Archive | June, 2010

Better Letter. Better Hire Her.

28 Jun

I have asked this question in many different ways over the years but my new favorite question and I am thinking this will be on my MUST ASK list for the duration of my recruiting days is –

“What sets you apart from your professional peers?”

Simply, Jobseeker – You must know and you need to show.  This is the foundation of your unique brand.  Please – not the personal branding stuff again.  I KNOW – you hate that talk but….

Hiring managers are begging for something different.  Begging I say! – for better resumes, thoughtful thank you notes, a firm handshake with a look in the eye, really good, brief answers, prepared candidates that give employers reason to hire them.

As many of you know, I facilitate a job seeker meeting every Thursday in the Indianapolis area.  These job seekers have clearly stated they want the truth…and that they can handle it.  My goal is to help them any way I can and for them to help each other.  I am biased – but in this marketplace you need a group like this to stay in the game, to talk with your fellow persons, to engage.  Perhaps you should even start one.

I usually give first time attenders a pass before I unleash my opinion but I didn’t in this case.  A very nice lady shows up one day – an administrative assistant.  I tempered my comments at first but finally said, “Administrative assistants are a dime a dozen.”  (I did kind of cringe when I said it but I said it.)  At this time, I was hoping she knew I was talking about the “role” her and not the “real” her.  She didn’t flinch.  Whew.

Her resume was plain.  Plain plain.  Not even vanilla.  She was not.  She struggled to answer what set her apart though.  Here is why – the answer takes work. takes thought.  Takes examining where you have been, what you have contributed to your workplace, what you do differently – takes some focus.  We set up a time to talk – she called when she said she would.  She put a plan together and showed up at the the next meeting.

I almost didn’t recognize her – her first words, “I just wrote a killer cover letter.”  I am not sure those three words have ever been used together.  Killer. cover. letter.

Here is how she did it.  She writes a thoughtful opening paragraph building the case that she knows all the resumes they are reviewing pretty much look the same (check).  She then articulates the 3 traits that she feels set her apart (check) – then the best line of the letter smacks the reader in the face.  Here is the line.  Wait – are you ready for this?  OK.  Verbatim.  “My former supervisors agree.” Powerful line, Folks.

Now, how do we know that?  Let me share that with you.  She then incorporates 2 quotes from recent supervisors right there in the cover letter.  Ni-ice (pronounced Nuh-ice) work!

And now…The REST of the story.  She is now employed.  Hired by a company that she never sent this letter to when responding to their ad.  What?  She hadn’t written it yet.  What a waste, right?  Oh, not so fast.  She interviewed with them a few days after writing the cover letter.  The story is – the letter didn’t help her get in the door BUT the exercise of writing the letter and reviewing it with competent peers helped her interview better and be able to call their door her own.  She brought a new-found confidence and a secure grasp of what set her apart because she did the work and ACTUALLY asked her former supervisors what they thought of her contribution, her skills, her.

Do you refer to your cover letter as killer?  Do you know what sets you apart from your professional peers?  Can you articulate it?  Have you asked your former supervisors that question?   She went in knowing her brand.  Do you know yours …or are you just going in all Brandom (my word)?

Now…go rewrite your mediocre cover letter.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: