|By Shelly Palmer||
|January 26, 2014 05:56 PM EST||
Connie Going has spent decades as a social worker and placed over 1,000 children in foster homes. Many times, she has matched a needy child with a loving family. Sometimes, it takes one or two tries to find the perfect fit. And one time, with a rebellious boy named Taylor, she could never get it right.
That’s why, after ten years placing Taylor — unsuccessfully — with different foster families, Connie made a remarkable decision. She decided to adopt Taylor as her own son and let him live alongside her two other children.
Great story, isn’t it? No, I didn’t make it up. It’s the focus of a recent piece by Steve Hartman, the master storyteller for CBS Sunday Morning (the best show you’re not watching).
Here’s the full version of Connie’s story. WARNING: you might sweat out of your eyes a little.
I started this column with Connie Going for a reason. A compelling story in the first paragraph hooked you and kept you paying attention.
Unfortunately, way too many people open a cover letter with:
“Hi, my name is _____ , and I am interested in the position of _____”
Guess what the employer thinks?
“I’ve seen this same cover letter about 400,000 times. Next!”
So, let’s propose a new idea…
Rather than start a cover letter in typical, ho-hum fashion, lead with a personal story that either happened at work or on your free time. It can be dramatic, interesting, unique (like Amanda Munster’s genius savings plan for a first home), exciting or downright unusual.
If the anecdote relates directly to the job you’re after — and the skills it requires — you stand a much greater chance of the employer being impressed with your application.
In other words: a stronger cover letter might just get you hired.
Why do we reads books? Go to the movies? Watch TV dramas?
Because human beings love stories. They move us, inspire us, transport us and above all… they entertain us. Why should a cover letter be a flat, unemotional document? Who decided they should exist only to regurgitate your resume? To fill up five bloated paragraphs with everything you’ve done so far in your career?
No one, that’s who. No one decided those rules. We all just slowly came to accept them.
***Oh, and you don’t have “Education” at the top of your resume, do you?***
Below, I will show you how to write your own story in the first paragraph of any cover letter for any job.
There are three advantages to this style:
- Catch the reader’s attention immediately
- Demonstrate your ability to do the job in question
- BE MEMORABLE
How to Write a Cover Letter People WANT to Read
Here’s the process. Feel free to write these answers down somewhere else.
- Think of a job you want or plan to apply for.
- List out the essential skills that job requires. Some employers ask, impossibly, that you have 500 different skills so try to think of the most important qualities of the position.
- Now, the clincher. Look back on your life and think of a moment, a story or situation that exemplifies the type of person the employer wants. Again, it doesn’t need to be something that happened on the job.
For example, I recently did this cover letter activity for a group of college students in Virginia. Almost everyone in the room is in the process of applying for work.
One girl told me she wants to be a nurse. So I asked her: “Can you tell me a story that shows you can handle the challenges of nursing?”
Here’s what she wrote down, paraphrased:
As a teenager, I learned that my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s. While it was painful to watch him decline, I made a point to provide him extra attention, tend to his ever-growing needs and be as much of a caretaker as I could. It wasn’t easy, but that experience proved to me that nursing is my calling. And that’s why I’d like to work in the medical field and help others.
If you, the director of a nursing program, read that paragraph atop her cover letter, would it give you pause? Would you want to then call the girl in for a job interview?
This girl is not a novelist, blogger or any kind of “writer.” So what. The story itself is noteworthy and doesn’t require elegant prose. She simply explained what happened and then started the SECOND paragraph with the classic “My name is ____, and I am interested in the position of ____”
***If you DO want to strengthen your writing, the best way is through blogging, and here are nine reasons why.***
Through the cover letter exercise, the girl realized something powerful:
Personal experiences are our greatest asset, and no one else can claim them.
It’s time to change how we approach job applications. With a cover letter, employers don’t need to know every single thing you’ve ever done. They don’t have the time and, frankly, they don’t care.
They WILL care and they WILL pay attention if you offer a great story that proves you’re the ideal candidate for the position.
Remember: the same person who likes hospital and courtroom TV dramas is also reading your job application.
Be entertaining. Be memorable.
I wonder if Connie Going, the kindhearted social worker, will ever re-enter the job market.
If she does, I already know how she’ll start the cover letter.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
Aug. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 247
Cloud and datacenter migration innovator AppZero has joined the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance Program. AppZero is a fast, flexible way to move Windows Server applications from any source machine – physical or virtual – to any destination server, in any cloud or datacenter, using its patented container technology. AppZero’s container is also called a Virtual Application Appliance (VAA). To facilitate Microsoft Azure onboarding, AppZero has two purpose-built offerings: AppZero SP for Azure,...
Aug. 30, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 156
Organizations from small to large are increasingly adopting cloud solutions to deliver essential business services at a much lower cost. According to cyber security experts, the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks are on the rise, causing alarm to businesses and customers across a variety of industries. To defend against exploits like these, a company must adopt a comprehensive security defense strategy that is designed for their business. In 2015, organizations such as United Airlines, Sony...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 425
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 860
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Trel...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 208
IBM’s Blue Box Cloud, powered by OpenStack, is now available in any of IBM’s globally integrated cloud data centers running SoftLayer infrastructure. Less than 90 days after its acquisition of Blue Box, IBM has integrated its Blue Box Cloud Dedicated private-cloud-as-a-service into its broader portfolio of OpenStack® based solutions. The announcement, made today at the OpenStack Silicon Valley event, further highlights IBM’s continued support to deliver OpenStack solutions across all cloud depl...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 215
Red Hat is investing in Tesora, the number one contributor to OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) also ranked among the top 20 companies contributing to OpenStack overall. Tesora, the company bringing OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) to the enterprise, has announced that Red Hat and others have invested in the company as a part of Tesora's latest funding round. The funding agreement expands on the ongoing collaboration between Tesora and Red Hat, which dates back to Febr...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 327
Everyone talks about continuous integration and continuous delivery but those are just two ends of the pipeline. In the middle of DevOps is continuous testing (CT), and many organizations are struggling to implement continuous testing effectively. After all, without continuous testing there is no delivery. And Lab-As-A-Service (LaaS) enhances the CT with dynamic on-demand self-serve test topologies. CT together with LAAS make a powerful combination that perfectly serves complex software developm...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 178
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and a...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 432
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes ab...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 601
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 334
WSM International, the pioneer and leader in server migration services, has announced an agreement with WHOA.com, a leader in providing secure public, private and hybrid cloud computing services. Under terms of the agreement, WSM will provide migration services to WHOA.com customers to relocate some or all of their applications, digital assets, and other computing workloads to WHOA.com enterprise-class, secure cloud infrastructure. The migration services include detailed evaluation and planning...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 155
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 566
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of I...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 385
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
Aug. 30, 2015 07:15 AM EDT Reads: 494