Want to make a really good first impression to an admissions dean or hiring partner?

This is a simple way to differentiate yourself, yet my experience has been that only about 1% of applicants and 5% of law students do it. But 50% of professionals do.

Before I reveal it, a very quick backstory is necessary. Without this understanding, I think it is hard to genuinely “get” what I am about to say. The backstory is simply that professionals are really busy, often stressed, and at times frantic. Moreover, they know all of this. Anything tedious that requires a shred of time increases that stress, and anything that helps them to alleviate time pressure decreases it. That’s all you need to know.

Now the trick. If you are ending a cover letter, finishing off an email, or leaving a voice message do not end with “please call me” or any other permutation of that sort (e.g., “if my professional experience aligns with your needs please contact me”). That is no fun for the hiring person, admissions dean, SCG consultant (actually that is fine for me), etc. They have to drop what they are doing, add something to their calendar, add notes to their calendar, and then follow-up with the call. Or, they have to immediately call without any preparation, which will stress many people out even more.

Rather, learn the phrases “I will call you in 2 business days” or “I’ll call later today” etc. You might think of something that sounds both with and professional at the same time, which would really differentiate you.

Why does this work? Well, to begin with, look at the percentages at the top of this post. You have put yourself in a highly selective group and more than likely left a positive impression. You’ve differentiated from the masses. Additionally, as alluded, you have made their life easier. Alleviated work stress. So again, happy thoughts towards you from them. Finally, you have identified yourself as a professional — which is the only thing another professional wants to surround themselves with.

If this sounds trivial to you, here is a real life story. I interviewed someone for a job opening entirely because they did this. Literally. And, we still stay in touch today. I respect him because at a young age he identified himself as a professional and stood out from the masses (the job we interviewed him for had roughly 150 applications).

Incidentally, in cover letters, most people HATE doing this. Why? because it puts the burden on themselves. But which is easier? Making a dozen or even 50 phone calls or sending out thousands of emails with zero response? Try both methods and see for yourself , then please let me know the results!

Update: Don’t do this for OCI or the Judiciary.