By Gerry Corbett
In my early years in public relations, I was constantly reminded by reporters, editors and columnists that the cardinal sin of media relations was trying to pitch without knowing, reading or understanding the reporter’s work and beat. In their quest for a quick hit, wet-behind-the-ears PR newbies pitched stories and ideas that fell flat because the stories or ideas were either not related or just plain irrelevant to the writer’s interest. In the process these poor souls harmed their credibility and reputation, sometimes forever. The same thinking can be and should be applied to career search. Do the research required to understand the organization and the people involved in managing the company. If you see a firm or job that attracts your interest, prepare yourself well to pitch. Read everything that you can get your hands and eyes on. Bear in mind this simple axiom, if you want to get your letter and resume read, you better read. Consider these finer points of interest and insight.
1. When and if you see a position that fits your desires and skills, thoughtfully comb the company’s web site paying attention to exactly what it does, what it makes, the team involved and any cultural and environmental clues you pick up from its web site.
2. Carefully read the media that follow the company. Monitor, absorb and understand what is being written by reporters and pundits about the firm and its management.
3. If you are able to identify who is the hiring manager, put on your scanners. Check sites like Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, ZoomInfo, Pipl, Classmates, etc. Look for profiles, blogs, articles, white papers, biographies and other information types that can give you a sense of the person’s interests, priorities, passions and preferences.
4. Use what you have read and absorbed to craft your cover letter. Often, some insight that you pick up from reading about the company and its management can make a significant difference in whether you are selected or not for an interview with the firm.
Bottom line: tailor your cover letter to the job spec and to the insight you have gained from your research about the organization, its management, and the hiring executive.