I've written before that your job search is really a marketing campaign, designed to identify, qualify and contact prospects (companies you want to work for), meet decision makers (people who can hire you) and sell them (convince them to hire you).
Today I'm going to ... write about that topic again. Because there's an almost limitless number of marketing ideas you can "steal" and adapt to your job search.
Here are four ...
1) Write Sales Letters, Not Cover Letters
Why imitate the same dull-as-dishwater cover letters most job seekers send out?
To write a better cover letter, emulate the best sales letters. After all, you're trying to sell an employer on the idea of hiring you, right?
You can Google "writing sales letters" or visit your library to learn how, but here's a quick list of the essential elements in every sales letter:
Personalized opening. Example: "Dear Mr. Jackson." Never, ever write: "Dear Sir or Madam."
Reader-focused. All good sales letters are written about "you," the reader, and not, "I," the author. If you change all instances of "I" to "you" in your cover letter, you'll instantly make it more interesting and effective.
Prove your claims with specific facts, numbers and dollars. Self-explanatory.
Ask for the sale. Example: "Please call me today to learn how I can save you $42,000 or more as a customer service manager." Or, say you'll follow up your cover letter with a phone call -- just make sure that you do!
2) Treat Your Voicemails as Radio Spots
Here's a great marketing idea I got from Internet radio host and producer, Martin Wales. It's this -- think of your voicemail messages as 30-second radio commercials. That means you should script and rehearse every voicemail you leave for employers.
While other job seekers leave rambling, unplanned, unprofessional messages, you'll give employers one more reason to hire you. How simple is that?
Try to leave tantalizing messages that practically force hiring managers to call you back. Example: "Hi, this is Steve Jones. I just wanted to make sure you received the resume and cover letter I emailed you on Monday for your accounting position. I thought you might want to discuss the part where I saved $27,000 last year for a firm just like yours. If so, please give me a call at 702-555-1212. Thank you!"
3) Networking a Little Better Can Mean a Lot
According to the book, "1001 Ways to Market Your Services," a study by Stanford University showed that a small increase in the size of your network can greatly increase your odds of reaching the right person.
How much? Just a 10% increase in the number of high-quality contacts can double your results, according to the study.
What does this mean for your job search? If you've been networking and not connecting with decision makers who can hire you, try to add just 10% more qualified people to your network. You can do this!
4) "Sell" to Past "Customers"
Most businesses spend most of their marketing efforts attracting new buyers ... while neglecting past customers who already know and trust them, and would likely buy again -- if only they were asked.
Similarly, most job seekers get so caught up in looking for positions at new employers that they neglect the co-workers and managers who already know and trust them.
Are you committing this same boo-boo? If so, here's how to fix it and produce more job leads.
Make a list of every co-worker and manager you have ever had, going back to high school. Now, cross off the ones you can't stand. Then, call or email each of the remaining people to let them know about your job search. If somebody has moved on to a new company, rejoice! You can not only contact them at their new employer, you can also introduce yourself to their replacement at the old employer -- turning one contact into two.
You should be able to pick and use at least one of these marketing ideas for your job search, starting today. Why not start now?
Resource: You can learn more about Guerrilla Resumes
, which may get you hired in 30 days - or less.
Does your resume go better with a cover letter? Some people say no, because nobody reads them. I agree to a point. Not all recruiters read resume cover letters. But I think many recruiters don’t because so many they see are a bit “blah blah blah.”
That’s when the resume cover letter says nothing new or exciting, nor does it say anything about why the candidate wants the job. In a sea of such banality, one way to make your resume cover letter stand out, is just to do a good one. You can do more than that, though. Here are 10 rules to help you.
Cover Letter Rule # 1.
Do your research, part 1.
Even if the job is advertised through a recruitment consultant you can still do your research. Call them and connect with them. They will probably not give you their client’s name but they may give you an outline of the challenges of the role as they see them. Your resume cover letter becomes far more engaging if you can tell the recruiter how they’ve inspired you to want to take this opportunity further.
Cover Letter Rule # 2.
Do your research, part 2.
If you know who the company is, then there is no excuse for not looking up the website, doing a thorough google and reading the linked in profile of their company executives. And that’s just as a start.
The aim of this research is for you to find some compelling reasons to want to work for that organisation and some ways that you can add value. So many people forget to say this on their cover letters.
Cover Letter Rule # 3.
You cover letter should clearly show you have read the job advertisement. The way you do this is to pick the key criteria in the advertisement and point out how you meet this in your letter.
Also use key words from the advertisement, throughout your resume cover letter. That way it has a better chance of being picked up in screening software.
Cover Letter Rule # 4.
Try to keep your cover letter to one page and three or four paragraphs.
The only real exception to this rule is if you are asked to respond to an “expression of interest.” An expression of interest is a mini government selection criteria where you outline how you meet job criteria. Then your letter may run to two to three pages.
Cover Letter Rule # 5.
Don’t be boring. Try to keep your own voice.
Cover Letter Rule # 6.
Keep a logical format. I use “hook,” “book,” and “took.”
“hook” :- specific and memorable reasons as to why you want the role
“book” :- a coherent argument as to why you should be hired
“took” :- what you want to happen as a result of an employer reading your letter
Cover Letter Rule # 7.
Be personal. If you have someone’s name use it. Ideally a cover letter should start with a title Ms, Mr or Mrs.
The exception to this is when informality is invited. A first name is more acceptable in an informal email, perhaps if you already have had a conversation with the contact person.
Cover Letter Rule # 8.
Type it. This sounds so basic. But I have to say this next bit because I have been asked this question.
An application in writing generally means typed.
Cover Letter Rule # 9.
Plain white paper please. Pretty pink perfumed pages or something similar are never a good idea. Your letter will be unique, but for the wrong reasons.
Cover Letter Rule # 10.
OK I’ve crammed a few things here into one rule. A cover letter should not be:
- a repeat of your resume
- a standard letter that you send out to everyone
- hard to read
- full of spelling and grammar mistakes
Related: How To Make Your Cover Letter Grab the Employer's Attention
Karalyn Brown is a resume, interview and job search consultant based in Australia. She’s also an online careers agony aunty, writes frequently on career issues for a major Australian newspaper and talks job search tactics on the national broadcaster. She gets a real buzz out of helping people find jobs. You can visit her blog @InterviewIQ
In my first post, I talked about the importance of feeling employers’ pain – knowing your audience is a crucial first step to writing a resume that really works.
Now we’re going to move on to the second step – knowing exactly how you can address that pain.
What’s Your Value Proposition?
We’ve all been asked that old interview question: ‘why should I hire you?’ Most people dread it, but actually, knowing the answer to that question is central to succeeding with your resume (and your job search).
You already know what employers are looking for. Now you have to figure out what you have to offer (bonus points if you figured out that step #3 in this series will be matching the two!)
In my e-course, ‘The DIY Guide to Writing A Killer Resume
’, I take readers through a step-by-step process for pinpointing a clear and compelling value proposition. I can’t go into that much detail here, because the post would go on too long, but here are some pointers.
Questions to ask yourself
• Ask yourself how you have added value in past positions?
• Look for common themes running through your career (are you the person who always comes in to clean up a mess? Or maybe you’re the guy who always sees a better way to do things.)
• Ask co-workers or former managers how they would describe you.
• Look back over old performance reviews or reference letters and look for common themes.
Put it all together
Once you have identified your value proposition, try to formulate it into a concise sentence or two.
For example, my value proposition is:
“I use my HR and recruitment experience, combined with my writing skills and knowledge of marketing, to write resumes and online profiles that grab the attention of recruiters. And because I have a background in training and development, I’m able to write engaging, easy-to-follow courses that teach others how to do the same.”
Think like a marketer
Good marketers never try to sell a product without knowing its unique value proposition first. The exact same rule applies to job search.
Because once you know what makes you different and valuable, you can start figuring out how to match your skills with the needs of potential employers and that’s where the resume magic happens!
If a recruiter opens your resume email and sees exactly what his client is looking for, you will get the interview – every time. If you’re not getting interviews now, it’s because that match isn’t clear enough.
So in my next ‘how to write a resume’ post, I’ll talk about how you can marry your knowledge of your target audience with your value proposition to create a resume that recruiters can’t resist - be sure to stay tuned!
The DIY Guide to Writing a Killer Resume”, Louise teaches her complete resume writing system from start-to-finish, and makes it easy to get great results!
Most entrepreneurs will tell you that the #1 rule for succeeding in business is, "Find a need and fill it."
But you don't have to be an entrepreneur to benefit from this advice.
The "Find a need and fill it" approach will help you write better resumes and cover letters, and it will help you ace your next job interview, too.
This method has two steps. Here they are ...
1. Research and find employer's needs.
First, create a shortlist of companies you want to work for. This is where many job seekers blow it. On the first day of their unemployment, most people open the classified ads or visit their favorite employment Web site and start looking for jobs. Wrong. It's better to look for companies first, and jobs second.
Think about it. If you catch on with the right employer, even if it's in the wrong job, you can find room to move up or sideways into a position that's best for you. You and they will be motivated to find the right fit.
By contrast, if you take what looks like a good job at a company with dysfunctional co-workers, customers or both, you'll likely quit in short order. And you'll be back where you started.
So, start your search by making a list of 10-25 ideal employers and then look for positions within that relatively small universe.
Once you have this list of target companies, research to uncover needs you can fill. What are their biggest problems? Opportunities? Dangers?
Find this information by tapping your network of personal and professional contacts. A good tool for this is Zoominfo
. Each of these websites is free.
Google Alerts are good, too. Use this free service to be notified by email any time your target company is in the news (Google.com/alerts
2. Explain how you can deliver, based on skills and value.
After you find what employers want, tell them how you'll deliver. This requires you to "know thyself." Specifically, what are your three most valuable skills? Example skills: marketing, customer service and writing.
Then, quantify the value of your skills: How much money have you made or saved for employers? Think long and hard on this one.
Let's say one of your skills is customer service. To quantify its value, think back on your work history until you find a success story. Example: You solved a problem and kept an irate customer from going to a competitor in 2006. That customer brought in $245,000 in annual revenue. By retaining that account, you saved $245,000 for your employer -- this is the value of your customer service skills.
The total value of your skills may be higher or lower, but you'll never know until you add up all the numbers. Think and ye shall find.
OK. You know your skills and have found at least one success story with dollars attached.
Now, you need to match your skills to employers' needs. Example: Let's say your research shows that your target employer, Acme Widgets, wants to open new markets and increase revenue.
How will you tell the folks at Acme how your skills match their needs? Usually, you'll get two chances: in the cover letter and the job interview.
Let's start with your cover letter. You will get an employer's attention -- and more interviews - when you prove that you know their needs and how to fill them.
Example cover letter language: "From what I've read in Minnesota Business Monthly and the interviews I've done with your employees, I understand that Acme Widgets is expanding to Italy. My knowledge of Italian, coupled with my five years of experience producing up to $710,250 in new revenue for widgets such as yours, can help me make an impact for you."
In the interview, you should flat out ask, "Why are you bringing on a new person? What's the one thing you want this new employee to do more than anything else?"
If the hiring manager gives you an answer, reply with a match to your skills and value. Example: They want someone to retain key accounts. You reply that you've saved up to $245,000 by doing that very thing last year.
If the hiring manager can't say exactly what they want the new employee to do most, great! Simply walk them through a series of questions to uncover their needs. Is it cost savings? Higher revenue? Fewer mistakes in filling orders? What exactly?
When you agree on their main need, match it with one of your skills and success stories. At this point, you will be leading that hiring manager by the nose ... directly to a job offer.
Now go and do your homework
You must uncover specific needs at your target employer. You must know your three most-valuable skills. You must assign a specific value to each skill, based on success stories. Finally, you must think on your feet so you can match your skills to employers' needs in an interview.
It boils down to this. You can either invest a few hours of work this week to discover the needs of employers and communicate how you can fill them, or you can face a frustrating, financially crippling job search that lasts for months.
Which would you prefer?
Resource: You can learn about Guerrilla Resumes
, which may get you hired in 30 days - or less.