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Your Cover Letter’s Third Paragraph — Getting the Reader to Act

If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

In the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character, Blake, gives a shape-up or ship-out speech to a group of real estate salesmen. He turns over a blackboard on which two sets of letters are written. One set of letters is “ABC.” Blake then shouts, “A-B-C. A, always; B, be; C, closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!”

To shorten your job search, envision you’re looking for your next client. Finding your next client is a sales process; therefore, you need to A-B-C. When you’re in A-B-C mode, you move through an employer’s hiring process much faster than passive job seekers.

A-B-C isn’t only for when you’re at the interview stage, intending to close the deal (obtaining a job offer). To get your network to inform you of job opportunities, get past gatekeepers, and especially to get that covenant interview, you need to A-B-C, which is why your cover letter’s last paragraph needs to be a call to action.

Here are 3 examples:

With my 15+ years of sales management experience, I know I can quickly get up to speed as ACME Inc.’s next Sales Director. I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you regarding my qualifications. Next Wednesday, I’ll reach out to schedule a call to discuss my thoughts on who to raise ACME Inc.’s ROI by 25% before year-end. I look forward to speaking with you.

I’m inspired by Callister Inc’s success in supporting homegrown businesses. I have several ideas for marketing strategies to increase profitability among your customer base and how I can grow your reach. I look forward to the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

I’m looking forward to discussing my skills and my 10+ years of international hotel management experience. I’ve several suggestions I’d like to pass by you on how Grand Budapest Hotel can increase its occupancy rate, a challenge all hotels face during the current pandemic. Please contact me at (555) 916-225-5887 or mary.smitters@hotel.com any time. I’ll be in touch next Friday to follow up.

Your closing paragraph needs to:

  • Be decisive. Decisiveness projects confidence, which is not to be confused with arrogance. Confidence is a massive turn-on with employers.Before the hiring manager can feel (hiring comes down to gut feel) you can do the job, they need to feel that you feel you can do the job. 
  • Write to what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you.
  • Offer a teaser. To use another movie analogy, think of Marlon Brando’s words in The Godfather, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” This sets the foundation for what’ll be discussed and therefore puts you in the driver’s seat.
  • Mention you’ll follow up. (Then DO IT!

The last point is a job search game-changer. Many career experts claim following up is overly aggressive. The way I see it, not following up makes you passive, which is a form of being lazy. I’m repeating myself; employers don’t hire lazy. 

There’s been a few instances where I’ve been overwhelmed with resumes. Those who called me almost always got an interview. I can recall three times where I hired the person based on a “follow-up” phone conversation.

A few weeks back, a Regional Sales Director for a large pharmaceutical company told me when hiring a sales representative, he only grants interviews to those who follow up. This makes sense since sales success requires being comfortable making calls.

Bottom-line: Following up by phone will set you apart from your competition.

Of course, if the job posting says “No phone calls please.”, which is uncommon, you need to respect such instruction.

Regarding signing off, use any of the following:

  • Sincerely
  • Best regards
  • Sincere regards
  • Yours truly
  • Respectfully

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier column, there’s no universal hiring methodology. Don’t stress over small details, such as how to sign off. Throughout your search, focus on communicating how you’re able to bring results (value). Such focus will have you A-B-C.

If you’re wondering what the other set of letters Blake had written on the blackboard, they were AIDA. A — Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. This is what your cover letter needs to do.

About the author

Nick Kossovan

Nick Kossovan

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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