My previous post addressed the importance of creating value in the mind of the hiring manager. Closely related to creating hiring manager value is the establishment of what I call a “Continuum of Belief.”
Your value as the hiring manager’s problem solver must be expressed in the Continuum of Belief as conveyed initial in your cover letter. Here you set up the tone and conditions that communicate to the hiring manager your expertise and accomplishments. One of the purposes of a cover letter is to generate sufficient interest to get the hiring manager to look at your résumé. If you’ve read my career strategy books or followed me on this blog for a while, you know how important it is to pull your lists of accomplishments and achievements (quantified, if possible, and in bold typeface) from your résumé and place them in a bullet list near the top of your cover letter. If you’ve got less than 7 seconds to get a hiring manager’s interest, don’t beat around the bush with stating obvious information (such as “I am applying for…” or “Attached is my résumé”) and get to the point. Having the list of accomplishments immediately after your opening attention-grabbing sentence helps do this.
As the connections between the cover letter and achievement-focused résumé are being made in the mind of the hiring manager, in essence your standing along the Continuum of Belief strengthens as you move forward through the stages of the hiring process. If that initial stage is strong, your chances for being called in for an interview are higher. Score a great interview and your chances improve for getting on the hiring manager’s short list.
Your interview skills (both answering and asking questions) further enhance the Continuum of Belief as you proceed through this next phase of the hiring process. You may next have to interview with others in a second round, but getting through that round is made easier because of the stronger Continuum of Belief you established with the cover letter-résumé-initial interview chain. If you’re familiar with my post-job-interview strategy (detailed in Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 [Second Edition] and augmented in Strategic Career Engagement), you’ll see how to further strengthen that Continuum of Belief.
After all, creating that unique advantage is really about demonstrating that you are the best available candidate for solving other people’s problems, and that requires a strategy for career engagement. When you leave your career strategy to chance, you shouldn’t be surprised with the lack of results.