So you have just finished creating the perfect resume and now need an effective cover letter to go with it. Everyone knows that writing a great cover letter for a resume is extremely important. In fact, the entire purpose of the cover letter is to sell your qualifications enough to get you an interview, but there are a lot of little tricks that you can use to increase the chances of the employer actually calling you.
A cover letter is essentially a marketing ad designed to sell your qualifications to an employer. So where can we go to learn more about what works in a marketing advertisement? We actually get an endless stream of highly refined marketing ads sent right to our mailbox. Yes, we can actually learn something from the junk mail that we get every day. A lot of research goes into crafting the messages in junk mail, so why shouldn't we take advantage of some of this research and put it to some good use?
If you take some time and study your junk mail, you will see several things in common. Don't worry, others have studied it for you so you don't have to worry about doing this yourself. One thing you will notice about junk mail is that the vast majority have some sort of postscript (PS) at the end. This is because research has shown that people will more likely read the PS at the end of a letter than any other part of it. Clearly we can apply this technique to a cover letter.
Now that we know that a cover letter should have a postscript at the end, what should we put in it? Again, we can gain some insights on this by looking at marketing ads. Effective marketing ads always tell the reader what action they should take. Many letters are weak on the "call to action" statement. A cover letter should be specific on the action you want the reader to take. So for your letter, you can briefly reiterate your qualifications and politely request that the reader call you for an interview to further discuss employment opportunities. You can also state that you will follow-up in a few days with a phone call. This will demonstrate that you are motivated and on top of things.
There is one other really simple, yet effective thing we can learn from the marketing experts. Studies have shown that a signature signed with blue ink gets more responses from the reader than any other color. So instead of signing your expertly crafted cover letter with whatever pen you have lying around, you should look for your blue pen to maximize the effectiveness of your message.
Imagine on your next vacation you get to try out any dream job anywhere that you want. Charter fishing boat Captain, Surfing Instructor in Hawaii or Underwater Marine Photographer imagine the possibilities. Think about what a great idea this would be to give it a tryout before you leave your current secure employer. After all how will you really know the real truth about your dream job until you give it a go yourself? For a while when I was younger I had the itch to be a Chef in a fine dining restaurant. That was before I took on a job at a restaurant called Bell’s Farm Steak House a local RI favorite while I was going to college at Bryant.
As I worked my first month as a waiter I had a lot of contact with the kitchen. I could see the tremendous pressure the Chef was under to pump out the food. Dishes had to be perfect, hot and look great all at the same time. In addition all the diners would generally come in all at once, so the kitchen would get buried with orders shortly after. If that pressure wasn’t enough, the banquet side of the house used the same kitchen and Chef. While working there I learned the real truth about the late night hours, extreme stress and the hot humid working environment you can’t escape from. That one was crossed off my list fast.
So how could you try out any dream job your heart desires? Simple really use a targeted resume with a professional introduction letter (cover letter) offering your services for free in exchange for a mentoring opportunity from your target. In case that first attempt does not work you can offer to exchange any other valuable services or products that might work. If you are an Artist, you might be able to exchange one of your oil paintings you would normally sell anyway. As a final resort you could always offer money too. You could try doing a little background research on your target and find a passion which might induce cooperation. If your would be mentor is a big golfing fan you could send him a weeks free membership certificate to a great golf course.
Even at my former employer Bell’s Farm Steak house in Smithfield, RI it was fairly routine for our Chef Dave to host future Chef candidates from Johnson & Wales University, a local culinary college.
They simply exchanged their free labor for a two week mentoring opportunity from a superb Chef. It helped keep down labor costs, and the better performers in the program where actually hired on. Wouldn’t it be the same with virtually any other profession? My advice is to take one small step towards living your dream right now and write up a great cover letter. Make an outline first with the ultimate goal in mind. If words are not your forte’ you can always hire a writer. Remember researching your target helps increase your success rate.
By the way, I happen to know this works well since this is exactly how I started my mortgage career way back when. Good Luck!