Craft your career change cover letter
A carefully crafted cover letter gets your resume noticed. A carefully crafted resume gets you the interview. Having your story straight, with examples, in the interview lands you the job.
It does not matter how old you are or if you little industry related skills. It is more about what work experience you bring with you. Scroll down to watch a video of Master Career Coach, Unre Visagie explain how to craft your career change cover letter.
The career change cover letter is meant to get you the job you’ve chosen at the company you’ve chosen, in the industry that you’ve chosen. We’ve found that if the cover letter is clear it demonstrates that the man has a plan and he is clear on the why and what about the industry, the company, the job and himself.
If this is clear then invariably people get hired and we even found that with this clarity people get jobs at companies where no jobs existed or was planned, because they see wow, this man is enthusiastic about my industry, my company, his job and himself. I have to have such a person in my company, I cannot let him pass. I know I don’t have a job right now, but I’m going to make one for him. This happens with about a hundred students a year under Prof. Kroon at the North-West University where we’ve been developing and running this program for seven years.
This happened after we used the process to build our companies. We’ve used it for the last ten years in our pro bono community work where we’ve empowered people to get jobs starting from nothing. Today young people with very bad home conditions and education are fully qualified mining engineers. The process truly works. It also works for several people we coach at a $100000 plus level that gets 30% increases in the jobs they want towards building their career; it’s always aimed at the long-term career.
If you look at a cover letter it’s you choosing the job, the work you want to do, choosing the company you want to do it in or with, and the industry you want to operate in. When you look at a company you must be very comfortable with the company’s clients. You must be comfortable with the way they serve clients and the way they approach clients.
If you then look at your career change cover letter, it must have a maximum of three paragraphs; it cannot be more than three paragraphs. You must state that you have a plan, that you are excited; it must contain facts about the job, the company and the industry. Job, company and industry always stay together. The second thing that your cover letter must show is that you have a clear thread in your past decision making, to actually get you to this point. The cover letter must then state any TRUST. Trust is about four elements: reliability, acceptance, openness and congruence and openness. It must be clear in your cover letter. To get it clear, be ready with factual stories, remembering that we are still a story-telling society.
I think we must add something about the power of good stories. A clear, good story has awesome power.
Here is a link to a video of Peter Guber: Peter Guber on The Power of Storytelling.
So what are the stories you require?
You require stories that show your manageability, stories that show your willingness to be involved, stories that show commitment, commitment to results, stories that show initiative. These are the things they interview for. They will ask you three sets of questions in the interview. They will ask open questions, for which you must have ready answers. They will ask you closed questions, for which you must have facts or one of these short stories.
Here is a link to Peter’s book “Tell to Win”:
Q: You must get ready for the interview in your cover letter?
A: Thank you, very importantly, I would advise that you have this clear because what I found is that this has a huge input in the words of the cover letter. The main reason for doing it at this time is to ensure that you are actually backing up your cover letter. This back-up gives you absolute confidence. The company may have a process of pre-screening: telephoning etc. If they call you and you are not ready, you’ve lost. We’ve worked through thousands of CV’s and interviews in our companies and if there is a lack of clarity it goes to the bin. The people who stated clearly in their cover letter why they wanted to work for our company in our industry they got an interview without exception.
Q: These stories, are they supposed to be long? How would they look in the cover letter? Are they paragraph stories?
A: No, the stories don’t get into your cover letter. The cover letter gives a strong indication that you have the stories. The words in your cover letter reflect your confidence, that’s why you must gain the confidence. That’s why you must get your stories ready. Written is better, but if you are like me writing is not always easy. Keep your stories ready.
If your stories are ready and you can tell me why the job, why the company, why the industry and why you, I’ve hardly ever seen anybody fail to even create a job where none existed. That is the power of a well-constructed cover letter. Getting somebody to craft you a clever letter which is not your words is a very dangerous thing. We can assist you, or many other coaches can assist you to help you find your words. On the website you will find further techniques to help you get your words.
Secondly, what I find people have great difficulty with is that most of us can’t talk about ourselves, we get totally stuck, so I find that you’ve got to have a soundboard, somebody you trust that is able and capable. In recent examples for instance, the best soundboard we found for a guy that’s earning $140000 was one of his clients. Why would a client help him? It’s a simple technique, to go and say thank you to the client, and to say wow, it’s really great what you are doing and I want to ask you a weird question today. What do you think I do differently, what do you think my next career should be.
What does that show to the client that you approach? That you recognize him, he’s a significant person and you really respect and accept him. When you approach people for advice and input, those three things are the most important. Significance, recognition, acceptance and respect are the most powerful approach to humans. Hardly anybody can say no to that. When we get the younger or older people that we coach to get into companies and jobs that didn’t even exist, this is one of the things we prepare them with. To approach with the right approach, only you can help me because you are so great. That comes back to gratefulness. When you approach the person you’ve got to be extremely clear on what you want.
Q: Why would I approach a client and ask them how am I different? How does that relate back to the cover letter?
A: It is for you to understand and communicate your possible contribution, your unique approach, why you are a valuable addition. It’s very hard to find this by yourself. It’s a bit like a brain surgeon doing brain surgery on himself; not a good idea. And very often, constructing your own stuff is like doing brain surgery on yourself.
Q: And specifically in a career change situation? You’ve got to now indicate what your skills are, because you bring a skill set, it’s not like your bringing industry knowledge as such, because you’re making a career change. But you bring who you are to the company.
A: Then you find an advisor in that industry, the one that you want to change to, that is how you engage in the industry. Be clear about the how and what. The how and what process must be applied to every phase. Your cover letter must show why you are excited. How are you going to show it if you don’t engage people in the industry, read the magazines, go to some trade shows? You may even meet your next employer at a trade show.
Q: And the reason you want to spend this amount of time on your cover letter is that your cover letter gets your CV into the interview bundle?
A: Yes, you’ve got to get your CV out of a huge pile into a shortlist, survive the shortlist and then get into an interview.
You have to spend time on this. Otherwise you will appear like everyone else. You are going to keep on begging and pleading, and no-one will understand you. They want to help you, but you don’t allow them to. That is why we say the door to success has a handle on the inside. This process of having clarity on the how and what of each element we call the golden key to success. It’s your golden key. To craft the key, to make the key is effort, but it’s the rest of your life. And today is the first day of the rest of your life. Can you put too much effort into this? I don’t think so.
We find that people with this clarity are very successful in our second process, where once you have done this, we can assist you to get into companies that don’t even advertise for a job. If you want to really join accompany and you are clear on this, there’s a process whereby you hook yourself in. You go with respect, you go with knowledge, you go with enthusiasm you are irresistible, and you have it in you. I haven’t met a person that doesn’t have it in him.