Do I Really Need a Cover Letter for My Executive Resume?

by Meg Guiseppi on September 2, 2014

Now that you’ve defined your personal brand and built your executive resume around your promise of value to your target employers, you’re ready to get your resume out there.

But it’s been more than 5 years since you were in a job search. Back then, you knew it was important to include a cover letter with your resume. Do you still need one? Or is the cover letter a dying relic?

Cover letter and executive job search

If you’re mostly responding to job board postings, you probably don’t need a cover letter.

Be aware that, especially at the top executive level (typically Director and above – VP, EVP, C-suite, President, General Manager, etc.), the vast majority of jobs come through networking your way into your target companies, NOT from job boards.

Assuming that your main job search strategy is networking — by far the most successful method — you’ll be sending your resume to select people. You’ll need to introduce it with some kind of covering letter – whether you snail-mail it or email it.

Although there are recruiters and hiring decision makers who will skip right over your cover letters, others will read them religiously and judge candidates by them as strongly as they do their resumes and online presence.

Doesn’t it make sense to include a cover letter – one that’s as hard-hitting and brand-reinforcing as your targeted resume?

My research and experience over the years revealed that NOT having a cover letter may ruin your chances, but HAVING a cover letter will not hurt your chances.

At the very least, a covering letter or email message is an expected courtesy to the reader, and clarifies why you’re writing to them.

How to write your cover letter to position yourself as a good hiring choice, and to get it (and your attached resume) read:

→ Send it to an actual person, putting their name in the salutation. “Dear Sir”, “Dear Madam”, or “To Whom It May Concern” won’t do. Identify people at your target companies, or those associated with them, to whom you’ll send your letter, with attached resume or other appropriate materials.

→ Customize it for each employer. One sure way to have your letter overlooked is to use a template, sending generic content to each employer. A cover letter is an opportunity to zero in on your ability to solve that company’s problems even more specifically than you will in your targeted resume. For added oomph, mention each company by name within the body of the letter once or twice.

→ Simply rehashing your resume in the cover letter can have a negative impact. Your cover letter should be regarded and written as one more stand-alone personal marketing piece in your brand communications plan, supporting your brand and good-fit qualities for the company.

→ Well-written job descriptions that look like a good mutual fit are valuable resources for composing cover letters that will hit home. Use the same keywords in your cover letters, providing specific examples of your contributions and expertise, matching their needs with your promise of value in those areas.

→ Generate chemistry and entice them to want to read your attached resume, by touching on your personal brand attributes (personality, passions, motivating strengths, etc.).

→ The thrust of cover letters should vary to meet specific circumstances and compel specific readers. For instance, a cold-call letter may have a different focus and read a bit differently than a referral letter.

→ Because you’re focusing your search towards one kind of job, you may be able to re-use some of your cover letter messaging from one letter to the next, customizing the introductory paragraph and elsewhere as needed.

→ Keep it brief. Short intro, 2 or 3 qualifying paragraphs, 3 or four short bullet points, and one closing paragraph. I also like to add a P.S. that includes a compelling quote, because it will capture attention.

→ An “old is new again” approach to sending your resume is to snail mail it flat, in a 9 x 12 inch envelope, with cover letter paper-clipped on top.

It all comes back to step one in launching any successful executive job search campaign – narrowing your search and knowing your target audience, then researching your list of target companies to determine their needs and how you can solve their problems.

More About Executive Job Search

7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know

How Do I Find a Job in the “Hidden” Job Market?

Personal Branding, Resume or Job Search Targeting: Which Comes First?

Personal Branding and the Email Signature Dilemma

When Job Search Email Goes Missing

 

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Twitter Personal Branding Time-Saving Tips

by Meg Guiseppi on August 25, 2014

How to tweet wisely in about 10 to 15 minutes a day, a few times a week.

 

Twitter Personal Branding Time-Savers

In my practice, I rarely come across executive job seekers who are actively leveraging Twitter to help them land jobs.

The few who even have Twitter accounts put up a few tweets initially, and then let it go. Their Twitter stream stopped dead months or years ago.

This doesn’t look very good, and could be detrimental to them. A Twitter account that’s collecting cobwebs says “I don’t really know much or care to know about social media and the new world of work.”

Understandably, they’re busy people strapped for time, trying to juggle demanding full-time jobs with a full-time job search. They’ve heard too many people say what a time drain Twitter can be.

They’re right. Without a solid Twitter strategy, each visit can easily eat up an hour or more. They just don’t have that kind of extra time.

If they would tap into the research they’ve done on the companies they’re targeting, they could reap plenty of benefits from Twitter in just 10 to 15 minutes, a few days a week, especially because the majority of job seekers aren’t doing anything with Twitter.

3 Strategies to Leverage the Value of Twitter . . . Without Devoting Too Much Time

1.  Stay Focused on Your Job Search and Your Personal Brand

Don’t start or engage in conversations not related to your job search. No one really needs to know what you had for breakfast or what movie you saw last night.

Keep the majority of your tweets relevant to your personal brand, industry, areas of expertise, and value to your target companies. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweet off-topics and humorous tidbits, when you have extra time.

2.  Do a Lot of Retweeting

Simply the act of tweeting again a tweet that someone else has tweeted, retweeting (abbreviated as “RT”) is one of my favorite ways to use Twitter and one of the best ways to save time there.

Even if you do nothing else on Twitter, posting relevant retweets can be a powerful way to build brand evangelism, a quality Twitter following, and get on the radar and stay top-of-mind with people you want to notice you.

First, gather up a long list of the right people to retweet. Who are these people? Colleagues, industry thought leaders and subject matter experts, top-level executives (or hiring decision makers) at your target companies, and executive recruiters in your niche, to name a few.

Search for them on Twitter, follow them, and start retweeting them. It’s as easy as that!

It’s critical to include in your retweet the @username of the person who originated the tweet, because they’ll see the retweet on their “Notifications” page. Chances are you’ll get noticed, if enough of your retweets show up there for each person you’re retweeting. If a good retweet doesn’t mention the original author, take the time to track them down and include their @username.

Retweeting Strategies To Help You Get Noticed:

Don’t automatically retweet something containing a link without first checking it, to make sure it’s not a bad link and doesn’t lead somewhere you don’t really want to send people.

Structure your original tweets so that they’re short enough to allow for more than one retweet by others, without alteration.

Take the time to tweet a thank you to people who RT you, even if you’re not the tweet originator.

It’s always nice to include your own brief supportive comment with a re-tweet that’s especially good – something like “Great advice!” or “Excellent!”

Don’t change the wording of the original tweet, except to abbreviate for space. But use abbreviations sparingly. A jumble of single letters and numbers can be confounding and doesn’t give a professional impression.

If you’re not already following someone you want to retweet, coincide retweeting with following them. They may notice your @username showing up twice on the “Notifications” page in that short span.

Retweeting using the retweet button that sits under each tweet and on many websites at the top or bottom of an article or blog post make retweeting easy. But sometimes these retweets don’t include the @username. Take a few moments to add it in.

Use hashtags in your RTs when you can. The hashtag symbol (“#”) is used before a word or phrase (with no spaces) to mark relevant keywords and topics in tweets. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages. Clicking on a hashtagged word in a tweet shows you all other tweets marked with that keyword.

3.  Organize Your Twitter Strategy

Use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or another Twitter app to help you organize your time, the people you follow, the people you want to retweet frequently, and to set up retweets in advance.

Do your thank you’s for retweets, #FollowFridays (#FF) and other mentions all in communal tweets, every few days. No need to thank each person in a separate tweet.

Consult the Twitter Help pages for specifics on using re-tweets, hashtags, and other things.

Bottom Line

Chances are, most recruiters and many employees at your target companies are active on Twitter, posting job openings and information related to the jobs you want. Isn’t it worth carving out a little time each week to spread the word on Twitter about your personal brand and value to your target employers?

This article was first posted on Job-Hunt.org, for my Personal Branding Expert gig.

More Information About Twitter and Personal Branding

How to Use Twitter for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online

The Biggest Mistake Twitter Newbies Make

14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter [Revisited]

 

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