Career Resources

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ask not what the company can do for you...

I often am reminded of President John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural words whenever I am counseling a student about how to frame their cover letter or interview answers, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what can you do for your country." Similarly, when writing a cover letter or planning your interview answers, the focus should not be on what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.

Don't use words like, "I am hoping to learn more about," or "I am excited to work at your company because you are well known in the industry." Who is benefiting here? Certainly not the company. Remember, you are trying to sell yourself to the company. Why should they hire you? What's in it for them? Hiring companies are making a tremendous investment in whomever they hire, whether it's for an internship or full-time position.

So, when writing your cover letter or thinking about your interview answers, approach it from the perspective of what can you offer to the company. What are the skills and qualifications that you possess that can help them grow their business, increase their ROI, solve a problem, develop their market, or enhance their corporate image? By focusing on how you can benefit the company, you will be practicing the penultimate marketing principle: to design and deliver a product that meets your customer's, i.e, hiring company's needs.

1 comment:

Gary Bergmann said...

In my MBA classes as well as with my private clients, I have been using that line "Ask not what a company can do for you...ask what you can do for the company" for years, to impart the necessity of a cover letter addressing how you can deliver value to an organization. Too many people talk about their favorite radio station, WII-FM (What's In It For Me) in cover letters and interviews, and can't understand whay they never get called back.