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Letters and Email

You will send a number of letters during your job search campaign – perhaps a large number.
You will probably be answering ads, contacting recruiters, contacting old friends, making new networking contacts, confirming appointments and, in the end, thanking everyone who has helped.
In this chapter we will concentrate on the most common types of letters and give you pointers on how to best accomplish the objectives of these types of letters you will be writing during your search.

Networking letters

A later chapter deals with networking, and the reasons for writing these letters the way we suggest will become more apparent when we get into that material.
Lead off a networking letter with the name of the person who suggested you make this contact. Assume that the reader will not otherwise read the letter in its entirety but will read the first sentence to see what the letter is about. When they see the name of a friend, they will be interested enough to read your letter. Later, when he or she receives your call, there will be enough interest to talk with you and meet with you. However, it will more than likely be as a courtesy to their friend. Do not underestimate the power of the referral process.
Second, and just as important, you want to establish that you are looking for information and do not expect that they have an opening or even know about an opening anywhere. This will set them at ease. (If instead you come across as looking for help you will probably get no help – you will have made the them defensive.) Then ask for a brief meeting about your job search. Perhaps mention you are seeking information about their industry or function.
Close the letter by stating that you will call, perhaps in a week to ten days, to arrange a brief meeting.

Ad responses

The best way to present your resume to a company is individually, not in a tall stack of resumes. You are in a very competitive process when you answer an ad – that is why only answering ads is a slow way to obtaining your next position. It is far better to network your way in or at least get your resume on the hiring manager’s desk by itself instead of in a large stack. But many times you may also want to answer an ad, perhaps as an additional step or because the ad is blind.
The most qualified candidate does not necessarily get the job, especially when a job is advertised. The initial screening process of a large stack of resumes is one of the weakest links in the employment process of most companies. Below are some suggestions to improve your chances.
The primary purpose of your letter should be to get your resume through the initial screening process. Picture someone sitting before a tall stack of resumes, perhaps 50, 200, 500 or more. The person doing the screening is not going to read each letter and resume no matter how great their motivation to do the job right.
Too often the initial screener is a gatekeeper with little understanding of the job requirements or of the resumes and letters they are reading. If you are a good fit for the position, the hiring manager will recognize it if you have done a fair job with constructing the letter and resume. Often, however, you need to do a great job to get past the first cut. The lesson here is to avoid the big stack and get introduced to the right person in another fashion if you can.
Many companies are giving the job of screening resumes to a computer. Your resume, and sometimes your cover letter, is scanned and the graphic image is then interpreted by the computer with some degree of accuracy. The computer is then given searches to perform against the resume database, usually based on key words for which to search. The lesson here is to get the buzz words for your industry into your resume and cover letters.
If the ad asks for salary history, do not include it. Do not ignore the request. State that your salary history will be made available when a mutual interest is established or at an interview. This way you are addressing their request and suggesting an alternative. If the ad says that no responses will be considered without salary history and it is not a blind ad, skip the letter and find another way into the company.
One approach that frequently works is to send your resume after the first wave of responses arrives. This gives the screener more time to evaluate your resume since it is now in a smaller stack – better yet it may arrive and be screened by itself. To do this, mail your resume late in the week that the ad appears. To get an even better response, send your ad a week or so after it appears. This may very well be after the first wave is considered and maybe after the first round of interviews. If no clear candidates have surfaced there will be more of an effort by the screener to screen candidates in rather than out.


Ad Response Letter outline

The first paragraph should clearly state the advertised position title and where you saw the ad (publication name and date). Express your interest in the position and mention that the position closely matches your qualifications.
The second Paragraph should present your qualifications as they match the requirements for the position. Since the initial screener may be less than qualified to evaluate your resume, the “T” style paragraph works well. Set up two columns headed “Your Requirements” and “My Qualifications.” Then list each requirement and next to it state your matching qualification. This process leads the inept screener to quickly discover that you should be kept in the “keeper” stack.
The third paragraph should again express your interest in the position and request an interview or meeting. State when you will follow up (if it is not a blind ad) and put it on your calendar. Following up will greatly increase your chances of being considered further.
Thank you / follow up letters
Always follow up any networking meeting, interview or rejection letter with another letter of your own.
After a networking meeting, send a letter to thank the contact for their time and the information they provided. Restate any information or contacts they gave you and state what you will be doing to follow up on that information. Close by letting them know you will get back to them later and let them know what happens in this follow up and that you will also let them know when you conclude your search.

eMAIL

When sending email, be as careful in its construction as you would a letter. Email tends to be less formal but don’t allow yours to become too informal.
When you add an attachment keep in mind that many people do not open attachments unless they believe it is safe to do so. Therefore, do not use attachments in an email to someone you do not know. Instead you can paste your resume into the body of an email as a text file.
When you do attach your resume to your email, a Rich Text Format (RTF) file is an effective format. You can save your resume in an RTF file with the “Save As” option under “File” on the MS Word Menu bar.



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CEN News

St. Gerard Majella

What: SGM CEN NETWORK
Career Development Series
Career Search for the Unemployed and Underemployed
When: September 19, 7:15-8:30pm
Where: St Gerard Majella
Catholic Church Building 2005,
Parish Meeting Room 224
1971 Dougherty Ferry Rd
St.Louis, MO 63122
Please join us at our next Career Development Workshop, where Kathy Bernard will help those who are currently looking for work, as well as anyone looking to advance their career or transition into another field. Her subjects will include:
  1. Writing resumes that sail through Applicant Tracking Systems.
  2. Using LinkedIn for branding, research and reaching recruiters and hiring managers.
  3. Networking effectively
  4. Salary negotiation.
Kathy Bernard is the CEO of WiserU, LLC, as well as a LinkedIn expert and career coach. She trains companies and individuals to maximize LinkedIn for sales, marketing, recruiting, or job search. Additionally, Kathy is the creator of the groundbreaking WiserU Career System, which trains participants precisely how to land and excel at high-paying jobs. Kathy has personally career coached 1,000+ job seekers, reached over 1.2 million people through her popular WiserUTips.com blog and led more than 500 weekly webinars on JobTransition.TV.

We hope you will join us so we can continue to help and support each other! If you have questions, please contact us at St Gerard Magella. There is never any cost for our service.

Holy Spirit


CEN welcomes Holy Spirit, Maryland Heights, as their newest CEN parish, offering support for employment seekers. If you are looking for work or would like to volunteer your help for our newest startup, contact Jeff Pattison, 314-853-6197.

CEN Parish Support


All job seekers are invited to contact any CEN parish for job support information. Just check links under Parishes.