QUESTION: When I present a candidate to a client, my cover letter is always quite detailed and a few paragraphs long, creating a cohesive story about their experience, goals, personality, reason for leaving their current role, etc. Writing a cover letter is the only part of my job that I absolutely detest with a passion. I hate it so much that it cause me to lose out on placing a good candidate because I procrastinate for so long about getting their resume formatted and out the door. I work alone and do not have any admin support. I have thought about outsourcing into Upwork but the prep work required means that I will probably be as fast doing it myself. I am not sure what the industry norm in regard to this. Maybe I am providing way too much info. Perhaps you can advise me on this. – Caroline, Australia
ANSWER: I think there is a happy medium. Again not having seen your work, it sounds like a lot of detail. Let me give you a couple ideas. In Australia there are a bunch of great virtual assistants in Philippines that are really inexpensive. You can hire them through Upwork.com. Check out the voice messaging app called Voxer. What you can do is Voxer them the instructions.
Let us say you have the candidate information printed out in front of you and whatever your process is, you can have them type up for you. If you were my VA, my virtual assistant, I could say, ‘Hey Caroline, okay, we have the resume of Mary Smith’ and then simply dictate the letter. You can also dictate additional edits to the resume if needed. You can be writing it, and you actually if you want hand write as you go along, scan that, and then email the scan to the person.
So yes, train them a little bit and it is going to be a little bit of a pain, especially with somebody that is detail oriented like you. When I see detail oriented, I see a little bit of a control freak probably too, Caroline. It is perfectly okay to admit that. I am a little bit of a control freak. One of the things I have realized though, the more I have delegated, the more I become passionate about delegating. What I have found, especially with many of the things I delegate, people do better than me, especially the detail work. If you do it with a VA you can make it so that part of the hiring requirement can be that there is a 48-hour turnaround. So if I get this to you by noon on Monday, I want it back from you by noon on Wednesday. The time zones are fairly similar. There is only a few hours’ difference. It might even work in your favor in your day is a little bit ahead of their day.
For anybody that has detail work, if you are doing it on your own, even if you are a solo recruiter, the most expensive thing you have is not having an admin. If you think you are saving money by not paying somebody $5, $10 or $15 an hour to do the stuff you are doing, I am just going to tell you, your time as a billable recruiter, if you are going to bill $250,000 or so, is worth $200 an hour. If you doing an hour of admin, which actually they will do significantly better than you, $200 minus the $15 you would have paid them on the high end and if you hire someone in the Philippines, probably closer to $5 or $7 an hour, it is how much it is costing you. Every time you are doing admin, for all you cheap recruiters out there, I say that with a smile on my face, it is costing you $240. I just want to change your thinking on that.
If what you are doing is yielding you, meaning you do this detail work and you are getting the person set up, then I would continue to do it because one of the things I like about this Caroline for you it is probably a huge differentiator. Most candidates are lazier than that. I think this probably sets you apart. I would probably do more to sell it too in your process, but I would format it with a pen in hand and I would just go through it and I would turn on Voxer on your smartphone, record the information, and send it over your assistant. He or she can listen to it. They can pause. They can type it up.
Just be prepared the first couple times they are going to be less than perfect. Give them some great coaching. Here is what I like. Here is what you did really, really well. Here’s what you missed. It will also probably expose some of the gaps in your communication just so that you are more specific the next time. That is probably the best recommendation I can give you.
I would not compromise on the quality piece, but I would definitely outsource preparing the piece since, I am going to use your words again, “I absolutely detest with a passion.” Thank you for that honesty. Yes, stop doing that.