Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cover Letter Suggestion (Make it a Love Letter)

In working with one of my career coaching clients on their cover letter, I made the analogy that a cover letter is like an early-stage love letter (back in the day when I presume they were more common).

The objective of both a cover letter and a love letter is to communicate similar points:
  1. You're interested in them and want them to consider you as a candidate
  2. You have a lot to offer and would be a good match
  3. They should contact you for a date/interview to learn more
While I've never created a cover letter this way before, it would be an interesting and creative approach to the dreaded task of writing a cover letter. Here's the format:

Quick introduction -
  • We met at John's party on Friday night and your bright orange top caught my eye. / I saw your posting on and have heard great things about your company.
Why you're interested -
  • You seemed like a very interesting and fun person to get to know better. / From what I've read about Acme, you're working with some interesting cutting edge technologies.
Your strengths, accomplishments, and your unique value compared to other candidates (emphasis should be on the things that will appeal most to them) -
  • I'm an accomplished road-biker, financially and emotionally stable, loyal, caring, supportive, and have been promoted twice in the last year in a prestigious consulting firm. / I'm exceptionally good at researching complex problems, working in teams, and staying on-task (last year, as Project Manager, my 5 primary projects came in early and under budget).
Flatter them by sharing what you think makes them special -
  • Your smile is like a breath of spring, your voice is soft like summer rain./ Your CEO is a thought-leader, your client list is impressive, and your e-commerce strategy is second to none.
Explain why you'd be a good match -
  • It seems like we share a common interest in athletic activities and would have fun together. / I concentrated in nanotech during undergrad and am a strong proponent in using it in the health sector.
Why you'd make their life better -
  • I will make you laugh every day. / I will make your clients happy through exceptional project management.
Show them you're passionate and serious about them; ask for what you want -
  • I have always been attracted to independent and dynamic women and I would love for you to accompany me to the next cotillion. / Ever since I was young, I've wanted to use technology to help people; I share Acme's vision and would be motivated to be a member of your team.
Remember to steer away from controversial or sensitive information up front and make sure they know how to get in touch with you.

Also, since they're a great prospect (naturally, you treat every one as a great prospect), and you're persistent, you should mention that you look forward to hearing from them and will be following up in a week if you haven't heard from them.

This love letter approach just might work... Oh, New Job, New Job, wherefore art thou, New Job?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Practice and Hard Work

This quote was originally said by Ed Macauley, basketball player from the St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks) and it was what inspired Bill Bradley to practice more than almost anyone else in the league at the time.

"When you're not practicing, someone somewhere is. And when the two of you meet, given roughly equal ability, he will win."

The idea of practicing/working hard is important not just in sports, but in any endeavor in which you want to excel. In the context of work, your career, or your hobby, if you want to succeed you have to be willing to put in the extra effort to beat out your opposition.

Maybe it's skipping happy hour to stay late and catch up on a project, maybe it's going the extra mile for a client or boss, or maybe it's going to a coffeeshop every night to study instead of watching TV. You're putting yourself in the best position to succeed when it counts.

I know that personally, the thought that someone else might win ("And when the two of you meet, given roughly equal ability, he will win") makes me even more determined to do the work needed. I don't want to lose because of lack of effort.

This hard work adds up and pays off down the road when you're the one picked to lead the project, when you get a promotion, when your piece was chosen, when your business takes off, or when you land the coveted job or position everyone else was hoping for. Remember if you don't want to be great, someone else does and is making it happen everyday - edging you out.

When you feel yourself getting lazy, think again about the quote. Now, get out there and put in the hard work.