The Administrative Cover Letter Advantage
How Administrative Cover Letters Put You in a Great Position
When it comes to getting on the fast track to a great administrative support job, there's nothing like a well-written administrative cover letter to put you ahead of the competition. For that reason, writing your administrative cover letter should be on your priority list right up there with your resume and picking out your best interview outfit.
The question is, however, what makes an administrative cover letter great? What makes one letter stand out from the rest and get put on the "interview" pile? What sets the truly outstanding administrative cover letter apart from the rejected letters that wind up in the garbage can?
An Administrative Cover Letter Must Sell
Though every cover letter and job searching expert has his or her own opinion, in the end it all comes down to how well the administrative cover letter can sell the job candidate. And though selling a candidate can incorporate a number of strategies and tools and devices, it usually boils down to a single goal --- to prove to the reader that the candidate is the best solution to the business problem the company faces.
This is a simple concept but one that goes against the way that most people think about jobs and business and employment in general. To really understand what this statement means and how it affects the administrative cover letter that you write, you will need to stop seeing the workplace as a set of jobs, employees and positions and instead see the workplace as a collection of problems and solutions.
The company overall has a specific problem that it faces. Namely, how to sell it's goods or services to the market in a manner and price that will appeal to customers and win their business. Because of that main, overriding problem, the company makes us of a number of solutions. Some of these solutions are physical --- items must be moved from where thy are made to where the customer can use them, so trucks and boxes and pallets are utilized to make that happen. Some of these solutions are more abstract. One of the problems that a business faces is the simple issue of how to get the customer to know about the product or service, remember it and find it. To this end, the company uses the solutions of brand names, creative slogans and advertising campaigns.
Other solutions are in the form of people. The company has the problem of creating a strategy that will marshal its resources in the most effective and efficient way possible. For this it hires executives and consultants to give the company the very best advice. Who will hire and take care of the paper work for these employees? HR professionals. Who will execute the strategy decisions that the executives devise? The management and staff that the executives put into place represent the solution to that problem.
And so on and so on. In most cases, the administrative positions represent the solution to the problem of letting the executives and staff complete their tasks in the most efficient and effective way. Keeping this in mind allows you to write an administrative cover letter that addresses this issue directly and therefore pushes all the right buttons with the Hiring Manager that takes a look at it.
Problem Solving is Key
What exactly does it mean to say that the position of administrative assistant is to facilitate the executive as he or she does his or her work in the most effective and efficient manner possible? Though that varies from executive to executive, this typically means taking on as many duties as possible from the executive to allow him or her to make decisions during their time on the job.
For instance, it's typical for a administrative support person to answer the phone for their executive. By answering the phone, screening out bogus calls, taking messages and checking with the executive about whether he or she is willing to take the call, the administrative assistant allows the executive to read, research, confer and decide with less interruptions.
In a similar manner, if the administrative assistant can create and write letters and correspondence on the behalf of the executive, this frees him or her up even more. Often these duties can progress beyond simply carrying out the wishes of the executive and move into much more substantive areas. For instance, after the executive has begun to trust the judgment of the assistant, the assistant may be asked to provide summaries of research for the executive which he or she will used to make an important decision.
In this way, an assistant can gain valuable experience and exposure to the decision making practice of their supervisors. This is the way that administrative assistants can make the jump to becoming an executive themselves.
The More You Can Do the Better
As a general rule, the executive wants to be able to pass off as much of their job as they can to allow themselves more time for researching, conferring, decision making and other, higher-level activities. Consequently, when they read administrative cover letters looking for their next hire, they consciously scan for someone that it capable of doing as much as possible.
What this means for you, the administrative cove letter writer is that you will want to make your letter be the perfect piece of advertisement for your ability to flawlessly execute whatever your new boss might ask you to do.
Luckily for you, there is a simple and easy way to do this. That way is to tell and show the reader of the letter that you are already doing all the things that he or she is looking for in a new hire. In fact, to really make the reader want to bring you in, you should show that you have done them again and again. To go back to the concept that was discussed earlier, you should prove that you are a proven solution to the problem that the executive needs solved most.
The most important part of that is the phrase "proven solution." With the time and expense that making a hire entails, a company doesn't have the luxury of taking chances on a hire that may or may not work out for them. Consequently, they are more inclined to go for a person who is already performing the job that is needed, even compared to someone who may have a better set of qualifications but will need significant adjustment and training to learn to do the job.
Tell Your Problem-Busting Story
That's why in your administrative cover letter, you should take the opportunity that the letter gives you to quickly recount your accomplishments of your job. What do you do that allows your current employer to use their time more efficiently and effectively? What sort of problems do you routinely solve for them? How have you made the company run more efficiently and effectively?
Once you've proven that, the next step is to establish that you actually enjoy performing the job. Nobody wants to work with someone that doesn't want to be where they are and doing what they do. And everyone loves to be with someone that is enthusiastic for their position. As a result, I recommend that each administrative cover letter includes what I call a "passion paragraph" in which the candidate explains how much they love being part of a team, meeting challenges, doing a variety of tasks, etc... etc... etc...
Last but not least is the part where the administrative cover letter should ask for what they want the reader to do. Namely to call and set un an interview. So come out and ask for that, give your contact information and say when you are most easily reached.
When this is finished, run a spellcheck on it, let it sit for a while then print it up and read it out loud? Often errors and grammatical mistakes can escape us while we are writing and only an oral read-through later makes the rough spots visible.
Make your changes, then go through a final checklist. Did you address it to the right person? This is a simple thing to remember, but it's worth giving a call to the company and confirming that you got the name and spelling right. A misspelled name or worse yet a "To Whom It May Concern" put the administrative cover letter off to a start on the wrong foot.
Do you give the correct phone number at the end? Is your email address correctly spelled and punctuated? Little things like a misplaced hyphen or wrong digit can keep a dream job from being able to get in touch with you.
If everything looks good, print it up on some good white or ivory paper, or if you are going to use the email cut and paste it into the body of the email. If you've used the concepts of the effective administrative cover letter your letter should be among the very top letters the Hiring Manager sees and result in a very quick response.
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