The short answer is – “Yes.”
Over at LinkedIn, one of the most popular accounts is Liz Ryan’s. Liz is a career and lifestyle coach, and her single, core piece of advice for getting the job you want is to write a “pain letter” (or, more likely these days, email.) This isn’t about your pain – how hard it is being unemployed, how little you get on welfare, all the things your friends are enjoying that you can’t afford – it’s about the company’s pain, and how you, with your skills, knowledge, and experience, can take that pain away.
You know the company is in pain because they’ve spent hundreds of pounds (sorry, I’m British – it’s pounds in my world!) placing the advert that attracted your attention.
You know they’re in pain because management are taking time out of their very busy schedules to deal with interviews, which nobody really likes. (I’ve spoken to enough people who’ve been honest about how they feel around leading an interview, and have interviewed people myself, on two occasions so far – believe me, paperwork, awkward phone calls – they’re all much more desirable than trying to ask the right questions of someone who could end up being a very expensive mistake.
You know they’re in pain because they’re hiring. Hiring is a risk, and most established companies are risk-averse.
So, you look in, round and through the job ad, the person specification, the job description. You “backwards engineer” creative negativity to discover the “negative” that caused them to advertise the position.
And then you get creative, and tell them all about their pain, and how you can make that pain go away.
It may not always work – life is like that, sometimes – but it’ll get you noticed over the 101 other applications that are thinly veiled cries for help.