Cover Letters - Targeting The Correct Decision Maker
Recently, Lance called to ask my advice before sending out
his cover letter. He was a salesman making $75,000 in the freight forwarding
industry. Over a 5 month period he had not landed one interview even though he had
sent out more than 50 cover letters and resumes.
I asked what salary level he wanted and he said anywhere from $50,000 to
$75,000 in his cover letters. That's a big range in salary as well as level of
responsibility so I was curious if Lance was targeting
employers and his cover letters correctly.
Many sales people in the $50,000 range manage a 2 to 3 state territory with sales of $2 to $5
million and state this in their resumes. Lance told me he had been responsible for accounts in 40 states with sales of $20 million. When Lance called
or send his cover letters for $50,000 sales positions he had proudly stated he managed 40 states with sales of $20 million.
Many of the hiring officials for $50,000 sales positions that Lance spoke
with or sent his cover letter to were Senior Sales Managers. Since they are at a level that Lance is qualified for, I'm sure that many of them felt threatened by Lance's experience because he is as qualified as they
are - so his phone calls and cover letters failed.
As a result, many of his conversations were cut short and when he sent his
cover letters he didn't generate responses to them. Therefore, Lance needed to tone down his experience when
sending cover letters for a $50,000 position or when talking with Senior Sales Managers.
However, when Lance calls or send cover letters about sales positions in the $75,000 range he needs to do the opposite and
market his greatest level of responsibility. To be effective he must
call or send his cover letters to hiring officials at the
right level such as a Vice President of Marketing. This person is one or two levels above a Senior Sales Manager and won't be threatened by Lance's
experience and receiving his cover letter and resume. Or, indeed, may be very interested
and take the time to speak with Lance.
Similar problems occur when job seekers substantially elevate the image they present in their
cover letters and resumes but keep applying for jobs at a lower level. Employers then believe they are "overqualified" and
their cover letters don't land interviews.
It's not that they're not qualified for higher level jobs it's because they aren't even applying for
them and aren't sending cover letters.
To avoid such problems, be sure that your cover letters and resumes do not oversell or undersell you, and be sure to apply for positions at the appropriate salary and responsibility level that you want.
Just like Lance, contact hiring officials that are at least one level above the position you want. These strategies are just common sense, yet many job seekers fail because they don't follow these simple
guidelines when writing their cover letters.
are more cover letter snippets, cover letter tips and cover
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