There's one more tip I liked from my Philadelphia Inquirer interview last week with Ford Myers, a local career coach who wrote a book titled Get the Job You Want Even When No One's Hiring. I'll copy and paste it from my interview notes. This is material that didn't get into the paper for space reasons. What he's talking about here is a letter to be sent to a job that seems really perfect for you. You now are trying to distinguish yourself from hundreds of other candidates.
(By the way, please excuse any typeface weirdness.)
Ford: I call it the “Perfect Match Letter.” Because what you’re doing is — let’s say you see a job posting on the Internet. You know and I know that they’re going to get a thousand applicants. And the typical cover letter says, “Dear Sir or Madam, I saw your ad. It looks really interesting. Here’s my resume. Please call me.”
That’s not smart.
Instead what you want to do if you’re going to answer this is to clearly distinguish yourself by having a thoughtful, professional cover letter which provides a perfect match between their needs and what you have to offer. For example — again — you have the introductory paragraph, then you have the line down the middle. Left-hand side is the specific bullets or nuggets that you take out of the job posting and then the right hand side you talk about your specific ways to match and the ways that you can meet their particular needs.
Jane: What if you think you can meet their particular needs, but you don’t have ...
Ford: ... Some of the things they’re asking for? That’s fine. Then you leave it out. Just don’t mention that item. But you have to use your common sense. If you’re missing five out of seven things, then don’t answer the ad. But if you’re missing only one out of seven things, then fine go ahead and answer the ad.
Ford: This has an 80 percent response rate — even in today’s market. If you do it properly, you’ll get a response — a positive response — in other words, an invitation to an interview, about 80 percent of the time. Versus less than 5% of the time, which is the standard silly cover letter that basically says nothing.
Jane: And what did you get that statistic from? The 80?
Ford: Well, remember, I’ve worked for three of the largest career consulting firms in the world. And they track these things and they have research departments.