How to Write a Cover Letter that Goes Directly to the Hiring Manager
On average, nearly 75,000 people search Google every month to learn how to write a cover letter. The results are pretty much the same: Start by telling the employer which position you are applying for and how you learned about it; go on to tell them something about yourself, such as your degree and your how your career goals align with the company; then use specific words from the job description to tell them how you can meet their needs; then explain how you can fit into the company’s goals; and then your grand finale is to tell them you would like an interview and you will follow up in a couple of weeks if you haven’t heard back from them.
I could dissect the traditional cover letter and go on and on about why it’s a black hole waiting to happen – but why waste the time, when what you really need is a cover letter that works.
Test Your Comfort Level
Before I go on, let’s test your comfort level with trying something new. Many people are afraid to step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Heck, since we were little we have been told to obey the rules. It can feel scary to do something different.
In our sales training we use the analogy of trying on new clothes. When you see something on the rack you might not love it. But you take a few things back to the changing room and try them on. Sometimes the very thing that you thought was awesome on the rack looks terrible when you put it on. And that shirt or jacket that you weren’t sure about looks terrific and is a great fit!
People who are learning a new skill are often afraid – afraid of making a mistake, afraid of failing. But we encourage them to ‘Try on a New Coat’ and see how it fits. You may be surprised at how great it looks and feels.
So think about your comfort level. Are you willing to try something new? Are you willing to put on that new coat and see how it fits?
Enter the GAINful Meeting Letter
Do you want to know how to write a cover letter with some zing? How to write a cover letter that you will send directly to the hiring manager? How to write a cover letter that gets the hiring manager thinking, “Hmmm, I need to call this person to learn more about how they solved that same need that I have”?
And would you like to have some fun writing it? And maybe, just maybe, gain the confidence that you are a true solution provider and the hiring manager would be fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with you?
Let’s have some fun and compose your GAINful Meeting Letter that you will address and send directly to the hiring manager.
GAINFUL is an acronym. The GA stands for Gain Attention. IN stands for Identify the Need. That’s what your letter is going to do – gain the reader’s attention and identify a need that you think the hiring manager has, based on your research. You will then stitch yourself into the conversation by showcasing a time when you solved a similar need.
You don’t need to beg for an interview or ask for the job. Instead, you are offering to spend some time with the hiring manager to talk about his/her needs and offer up the solutions that you provide – they are getting consulting help and they don’t even need to pay for it. All they need to do is contact you to set up a time to meet.
You are not going to mention a specific job. You aren’t applying directly for a job. You are sending an introductory letter to give the hiring manager the opportunity to meet with you to talk about the needs of the company and the solutions you provide.
One of the most important things we teach in sales is the value of talking about the other person first, not yourself. The same goes for your GAINFUL Meeting Letter. You want to lead with something about the company and/or person so you engage them in your letter.
Your GAINful Meeting Letter is 4 steps
Just 4 concise paragraphs that can lead you to a meeting with the hiring manager.
Paragraph 1: This is your GA
Grab their Attention with your opening paragraph. This is where you talk about THEM, not you. Check out the company website, or google the company name to find out interesting and positive information about what the company is currently doing. Look for something that can be related to the solutions that you provide. A simple one or two sentence paragraph is enough. Notice in the example below that you haven’t mentioned YOU and you haven’t mentioned any particular job.
I enjoyed reading in the Sun Times last week that Your Company is expanding and opening a new location in the Orlando area. Congratulations to you are your operations team.
Paragraph 2: This is your IN
Now you want to show the hiring manager a little love and let them know that you understand his/her needs. This paragraph is still All About Them, not you.
If you aren’t sure how to find the needs, be sure to read our blog article ‘Find the Employer Needs’. It takes some investigation and good thinking to identify the employer’s needs that are specific to the solutions that you provide. If you have followed the steps in ‘Find the Employer Needs’ you will have your list ready to use in your GAINful Meeting Letter. In the example below, can you identify the need that is being stated?
Along with that incredible growth, it seems that there must also be the challenges of hiring and training a new workforce to continue the amazing customer service that ‘your company’ is known for.
Your goal in the second paragraph is to engage the reader so they will identify with the need that you have stated. As they are reading your letter they should be sitting there saying, “Yes, that’s just the problem that I have.”
Paragraph 3: This is your Solution Story that shows how you have solved a similar need
Now that you have the hiring manager engaged and thinking about their needs, it’s time to give them a glimpse of how you can help fill that need. Notice how, in just 4 sentences in the example below, the writer tells a story that clearly demonstrates how he/she has been in a similar situation and solved it.
Your story has 3 distinct parts.
- The first identifies a situation similar to the need stated in paragraph 2.
- The second states your role in this situation.
- The third shows the outcome.
As your write your Solution Story, you can follow the same format. Can you pick out the 3 steps in the example below?
Two years ago, while I was with Bingham Education Services, we launched a third location in another state. In order to make the transition smooth and keep our customer satisfaction level at 95%, I brought a team of experienced customer service agents to the new location and had the new agents shadow them, using some pre-planned metrics as a guide. The effort resulted in a quicker, more successful launch than we had experienced with our second location. And as a side benefit, our tenured agents expanded their capabilities and confidence resulting in an even higher performance rating at their home location.
Paragraph 4: Give the hiring manager the opportunity to gain from your knowledge
Close your GAINful Meeting Letter with a sentence that gives the hiring manager an opportunity to get together with you. Don’t ask for an interview. Don’t mention a specific job. Do show that you have some solutions that could help the hiring manager. Read the example below a few times. Do you see how you have positioned yourself as a Solution Providing Consultant who has some expertise and experience that could benefit the hiring manager? It’s all about the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for the hiring manager.
If a seamless transition for your new location is high on your priority list, I’d be happy to chat with you to share what I learned through my experiences.
Sign your GAINful Meeting Letter in a professional, yet friendly way.
Your First Name
Send Your GAINful Meeting Letter to the Hiring Manager
Once you have completed your GAINful Meeting Letter, attach it to your Real Person Resume and send it directly to the hiring manager. If you want to stand out in the mail, use a white envelope that fits your entire resume without folding it and hand address the envelope. Depending on the type of position and company you are looking at, it can also be effective to send your GAINful meeting letter as an email with your Real Person Resume as an attachment. Just remember that people are inundated with emails, but they don’t often get large, white envelopes addressed directly to them. You are more likely to get more time on your content with the second method.
Will your first GAINful Meeting Letter be perfect? Maybe not. Will every hiring manager call or email you? No. But if you have been following the definition of insanity and applying over and over online with no success, you will find some success with the Real Person Job Strategy. As you continue to write them, you will get better and better. And as a side benefit, your confidence will grow as you start to see yourself as the Powerful Solution Provider that you are!
My Pitch For Why You Need to Develop the Skills Shown in the GAINful Meeting Letter
You may never have been in sales, may never want to be, or even think that ‘sales’ is smarmy. But the strategy that includes 3 steps (saying something nice about the person and focusing on them, identifying a need that they have, showing how you can help solve their need and provide benefits to them) is effective, not just in sales, not just in writing a GAINful Meeting Letter, not just in getting a job – but in every facet of your life. Develop these skills and you will be amazed at the positive difference it makes in your life!
Keeping the Faith in Your Future.