Most people looking for jobs spend endless hours and agonies over their cover letter and, unfortunately, it is probably the least read document in the whole job search process. Obviously, you can’t send out a resume without one, it would look naked, but don’t rely on it to get you the interview.
There is, however, one kind of cover letter that gets the attention of most people, even those that get countless resumes and cover letters every day. This is what is commonly known as a T letter because there is a T-shaped margin through the middle of the page.
It has 3 components: an introductory paragraph, a requirements and qualifications table, and a concluding paragraph. Let’s take each element separately.
1. Introductory paragraph. This is where you indicate to position you are applying for and where it was advertised. You then finish with a statement somewhat like this: “In response to your advertisement, I offer the following qualifications:”
2. The requirements and qualifications table is just that – a table (without the lines) that you insert. Make it a 2 column table with as many rows as the requirements listed in the ad. The left hand column will be headed YOUR REQUIREMENTS and the right hand column MY QUALIFICATIONS.
In the YOUR REQUIREMENTS column you will break apart the ad (or job description) and list each requirement as a separate item. For instance if this was the ad: “Currently seeking a Business Development Manager to concentrate on marketing and selling one of its largest and most profitable contract staffing divisions based in the metro area. This role is extremely entrepreneurial in nature and includes business development, client management, and deal management. The ideal candidate is driven to succeed and demonstrates a strong work ethic.” The YOUR REQUIREMENTS column would probably include these 6 separate bullets: marketing and selling staffing, entrepreneurial, business development, client management, deal management, strong work ethic.
In the MY QUALIFICATIONS column you address each requirement item and detail your successes in that area. For example, in answer to the business development requirement, you might say: “15 years experience in business development in both the public and private sectors. Have identified and won 20 contracts ranging in value from $500,000 to $78 million. Have on-going relationships with all clients”. Obviously, the qualifications column is going to be very full while the requirements column will have lots of white space.
Want to look for a new opportunity but can’t figure out what the first step is? You’re applying for openings and getting no response. You feel like the Internet is a black hole that is eating your resumes. You’re getting less action from your network than you anticipate. You have no problem getting the interview, but you’re not getting the job. Maybe you’re always coming in second.
The executive job search process is a marketing project with definite steps to take – like any other project – and with a single product to market – you! If you adhere to the principles of marketing and follow the steps of the career marketing project outlined here, better results will come faster and more reliably.
Most of us learned to look for a job as a teenager (or an early 20-something) when any job looked good – and many were available in that entry level job market. Job search at mid-career and in executive levels is a completely different process and, while it does work, it also is work and the appropriate steps need to be taken in the proper order.
Here is a Six-Step approach that’s proven to work
· First, identify the PRODUCT – you and what you bring to the marketplace and where you really want to be. Once you have identified this, you need to identify those attributes and experiences that make you different.
· Second, create your PRESENTATION – this includes your communications strategy — both spoken and written communication about yourself. This consists of your self-presentation or elevator speech, your resume and your marketing plan.
· Third, Prepare the PACKAGING – both how you are going to look the part through your dress and the non-verbal signals you send that indicate your ability as well as your professionalism. The more expensive you look, the more money you can ask for and get. The more executive you act, the more seriously you will be taken.
· Fourth, identify the (MARKET)PLACE- your target market (by profession and/or industry) and specific target organizations within that market and how you are going to reach them (working your network, tips on new ways of reaching new people, the secrets of strategic positioning).
· Fifth, negotiate the PRICE – the fine art of getting to win-win in the compensation game and what elements are included in compensation. Since you are setting up the way you will be perceived as you join this new company, creating a win-win scenario is especially important.
· Sixth, POSITION yourself for future success by your actions and accomplishments in the first 30 – 60 days in the new position. This is the time during which you will setup your success in this new position and much of the way you will be perceived throughout your stay in that organization will be determined then.
Different parts of this process may take a while, others will be very short — regardless this is the best possible way to your next opportunity.