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Why a Cover Letter Referral Can Make or Break Your Job Search
A cover letter referral is one of the most helpful services that a job seeker can hope to receive on their way from looking for their dream job to actually receiving it. This cover letter referral, and the information that it contains, can help that job hunter to break through the pack of dozens if not hundreds of other job hunters and be noticed by the Hiring Manager as the best candidate for the job. Naturally, to perform this valuable service, a cover letter referral just canít be your standard, run of the mill referral. Instead, it must be special indeed.
Before going into too great a detail about what a great cover letter referral is, letís spend some time thinking about what it is not. A great cover letter referral is not something that just gets written in a couple of minutes, while sipping a cup of coffee and keeping one eye on the morning news shows. Neither is it some formal and dry piece of writing, full of fancy words and stilted diction more at home in a classroom than a business.
A cover letter referral is a piece of business correspondence that gives the reader a sense of not only your credentials, but of your personality as a human being. For that reason, we should add another "not" to the list of what a cover letter referral isnít. It isnít something that you pulled off the Internet or from a book of cover letter referrals that someone you know has in their library. Obviously, something that is expected to reflect your personality will require much more individualized information than you could ever hope to find from one of those sources.
Some Cover Letter Referral Requirements
A cover letter referral must be written, by you, to accurately express what you will bring to the job and why you are the best solution for that job. It should be written in standard, intelligent, casual English. No jargon, slang or technical talk is necessary or even wanted. In terms of tone and content, it should sound like an intelligent and lively conversation from you to the intended recipient making a case for why you should be hired.
As a matter of fact, one way to think about writing a cover letter referral that works is to imagine that you are one end of the phone and the target is on the second end. Thereís a bad connection for some reason, and you arenít able to hear the Hiring manager but he or she is able to hear you just fine. If you had only a couple of minutes to make your case why they should bring you in for an interview, what would you say?
Chances are, youíd start by trying to break the ice and attract the listenerís attention in a way that highlighted your familiarity with their field and their problems. In many fields, this information should be quite complex so for the purposes of this lesson, let us simplify the issue as much as possible.
A Hypothetical Cover Letter Referral Case
Just as an example, letís imagine for a second that the Hiring Manager is someone that has a flooding toilet and is calling plumbers to see which one is the best fit to come over and fix it. As a plumber, you are going to want to get their attention and make it clear that you know the world of pipes and toilets intimately. For starters, you might start the conversation with a cheery introduction, that shows what you are about right off the bad.
"Speedy Plumbers! Your Toilet Unclogging Specialist speaking!"
From there you would launch into a brief description of the targetís problem, as you understand it through your experience, saying something like "thereís nothing more disruptive to a holiday party than a toilet which is clogged and flooded and spewing water all over the bathroom floor." At this, the target is nodding his or her head and is all ears. He or she knows that you understand the problem, and are consequently halfway on the way to being able to solve it.
For that reason, you could confidently move right into the next phase of the phone call, where you make the case that you are the best solution to that problem. In the example that we are using, you could talk about your plumbing credentials, your toilet-unplugging education, your certificate in pipe clearing and all that will be somewhat effective. None of it, will, however , have the same effect as a simple recitation of experience. As a victim of a rogue toilet, the target is less interested in your education and credentials as in whether or not you can do the job that needs to be done. Consequently, simply stating the experience that you have and why it is relevant to the targetís situation gets you further than just about any other type of strategy.
"Just yesterday," you would say, "I unplugged a particularly nasty toilet. There was water eight inches deep on the bathroom when I got there, but I was able to get it cleared up and under control within a minute of walking in the door." Once you say this, you move from the category of "potential" solution to "proven" solution. You have, without a doubt, got the skills and ability to solve the problem. You arenít a gamble or risk anymore. Which is where you want to be. If thereís anything that businesses hate itís a gamble or risk with their own money and resources. Other peopleís money and time and resources, they donít mind gambling so much, but not their own.
If You Are Enthusiastic, the Target Will Be Too
Next, you need to establish that you are happy to come out and do the job. Given identical characteristics, attributes, education and experience, an employer will always, always, always choose the candidate that shows the most enthusiasm. Someone with enthusiasm is going to be easier to work with, will improve the morale of the entire workforce, be more innovative and creative and will be more likely to stay on the job than someone who hates what they are doing and is only going through the motions to get a paycheck.
So in the case of the example that weíre using, your next couple of sentences might go something like "thereís nothing that is more satisfying to me than to take care of a troublesome leak and fix it before any valuables get damaged. To me it is a challenge that I truly love meeting."
If youíve performed these two steps perfectly, the target should be salivating and panting like an asthmatic Rottweiler to bring you into the office for an interview. But you still arenít finished. Your next job is to tell the target what her or she must do in order to transform you from a candidate to an employee. In the case of our hypothetical toilet unplugging service, that conversation would go something like "If you would like me to come out and fix your toilet, just splash your feet twice and say Ďyesí and Iíll be out there within the hour." Chances are, after the convincing speech you just made, they are going to say "yes." In the case of a referral cover letter, that last line would probably be more along the
How This Example Relates to Your Job Search
To write the perfect cover letter referral, simply apply that concept to the letter you write to go with your resume. However instead of referring to a leaking toilet, you should refer to the most pressing business problem on the targetís plate right now.
Donít know what that business problem is? Well then your first job is to find out using whatever research tools you can get your idle little jobseeking hands on. Remember, that companies donít hire people just because they like to have them around in the office looking pretty or handsome. They hire them because they need them to solve a problem that the existing resources canít handle.
Discover and clearly state that problem, and youíre halfway home to getting the interview. Describing why you can solve it, especially by referring to your previous experience and enthusiasm for solving identical problems puts you about 90 percent of the way there. Convincingly and persuasively get the target to pick up the phone and make the call to schedule an interview gets you all the way there.
Give It the Old Once-Over, More Than Once
Before sending it out, however, make sure that it is mechanically perfect. The letter's spelling, grammar, and vocabulary, should all be perfect. This means that they are not only without error, but that they sound intelligent and casual and interesting. Once again, the ideal that you should strive to meet is that of a casual but intelligent phone call.
One simple way to make this happen is to read the letter out loud before you send it. Are there any areas that sound awkward or overformal or strained? If so, this is your chance to change them before the Hiring Manager reads them. Good luck.
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