  • Able to solve complex tasks in a creative, organised and systematic way

  • Has a high work capacity and personal drive, resulting in high quality output with a “get the job done” attitude

It makes you wonder – do applicants include any other characteristics in their cover letters than those mentioned in a company’s job ad? Would any applicant in their right mind ever write the following:

I’m an egocentric, but calm person looking for things to improve. I posses strong analytical skills, but lack creativity. I find myself quite unstructured, but I do have the “get the job done” attitude.

Selecting the right candidates based on culture-fit and personality traits early in the recruitment process is essential. Therefore, in order to avoid receiving cover letters that directly quote your job ad, consider adding the following to your recruitment strategy.

1. Attract the right candidates by signalling who you are

It is any company’s aim to attract candidates who share the same values as the company holds itself. Expressing the core values through the careers section on websites, social profiles, blog posts and video content depicts the culture and personality of the company.

Explicitly stating who you are looking is not necessary if all the available information already emanates the kind of personality you regard as an adequate culture-fit and are willing to hire for a potential job.

If you would like to read more about attracting the right candidates, this article on Inbound Recruitment provides a pretty good insight.

2. Look past the cover letter and CV

After the personality traits have been defined, you can kick-start the selection process. It is essential to sort candidates based on personality traits as early as possible in the screening process so that you don’t waste time on candidates that aren’t a fit.

All recruiters have that great secret talent – the ‘stalking ability’. Make sure to use this little dirty trick and check the candidate’s social media profiles and look up any previously published blog posts or university publications. You might even want to consider using a platform like Praice in order to gather the unbiased feedback of a candidate’s personality.

Praice specialises in exposing applicants personality in a credible and genuine way. Personality profiles are built by an applicant’s own network and can be easily sorted and screened based on five aspects of personality.


Praice recruitment platform

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