Author Topic: Cover Letter Quandary  (Read 1777 times)

HipGnosis

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Cover Letter Quandary
« on: August 25, 2016, 05:42:12 PM »
I'm in a predicament.
I need to find a new job (possibly a new career) and need a cover letter for that.

I can't find a cover letter example that covers my situation.
I'm a computer and printer tech.   I've been doing it for 20 yrs.   I've been 'where' I'm at now for 16 years.
I put where in apostrophes because...
It was my dream job.  It was a med-small manufacturing Co. that was pretty high tech.  Over the years, I leaned how to be/do; network support (logical and physical), MS Active Directory support, phone admin., MS Exchange support, ERP support and CRM support.  I threw in some technical writing.
The mix made no two days the same, which I loved.  The boss and I agreed that my main job was juggling priorities.  And we both liked how I did it.
We also agreed that it would be a waste of my time to learn things that I couldn't apply at the job to get certifications.   
It 'was' my dream job - for 14 years...
Two years ago the Co. was sold to a HUGE Corp. conglomerate.   They have teams of highly certified people that do their phone, network, Email, ERP, CRM, etc. admin. 
I'm going to the same place, but my job is totally different now.  I'm doing helpdesk support  for almost all of their locations - via remote connecting to the users computers.
Worse than that, I hate the environment!!  They have no concept of customer service.  They only care about the numbers.  How many service tickets are closed. 
Their training for me for their massive network with hundreds of programs I've never supported is: "you've done this long enough that you should figure it out".
The Corp. growth plan is buying small(ish) Co's, so there are dozens of branches that do things a bit different because they were setup in all different environments - and there's no documentation of the exceptions and/or how they are dealt with.
I eased into their helpdesk, but I've been in it over a year and it's just not working, for me or them.

How do I put this in a cover letter? 

Oh, and there's an extra kicker.
I was in the Air Force for 20 yrs before doing computer support.  I was trained in digital technology, but not PCs.  So I'm old.

meerkat

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2016, 06:22:24 PM »
Cover letters aren't as much about where you've been as where you're going. I like what's called a T-letter format. Take a piece of paper and put a giant T on it - basically two columns. At the top, put the job you're applying for. In one column make bullet points of everything the job ad is looking for. In the other column add stuff from your job history/experience that lines up with that point. If you can add hard numbers, great. It's been a while since I've done this, but you would end up with something like:

-Job requirement: Knowledgeable in Teapot Software.

Then in the other column directly next to this you'd put: Administered 5 Teapot Software servers supporting 300 users, including Black, Green, and Darjeeling tea systems and hot water specialization.

Basically it's a way of saying "You want someone who knows this topic? I know the shit out of this topic!" in a very clear way so whoever is on the other end reading a stack of resumes can quickly see that you're awesome.

meerkat

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2016, 11:06:12 AM »
Cover letters aren't as much about where you've been as where you're going. I like what's called a T-letter format. Take a piece of paper and put a giant T on it - basically two columns. At the top, put the job you're applying for. In one column make bullet points of everything the job ad is looking for. In the other column add stuff from your job history/experience that lines up with that point. If you can add hard numbers, great. It's been a while since I've done this, but you would end up with something like:

-Job requirement: Knowledgeable in Teapot Software.

Then in the other column directly next to this you'd put: Administered 5 Teapot Software servers supporting 300 users, including Black, Green, and Darjeeling tea systems and hot water specialization.

Basically it's a way of saying "You want someone who knows this topic? I know the shit out of this topic!" in a very clear way so whoever is on the other end reading a stack of resumes can quickly see that you're awesome.

I was in a rush last night and forgot one important bit - the resulting T letter is a tool to let you draft a cover letter that's more letter-like, the final product isn't the two lists. So in the above example you'd use it to have something like this in your final product: "I'm looking forward to bring my experience in administering five Teapot Software servers supporting three hundred users to [New Company] and I believe that my knowledge of the Black, Green, and Darjeeling tea systems will contribute to the long term system enhancements."

Also, if you aren't able to match up something you did for every single requirement they ask for, that's okay. As long as you can address most of them and you're able to cover the bulk of what the job would entail that's fine. They never find a candidate who matches 100% of what they're looking.

Lis

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2016, 11:07:38 AM »
-Job requirement: Knowledgeable in Teapot Software.

I've spotted an Ask A Manager fan, haven't I?

Speaking of, HipGnosis, I definitely recommend checking out the Ask A Manager blog (askamanager.org) and you'll find great guides to cover letters, resumes, job hunting, etc.

The trick is to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you're applying to - it's a good idea to have a general outline, but each letter should be unique to the job. Base your letter off of the job description, so if job 1 requires skills in x, y, and z, discuss how your current job helped develop those.

Other things to note:
- assuming you're applying to other small companies, it's fine to mention your current place was bought out by Huge Corp. and you're looking to get back into a small company, but avoid saying things along the lines of "Huge Corp sucks at..." regardless of how true it is.
- Mention the juggling priorities, thinking on your feet, and learning new skills on the go - those are huge pluses!
- I wouldn't necessarily mention the air force in your cover letter unless there's a skill you picked up there that's directly applicable to something in the job description that you didn't learn in your old job (but it definitely goes in your resume!).

meerkat

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2016, 11:16:14 AM »
-Job requirement: Knowledgeable in Teapot Software.

I've spotted an Ask A Manager fan, haven't I?

Indeed! Her stuff is great.

plog

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2016, 11:33:47 AM »
In my experience,  people with brains don't read your cover letter/resume until its been filtered through 2 levels.  The 1st level are computers which scan your submissions for keywords ("A+", "Microsoft Certification", "Perl", etc.).  The 2nd level is HR drones who verify the computer findings and make sure you've never worked for the 3rd Reich.

If you pass those 2 levels then your submissions go to the person who knows about the position and can tell if a resume belongs to a person who is a valid candidate to fill the open position.  So, the key is cramming key words into your resume at the same time writing coherent sentences that will convey to that 3rd person that you can in fact do the job. 

Capsu78

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Re: Cover Letter Quandary
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2016, 06:27:00 PM »
From 30,000 ft (AF analogy)  I believe the cover letter should sound similar to a customized "elevator speech", your resume more of a "where I have been" summary that I can fit on a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 resume grade paper and your Linked In profile written/ content  toward "where I'm going" perspective.