You Call it Paranoia, I Call it Preparedness


I am a huge fan of the show Criminal Minds.  Great show, great cast and great nightmares.  The picture on this blog is my laptop in my office.  You will notice the little smiley face on the top – that is a result of Tobias Hankel. 

There was an episode where the unsub – Tobias – used webcams to choose victims.  Literally watching them through their own webcam without their knowledge.  Kinda creepy.  Given my lack of technical savvy how do I know when I call a help desk there isn’t a Tobias on the other line linking into my webcam?

So I put a smiley face up there.  Take that Tobias! 

Since I am already in the Criminal Mind world, I will just go on to say that I can just see Rossi giving me the look after those last couple statements.  Fans of this show know what I mean, the Rossi look.  The one where after someone says something he gives this look as if to say, “Oooook, you just might be crazy.”

 Crazy – maybe.  Paranoid – maybe.  Aware and prepared – yes.

I like to be prepared.  When my son played sports all through school I had the sports bad.  The contents depended upon the sport and season.  For baseball we had sunscreen, bug bite stuff, granola bars, pencils (I keep the book), water, washcloth in a bag (for dipping in the cooler and place on the back of necks for overheating), sunglasses, gloves, hat and so on.

Someone asked me the other day about cover letters and if they were even necessary.

I have already put it out there according to the Rossi look that I might not be quite right so I will just continue the theme and let it spill that I love cover letters.  Yes, I am a freak, I love cover letters.  I love resumes and networking and LinkedIn – this is why I do what I do. 

Back to point: cover letters.  Yes, they are necessary  They serve a very important purpose: they introduce you to the reader and entice them to want to read your resume.

Sometimes they are read after the resume and sometimes they are not even read at all.  But remember – we are all about being prepared.  I would rather have them and make them great than not have them and need them. 

Way back when before cell phones and all the modern technology we used to do something in the dating world called writing.  We would write “love letters” or “notes”.  These were to entice the object of your affection to gain interest in you and agree to go out with you. Sigh – the good old days.

Today the cover letter is that love letter.  The first date is the resume. 

A cover letter is a wonderful thing because it does not have to follow the constraints of the resume.  You can talk about whatever you want to in the cover letter – anything.  You can mention something from your past that is touched on or not even mentioned in your resume to gain interest or make a point. 

You can spell out directly how you are an exact match to the position.  I have seen cover letters where there are two columns; the first is a list of the job requirements and the second a list of the candidate’s qualifications showing an exact match.  Creative.  Cool.

I had one client who grew up on a farm and in college he was a member of a national championship football team. We used it.  If I remember correctly the sentence went something like, “I understand the value of hard work and being a contributing member of a team having grown up on a farm and as a member of the XYZ college national championship football team…” 

It demonstrated strong qualities that were ingrained in him and also gave a couple unique talking points.

Cover letters can serve as a test, too.  It is expected that there will be incomplete sentences or incorrect sentence structure in a resume.  It is your resume; therefore, it is written from a position of an assumed I.  You do not say I or me in the resume. 

Perfect English and writing style is essential in a cover letter.  The test can be if you proofread your work, as well as your communication skills.  Can you write an effective business communication? 

One of the keys to a good cover letter is to understand your audience and their needs.  Read the position posted and research the company.  Go beyond the home page of their website.  Get a feel for the environment in terms of clients, communication, values, mission and goals.  Get a feel for how they “talk” on the website.  People are drawn to others who are most similar to themselves.  

Stay on task of the task at hand: the job.  Tell them the position for which you are applying, tell them why you are applying and how you qualify.  Then thank them and leave it on a positive note.  Let them know that you look forward to speaking with them and give them your contact information.

Lastly, make sure that your cover letter matches the look and feel of your resume.  The letterhead should match, as should the visual elements of your resume.  

However, I do not recommend using homemade pink stationary as Garcia did. 


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer

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