Think your dream job is out of your reach? Don’t quite have all the qualifications you need? Nothing’s out of your reach if you believe in your brand! So, how can you get this impossible dream job? It’s a lot simpler than you think, you just have to approach the job a bit differently. I’m sure we’ve all written a cover letter once or twice, or at least we understand the point of one, but what if you took your cover letter one step further? When you think about it, a cover letter is like the first chapter of a book, you want to hook your reader and sticking with the norms isn’t always the best way to do that. Why not hook them in by showing them where you do and don’t have the qualifications? Sounds strange right? You’re essentially pointing out your flaws, but not really. You’ll create a T-chart, an easy visual to compare all your qualifications to the job requirement, but further than that you’re addressing the gaps that you may have.
So, why a T-Chart in your cover letter?
- You’re going against the norms and “hooking” in your reader
- It’s a quick and easy visual to determine if you suit the company and position
- You don’t shy away from any gaps you may have in the requirements, instead you embrace them and propose a way to rise about the challenge.
My marketing strategy professor assigned us with a Strategic assessment and it ended with exactly this, a cover letter. At first I was hesitant, it just seemed so out of the norm and too basic to be useful, but I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong (fitting in this case to address the gap)! What I learned through this project was that the T-chart is a great addition to a resume, but only if you understand WHY. You have to understand yourself and your own brand first. So my recommendations for you when you’re applying for ANY job (especially your dream job) are as follows:
- Understand your brand – Why you? That’s what you need to ask yourself. What makes you stand out amongst your competitors.
- Understand the industry you’re entering – Even if it’s just a quick scan over an industry outlook on IbisWorld or a bit of Google searches to get a grasp of the industry and where it’s going, it’s crucial. You’re trying to show an employer that you’re a “hot commodity” within this industry that they NEED, so you have to actually know the industry!!
- Develop your competitive advantages – This goes back to your brand and why you. The infamous question in an interview is “tell me about yourself” and this isn’t a “I like to shop and play with puppies” kind of intro, this is the why you intro! A lot of people miss the importance of this very simple question. So, if you develop your own competitive advantages you’ll have the perfect, non-scripted intro that gives insights into your professional life and how your personal experience are intertwined in that.
- The T-Chart – Once you’ve got steps 1-3 then the T-Chart becomes easy. Simply compare the positions requirements on the left-hand side and how you have or do not have those qualities on the right-hand side. Your competitive advantages also come into use here. It helps you to think around the gaps. Yes, gaps are inevitable, but if you express to an employer that you have a plan to overcome those gaps you’re positioning yourself as a strategic thinker. Remember to fall back on your competitive advantages to help address those gaps!
Whether you actually apply with this format or not, I strongly recommend at least going through the process for your own gain. It allows you to understand your own qualifications and attributes on a much deeper level and allow you to connect them with the positions you’re applying for. This is CRUCIAL, especially if you’re applying for your dream job.. you NEED to understand your own brand and address the positions requirements further than reading them and mentally checking off things that you have!
There is nothing stronger than being true to yourself and to your brand. I want to portray this to you all because I believe we all miss opportunities to analyze ourselves. So, take a few moments to understand why YOU, and then you’ll be one step closer to getting your dream job!