By: Alesia Benedict , President, CPRW and JCTC
Job search seems to be a matter of email, computer databases, job boards, and technology today but these are just tools used to accomplish a goal that has never changed in the history of hiring and job search. That goal is to connect people and jobs. Companies spend a great deal of money on hiring, about $6000 per hire (Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 2005). It’s not surprising employers prefer to hire from within (internal hires) or from referrals (employee or vendor recommendation). The results of internal hiring and by recommendation generally produce job candidates that are more suitable for the position being filled and the process saves money.While I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), I am also certified as a Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) and a former recruiter. I know that job seekers need to leverage the advantage that networking brings to the job search. It is imperative that when seeking a new job, you ask around for leads, connections, and information, as a combination of efforts produce the best results.
In addition to a stellar resume and cover letter, your job search toolkit should contain a good networking letter. Many job seekers think a networking letter is simply a cover letter in which the first sentence drops a name of someone whom the reader may, or may not know. That’s not a networking letter! A networking letter is designed to make a connection somehow, and ask for information, ask for a further connection, instigate a call to action, or establish a rapport. The networking letter will also contain information that the reader needs to know about your goals or about your qualifications, but it is not as extensive as a cover letter to a hiring manager would be.
Let’s look at the following hypothetical networking letter.
It was great to see you at the IEEE meeting on Tuesday evening. I enjoyed not only your talk on heat sink technology but also catching up on news out of Intel. Once the weather turns, we’ll have to start up our monthly golf games again.
You mentioned in our conversation at dinner that your department had been doing some work with Apple on some new innovations. While I’ve been happy working here at EA and have been able to be a part of some pretty significant accomplishments for the company, the continued far-reaching outlook at Apple for new horizons intrigues me. They are known, of course, to have the best graphics in the industry, and I’d like to find out more about what they foresee for the next five years concerning resolution and speed. I would like an opportunity to talk with someone at Apple about how my background and skills with EA could fit into their plans.
I’m hoping you can help. My goal is to meet with the head of research and development for graphics at Apple to get a better understanding of their direction and where I might be able to fit into their program. The work I’ve done in high definition pixilation may well be a skill set they are seeking and I’d like to explore that opportunity. I would appreciate a contact or introduction to your point of contact at Apple in interest of achieving my goal.
I’m attaching my resume but what I’m truly seeking is a telephone conversation with your contact or a decision-maker in the Apple R&D department. I’ll be back in touch with you by next Tuesday, by email, in hope that you can help me with this connection. I greatly appreciate your help and assistance. Give my regards to Jenna!
This networking letter does many things. First of all, it establishes the connection between the sender and receiver. It gives a context for the relationship and refreshes the memory of the reader regarding the sender.
Next, the letter references a conversation the two people had that leads to the reason behind the correspondence. The job seeker lets it be known that he is passively (and possible confidentially) exploring the market and that he recognizes the recipient’s connection into one of the industry’s leading companies. At the end of the second paragraph, the job seeker states his goal – what assistance he is seeking – by saying he is looking for a connection into the company.
The third paragraph refines that goal to a meeting with the head of research and development for graphics. He supports this goal with a brief synopsis of the experience he has that would qualify him for that type of work with the target company. He finishes the paragraph with a direct call for action from the reader. He doesn’t hint around or beat around the bush – he asks specifically for an introduction or an “in” to the company.
The final paragraph provides a reference to the job seeker’s attached resume but emphasizes the true goal is a more personal connection – a telephone conversation. He is specific about when and how he will be back in touch with the reader and then closes with warm gratitude and a greeting to the reader’s wife to reemphasize the personal connection.
You can see clearly this is not simply a traditional cover letter with a name dropped in the first sentence. While in this case, a resume was included, this letter could just as easily have been sent without a cover letter since it is not relying on the resume to make the connection but rather the person. A good networking letter makes a personal connection while asking for a specific call to action from the reader. It gives a brief overview of qualifications of the job seeker and is specific on how the job seeker will be back in touch with the reader. It is all personal and conversational while still being professional in nature.
The more our world relies on technology as tools, the more important it becomes to make job search personal and strive for connections. Technology is helpful in streamlining the process but networking is one of the most valuable tools job seekers have – and without a doubt –the most neglected. Revitalize your job search today with great networking letters and personal connections.
About the Author(s)
Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide mid-management and senior level professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. All resume writers are certified writers and her professional team has the insight needed to develop aggressive, successful resumes and career search strategies. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 50,000 job seekers to date. Alesia is a former executive recruiter and has long been an inspirational mentor and trainer to other resume writers and career professionals. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!