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9 Cover Letter Secrets That Can Get You Hired!


3/21/2012 3:59:47 PM

9 Cover Letter Secrets That Can Get You Hired! By Skip Freeman, "Headhunter" Hiring Secrets

If you have been in the job hunt any time at all you already know that, if you go through “normal” channels today during your job hunt, e.g., online postings, applications sent directly to Human Resources, etc., chances are, your application will end up in some “black hole” and your efforts will largely be in vain. There is a reason for that, of course. What worked just a few years ago in finding a new job no longer works at all! All the “rules” have changed!

As I point out in ‘Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! (as well as in numerous other places), first and foremost, you must understand that hiring is a game, and like every game, it has its own unique set of rules. To be a winner at this particular “game,” then, you must first learn these rules—many of which have changed dramatically in the last several years!—and then learn how to effectively play by them. You must develop tactics and strategies that will get you where you want to go — to a new job!

One such tactic that can work quite well in today’s job market is the direct mail campaign targeted at decision-makers, i.e., the actual person “feeling the pain” because a critical position is not filled, rather than, say, at the HR department.

Integral to the direct mail campaign targeted at decision-makers is the cover letter used. Let me begin this article by first giving you an example of a cover letter that my executive recruiting firm has used quite effectively with some of our candidates. Then, I’ll examine the NINE essential secrets that went into making this cover letter effective. (You can of course use these same NINE essential secrets to create your own effective cover letter to use in your direct mail campaign to decision-makers.)

March 22, 2012
Mr. Tom Jones
Vice President of Engineering
XYZ Corporation
412 Industrial Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30045
How I can reduce your utility system’s energy costs and ensure that your utility system doesn’t keep you awake at night!

Dear Mr. Jones:

I have a proven track record of:

  • Reducing utility system energy costs
  • Effectively implementing preventive maintenance programs to avoid unexpected downtime

    The utility system of a plant is its “heartbeat.” As an experienced utility engineer, I understand the criticality of:

  • Preventative maintenance
  • No unexpected downtime
  • Reduced energy costs
  • Perform troubleshooting investigations
  • Improving equipment reliability
  • Reduced emissions
  • And no lost time due to health and safety issues

    Mr. Jones, my mission is to ensure that you don’t get a phone call at midnight because something went down due to utilities.

    I will call you on
    Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 8:00 a.m. ET to discuss how I can be of value to you at any of your facilities in the Midwest. If this is not a convenient time, please ask Ms. Roberts to call me and suggest another time.

    Sincerely,

    Skip Freeman

    678-123-4567

    Skip.Freeman@HireToWin.com.

    www.linkedin.com/in/skipfreeman

    P.S. – Please call me today to learn how I reduced energy costs 12% and effluent discharge by 15% over the past year at my current manufacturing facility.

    Now, let’s take a look at the NINE secrets that make this cover letter work:

    Secret #1

    Notice that this cover letter is addressed to a specific person, i.e., the person doing the actually hiring, the person who is “feeling the pain” of not having a critical position filled. It is vital, therefore, that your cover letter also be addressed to a specific person. To learn how to identify that person, see the information at this link: http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/the-linkedin-hack.

    Secret # 2

    Send the letter to the decision-maker via U.S. Certified Mail. It will get delivered! It will get opened! (Do NOT ask for a return receipt.)

    Secret # 3

    Use a “newspaper” headline, such as the one used in the example cover letter above:

    How I can reduce your utility system’s energy costs and ensure that your utility system doesn’t keep you awake at night!


    Other effective headlines that have been used:

    Is your open Sales Manager position in the Southwest keeping you awake at night? (And include a packet of instant Starbucks coffee.)

    I can alleviate your headache caused by your vacant Controller position! (And include a packet of Aleve in the letter.)

    Secret # 4

    Make effective use of bullet points and brand yourself as someone who knows what the job consists of and what you can—and will—do in the position. Clearly define yourself. Don’t make the hiring manager guess at what you can do or what, specifically, you have to offer. Here is how the candidate accomplished that in the example cover letter above:

    The utility system of a plant is its “heartbeat.” As an experienced utility engineer, I understand the criticality of:

  • Preventative maintenance
  • No unexpected downtime
  • Reduced energy costs
  • Reduced emissions
  • And no lost time due to health and safety issues

    Secret # 5

    Get the hiring manager EXCITED and make him/her want to speak to you by branding yourself as someone who understands and empathizes with his/her pain:

    Mr. Jones, my mission is to ensure that you don’t get a phone call at midnight because something went down due to utilities.

    Secret # 6

    Underscore your commitment to seeking the position by telling the hiring manager that you will be calling him/her at a specific time, usually within a week:

    I will call you on Thursday, March 8, 2012, at 8:00 a.m. ET to discuss how I can be of value to you at any of your facilities in the Midwest.

    Remember: In today’s hypercompetitive job market, you must PUTT (pick up the telephone)! And then, you must know what to say when you do make the call (to be covered in my next article).

    Secret # 7

    Include the name of the hiring manager’s administrative assistant. (The letter must go to someone high enough in the organization to have an assistant. These people actively look for talent!) The names of administrative assistants are usually quite easy to get. Simply call the company and ask!

    If this is not a convenient time, please ask Ms. Roberts to call me and suggest another time.

    This adds a personal touch to your letter, and that is very important because it brands you as someone who is professional, courteous and detailed in his/her approach to business.

    Secret # 8

    In your signature block, along with your name, include the following:

  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • LinkedIn profile link

    Secret # 9

    Always include a “P.S.” This is simply “Marketing 101.” Considerable marketing research has shown that eight out of ten people who open a direct mail piece—and yours will be opened if you send it via U. S. Certified Mail — will read the “P.S.” first before reading anything else in the letter!

    P.S. – Please call me today to learn how I reduced energy costs 12% and effluent discharge by 15% over the past year at my current manufacturing facility.

    Other effective P.S.s we have used are:

    P.S. By the way, Jim Treadwell of Cannon Engineering suggested that we speak. (Yes, drop a name if indeed you have been able to get a reference or a referral.)

    P.S. Your article in the February 2012 edition of Engineering News was excellent. I have a question I would love to ask you about it.

    We live in a world today where job changes are going to become a way of life, if they haven’t already. You can no longer afford to be simply a job seeker. Stop thinking of yourself as someone “looking for a job” and start branding yourself as someone who can effect positive business changes in someone else’s world. And that world normally is most likely to be populated by the people who “feel the pain” associated with open positions, i.e., the actual hiring managers. And, while the approach outlined in this article certainly takes more time and effort, using the cover letter tactics I’ve covered in this article can turn your “job search” into a “job FOUND”!

    About the Author

    Skip Freeman is the author of "Headhunter' Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed... Forever!" and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

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