In my last article, I spoke about how to write a strong cover letter to tee up your résumé. In the next article, I will talk about the résumé itself, but before that, let me explain how to use the cover letter.
Let’s start out with a hypothetical. You want to get a job as a real estate lawyer, ideally in-house. You love real estate and have learned a ton about it in your current job. In addition, you have a particular expertise in joint ventures and particularly international joint ventures. You have a friend — named Toby, of course — who has a ton of contacts in the real estate world. He could really help you out.
What do most people do?
They meet with Toby or talk to him. Toby agrees to help and asks them to send him their résumé and he says he will help.
What does this do?
It makes it a real pain in the (neck) for Toby to help you. He now has to effectively write the cover letter for you and tell the other person all about you. And Toby — who maybe loves you like a sister — maybe he is your sister — is super busy. He has a day job still and finding you a job has to take second place.
Wouldn’t it be “nice” if you did all the work for Toby so that all he has to do is basically forward it with the following note:
“Hey Jenny — I wonder if you want someone in international real estate joint ventures? If so, my friend Tobina seems perfect. She says it all in the email I am forwarding. Happy to connect you or reach out yourself. Best, Toby”
Toby can do this in about 90 seconds — actually I typed it in about 45 seconds just now. Better yet, Toby can easily forward this same email to 100 of his best friends.
Bottom line is you are making it really easy for Toby to help you. You are being respectful of his time.
Also — and this is “really” important — if you just got bumped from your current job or perhaps you are getting desperate to find “a job” — resist the urge to go to your buddy/sister Toby and say, “Hey Toby, I really ‘need’ a job — can you help me — I am getting desperate!”
Think what this implies? You are a sad sack seeking help. What in the heck is Toby supposed to do now? Call his most critical business contact and stick his neck out and say, “You would be nuts not to hire Tobina. She is the best person on the planet!”
Even if Toby is your sister, she will be a bit scared to stick her neck out.
So instead of the sad sack meeting — figure out ahead of time exactly the job you want. Dress up sharp. And when you meet with Toby, project confidence, excitement, determination and a specific game plan.
Now think what this implies. You are not a sad sack any more — instead, you really are someone that Toby’s friend would be crazy not to hire, and Toby will be eager to say so.
Once again, you are making it easy for Toby to help you out. Now when he gets your cover letter and résumé — see above — he is eagerly selling you and forwarding your email.
Finally, when Toby gets a nibble, where his friend Toboggan says that he doesn’t have a job but would talk to you, by all means absolutely take the meeting. Treat it like an interview. Worst case, it is a waste of time. Medium case, it results in networking and Toboggan sends you to someone else who might be more useful. And best case, Toboggan falls in love with you and offers you a job.
A funny story — one of my star associates came here just this way. I reluctantly agreed to meet with someone I would never consider hiring, but here she is and kicking serious butt. These things do happen.
Okay — enough for here — I hope this is helpful. In the final article in this series, I will talk about the résumé itself.