|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best-Seller
35 Years in
CBS MoneyWatch recently interviewed me about cover letters, specifically:
· What to do when you don’t know a hiring manager’s name
· How to get your point across
· How to sign off
These are three serious challenges that require considered solutions:
Communicate with Decision-Makers
Cover letters are most effective when they go to someone by name, and when that someone is involved in the hiring cycle. Consequently, you get the best results when you target people holding job titles one, two, and three levels above your own, because these are the people most likely to be involved in the hiring cycle or most likely to know the other people who are. Here are four tactics to find the people that carry these high-value titles:
* Search LinkedIn for people holding these job titles at your target company.
* Search LinkedIn for people who work at the target company and might be able to give you names and introductions.
* Search LinkedIn for people who used to work at the target company and who still might give you names and introductions.
* Go to www.jigsaw.com and search for the above titles; you pay $1 each for name and available contact information, should they have who you’re looking for.
How to Get Your Point Across
The goal of your job search each day is to get into conversation with the people who can hire you, just as fast and as often as you can, because nothing happens without dialogue. Cover letters—e-mailed with a resume attachment or sent via traditional mail—are one of the tools you use to make those conversations happen.
Your cover letter needs to be short (one page or screen view) and convey the maximum of information in a minimum of space. You want to establish a connection with the recipient/company, offer a compelling reason to start a conversation, and end with a call-to-action that gets you to the next step.
The first paragraph. If you have a job posting to work with, identify your message by the posting’s code and the location where you saw it. You can do this wither in the subject line of the e-mail or in the body copy above the salutation, for example: “Opening 17830-5671 Accountant” . Open the letter or email by making a connection with the company or the recipient. You can visit the company website and do a Google search, followed by Google Media, Blog, Web, and Discussion searches. You make points when you open an e-mail with: “I’ve been meaning to write to you since I saw your post on that _____ blog last month.” Or, “Your colleague Jan Overhold suggested we should talk…”
The second paragraph. Identify your skills and experience as they relate to the job’s most critical requirements: “I have a B.S. in Accounting and six years’ experience with A/R, A/P, and P&L statements.” Then address your ability to deal with the job’s problems. At its heart, every job is concerned with identifying potential problems, solving them, or better yet, preventing them from arising. For example, you might say, “I have reduced post 30–day receivables by 45% and have 0% post 60–day receivables.”
How to Sign Off
In the third and final paragraph, say you’d like to talk. “I am interested in making a move and would welcome the opportunity to talk with you about [for example] “problem prevention and solution in accounts receivable.”
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