by Susan Britton Whitcomb, PCC, CCMC, CPCC, CJSS
My colleague Deb Dib recently forwarded me a link to an NPR report that captured the essence of where career communications are heading. The story describes one Birmingham, AL-based company’s solution to resume overwhelm, in which its CEO requires that applicants leave a two-minute voice-mail message describing why they should be hired. Critics called the process one-dimensional and dehumanizing. Others, including me, left more positive comments.
The reality is that employers are inundated with applicants in this job market, and they need some way to cut through the clutter. The two-minute voice-mail pitch is just another shift toward shorter, tighter, value-infused career-communications … which brings me to the title of this article.
We all know that hiring managers are unpredictable when it comes to cover letters. Some religiously read them. Some religiously don’t. Some read cover letters only after a scan of the resume leaves a favorable impression. It’s likely that cover letters aren’t getting read because they are too long, too self-absorbed, too canned, and just too boring.
Enter the 5-point power note, a concept Deb Dib and I are pioneering in the G3 (Get Clear, Get Found, Get Hired!) Coach program we’re teaching. It’s the antidote to “yawn bomb” cover letters. The five points include:
1. Engaging question
2. You, as ROI solution
3. 1-2 proof points
4. Hint of “Why-buy-ROI™” brand
5. Call to action
Here’s an example … see if you can’t spot the five points:
- Is the economy to blame or could a tenacious National Accounts Manager make the difference for you?
In less than 12 months, I’ve already helped a Fortune 100 CPG company land a $10M buy on a new designer water brand and expand the size/value of an underperforming category.
My tenacity and enthusiasm persuaded previously discordant manufacturing, distribution, and internal brand teams to be “on the same page,” while concurrently winning the ear of Wal-Mart buyers for seasonal promotions that helped us exceed our goals by more than 12%.
The initiatives earned applause from my senior VP and were introduced to other Wal-Mart teams to expand their sales by as much as 27%.
Interested? May we talk?
Compare and contrast the style of this 5-point power note to a typical cover letter (see cover-letter samples). At 116 words in length, it’s about one-third or even one-quarter the size of most cover letters (perfect for a short email, in which the reader doesn’t have to scroll excessively to read the entire note). It doesn’t recite or regurgitate information from an accompanying resume. It conveys the one-two power punch of both a value proposition and a compelling personal brand. It’s short on “I’s” and long on the “WIIFM” (What’s In It for Me, from the employer’s perspective). The letter could stand on its own, absent a resume, to get the attention of a hiring manager. It’s easier and faster to write than a traditional cover letter, especially with the five simple steps outlined above. To your success and significance!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Susan Britton Whitcomb is the Career Coach’s Coach. Founder and president of The Academies (including Career Coach Academy, Job Search Academy, and Leadership Coach Academy), she and her team have trained and certified hundreds of career coaches and job search strategists since 2001. She is co-author with Deb Dib of the G3 Program: Get Clear, Get FOUND, Get Hired! Coach program — preparing resumes and more for the mobile marketplace. She is the author of seven careers books, including Resume Magic, Interview Magic, and Job Search Magic (JIST). Learn more about Susan.