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Today’s job market is very competitive not only due to the economy but because our culture has a desire for things that can do more.  There’s the IPhone with Siri which is like having a personal assistant, mini-computer and phone in one device or  Sauve’s 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  It doesn’t stop with tangible things.  What about the man that wants the supermodel, cook, and business professional all in one women?  So now you’re eating Yoplait Light for breakfast, lunch and dinner while trying to avoid the temptation of eating the gourmet dinners you’re making for him.  Then you have the women who wants the bicep bulging, romantic, protector all in one man so now you’re cooking candlelight dinner in a shirt that resembles an infant’s Onesie while on the phone with a make believe person that you are putting into place for disrespecting your mama.  This is what we’ll call the “I want it all and I want it to be delivered in one package mentally”.

So how does this relate to not sending out “I’m desperate” messaging?  Well think of like this.  If a sales person knows that their product is one in a few that can deliver the top features that a consumer is looking for it is unnecessary for the sales person to send the consumer messages that scream pick me, pick me, pick me.   All the sales person needs to do is highlight those features that they know the consumer is looking for.  So whether you’re looking for a job or a new business prospect in the current economic climate a great approach is to show the potential employer or client what you’re offering that would be difficult to find in one place and be capable of delivering on what your offering, lest you get a job or client that you’re not able to handle.  This is the Rule of Three.  Find three things you can highlight and stick to those three when writing a cover letter or business proposal.  You may have more but select the three that you know would fit in well with that particular employer or business.

Here’s an example:

You see the ad below and want to apply for it:

Looking for entry level paralegal with ABA approved certificate that will be assisting 3 busy partners in a small litigation law firm.

The ad really doesn’t give you too many details but you can read a lot into what is there.  Following the Rule of 3 you can then tailor a cover letter and resume that highlights the following:

  1. Your ability to multi-task
  2. Your ability to take direction
  3. Your knowledge of the court rules in that particular jurisdiction

How do you know that these three would be helpful in this particular job?  The first clue is that you will be working with three attorneys and need to possess the ability to multi-task and prioritize various assignments from the different attorneys in order to do the job effectively.  The other clue is that the firm is busy but is looking for an entry level paralegal instead of an experienced paralegal.  This indicates that it is more important for the firm to find someone that they can mold into the firms culture and way of doing things than having someone that can hit the ground running.  The last clue is that the ad specifies the need for a person with an ABA approved certificate.  This indicates that although the candidate does not need experience the firm wants some kind of assurance that the person they hire knows what they are doing.  Focus on these three and you increase your chance of getting this position.

You may speak French, Farsi, and Cantonese and decide that you want to highlight your wonderful language skills but nowhere in the ad did the firm indicate that they have a client base where these language skills will be useful.  The I’m desperate message you want to avoid is explaining how you are just trying to gain experience as a recent grad or indicating that you are willing to take this job as an unpaid intern in an attempt to give yourself a leg up on the competition.  The employer is posting a job for an entry level paralegal.  Explaining that you are trying to gain experience is a waste of space that can be used to describe those things that the employer is looking for.  Also the employer posted a job and is willing to pay for it so why reduce yourself to free labor when the firm is willing to pay you during your training.  Times are desperate but you don’t have to be.  Follow the Rule of Three and you can avoid sending out I’m desperate messages.