When you send out a resume, what you are essentially doing is making a cold call. You are the product, and you are selling yourself to a prospective employer.
Remember, the person reading your resume doesn’t care about your career goals, what you like to do in your spare time, or what organizations you’ve joined. He’ll only pay attention to that kind of information if he thinks it will help him out in some way. To get an interview, you have to sell him on the idea that you can make his business better in some way.
That’s why the techniques of writing winning direct-mail sales letters can also help you put together great resumes and cover letters that can help you land an interview.
Good copywriters know that every direct-mail sales letter — and that includes e-mail, too — should contain these Four P’s: the Promise, the Picture, the Proof, and the Push. Ignore any one of these elements, and your sales letter has a good chance of failing. Implement each of the Four P’s well, and your sales letter has a good chance of succeeding. The same holds true for resumes and cover letters.
Here’s how the Four P’s can help you get a better job:
1. The Promise
Most people go about writing cover letters and resumes in completely the wrong way. Mistakenly, they believe that a resume is about them. But the person doing the hiring is not at all interested in you.
He’s interested in his business and what you can do for him. He’s interested in hiring you to help him meet challenges and solve problems. Copywriters know that every sales letter must make a big PROMISE. It must, in other words, let the reader know that by reading the letter he can learn about a powerful way to make more money, be more attractive, be healthier, etc.
When writing your resume, think the same way. Instead of focusing on yourself, make a promise of what you can do for the company if you are hired. Can you help it make more sales, cut costs, create better products, or do something else that will make it a more successful company? If not, why should they hire you?
2. The Picture
Copywriters learn that to convince someone to do something, you must create a deep impression. The best way to do that is to bring your ideas to life, giving them dimensions, turning them into something you can almost see, hear, feel, and sense.
As a copywriter, you learn how to create a PICTURE — because your copy will be much stronger when you give your prospect a chance to experience what you’re saying with his senses.
You must be careful with resumes and cover letters not to get sidetracked or go on for too long, but whenever you can illustrate your promise with a short example or story about something you’ve done, it will be much more powerful than if you had simply stated the facts.
In fiction, you’ll hear this idea expressed as “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of telling a prospective employer what you’ve done… show him with specific anecdotes and examples.
3. The Proof
If you’ve ever had to review a pile of resumes, you know that almost every single one makes claims such as “hardworking and efficient” or “dedicated and loyal.” Claims such as these are, of course, empty. They’re not believable.
As a copywriter, you learn that you must back up every claim in order to prove to your reader beyond any doubt that what you are saying is true. The same holds true for resumes and cover letters.
So instead of making empty promises and claims, remember that you need to back up everything with PROOF. Instead of saying that you are a “top-performing” salesperson, show the results of one of your best months. Explain, for example, that you ranked in the top 5 percent of the salespeople in your company… or show how much money you brought in to the company. Prove, in other words, every claim that you make.
One technique that can help prove your claims is to use testimonials from previous bosses or clients (with their permission, of course). People rarely do this, though it’s very effective.
4. The Push
As a copywriter, the final PUSH is what you use to get the prospect to pick up his checkbook or credit card and order the product. It’s where you ask for the sale. With a resume and cover letter, it’s the point at which you ask for what you want: an interview.
The obvious thing here is that you should ask for the interview and make it very easy for the person to get in touch with you by phone or e-mail.
That’s the very least you should do to push with your resume. But there are other ways to PUSH as well. If you’re going for a highly competitive job or one that you’re not really qualified for but feel you could perform very well, you might suggest that you do a project for the company on a freelance basis. Perhaps even for free.
You can say, “That way, you can find out if I can do what I’ve promised — without any risk on your part.”
The idea behind the push is that you want to make it as easy as possible for the prospect (in this case, the employer) to say “yes.”
Implement the Four P’s into your resume, and we promise it will be more effective.