As a PRSSA professional adviser and PR student mentor, I often get questions about job searching, professional networking etiquette, cover letters, interview preparation and follow-up, and résumé writing (as well as personal branding). Those questions are typically prefaced with “how do I …” and followed by “will you read what I wrote and give me feedback”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I get incredible joy and satisfaction from helping and mentoring PR students and gladly do so; however, I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that I should write this stuff down so I could just send a ‘canned’ response to some of those frequently asked questions—just to save time.
Last Fall, I was contacted via Twitter by Danny Rubin who had just completed a book called, “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” and subtitled, “Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search”. He knew (from my bio and various social media activity) that I do a lot with PR students and thought it might be helpful. A free book? Um, yes, please! Then I completely forgot about it until a couple months later when the book arrived in the mail along with a personal note from Danny. After skimming through, I knew within minutes that this book is as good as GOLD to, not just students but young pros or really anyone—especially those who’ve been out of job search mode for some time.
Around that same time, I was planning the PRSA St. Louis annual Career Development Day and thought this would be the perfect opening keynote topic. Fortunately, we were able to bring Danny in for the event to speak and do a mini-writing workshop and it was so helpful I wanted to share with you a few takeaways.
Use the power of storytelling in your cover letters , bio, etc. (even during the interview) to make you stand out from the crowd.
- Lead with a compelling personal story—an anecdote that you can relate to the job skills required.
- Stories, told properly, will capture the reader’s attention and keep them reading.
- Unique details matter!
- A personal story will leave a more lasting impression and makes you more memorable.
- Starting and ending on the same story (a technique that professional journalists use) demonstrate that you “get it,” and that you know how to apply these tactics in a real-world setting.
So how do you do this? I’ll share an excerpt from Danny’s book (Chapter 9: The Power of Stories) where he steps the reader through the six parts of a storytelling cover letter.
Danny’s outline for the storytelling cover letter:
- Open with a line that places readers into the story. Grab their attention and make them think.
- Include concrete details about the story. The more specific you are, the more colorful the anecdote, the more memorable you will be. Quantify your results—provide hard numbers when appropriate.
- Demonstrate how the story applies to the job by referring to the job description—making sure the anecdote reflect the person the company is looking to hire.
- Show you did your research and understand how the company fits into the marketplace by explaining how you will help the company grow its business and make it more successful.
- Share more of your qualities as they relate to the story. Again, referencing the job description, touch on qualities you know the company admires and show how you would be a good cultural fit.
- Mention your story one final time and bring the cover letter full circle.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Danny offers up more than 100 templates demonstrating various scenarios and taking the guesswork out of applying these techniques.
Do you have an example of how you’ve done this effectively that you’d care to share with our readers? Or additional thoughts to offer?