|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 that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Aug. 28, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,343
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 28, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,767
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,149
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,082
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Aug. 28, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,965
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Aug. 28, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,828
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Aug. 27, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,998
Qosmos has announced new milestones in the detection of encrypted traffic and in protocol signature coverage. Qosmos latest software can accurately classify traffic encrypted with SSL/TLS (e.g., Google, Facebook, WhatsApp), P2P traffic (e.g., BitTorrent, MuTorrent, Vuze), and Skype, while preserving the privacy of communication content. These new classification techniques mean that traffic optimization, policy enforcement, and user experience are largely unaffected by encryption. In respect wit...
Aug. 27, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,777
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Aug. 27, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,354
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, wil...
Aug. 27, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 747
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,100
Enterprises have forever faced challenges surrounding the sharing of their intellectual property. Emerging cloud adoption has made it more compelling for enterprises to digitize their content, making them available over a wide variety of devices across the Internet. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Santosh Ahuja, Director of Architecture at Impiger Technologies, will introduce various mechanisms provided by cloud service providers today to manage and share digital content in a secure manner....
Aug. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 736
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Aug. 27, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,583
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 27, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,887
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
Aug. 27, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,638