Monday, March 2, 2015

You gotta have a hook full of pain

You hear it all the time from your English teachers; "Hook your reader in the first paragraph or you'll lose them."

Now, English teachers everywhere are sitting smug, their red pens resting easy because hiring managers have figured out the "hook." Liz Ryan at Forbes is recommending that applicants ditch the cover letter to write the "pain" letter, and it begins with . . .

A hook (duh!). Ryan recommends a fresh news item about the company that acknowledges something great they do - who doesn't like that? Then, and here's the tricky part, you present a "Pain Hypothesis." A what?

An example works best:
"I can imagine that hiring as many people as you are, keeping tabs on payroll issues might be a constant challenge. With regulations constantly changing, it’s not easy to keep everyone paid correctly and well-informed in a growing company."
That's a Pain Hypothesis. You are saying “You have a guinea pig, eh? Have you run into that guinea pig rash that is all over town? A lot of people have!”

Don’t teach in your Pain Letter. Don’t tell the hiring manager what they should do. They know their job. Mention a possible pain point and stop.

Then move onto the "Dragon Slaying Story." Tell your hiring manger how you cured the guinea pig rash at a company where you worked.

Then wrap it up - do not go on for pages and pages - this letter should be as short as possible - we're all busy. Hook the hiring manager, complement them, slay their dragons and ride off into the sunset. It's as simple as that.

Where do you want to work? What kind of hook could you imagine that company may have? What dragons have you slain?