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June 24, 2014 at 1:00 AM

P.S.: Adding this to your cover letter could backfire on you

I’ve lived long enough to believe that one should view shortcuts with a skeptical eye. That’s why I’ve never understood the continued popularity of the “P.S.” as a job-search strategy.

This is the tactic, repeatedly espoused online, of ending your cover letter with a P.S. statement, like you used to add on written letters (remember those?). For example, after thanking the hiring manager, you add a line such as, “P.S.: Contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX to find out how I boosted sales by 30 percent in one year at my last position as sales manager.

The P.S. is a standard conclusion for direct-mail letters; supposedly, the general public can’t resist reading one. According to career expert Jimmy Sweeney, a P.S. attracts eyeballs like “a powerful magnet to metal shavings.” Most readers, he claims, will skip down to read the P.S. first before reading the rest of the letter.

This sounds like an eye-catching tactic — until you think about it for a minute. Here’s how this gimmick could backfire on you.

1. Please hire me, I’m a spammer! Hiring managers are savvy individuals who’ve seen all the tricks of the trade. A P.S. will be easily recognized as a bald-faced attempt to grab their attention. Even if what you say in your P.S. has some real merit, you will instantly be lumped together with junk-mail writers and spammers. Is that the brand you want to promote for yourself?

2. I’ve never used a computer! P.S. stands for postscript, which is generally regarded as information that was left out for whatever reason. This was a common way for letter-writers to correct written mistakes. But now that computers make such addenda obsolete, why stick with this old-fashioned method? A P.S. just suggests you don’t know how to edit in Word — not the best first impression.

3. I don’t recognize my own worth! This is the biggest problem I have with the P.S. If you really did improve sales by 30 percent, why isn’t that mentioned within the first couple of paragraphs? In journalism, this is what we call “burying the lede.” Like most news readers, hiring managers don’t want to be teased; they want clear, concise facts right up front. Being coy with a P.S. statement suggests that you don’t have your priorities straight.

If you have the experience, the skills and the desire, hiring managers shouldn’t need to be reminded to contact you. Your record should speak for itself … period.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: branding, cover letters, etiquette

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Blog contributors

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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