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Preemptive Listening

Every day I see a LinkedIn post talking about sending out dozen or hundreds or thousands or dozen of hundreds of thousands of letters to get a customer or a job.

I cringe.

If there are about as many jobs as there are people looking for jobs then if each applicant is sending out hundreds, each employer is receiving hundreds.

Similarly for professional services looking for new clients.

You are unlikely to get the job, the client, the dating partner, etc., if there isn’t something that makes your letter stand out. In the physical world, you might put your letter in a huge brightly colored box filled with popcorn or a least use a non-generic envelope.

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There are some really clever things that can be done of that nature in the virtual world, my favorite of them was a resume in the form of a video game.

But this article is about is not about that.

It’s instead about getting noticed by showing an employer that you have listened. That you know something about them. That you care about them in particular. Once you do that, they may care about you in particular. They might even answer your email.

For every generic, “I’d like to work for or sell something to Responsible Solutions Limited” letter I discard, I get very few that say, “I’d like to help you in propagating not disruptive improvements,” “I, too, want to make the world suck less.”

Even fewer that say, “I have an idea for how to better achieve suckage reduction,” or “I know an organization that would be interested in a responsible suckage audit.”

Which letters do you think I have someone answer?

Which do you think I personally answer?

This morning I read a suggestion that people applying for internships focus their applications on companies that actually do work in their field. It is wonderful that such advice is given. Sad that it is needed. Sadder indeed that apparently those internship seekers don’t know enough about the firms to even know whether the firms are in their field.

Perhaps they compensate by sending out even more letters. I hope it isn’t real paper. A tree should die for a better purpose.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals


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