Cover Letters and the Sense of Urgency Myth

You can learn and take advantage of the same principle businesses spend billions of dollars to broadcast. Many job hunters are working from a position of weakness and are therefore hesitant to create a sense of urgency in their resume cover letters. They believe they must be available at all times for a potential employer and that will somehow demonstrate their determination and motivation. These job hunters often close their cover letters with “I am available any time for an interview” or something to that effect.

These same job seekers surmise that if they limit themselves in any way the employer will somehow see them as a nuisance or less valuable. This is the myth. The opposite is true. Limitation in itself creates value. That is supply and demand. And no matter what the employment environment or job market is, you can put supply and demand on your side every time. How? You are a unique asset! There is only one of you. Limit your availability and create a sense of urgency.

Perception is the same even in a buyers’ or employers’ market. When an employer receives 200 resumes and cover letters for the same position that all are available anytime, and one comes in with limited availability, that one job hunter suddenly stands out and is perceived as having more value.

Professional marketers and successful business owners know a sense of urgency drives people to buy. That’s why every sale is for a limited time and why coupons expire. Car dealers take full advantage of the sense of urgency in their advertising. Here is an excerpt from a radio commercial I heard recently for a local auto dealership:

Today we are offering possibly the greatest deals on new cars in history with our inventory reduction blowout. Hurry in now because this sale offer is for this weekend only and our stock is running out and will be gone soon.

Wow! Those two lines pack a punch. Sounds like I could miss out on a once in a lifetime sale and there is a double sense of urgency; this weekend only and if I don’t hurry the cars could be gone before I get there. Car dealerships use these ads again and again because they work. People respond to a sense of urgency. You can use the same principle in your resume cover letters:

Today I am offering possibly the greatest employer deal in history with an inventory reduction sale. Hurry and call me now because my skills are running out and will be gone soon.

OK this needs some tweaking! Sending out writing that sounds like car dealership advertising might make some HR personnel laugh but will probably not produce the results you are seeking. Obviously you don’t want to state your skills will be running out soon, but you can create urgency and limit your availability. Create urgency in cover letters by letting the employer know you will only be in their city until a certain date, or that you are contemplating another project and will no longer be available after a certain date.

If the date passes and you are not contacted by the employer you can still approach them again later. Look for real scenarios that create urgency and do not fabricate here. You can also simply state that after a certain date you expect to no longer be available: period. You can limit your availability by offering employers two or three interview times on different days. You can also do this by stating window of opportunity period such as a week that you will be in their city or town.

I Have a Confession

My personal system for screening resumes and making interview decisions for hiring at my office is unparalleled. I utilize automated contact software synchronized with my calendar. My smart phone tells me who I need to contact and when at any given moment wherever I am. All that is backed up by a live assistant.

Yet despite all my technology and cracker jack assistant, here is what often happens: While reading cover letters and resumes already screened by HR I find a candidate I want to interview and mark them with a yes; contact. Then before we reach that job hunter or before we interview him or her, a better cover letter arrives that has incorporated marketing tactics such as a sense of urgency. The urgency in the cover letter appeals to and hooks me. I waste no time and call or email the person immediately. (Notice I said a better cover letter; not necessarily a better resume.)

This candidate now has a head start over the rest of the job hunters and if we make contact and get together fairly quickly, and the person lives up to his or her qualifications, the position is filled before an interview is ever conducted with the first or earlier candidate.

Marketing Tactics for Cover Letters 101: Create a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency causes people to act now. Your cover or connect letter must cause employers to contact you. Your words must work to make that happen immediately, while they are reading your letter. You must create a sense of urgency.