By Roy H. Williams
When I handed Corrine the classified ad and told her to place it in the Help Wanted section of the paper, she glanced at it and said, “We’re going to be absolutely swimming in applicants.” The ad was for a full-time, in-house webmaster and it offered the successful applicant a great salary, fabulous benefits and a private office full of new equipment in a world-class facility. And since Austin is home to at least 1,000 unemployed webmasters right now, you’d think that this would be a pretty easy position to fill.
But then you’d be wrong.
During the next 2 days we received 59 applications by email, and even though every one of the applicants had all the skills required to do the job, not a single one of them was acceptable to me.
The secret to successful selling is to talk to the customer in the language of the customer about what’s important to the customer. And what was important to this customer? My website. That’s why the only contact information included in the ad was, “Apply by email to
Now think about this with me for just a minute. You’re a webmaster who is about to apply for a job to
But my goal in today’s memo isn’t to rant about the foolishness of 59 unemployed webmasters in Austin. My real hope today is to help you understand how to make a better presentation. Never forget: a bad presentation is one that’s focused on you; a good presentation is one that’s focused on the customer.
Here’s an example of the kind of cover letter that makes a job applicant stand apart from the crowd:
Dear Mr. Pugliani,
When I read that you were searching for a service manager, I immediately drove to your store to see what your company is all about. It was Saturday, about 3:15, and even though your place was jam-packed, I was immediately greeted by Donna Ferguson and offered hot coffee or a cold coke. Then I spoke for a minute or two each with Jerry Tiegs, Sonja Johnson and Bryan Adams and after those 4 encounters (including Donna,) it hit me that your company is exactly the kind of place that I’ve always wanted to work. Mr. Pugliani, I’ve got all the skills and experience that you mentioned in your ad, but so do a lot of other people. The main thing that separates me from them is that while each of them wants a job, I want to work for your company, specifically. You run an exceptional operation and I very much would like to be part of it. I think I’m the person you’re looking for and if you’ll take a moment to interview me, I believe that you’ll agree.
Doesn’t it seem reasonable to you that the resume attached to this cover letter might look a little better than the others to dear Mr. Pugliani?