I literally said this to someone at the gym the other morning.
Perhaps not the way I would normally respond, but give me a break, it was early. Chief somehow gets us to the gym in the ungodly hour of 5 am so I wake up sometime around 6ish on a treadmill.
The guys at the gym know what I do. Not that they asked me. They asked Chief. It’s the southern manners, they often talk to the man instead of the woman.
It’s very interesting, especially for someone not from the south. The closest I get to being a Southern Belle is Carol Burnett’s Scarlette.
On this day, Chief was out of town so it was just me. Somehow, a couple of the guys were talking about early retirement, changing jobs, job searching – you know, stuff up my alley. Then I hear one tell the other that it’s good for him to keep his resume updated all the time (true) but not to worry about a Cover Letter, they’re dead.
Now boys, I appreciate the southern charm, I really do. However, that advise is as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. And you’re fixin’ to get me riled up.
Too late, riling happened. I had to interject. Because, you know, this is what I do….
Now if you think a couple of good ol’ boys are going to believe a girl who’s just about knee-high to a duck just because she said so well then you’ve only got one oar in the water.
So after the above mentioned “No, I’m not kidding” I did convince them (and educate a little) with some Q&A:
Q: What if you saw a position posted and they asked for a cover letter? Oh, well yeah…
A: That’s right, you would have to write a Traditional Cover Letter, which targets a specific job in a company.
Q: What if you were referred to send your resume to someone in the company? Uh, the same thing?
A: Just about, just a tiny technicality in calling it a Referral Cover Letter which mentions the person who referred you.
Q: Now, what if you wanted to be proactive in your job search and reach out to a company, companies in an industry or an entire region to discover a position that isn’t even posted yet, create enough interest that one is created for you or make such an impression that they refer you to a hidden opportunity – meaning hardly any competition? You can do that?
A: You betcha! It’s called a Value Proposition Letter, which is a crisp, focused letter demonstrating your value. There are versions to this, with minor differences:
– A letter of interest – written without a specific job in mind to a specific company.
– A broadcast letter – written without a specific job to several employers in a targeted sector.
– A prospecting letter – without a specific job to a smaller, more targeted audience.
Q: Okay, lastly, what if you wanted to do something new but didn’t know anything about it so you wanted to reach out to someone to get their advice on how to get into their industry, find out more about what the position is like or even what else you can do once you get into it? I don’t know
A: Another letter – or email – but this time it’s a Networking Letter. You’re basically asking for an Informational Interview to get their advice or gather information about a position, industry or your job search.
My good deed and workout were done for the day.
Oh, and don’t think these things are just thrown together haphazardly. Oh no, each letter is thoroughly researched, targeted and meticulously crafted for the most impact. The most impactful and successful Value Proposition Letters are no more than 150 words – total!
Some hiring managers and recruiters may take the side of the gym boys saying the Cover Letter is dead. It may be in their eyes. But not for everyone.
I know many decision makers across multiple industries that do read the Cover Letters. Some read it before the resume and use it as a deciding factor if they want to read the resume. Some read after the resume as a test to make sure the person sounds the same in both.
Across our industry, it is generally accepted that on the low end, at least 60% of jobs are hidden – meaning they aren’t advertised. Think about it for a minute, how often do you hear or know of when a position needs to be filled, internally you hear those four little words, “do you know anyone…”?
This is why networking and hidden job market strategy using Value Proposition Letters are so amazing. They get results.
Every piece of communication is an opportunity for you to expand your network, cement your brand and open doors. Why would you turn that down? The person on the other side of the desk can choose not to read that letter, but wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it?
Of course, I guess if someone doesn’t want to make the most of every possible opportunity, they have their reasons, bless their little heart.
Has one of these letters been successful for you? Bonus question – I had a lot of fun with the southern sayings in this – I think “bless their heart” is still my favorite. What’s your favorite or one that you don’ hear anymore?
As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals break out of a suffocating corporate existence and get happy in their career.
I’m the career alchemist – I turn job lead into career gold!
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