March 7, 2010
Skip the middleman: Letters to the boss could get better results than résumés
Special to NWjobs
To increase your chances of getting the job you want, don’t send a résumé, a local career coach says. Instead, send a value-proposition letter.
Mark Hovind, president of JobBait.com, says that by sending only letters — and only to those who make hiring decisions, such as the CEO, president or owner — you can uncover “hidden” job openings.
There’s no need to use fancy adjectives or rattle off years of experience and education, Hovind says. A value-proposition letter simply quantifies, in dollars or percentages, what you can do for the employer.
“If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count,” says Hovind, who began developing the value-proposition technique in the early 1990s. He says the method can work for everyone from janitors to executives.
Hovind, who has held positions from staff engineer to CEO, typically works with clients who command six- and seven-figure salaries. During this time of high unemployment, though, he’s also helping the average job seeker by offering free job-search workshops in Auburn every week.
Mark Hovind teaches free “Fierce Job-Hunting” workshops 3:30-5 p.m. Thursdays at White River Valley Museum, 918 H St. S.E., Auburn. For more information, visit jobbait.com.
At a recent workshop, Hovind explained the structure of a value-proposition letter, which should be “clear, concise and compelling.”
• Open with a question. Try something like, “Do you want to turn your Web site into a profit center?” Or, “Do you need a seasoned general manager?”
• In two or three lines, state what you do, how you do it and what the outcome is.
• Highlight your accomplishments — in measurable terms — in two or three brief bullets. Example: “Improved service response time 50 percent by implementing an e-mail request system.”
• Note why you are seeking a job and state your desired compensation level.
• Ask the decision maker to call you or visit your personal Web site (on which your résumé and other relevant information is posted).
Additional tips for writing value-proposition letters
Avoid phrases like “extensive career of progressive experience.”
Focus on recent accomplishments, or the employer may think your best days are past.
Use executive-size paper (7.25 by 10.5 inches) and limit the body of the letter to 150 words.
Start sending letters as soon as you’ve got an adequate version, but revise the letter as you send out more to hone your message.
Get feedback at Hovind’s weekly workshops.
Hovind’s workshops draw people from throughout the region and all walks of life. Many have tried traditional job-hunting methods without success, and they are eager to try something new.
After attending several of Hovind’s workshops, Kent resident Ivan Phillips is seeing some movement in his 15-month search for a construction-management job. Sending out 300 résumés netted just one response, but after mailing 65 value-proposition letters, Phillips got four responses.
“Three of them told me they were opening up jobs they hadn’t created yet,” he says.
Hovind says résumés typically don’t reach decision makers, which is why sending value-proposition letters to people such as company presidents, CEOs or owners (those who usually make the hiring decisions) taps into the hidden job market.
Eighty percent of available jobs are hidden, he says, meaning just one or two people at a company know that a job is being created or an opening is coming up. Once the word gets out, it spreads quickly.
“One person hears about it and tweets about it, and 1,000 people are lined up at the door,” Hovind says. “The objective is to get there before any of that happens.”
That’s why he recommends sending out as many value-proposition letters as possible. “It’s a numbers game,” he says. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
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