MAKE A GOOD COVER LETTER AND FOLLOW UP YOUR APPLICATION


STEP TWO: 

Once you get your resume, what do you do with it?
You will be using your resume to answer ads, as a tool to use in talking with friends and relatives about your job search, and, most importantly, in using the “direct approach” described in this book.

When you mail your resume, always send a “cover letter.”
A “cover letter,” sometimes called a “resume letter” or “letter of interest,” is a letter that accompanies and introduces your resume. Your cover letter is a way of personalizing the resume by sending it to the specific person you think you might want to work for at each company. Your cover letter should contain a few highlights from your resume— just enough to make someone want to meet you. Cover letters should always be typed or word processed on a computer—never handwritten.

1. Learn the art of answering ads.
There is an “art,” part of which can be learned, in using your “bestselling” resume to reply to advertisements.
Sometimes an exciting job lurks behind a boring ad that someone dictated in a hurry, so reply to any ad that interests you. Don’t worry that you aren’t “25 years old with an MBA” like the ad asks for. Employers will always make compromises in their requirements if they think you’re the “best fit” overall.

What about ads that ask for “salary requirements?”
What if the ad you’re answering asks for “salary requirements?” The first rule is to avoid committing yourself in writing at that point to a specific salary. You don’t want to “lock yourself in.”

There are two ways to handle the ad that asks for “salary requirements.”
First, you can ignore that part of the ad and accompany your resume with a cover letter that focuses on “selling” you, your abilities, and even some of your philosophy about work or your field. You may include a sentence in your cover letter like this: 
“I can provide excellent personal and professional references at your request, and I would be delighted to share the private details of my salary history with you in person.”
Second, if you feel you must give some kind of number, just state a range in your cover letter that includes your medical, dental, other benefits, and expected bonuses. You might state, for example, “My current compensation, including benefits and bonuses, is in the range of $30,000-$40,000.”

Analyze the ad and “tailor” yourself to it.
When you’re replying to ads, a finely tailored cover letter is an important tool in getting your resume noticed and read. On the next page is a cover letter which has been “tailored to fit” a specific ad. Notice the “art” used by PREP writers of analyzing the ad’s main requirements and then writing the letter so that the person’s background, work habits, and interests seem “tailor-made” to the company’s needs. Use this cover letter as a model when you prepare your own reply to ads.

Date
To: Search Committee
In response to the urging of someone familiar with your search for a Customer Service Director for the Association of Health Underwriters, I am sending you a resume which summarizes my background. I offer a unique combination of knowledge, experience, and abilities which I believe would ideally suit the requirements of the Association of Health Underwriters.

Health industry expertise
You will see from my resume that I offer expertise related to health insurance and underwriting. In my current job I have sought out and negotiated contracts with major insurance companies to provide insurance for the organization. On a $1 million budget, I have developed insurance programs which generated $2 million in net income based on $32 million in premium. These highly regarded programs which I developed have brought 6,000 new members into the organization.

Proven executive ability
I offer proven executive ability. I have earned a reputation as someone who has not only strategic vision and imagination but also the tenacity and persistence to follow through on the “nitty-gritty” details of implementing new projects, programs, and concepts. I know how to delegate, and I know how to “micro manage,” and I am skilled at tailoring my management style to particular circumstances while always shouldering full responsibility and accountability for results. My current job has involved the responsibility of recruiting, training, and continuously developing a national sales force of brokers throughout the U.S. which broke with the tradition of passive mail solicitation and led to dramatic growth in sales and profitability. With a strong “bottom-line” orientation, I have streamlined headquarters staff and reduced central office expenses to save at least half a million dollars while continuously supervising the association’s five regional offices in the  recruitment and training of more than 1,200 insurance agents nationally.

Extensive association experience
You will also see from my resume that I am accustomed to “getting things done” within the unique environment of a trade/membership association. I am well known for my ability to attract and retain a cohesive and productive staff, and I am also respected for my exceptional skills in relating to, inspiring, and supporting key volunteer members. 
A skilled communicator, I have made countless appearances and speeches. 
I am aware of the requirements defined by the search committee, and I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss this position further with the Executive Committee. I feel certain I could contribute significantly to the growth and financial health of the Association of Health Underwriters as its Customer Service Director. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
A


2. Talk to friends and relatives.
Don’t be shy about telling your friends and relatives the kind of job you’re looking for.
Looking for the job you want involves using your network of contacts, so tell people what you’re looking for. They may be able to make introductions and help set up interviews.
About 25% of all interviews are set up through “who you know,” so don’t ignore this approach.

3. Finally, and most importantly, use the “direct approach.”
More than 50% of all job interviews are set up by the “direct approach.” That means you actually mail, e-mail, or fax a resume and a cover letter to a company you think might be interesting to work for.

To whom do you write?
In general, you should write directly to the exact name of the person who would be hiring you: say, the vice-president of marketing or data processing. If you’re in doubt about to whom to address the letter, address it to the president by name and he or she will make sure it gets forwarded to the right person within the  company who has hiring authority in your area.

How do you find the names of potential employers?
You’re not alone if you feel that the biggest problem in your job search is finding the right names at the companies you want to contact. But you can usually figure out the names of companies you want to approach by deciding first if your job hunt is primarily geography-driven or industry-driven.

In a geography-driven job hunt, you could select a list of, say, 50 companies you want to contact by location from the lists that the U.S. Chambers of Commerce publish yearly of their “major area employers.” There are hundreds of local Chambers of Commerce across America, and most of them will have an 800 number which you can find through 1-800-555-1212. If you and your family think Atlanta, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, and Virginia Beach might be nice places to live, for example, you could contact the Chamber of Commerce in those cities and ask how you can obtain a copy of their list of major employers. Your nearest library will have the book which lists the addresses of all chambers.
In an industry-driven job hunt, and if you are willing to relocate, you will be identifying the companies which you find most attractive in the industry in which you want to work. When you select a list of companies to contact by industry, you can find the right person to write and the address of firms by industrial category in Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and other excellent books in public libraries. Many Web sites also
provide contact information.
Many people feel it’s a good investment to actually call the company to either find out or double-check the name of the person to whom they want to send a resume and cover letter. It’s important to do as much as you feasibly can to assure that the letter gets to the right person in the company.
On-line research will be the best way for many people to locate organizations to which they wish to send their resume. It is outside the scope of this book to teach Internet research skills, but librarians are often useful in this area.

The “direct approach” is a strategy in which you choose your next employer.

What’s the correct way to follow up on a resume you send?
There is a polite way to be aggressively interested in a company during your job hunt. It  is ideal to end the cover letter accompanying your resume by saying, “I hope you’ll welcome my call next week when I try to arrange a brief meeting at your convenience to discuss your current and future needs and how I might serve them.” Keep it low key, and just ask for a “brief meeting,” not an interview. Employers want people who show a determined interest in working with them, so don’t be shy about following up on the
resume and cover letter you’ve mailed.

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