As of today I have applied for 35 jobs in the last 2 months. All of these roles have required as per the job advertisement, a cover letter and resume to be attached which I have carefully crafted to illustrate my skills and experience. On average it has probably taken 45-60 minutes per application. Well you want to get it right!
How many of these companies do you think have taken any time to reply? 10! with the exception of one company, have replied by email; computer generated with the obligatory words of insincere thanks for taking the time to apply.
I have reminded myself that there are many people applying for a few jobs, and it is time consuming responding to every applicant. I have also reminded myself of the many times when the shoe was on the other foot and it was me doing the recruiting. I have pondered on my own process and the truth is I have worked for big companies who have HR consultants making the ‘first cut’. This would have meant that computer generated letters were automatically sent out to those candidates the HR consultant thought were not suitable. These were people whose resume’s never got to me. I’m feeling those candidates pain right now!
As a manager hiring new staff you want to get it right, and get the best person for the job. And its jolly time consuming reading a pile of cover letters and CV’s. So after the ‘first cut’ I confess to selecting candidates to interview whose CV’s stood out for being colourful with interesting visual affects, and not always full of mind-blowing content! The bottom line is that until you sit down with someone you can’t possibly make a decision on whether or not they will be a good fit for the role, and or the business. Certainly not by reading a cover letter!
My question is how do I get that opportunity to sit down and truly engage a business if I can’t get my cover letter/resume combo across the line?
My husband sent me an article from Forbes.com by Liz Ryan. She says that “Cover letters Are Dead–Send A Pain Letter, Instead”. Liz’s words resonated with me when she talked about sending a cover letter with a resume into the ‘faceless Black Hole recruiting pit”! I smiled when I thought of the past two months of my job-hunting life. Whats that quote? “Truer words were never spoken”?
So what is this ‘Pain Letter’ and where do I get one I wondered? Apparently a ‘Pain Letter’ is a new-millennium alternative to a cover letter.
According to Liz Ryan, researching the employer is step one. (Although that would step one once you have decided who you want to work for!) Read about the business and figure out what sort of issues you think the organisation is dealing with. Figure Out The Pain You Solve. We all solve some kind of pain Liz says. I am skilled at managing poor performers – for many people this is a task they like to avoid and managers need done. Is this THE Pain I solve? I have other skills that could be ‘Pain’ points. I will put my head into this…but for now lets move on…
When you send a ‘Pain Letter’, you send it directly to your hiring manager. Now this makes sense to me on so many levels…another hint is to start your letter with something about them in a professional light , i.e., perhaps they won an award or the company did. This should interest them enough to read the rest of your letter.
Follow this with your ‘Pain Solution’ – for me it might be “It’s so important to manage the performance of your sales team – especially those not doing so well. When I worked at ABC I was able to increase sales staff performance while keeping the engagement levels high”
Okay, now to close the ‘Pain Letter’. Keep it short and snappy …KISS (Keep it simple silly) comes to mind. An example for me could be “If underperformance of sales people is on your mind, I would love to chat with you at your convenience. Kind regards, “.
With no evidence that Albert actually said this quote! it’s still a good one 🙂 And I for one am going to give the ‘Pain Letter’ a go. I will let you know how it goes.