A Brief Survey of the Survey Cover Letter
What a Survey Cover Letter Is and Why You Need to Write One
A survey cover letter is a specific type of cover letter that is marked by an overall, chronological description of your entire work history. You will want to send a survey cover letter only during very specific circumstances, namely when you have been specifically requested in a job advertisement or in a conversation with the Hiring Manager to do so. That is because the survey cover letter stresses elements of your job history that are not necessarily the sorts of things that get the job.
Let me explain that more fully. The way that a cover letter works to get interviews to get jobs is that it makes the case that the applicant is the best possible solution for the business problem that the Hiring Manager is most concerned with solving. To this end, the applicant can use a variety of techniques and pieces of information, of which job history and job descriptions are but one. A Survey cover letter, however, is a overly restrictive format in that it wants nothing but a series of job descriptions and duties.
There are, however, ways to combine these two forms of cover letters I a way that uses the cover letter survey format but stresses the problem solving capacities of you the candidate. To give you a better idea about how to pull that off, I will describe the format of each one and then show how they can be combined.
First Things First: The Standard, or Sales, Cover Letter
Okay, the survey cover letter begins with your most recent job and describes the job title, the description of duties, the pay scale and any significant achievements or distinctions that you accomplished. Next is the second most recent job, with the same information, third is the third most recent job and so on.
At the end, you say give me a call so that we can set up an interview.
By comparison, a highly effective cover letter using the selling approach is structured in a way to maximize the persuasive value of the information. In the first place it starts with an opening designed to attract the attention of the reader and to entice them to reading further by promising to provide the solution they most ardently seek. For instance a cover letter for a sales representative position might say something like AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY: EXPERIENCED SALES REP WITH HIGH TECHNOLOGY BACKGROUND.
The sales cover letter then goes into a description of the problem that the candidate is being hired to solve. This serves a couple of purposes. First it buildís on the readerís attention by speaking about the thing that they are most interested in. Second, it shows in a very demonstrable way that you understand the problem. That not only establishes your expertise and competency but also goes a long way to impressing a Hiring Manager and getting them to take you seriously. After all, it answers the question that is going through their minds when they sit down to read the stacks of cover letters on their desk and computer email box - "whatís in this for me?"
The third part of the persuasive cover letter is the part that does the actual selling. This is the part that tells the reader how you the candidate are best suited to solving the problem. For this part, you are going to need to list your jobs that youíve had and the titles you worked under and the duties you had, just like in a survey cover letter. Unlike a survey cover letter, this information will be presented in a logical and persuasive manner, rather than a chronological one. Basically what the persuasive cover letter does is link up your demonstrated skills and experience to the problem that you just described in the opening of the letter. The most effective method of doing this is to demonstrate again and again that you have solved that problem over and over again in the past under circumstances identical or similar to the ones that the target company is experiencing.
If You Can Describe the Problem, You Are Halfway Home
Just like describing the problem builds the foundation of your credibility, explaining how you solved their problem for previous employers builds the rest of that credibility. By demonstrating that you have solved their problem, before you get taken out of the category of potential solution, or gamble, into proven solution or sure bet.
In addition, this section of the persuasive cover letter is the best place to put other relevant information like your education, other training you have achieved, the sorts of interests that you have had for your career, etcÖ That said, if you are pressed for time and space, the thing to keep is the relevant experience and the explanation of why it is relevant to the problem you described.
After the paragraph demonstrating competency, you need to add a couple of sentences explaining why you enjoy the job so much and why solving it is a challenge that you take particular satisfaction in. The reason for this is simple. Given the choice between two identical employees whit differing levels of enthusiasm for the job, the hiring manager is always going to take the employee with the best attitude. These employers know that the candidate with the most enthusiasm will raise moral for the entire department, will be the one to be the most innovative, and to add the extra effort when needed. For that reason, a sentence or two establishing that your job is a passion of your and not simply a paycheck should make it into every cover letter.
Lastly, the persuasive cover letter ends with a call to action. A portion that inspires the reader to pick up the phone and give you ac all to come in for an interview. After all, writing the best cover letter in the world isnít going to do you any food if the reader finishes it, thinks "damn, what a good cover letter" and then sets it down to do something else.
Thatís why the persuasive cover letter needs to come out and specifically ask the reader to take the action it take to get the candidate into the office for an interview. "I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm with you in person. Please give me a call so that we can set up a time to speak" is a good way to do this.
How the Survey Cover Letter Is Different
Now, bearing this in mind you can probably already see ways to integrate these two types of cover letters together to make a survey cover letter that also sells and persuades. In the fist place, you can use some sort of headline at the beginning of the cover letter that jazzes it up, grabs the readers attention and lets him or her know that the solution to the problem is to be found by reading on.
The idea of the problem to be solved is another aspect of the persuasive cover letter that can be worked into the persuasive later. Even though you are writing a chronological survey of your jobs, you can write it in a way that proves that you are the master problem solver. Donít know what the problem is? In that case, you need to do some research before you envy start writing. Use the internet, trade publications, network with people, do whatever you have to do to get a firm idea in mind about what your target company does, what problems and challenges they face and what strategy they are using to solve those problems. Without even needing to refer directly to those pieces of information, simply knowing the answer in your own head before writing will let you write a stronger and more persuasive cover letter.
As an aside, during your research be sure to find out the name and correct spelling and contact details of the Hiring Manager. Under no circumstances, do you ever send a letter out for "Whom it may concern" or Hiring Manager. Thinking a few minutes about what you do to letters that come to your house for "Resident" should tell you why.
With the problem that must be solved always in mind, you know what information to highlight and emphasize in your chronological survey of your job history. As you list the jobs you held, the titles, the duties, etcÖ be sure to refer to the problem over and over again and make it perfectly clear that you intend to use the experience youíve gained elsewhere to solve the target companyís problem.
If You Arenít Excited, Why Should They Be?
The passion paragraph explaining how you are so enthusiastic about the opportunity and the challenges of the fob can remain more or less identical in the survey cover letter. The preference for enthusiasm is so strong that you donít want to miss the chance to emphasize this.
In the same way, the ending should be a strong and convincing call to action in the survey cover letter as well. In fact, if anything, it should be stronger. After all, youíve been prevented from giving you most persuasive letter by the constraints of the cover letter format youíve been told to use.
Now, itís time to review the letter and read it out loud. How does it sound? Does it sound awkward and formal and strange or does it sound natural and casual? Though you donít want to sound overly familiar or use slang, you donít want to sound uptight and unnatural either. An intelligent, easy going, energetic tone is best, with plain language and short words instead of fancy ones. One way to think of it is an intelligent, persuasive phone conversation explaining in as short a time as possible why you should be considered for the job.
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