In my class, I assigned students to submit a resume, hypothetical cover letter and accompanying job ad. I thought this would be an easy assignment and way for me to get to know the students but it turned into a larger lesson on communication.
I see a resume and cover letter as a microcosm of the communication process as a whole. These documents must be accurate, compelling and succinct. They must bring the content to life in a way that is meaningful for the audience, not the writer and, like most messages, they need to inspire action. Hiring and interviewing are key managerial skills and I believe the students need to role model in that area by having a resume, letter and LinkedIn profile that conveys their strengths and uniquenesses. Let’s just say that I was underwhelmed with what I received.
So, we spent a portion of class working on two key elements of the cover letter: 1) the focus and 2) the closing. The letter should be about THE EMPLOYER, not the candidate. Consider the difference between:
- “I am applying for ABC position because I have XYZ strengths” – vs. – “I am applying for ABC position because I have XYZ strengths that can help your organization delight and serve its customers.”
- “I am interested in ABC position because I’ve always admired your organization and am interested in your industry.” – vs. – “I am interested in ABC position because I believe my XYZ skills can help you continue to be a leader in your industry.”
Make it about them!
We also worked to end with a strong statement. Instead of the unmemorable “Thank you for your consideration” or “I look forward to hearing from you”, think of the difference it makes to conclude with something like:
- “I look forward to sharing further how my experiences could enhance ABC and help create a positive impact on your clients.”
- “I welcome the opportunity to utilize my experiences to help ABC [do what its website says it’s trying to do] e.g.: become a leader in the community, grow in this region, etc.”
Make it about them!
Whether or not you are actively pursuing a job, I believe it is always a good idea to have a current resume and updated profile. Be ready when an opportunity comes knocking!