The Bantams had the bulk of possession after the break but never looked likely to find an equaliser. It took the visitors 75 minutes before they finally forced Carlisle keeper Keiren Westwood into action.
By then Carlisle should have been out of sight but instead had to rely on Hawley's tenth strike of the season after 26 minutes.
Picking up David Raven's chipped cross Hawley controlled the ball, lifted it over a defender's outstretched leg before turning and shooting in one movement as he hooked a volley into the far corner of the net.
It was the one moment of class in the game and showed what a miss Hawley would be should he leave in the transfer window with his contract up at the end of the season.
Bradford almost hit back immediately when Jermaine Johnson smashed a shot against the angle of post and bar after the ball had pinballed around the Cumbrian's penalty box.
Seconds later Chris Billy should have made it another for Carlisle but instead he scuffed his shot wide after Danny Graham's clever knock down.
Hawley went agonisingly close ten minutes after the break when he just failed to get a touch on Kevin Gall's cross, but from then on Bradford dominated.
Marc Bridge-Wilkinson had two long-range efforts fly narrowly over the bar and Nathan Doyle acrobatically blasted over from ten yards.
Substitute Joe Colbeck finally forced Westwood into a save with 15 minutes to play with a smart drive from the corner of the penalty area that saw Westwood scrambling to save at his near post.
Gall almost added a second when he fired into the side netting before Dean Windass's flick almost grabbed an unlikely equaliser for Bradford, leaving Carlisle with their third win over a productive festive period.