A Short History of the Sample Fax Cover Letter
How the Sample Fax Cover Letter Went In, Then Out, Then Back In Style
A sample fax cover letter takes advantage of one of the pieces of office technology whose heyday has come and gone, but that still has a presence in the office. The high point of the age of the sample fax cover letter was, without a doubt, the 1980’s. Though many of the people reading this article may not remember it, there was once a time before email.
During those dark and sad days, if you wanted to send a resume or cover letter to someone you had to actually print it up, put it in an envelope and stick it in a mailbox. As you can imagine, this process was extremely slow and tedious, and could result in some pretty hefty mailing costs, considering the price of quality bond paper for the printouts, the envelopes, stamps, time, etc… etc… etc…
Then, like a handsome, dynamic stranger energizing a society party, the fax machine swept into offices around the world. This piece of revolutionary office equipment combined the best qualities of a written letter with the speed and ease of a telephone call. Initially, the fax machines were expensive, and used a special thermal paper that made their use costly. So they were reserved for special or urgent communications.
The Golden Age of Fax
But like all technology over time they became more reasonably priced and even began showing up in people’s own homes. Additionally, they started using normal paper. Soon the barriers to use were low enough so that people started using them as freely as people use email now. Granted, they had to be a little more careful and discreet, since there was no hope of privacy for a fax that came out of the machine. Still, there was a lively circulation of non-business communications like dirty jokes, unsolicited advertisements (the much-hated precursor of web spam) and sample fax cover letters.
The sample fax cover letter became one of the most prominent forms of job hunting. Companies would advertise in classified sections and list a fax number at the bottom of the ad as their preferred form of communication. If you talked to someone on the phone about a job opening, you would likely be told to fax over your sample fax cover letter and resume. As the economy hummed, so did the fax machines of America, accepting and sending and printing the resumes of the workers that built the modern service economy. Life was good in the Eighties for Max Headroom, Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson and the fax machine.
All Good Things Must End
But then the nineties happened. Max Headroom tried to convince us that New Coke didn’t taste like a can of fizzy sugar water. Ronald Reagan went to his ranch and forgot how to wipe himself. Michael Jackson went to his ranch and forgot that he wasn’t supposed to ask little boys to wipe him. As for the fax machine… well, like that handsome and dynamic stranger that shook up the party, he may have overstayed his welcome just a little bit. All the other guests had heard all his stories already, they had lost their patience with his little foibles, like always having to refill his paper and toner cartridges, or having to pay for him to print out Faxed spam on their own dime.
Instead, the attention of the working world shifted to a newer and even more vibrant guest. The sexy Miss Email. This Email could communicate all the same information as the fax, but even more rapidly. Additionally, email gave the recipient of the communication the option of choosing whether they wanted to print, save or simply delete that communication instantly and costlessly. Though never completely banished from the job search world, the sample fax cover letter became less and less common as the nineties went on. Pretty soon job advertisements only listed an email address for applicants and fax machines became as dull as hole-punchers in offices.
Today, however, a sample fax cover letter and resume can be one of the tools that you use in your job search to set you apart from the pack. Though Hiring Managers might get literally dozens of resumes in their email inbox and nearly as many on paper, just how many do you think show up on their desk in the form of a fax? Just yours. So if nothing else, your resume and sample fax cover letter is going to get noticed strictly on the basis of rarity.
Make Your Fax Cover Letter Count
Of course, if you are going to get this scrutiny, you should make sure that you use it to your greatest advantage. You’ve only got a couple of seconds for the Hiring Manager to scan the sample fax cover letter and decide to read it through before it goes in to the trash can that is, not coincidentally, right by the fax machine. For this reason, shorter and sweeter is definitely better. Your sample fax cover letter should be no longer than a single page. The resume that comes after is shouldn’t be more than a page long either, for a total of two pages with your name on them, max, to come printing out of that fax machine.
For that reason, you need to open strong. Your first line of your sample fax cover letter should scream to the reader that you are a professional who is offering exactly that that Hiring Manager needs to solve their most pressing business problem. A great way to do this is to start with a headline in ALL CAPS that says something like "EXPERIENCED SALES MANAGER READY FOR NEW CHALLENGE."
Now you’ve got the Hiring Manager’s attention, it is time to win their trust. The best way to do this is to demonstrate that you understand where their problems, that you know what kind of situation they are in, that you have a clear grasp of the issues and parameters that the Hiring Manager must take into consideration as a part of his or her job. If you can do this, you are guaranteed to have their full and complete attention and readiness to act. Imagine if you will the following scenario: You are driving home from work and you’ve got a toothache that is killing you and is in fact the only thing that you can think about. Suddenly an ad comes on the radio for a toothache remedy. It starts by describing the pain that you feel, the pulsing waves of agony, the sensitivity to hot and cold, all the symptoms that are already on your mind. Do you think that you would pay attention to this ad? Of course you would. You would be driving and nodding your head and desperately impatient to hear what the solution to this problem is.
That’s what your sample fax cover letter should do for you. Of course, like the ad on the radio, it doesn’t stop at describing the problem. Instead, now that it has gotten your attention and established your credibility it presents the solution. For the toothache, that is some sort of gel that will kill the feeling in your inflamed tooth until a dentist can yank it out with big pliers. In the case of your sample fax cover letter, that solution is you. So the next section of your letter must make a very clear and persuasive case that you are capable of solving the problem that the Hiring Manager is most concerned about.
When You Get the Attention, Make Your Case
There are a lot of different methods to make this case for you problem solving aptitude. The most convincing one is the simplest: experience. In your cover letter you need to give clear and concrete and specific examples of times you solve the exact same problem for someone else in your career. Once you do that, you move from being a gamble or bet to being a sure thing and are virtually guaranteed to get an interview for the job. Additional justification for this assertion might be your training and education and even your life experience.
But besides proving that you can solve the problem, the cover letter should establish that you enjoy solving the problem. There’s nothing that Hiring Managers love so much in a candidate as enthusiasm. They know that an enthusiastic worker will not only do a better job, but will raise the energy level of the entire department just by being there. So in the letter, be sure to add a couple of sentences about how much you love solving the problem that you need to solve and why you find it so satisfying.
Last but not least, you will need to ask the reader to take the next step. Nine times out of ten this is simply picking up the phone and scheduling an interview. You shouldn’t, however, assume that the reader will automatically do this for you. So come on out and ask them directly for it. A good, clear, polite way to do this is to say "I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for the opening with you in person. Please call me at 555-555-5555 to set up a time for us to meet."
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