Whenever an entry-level gig opens up, she’s soon inundated by applications not only riddled with misspellings and typos, but more terrifyingly, “what appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how to sell oneself to a prospective employer.”
Let’s work on that lack of understanding on how people receive us (what is, in other words, the purest expression of our awesome personal brands. Your Klout score, we can see, gets superceded by the actual interactions that you have with someone who might hire you.
So what does that courting process look like?
It’s all about the cover letter.
Resumes tend to blur together after the seven thousandth or so–the cover letter is your best shot at being singular.
Goldstein, herself a wordsmith, explains why:
Focus on the cover letter. It is not uncommon for me to get 100 applications for one spot, so I’m constantly looking for reasons not to advance a candidate to the interview round. Writing a good cover letter is your best shot at getting noticed. If I hate a cover letter, I won’t even look at the résumé.
And to get noticed, you only need to not be boring.
Don’t sound ridiculously, clumsily stilted.
What’s a guarantee to not being taken seriously? If you take yourself way too seriously: any opener like “With this statement, I declare my interest in the position you have advertised on your website” is to be avoided, Goldstein says; instead, just begin with a conversational yet confident “I’m excited to be writing you to apply…”
Then you can tell them how awesome you are. Like by showing why you’re such a perfect fit.
Show that you’ve done your homework.
If people are applying to Slate, Goldstein says, they should be able to mention favorite writers and articles and brands within the brand. Would-be hires need to show that they know what they’re getting into–and communicate that knowledge to their would-be bosses.
Show that you’ll solve their problem.
You don’t need to be Paul Graham to know that successful companies make stuff that people want–like their problems solved. So, as Goldstein says, applicants need to solve her problem, like hiring a good intern.
The task for the applicant, then, is to make the convincing case that you have the solution: Show that you have the track record to fit the responsibilities and make the life of the person who hired you way easier. This, by the way, is how Google does hiring. So if you can articulate your fit, the search will soon be over.
Hat tip: Slate
[Image: Flickr user Emily]
(Hard copy: sender address and contact info at top. Your address and the date can be left-justified, or centered.)
Your Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Month Day, Year
Mr./Ms./Dr. FirstName LastName
Name of Organization
Street or P.O. Box Address
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. LastName:
Opening paragraph: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself.
2nd paragraph: Tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter). Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. (Focus on what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do for you.) This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume. Refer to the fact that your resume is enclosed. Mention other enclosures if such are required to apply for a position.
3rd paragraph: Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. State what you will do to follow up, such as telephone the employer within two weeks. If you will be in the employer’s location and could offer to schedule a visit, indicate when. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for her/his consideration.
(Your handwritten signature [on hard copy])
Your name typed
(In case of email, your full contact info appears below your printed name [instead of at the top, as for hard copy], and of course there is no handwritten signature)
Enclosure(s) (refers to resume, etc.)
(Note: the contents of your letter might best be arranged into four paragraphs. Consider what you need to say and use good writing style. See the following examples for variations in organization and layout.)