Author Topic: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?  (Read 5914 times)

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
I NEED to get a new job. I've found some good ones to apply for, and I'm qualified. But I'm getting stuck on the cover letter component. I feel quite comfortable in interviews so for me the application is the hardest part.

Tips for how to push past the need for perfection? I need to get 'er done!

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2016, 07:28:42 AM »
I NEED to get a new job. I've found some good ones to apply for, and I'm qualified. But I'm getting stuck on the cover letter component. I feel quite comfortable in interviews so for me the application is the hardest part.

Tips for how to push past the need for perfection? I need to get 'er done!

yakamashii

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 113
  • Location: Japan
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2016, 07:31:21 AM »
Wait until 20 minutes before you have to go somewhere or do something. Bash out something/anything in those 20 minutes. Revisit later, amazed at how much easier the task is because you have _something_ to start from.

hunniebun

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2016, 07:37:03 AM »
Is there a job posting that lists the qualifications?  When writing a cover letter I like to make a table with a list of the qualifications they are looking for on one side and then brainstorm a concrete example of how I meet that qualification on the other side.  Don't make the writing fancy, just think of good examples. Use facts/figures numbers and details to show that you are not making stuff up.  Eg.  Experiencing managing a team - I a certified Project Manager currently responsible for 3 employees. My supervisory duties include blah blah blah.  Once you have brainstormed an example for each qualification, make the writing prettier, eliminate the table format and put those examples in the regular text.  Then try to mesh it into a letter that flows, while still clearly demonstrating your qualifications.   That is just my method but I find it can help getting unstuck.  It is hard to write a cover letter that is just right, with enough detail with out being long winded.  Good luck with the letter and the job hunt!

Axecleaver

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3370
  • Location: New York
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2016, 07:46:43 AM »
Last time I applied for a job, I put together about a dozen different "templates" for cover letters. Many of the jobs had similar asks, so I would tune the cover letter to the job type. A good cover letter is concise, but indicates you've read the ad carefully and understand what the company is really looking for. It's a marketing piece that gets the reader to read the resume.

Over time, I measured which cover letters worked better than other (ie, got calls back on the resumes). Track which cover letters you send to whom, and reuse the template that gets the highest hit rate.

Rule of thumb is that you get an interview for every 10 resumes you send out, and a job offer for every 10 interviews you go on. My personal experience was a lot less interviews, and a lot more success in person - more like 1 in 50 for resumes, and 1 in 2 job offers to interviews. But the success rate is the same - about 1% of the resumes you send result in jobs. If you're getting higher rates, it means you're not applying for hard enough jobs. Push yourself harder and apply to more jobs. If you're doing worse than that, your resume may need tuning, or your interviewing skills need practice.

KMMK

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1472
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
    • Meena Kestirke Insurance
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2016, 07:47:47 AM »
I remember that getting jobs is mostly about timing and number of applicants. If you are reasonably qualified and your cover letter isn't horrible, then it comes down to the first two things and the personality of the interviewer. A cover letter alone won't make or break your prospects in the vast majority of cases. So just write something and send it out.

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2016, 08:10:38 AM »
Thank you for the tip! I think that will work!

Also, I accidentally posted this topic twice. Please continue here: [MOD NOTE: Merged duplicate threads.]
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 10:23:15 AM by arebelspy »

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2016, 08:11:25 AM »
Is there a job posting that lists the qualifications?  When writing a cover letter I like to make a table with a list of the qualifications they are looking for on one side and then brainstorm a concrete example of how I meet that qualification on the other side.  Don't make the writing fancy, just think of good examples. Use facts/figures numbers and details to show that you are not making stuff up.  Eg.  Experiencing managing a team - I a certified Project Manager currently responsible for 3 employees. My supervisory duties include blah blah blah.  Once you have brainstormed an example for each qualification, make the writing prettier, eliminate the table format and put those examples in the regular text.  Then try to mesh it into a letter that flows, while still clearly demonstrating your qualifications.   That is just my method but I find it can help getting unstuck.  It is hard to write a cover letter that is just right, with enough detail with out being long winded.  Good luck with the letter and the job hunt!

I think this type of formulaic approach is just what I need right now. THANK YOU!

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2016, 08:12:25 AM »
Last time I applied for a job, I put together about a dozen different "templates" for cover letters. Many of the jobs had similar asks, so I would tune the cover letter to the job type. A good cover letter is concise, but indicates you've read the ad carefully and understand what the company is really looking for. It's a marketing piece that gets the reader to read the resume.

Over time, I measured which cover letters worked better than other (ie, got calls back on the resumes). Track which cover letters you send to whom, and reuse the template that gets the highest hit rate.

Rule of thumb is that you get an interview for every 10 resumes you send out, and a job offer for every 10 interviews you go on. My personal experience was a lot less interviews, and a lot more success in person - more like 1 in 50 for resumes, and 1 in 2 job offers to interviews. But the success rate is the same - about 1% of the resumes you send result in jobs. If you're getting higher rates, it means you're not applying for hard enough jobs. Push yourself harder and apply to more jobs. If you're doing worse than that, your resume may need tuning, or your interviewing skills need practice.

Very good advice; thank you! I'm in agreement: if I apply for enough jobs, go for enough interviews, change will happen.

bobechs

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1068
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2016, 08:19:07 AM »
I remember that getting jobs is mostly about timing and number of applicants. If you are reasonably qualified and your cover letter isn't horrible, then it comes down to the first two things and the personality of the interviewer. A cover letter alone won't make or break your prospects in the vast majority of cases. So just write something and send it out.

I agree with this.  I can't claim vast experience but one of the observations I can make is that the conventional job search process feeds an illusion of control; if you just use the right magic combination of words in your resume, cover letter or interview it will be like hitting the combination of a safe full of job offers.

Truth is, your qualifications are as good as or worse than the other applicants for the job.  That's a function of what you have done before and who else applies and is not within your direct control.  Just do a competent job of putting yourself forward, of course check your spelling, grammar and text alignment, etc. because there are gatekeepers in the hiring process who over-value such trivia, but don't imagine that one action verb is golden while another is the kiss of death.

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1111
  • Location: Ohio
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2016, 08:38:44 AM »
The job application process is pretty broken, but it is still a necessary evil when you are looking for a change. (I could go on about this for hours)

For your actual cover letter, the template idea is going to work out well. Just take the Job description for a particular position and take out key words to add or change the template. Look online for classic cover letters: 3 paragraphs, 1) hi I'm looking for this job 2) here's where my experience matches your job description 3) here's why I'm an awesome fit so you better interview me.

However, in the grand scheme of things, cover letters are very rarely read anymore and really have no impact outside of the formal process outlined in an applicant tracking system.  You would do much better calling the hiring manager for the position and give your quick 30 second elevator pitch.  Try and set up an "informal" interview, cup of coffee etc.  Leave a voicemail if you have to: name, elevator pitch, I'm applying so look for me, name, contact info. 45-60 seconds tops.  Contact HR as a last resort, they typically won't be much more help than "go apply online."  Having trouble finding the hiring manager?  Run some quick searches on LinkedIn to get names.  Google the company phone number.  If it's a receptionist, ask for said person.  If it's a robot directory, keep hunting for the name. 

Talk to third party recruiters if you get stuck too.  Find a few that you trust and work with them.  Good ones will work in your best interest.   Only 2/3 of jobs ever get publicly posted.  The other ones get filled internally, through referrals, or through recruiters.

TLDR: cover letters are a rarely read necessary evil. Just plug in keywords and call the hiring manager in addition to applying.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2016, 09:18:42 AM »
The job application process is pretty broken, but it is still a necessary evil when you are looking for a change. (I could go on about this for hours)

For your actual cover letter, the template idea is going to work out well. Just take the Job description for a particular position and take out key words to add or change the template. Look online for classic cover letters: 3 paragraphs, 1) hi I'm looking for this job 2) here's where my experience matches your job description 3) here's why I'm an awesome fit so you better interview me.

However, in the grand scheme of things, cover letters are very rarely read anymore and really have no impact outside of the formal process outlined in an applicant tracking system.  You would do much better calling the hiring manager for the position and give your quick 30 second elevator pitch.  Try and set up an "informal" interview, cup of coffee etc.  Leave a voicemail if you have to: name, elevator pitch, I'm applying so look for me, name, contact info. 45-60 seconds tops.  Contact HR as a last resort, they typically won't be much more help than "go apply online."  Having trouble finding the hiring manager?  Run some quick searches on LinkedIn to get names.  Google the company phone number.  If it's a receptionist, ask for said person.  If it's a robot directory, keep hunting for the name. 

Talk to third party recruiters if you get stuck too.  Find a few that you trust and work with them.  Good ones will work in your best interest.   Only 2/3 of jobs ever get publicly posted.  The other ones get filled internally, through referrals, or through recruiters.

TLDR: cover letters are a rarely read necessary evil. Just plug in keywords and call the hiring manager in addition to applying.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

THANK YOU! I plan on talking to the hiring managers, but I was nervous about it and feeling unsure... this just solidifies it for me.

Kaspian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1536
  • Location: Canada
    • My Necronomicon of Badassity
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2016, 10:16:21 AM »
Keep it well-written and SHORT.  Be as concise as possible and edit to the point of drawing blood.  Nobody who hires wants to read more than three short paragraphs.

bridget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2016, 11:06:16 AM »
The job application process is pretty broken, but it is still a necessary evil when you are looking for a change. (I could go on about this for hours)

For your actual cover letter, the template idea is going to work out well. Just take the Job description for a particular position and take out key words to add or change the template. Look online for classic cover letters: 3 paragraphs, 1) hi I'm looking for this job 2) here's where my experience matches your job description 3) here's why I'm an awesome fit so you better interview me.

However, in the grand scheme of things, cover letters are very rarely read anymore and really have no impact outside of the formal process outlined in an applicant tracking system.  You would do much better calling the hiring manager for the position and give your quick 30 second elevator pitch.  Try and set up an "informal" interview, cup of coffee etc.  Leave a voicemail if you have to: name, elevator pitch, I'm applying so look for me, name, contact info. 45-60 seconds tops.  Contact HR as a last resort, they typically won't be much more help than "go apply online."  Having trouble finding the hiring manager?  Run some quick searches on LinkedIn to get names.  Google the company phone number.  If it's a receptionist, ask for said person.  If it's a robot directory, keep hunting for the name. 

Talk to third party recruiters if you get stuck too.  Find a few that you trust and work with them.  Good ones will work in your best interest.   Only 2/3 of jobs ever get publicly posted.  The other ones get filled internally, through referrals, or through recruiters.

TLDR: cover letters are a rarely read necessary evil. Just plug in keywords and call the hiring manager in addition to applying.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

THANK YOU! I plan on talking to the hiring managers, but I was nervous about it and feeling unsure... this just solidifies it for me.

If you're not reading askamanager already, you should be! Her advice is almost always spot on, and she has tons of current experience with actually hiring people. I'm a daily reader and an evangelist. She maintains (with evidence) that after relevant experience and a demonstrable ability to perform the job, cover letters are the MOST IMPORTANT part of getting a job, and are read and scrutinized. Especially if the jobs you are applying to have any component where you need to write well. This is the first writing sample they get - make it count.

She has zillions of posts tagged "cover letters," but I'd start with this one. http://www.askamanager.org/2007/06/what-does-good-cover-letter-look-like_13.html. (Note: use your knowledge of your industry to apply this advice to you. A lot of people in the comments said that the writing style in the example cover letter would be too informal in their industry, and that's also probably true of mine. But the underlying content and enthusiasm will work for all industries).

Furthermore, she would discourage you from directly reaching out to a hiring manager unless you actually have a question about the role that must be answered prior to them calling you for an interview (like, something that would make you withdraw your candidacy), or unless you have some connection to the hiring manager, like an work reference who can introduce you. Otherwise, it will read like you are 1) disconnected from professional norms, 2) are trying to circumvent the process they have set up that is the most helpful for them [people don't ask for cover letters submitted in a particular way just for shits and giggles], 3) aren't very respectful of the hiring manager's time. This type of advice is rampant, and is usually filed under "stuff your parents/people who have been out of the job market a long time say." See also "gumption," "stop by every business in town daily to remind them you are available for work," and "offer to work for free to show your worth." Most of the time, it will be irritating, unwanted, or (in the case of the last one) illegal.

Lanthiriel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 792
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2016, 03:12:31 PM »
I strongly disagree with the idea that no one reads cover letters anymore. I make interview decisions almost entirely off of cover letters. I am in a profession that values writing, though, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I agree that that the three paragraph letter is the way to go. Read the job description carefully, decide on the top 5 things they are looking for, and make sure you're addressing them with concrete examples in those three paragraphs. Then have your most bookish friend read it over for typos. Half the time just sounding literate will get you to the interview.

DebtFreeBy25

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 239
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Appalachian and...tolerating it
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2016, 03:32:40 PM »
Here's my standard format for cover letters:

Dear [Recruiter or Hiring Manager's name if possible]:

I'm excited to apply for the [title] position with [company]. My experience in [key skill 1] and [key skill 2] make me a great match for this role. I currently [describe relevant current position] and previously I worked as [relevant former position]. I'm actively seeking a new opportunity to [do something mentioned in the posting].

Paragraph 1 describes relevant skills and experiences from your current position or another recent gig.

Paragraph 2 briefly describes your directly relevant experience from other positions and/or education.

I hope that you'll contact me with the opportunity to discuss this role and my qualifications in greater detail. You can reach me by phone at [xxx-xxx-xxxx] or via email at [yourname@domain.com]. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]


Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1111
  • Location: Ohio
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2016, 03:50:02 PM »

I strongly disagree with the idea that no one reads cover letters anymore. I make interview decisions almost entirely off of cover letters. I am in a profession that values writing, though, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I agree that that the three paragraph letter is the way to go. Read the job description carefully, decide on the top 5 things they are looking for, and make sure you're addressing them with concrete examples in those three paragraphs. Then have your most bookish friend read it over for typos. Half the time just sounding literate will get you to the interview.

This may absolutely be industry dependent and would be looked at in creative, writing, or other similar roles.

However, in my experience in IT, Finance, Accounting, operations, administrative, medical, and clinical, there has not been a single occasion where a final hiring decision was made based off a cover letter.  This is a data point of more than 1,000 job placements. I can only speak to my own experience, and not the others who I have worked with in my current or past companies. 

Generally, the application, resume, and cover letter are only as good as to get you an interview. Once at that stage, the previous does not matter.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1111
  • Location: Ohio
How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2016, 03:52:12 PM »
The job application process is pretty broken, but it is still a necessary evil when you are looking for a change. (I could go on about this for hours)

For your actual cover letter, the template idea is going to work out well. Just take the Job description for a particular position and take out key words to add or change the template. Look online for classic cover letters: 3 paragraphs, 1) hi I'm looking for this job 2) here's where my experience matches your job description 3) here's why I'm an awesome fit so you better interview me.

However, in the grand scheme of things, cover letters are very rarely read anymore and really have no impact outside of the formal process outlined in an applicant tracking system.  You would do much better calling the hiring manager for the position and give your quick 30 second elevator pitch.  Try and set up an "informal" interview, cup of coffee etc.  Leave a voicemail if you have to: name, elevator pitch, I'm applying so look for me, name, contact info. 45-60 seconds tops.  Contact HR as a last resort, they typically won't be much more help than "go apply online."  Having trouble finding the hiring manager?  Run some quick searches on LinkedIn to get names.  Google the company phone number.  If it's a receptionist, ask for said person.  If it's a robot directory, keep hunting for the name. 

Talk to third party recruiters if you get stuck too.  Find a few that you trust and work with them.  Good ones will work in your best interest.   Only 2/3 of jobs ever get publicly posted.  The other ones get filled internally, through referrals, or through recruiters.

TLDR: cover letters are a rarely read necessary evil. Just plug in keywords and call the hiring manager in addition to applying.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

THANK YOU! I plan on talking to the hiring managers, but I was nervous about it and feeling unsure... this just solidifies it for me.

If you're not reading askamanager already, you should be! Her advice is almost always spot on, and she has tons of current experience with actually hiring people. I'm a daily reader and an evangelist. She maintains (with evidence) that after relevant experience and a demonstrable ability to perform the job, cover letters are the MOST IMPORTANT part of getting a job, and are read and scrutinized. Especially if the jobs you are applying to have any component where you need to write well. This is the first writing sample they get - make it count.

She has zillions of posts tagged "cover letters," but I'd start with this one. http://www.askamanager.org/2007/06/what-does-good-cover-letter-look-like_13.html. (Note: use your knowledge of your industry to apply this advice to you. A lot of people in the comments said that the writing style in the example cover letter would be too informal in their industry, and that's also probably true of mine. But the underlying content and enthusiasm will work for all industries).

Furthermore, she would discourage you from directly reaching out to a hiring manager unless you actually have a question about the role that must be answered prior to them calling you for an interview (like, something that would make you withdraw your candidacy), or unless you have some connection to the hiring manager, like an work reference who can introduce you. Otherwise, it will read like you are 1) disconnected from professional norms, 2) are trying to circumvent the process they have set up that is the most helpful for them [people don't ask for cover letters submitted in a particular way just for shits and giggles], 3) aren't very respectful of the hiring manager's time. This type of advice is rampant, and is usually filed under "stuff your parents/people who have been out of the job market a long time say." See also "gumption," "stop by every business in town daily to remind them you are available for work," and "offer to work for free to show your worth." Most of the time, it will be irritating, unwanted, or (in the case of the last one) illegal.

That advice would be contrary to a 400 billion dollar global industry that would suggest the best way to get a job is to call the manager.

ETA:  the best way is to network and get introduced, but short of that, direct communication works.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 03:56:48 PM by Papa bear »

bridget

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2016, 04:48:13 PM »
The job application process is pretty broken, but it is still a necessary evil when you are looking for a change. (I could go on about this for hours)

For your actual cover letter, the template idea is going to work out well. Just take the Job description for a particular position and take out key words to add or change the template. Look online for classic cover letters: 3 paragraphs, 1) hi I'm looking for this job 2) here's where my experience matches your job description 3) here's why I'm an awesome fit so you better interview me.

However, in the grand scheme of things, cover letters are very rarely read anymore and really have no impact outside of the formal process outlined in an applicant tracking system.  You would do much better calling the hiring manager for the position and give your quick 30 second elevator pitch.  Try and set up an "informal" interview, cup of coffee etc.  Leave a voicemail if you have to: name, elevator pitch, I'm applying so look for me, name, contact info. 45-60 seconds tops.  Contact HR as a last resort, they typically won't be much more help than "go apply online."  Having trouble finding the hiring manager?  Run some quick searches on LinkedIn to get names.  Google the company phone number.  If it's a receptionist, ask for said person.  If it's a robot directory, keep hunting for the name. 

Talk to third party recruiters if you get stuck too.  Find a few that you trust and work with them.  Good ones will work in your best interest.   Only 2/3 of jobs ever get publicly posted.  The other ones get filled internally, through referrals, or through recruiters.

TLDR: cover letters are a rarely read necessary evil. Just plug in keywords and call the hiring manager in addition to applying.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

THANK YOU! I plan on talking to the hiring managers, but I was nervous about it and feeling unsure... this just solidifies it for me.

If you're not reading askamanager already, you should be! Her advice is almost always spot on, and she has tons of current experience with actually hiring people. I'm a daily reader and an evangelist. She maintains (with evidence) that after relevant experience and a demonstrable ability to perform the job, cover letters are the MOST IMPORTANT part of getting a job, and are read and scrutinized. Especially if the jobs you are applying to have any component where you need to write well. This is the first writing sample they get - make it count.

She has zillions of posts tagged "cover letters," but I'd start with this one. http://www.askamanager.org/2007/06/what-does-good-cover-letter-look-like_13.html. (Note: use your knowledge of your industry to apply this advice to you. A lot of people in the comments said that the writing style in the example cover letter would be too informal in their industry, and that's also probably true of mine. But the underlying content and enthusiasm will work for all industries).

Furthermore, she would discourage you from directly reaching out to a hiring manager unless you actually have a question about the role that must be answered prior to them calling you for an interview (like, something that would make you withdraw your candidacy), or unless you have some connection to the hiring manager, like an work reference who can introduce you. Otherwise, it will read like you are 1) disconnected from professional norms, 2) are trying to circumvent the process they have set up that is the most helpful for them [people don't ask for cover letters submitted in a particular way just for shits and giggles], 3) aren't very respectful of the hiring manager's time. This type of advice is rampant, and is usually filed under "stuff your parents/people who have been out of the job market a long time say." See also "gumption," "stop by every business in town daily to remind them you are available for work," and "offer to work for free to show your worth." Most of the time, it will be irritating, unwanted, or (in the case of the last one) illegal.

That advice would be contrary to a 400 billion dollar global industry that would suggest the best way to get a job is to call the manager.

ETA:  the best way is to network and get introduced, but short of that, direct communication works.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

What do you plan to *say* in the phone call, other than what's already in your cover letter? (OP, that's probably a good rule of thumb - what would your pitch be on the phone? That's what you put in the cover letter.) A quick google search suggests that the legal industry within the United States is $400 billion, and most lawyers I know would be kind of irritated to be interrupted by an unsolicited phone call when they had specifically directed applicants to submit a cover letter and resume covering the same information.

backyardfeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Location: Vancouver Island, BC
    • My journal
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2016, 06:13:24 PM »
All kinds of good advice here, even if some of it is contradictory. :)  Partly that's because some of this is industry dependent.  In the people-centred fields I've been in, the cover letter is the opportunity to express a bit of your personality, or voice, that the resume doesn't, and although it wouldn't be the deciding factor of whether you get the job, it's the first screening for the shortlist pile.

Crappy cover letter (in grammar, proofreading, vagueness, generic-ness, etc)= discard application
Good cover letter = look at resume
Strong cover letter = look at resume; if qualifications fit well, into shortlist pile

My only tip to add (the error that I see in university-student rookie attempts; you may be way beyond this!)  is to recognize that your cover letter is an introduction to your resume, and needs to highlight the things that you want the employer to see there.  It's your chance to say: this is how I fit your criteria.  Too many people just use the letter as a kind of personal introduction and then expect the resume to speak for itself. 

All the advice on focusing on your relevant experience, with specific accomplishments and concrete examples is the right way to get beyond that pitfall.  Good luck!

Papa bear

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1111
  • Location: Ohio
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2016, 07:12:24 PM »
The breakdown in the application process has to do with company applicant tracking systems.  There are usually hundreds of applicants for positions and HR/recruiters do not physically look through each.  There are a set of keywords that get searched that are pre-built by these ATS's.  They aren't usually industry specific and thus don't have up to date criteria to search for. 

As the process continues, the recruiter tends to scan a resume in 20 or so seconds to determine if a person is a "good fit."  (Remember, these are HR professionals that aren't experts in all the technical aspects of jobs)  if the recruiter likes the resume, maybe they look at the cover letter, maybe they get a phone interview.  Maybe.  Then with some luck, the manager might see your profile. Basically, the chance that your application ever sees the right people is terribly low.

If you do contact the manager directly, you are now ahead of the 600 other people who applied.

Here's an example:

Hi manager, this is candidate and I'm calling about the open position. I have been searching for something like this, as I have x years of experience in jobs. I'd like to sit and talk with you about the position and see if it's something where my skills could help you and your team. Are you available for a cup of coffee near your office before work at "pick date/location". 

Even if you just leave a voicemail, the manager has heard your name. Much better than having your resume end up in a black hole.

The 400billion global industry is staffing and recruiting.  They are trained to call and sell candidate profiles to every industry that has ever existed in much the same way described above.  There is no industry immune. Lawyers, IT, writers, baristas, labor, and even mascots.  Yes there is a staffing/recruiting firm for mascots.  Need a Tony the Tiger?  They'll get you the guy. 

And to date, despite all the technology and social media and job sites and software that exist to make the hiring process easier, staffing/recruiting continues to grow while using some of the same techniques for the past 30 years.  Silly that all these companies pay firms to recruit for them when they have all this fancy technology.

Phew... Off my soapbox. 




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2016, 09:29:19 PM »
Well everyone, a great big THANK YOU from me. Time and time again, I marvel at what a supportive, intelligent, and creative community I have found here. You have bolstered me up with your kind words and practical suggestions. I CAN DO THIS.

Because I am applying for the public library world, I may experiment with the hassling of staff - I mean, contacting the hiring supervisors. I'll let you know how that goes.

I will post back here when I get my new job. THANKS!!!!!!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 10:13:21 PM by lifejoy »

Moustachienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 317
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2016, 11:37:59 PM »
Dropping by to strongly discourage you from hassling the hiring manager.
Strongly encouraging you to follow the AskAManager advice on this.
Library hiring is often done by panel, may be unionized.  Always
committed to following described protocol.  If you show you
don't respect the process, you'll be seen as naive at best, disrespect ful
at worst.

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3963
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2016, 11:49:40 AM »

Dropping by to strongly discourage you from hassling the hiring manager.
Strongly encouraging you to follow the AskAManager advice on this.
Library hiring is often done by panel, may be unionized.  Always
committed to following described protocol.  If you show you
don't respect the process, you'll be seen as naive at best, disrespect ful
at worst.

Thoughts on me dropping by the small community library that is out of town (I've never been there) and hello? I'm wondering if that could possibly be shown as taking initiative and putting a face to a name?

backyardfeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Location: Vancouver Island, BC
    • My journal
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2016, 08:29:34 PM »
Quote
Library hiring is often done by panel, may be unionized.  Always
committed to following described protocol. 

Long time library (small town and city) worker here.  It's true that the hiring and promotion is often unionized and heavily structured, however that only applies if you're an internal applicant.  If there are internal applicants, they will often have a guaranteed interview and first dibs at the job.  Once inside, the hiring process is very regulated.  However, as an external applicant I would absolutely go and drop off your resume in person and chat to the managers.  The part that can be very susceptible to first impressions, active interest, and networking is whose application makes it to the top of the pile and to an interview.

As you already know, Lifejoy, library staff are often wonderful people, and (hopefully) people-people who would love to put a face to the name.  I vote go for it!

Moustachienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 317
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2016, 09:31:58 PM »
Quote
Library hiring is often done by panel, may be unionized.  Always
committed to following described protocol. 

Long time library (small town and city) worker here.  It's true that the hiring and promotion is often unionized and heavily structured, however that only applies if you're an internal applicant.  If there are internal applicants, they will often have a guaranteed interview and first dibs at the job.  Once inside, the hiring process is very regulated.  However, as an external applicant I would absolutely go and drop off your resume in person and chat to the managers.  The part that can be very susceptible to first impressions, active interest, and networking is whose application makes it to the top of the pile and to an interview.

As you already know, Lifejoy, library staff are often wonderful people, and (hopefully) people-people who would love to put a face to the name.  I vote go for it!

Okay, I'll agree that small town norms might be a bit more relaxed.  Know your context is always a good thing.  :).  In big city contexts, the drop off isn't a good approach.  In my library,  we only accept applications via email and in the e-format specified, and I think that's quite common in many workplaces.   Good luck with your search!

Edited to straighten out my use of the block quote!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 09:38:07 PM by Moustachienne »

warmastoast

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 127
  • Location: Austin Tx
Re: How do you give yourself a push when stuck in the cover letter stage?
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2016, 09:47:58 PM »
almost every job application for me involves submitting an online resume into some database or other..  use Jobscan to match your keywords to those for the job being advertised.

Linkedin has been good for me too.  Again keywords.

Good luck!