The Almighty Letter
Lublin's story must have resonated with a lot of readers, because it was the most e-mailed column from that day's Wall Street Journal.
I suddenly realized that not just authors could benefit from the work of the great copywriters. Such a book would be valuable to every person in business, starting with that most basic communication—the cover letter—that goes with a résumé submission.
The World's Most Boring Reading: a Stack of Résumés
Put yourself inside the head of a prospective employer who has run a help-wanted ad online and in print. Suddenly your e-mail contains a blizzard of résumés. Several days later, printed résumés start arriving on your desk. Within a week, you have more than 100 résumés.
Let's face it. All résumés look alike—one or two pages of dense copy in a Times font with the usual categories: Contact Info, Objective, Experience, Education, Skills, Summary.
What sets one résumé apart from another?
The cover letter.
The head of human resources at one of New York's largest investment banks once told me, "If a résumé arrives without a cover letter, I throw it away."
The chairman of the search committee at a major Philadelphia church that had advertised for a new rector said she would never consider a candidate who did not include a cover letter.
Why is the cover letter such an important element?
Quite simply, it's the catnip that enables a résumé to stand out from the crowd.
In addition, it's the one shot at making a personal—and possibly emotional—connection with a prospective employer.
Where the résumé is essentially a series of dry facts about a life and career, a carefully crafted letter can give a glimpse of the warm human being behind the résumé.
The great direct marketing guru Dick Hodgson wrote, "Of all the formats used in direct mail, none has more power to generate action than the letter."