Share Your Personality...
By Karen O'Connor, Head Writer at CareerJimmy
How often have you heard this advice? "Just be yourself."
You might be thinking, well who else would I be? That's a good question. We don't generally decide to be untrue to ourselves. And yet in tight, nervous situations we often behave out of character. It's as though we don't trust ourselves to be who we are, so we assume a posture we think other people - particularly hiring managers - may want to see. We put on a mask in writing and in person. We try to become what we think other people want, even if it feels uncomfortable to us.
Paula had such an experience. She had heard colleagues and friends tell her 'be yourself' as she started on her search for a new job as a manager at a prominent clothing store. "I lost myself there for a minute," she said. "I noticed my cover letter was stiff and academic in tone and filled with fancy words that didn't sound a bit like me. I couldn't seem to relax and just let the sentences flow. It's not as though I were running for president. I simply wanted to let the hiring manager know that I was qualified, that I really wanted this position, and that I was a good candidate based on my experience and interest in the fashion industry. "How difficult could that be? Yet, I made it difficult."
Apparently Paula didn't believe she was good enough or smart enough or talented enough to let her true self be known through her cover letter. "I thought I needed to overshadow my weaknesses by sounding different somehow. I can't explain it. But I knew the moment I reread what I'd written that it didn't sound a bit like me.
"My girlfriend Ginger read it over and then looked at me with a big 'duh' in her eyes! 'Paula, you are an awesome and qualified person. You deserve this job. You'll be doing the company a huge favor if they hire you. Now shred this letter and start over.'"
"I saluted. 'Yes, ma'am,' I joked. Then I wrote a letter that sounded like me and made me proud of the person I am."
A hiring manager spends only a few seconds on each cover letter, especially if hundreds come across her or his desk each week. Tiresome, academic, labored letters don't make the cut for a second reading. They're tossed in the shredder without a second thought.
It doesn't take much to see right through a 'performance,' whether in person at a business mixer or on paper in a job search cover letter. When people feel snowed by such pretense they will likely move on to the next individual.
The best way to get what you want - an interview for the job you're suited for and excited about - is to be who you are in the moment as you speak to people and as you draft your cover letter. Take some time to think about what you want to say, what you would say if you were describing the job you want while at lunch with a good friend, as Paula did with her friend Ginger.
Here are some tips to guide you.
- Write in conversational English. Leave all the 'fancy' words in the dictionary.
Dear Mr. Hiring Manager:
I saw your listing online for a qualified and experienced person to fill a new opening as manager at the Practically Perfect store in Oak Town. I got excited when I realized that the traits you are looking for in the person you hire are the very ones I can bring to this job. I am passionate about the fashion industry and I have a knack for helping women choose clothing appropriate to their size and lifestyle - from casual to elegant. I'm comfortable managing the sales personnel. I'm what many refer to as a 'people person.'
- Mention your unique abilities.
While working as salesperson and assistant manager at Linda's Clothing Boutique for the past four years I built a solid clientele. Women returned to our store for years for all of their fashion needs. I was acknowledged for going the extra mile that resulted in increased sales and revenue for the company. I can do the same for Practically Perfect.
- Conclude your letter with personal words of thanks.
I would welcome an opportunity to speak with you in person to talk over the specifics of the job and to show you that I understand and can apply the standards you've set for your company.
Thank you for reading my cover letter and resume. I appreciate it very much and look forward to hearing from you soon. If you have questions, please call. 777-777-7777
The truer you are to your personality the more likely you are to land an interview for the job you want. And by the way, Paula landed the perfect job for her - at Practically Perfect.
Karen O'Connor is the Head Writer at CareerJimmy.com. She has authored hundreds of articles on unique job search strategies that bring big results.
Karen is one of the first career insiders to reveal a "Secret Sentence" you can use on your next cover letter to land more job interviews and job offers.