Can a “pain letter” alleviate your pain in searching for a job?

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You can put your best foot forward in any interview or recruitment process by being proactive

So there’s been this relatively recent term that’s used in the HR and job-searching circles. You might have come across it, or perhaps not yet. But if you haven’t, I’m here to introduce you to it. It’s called a “Pain Letter.”

A Pain Letter is like a cover letter, but it is much more powerful than a cover letter. A Pain Letter doesn’t talk about you, the way a traditional cover letter does. It talks about the letter’s recipient instead – your hiring manager. Your hiring manager is the person who would be your boss if you end up working there. 


A Pain Letter is a proactive way of catching the attention of a hiring manager, to position yourself as the best person possible for a job, which may or may not yet have been listed as a vacant position. It is possible to make an educated guess about the availability of a need within an organization (even if you can’t guess whether there is a position filling it yet, but this can be achieved through research.)

The Pain Letter doesn’t focus on the traditional system of waiting for a company to publish vacancies – in which case you might find yourself in direct competition with tens, hundreds or thousands of candidates, hence your chance of having your resume/CV reviewed by the HR/Hiring Manager. A Pain Letter is proactive, in that it attempts to locate a need, pain-area, or an area of difficulty within the organization, and attempt to proffer a solution to it – thereby recommending yourself as THE SOLUTION.

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How do you reach an educated guess about the needs of the company? How do you know the pain-point of the organization you intend to work in? There’s a number of ways to achieve this; you could research, or ask friends or family members within the organization, you could read up company website, brochures, and so forth to get a feel of new things happening within the organization, including new strategic moves and other changes.

Let’s assume you discovered that Amarachi Limited, the biggest fast food chain of restaurants in Nigeria have decided to create a new portfolio to produce and distribute healthy and organic foods. You perhaps have some experience in creating organic foods, or you’re a health adviser, or a nutritionist, or perhaps a distributor of foods, or some other valuable area where you can contribute to the set-up of the new project, you write to the hiring manager to inform him about your skills, possible areas of contribution, and areas where your contribution may provide real value to the company. You sell yourself to him, simply and professionally within a page or two, to get him to consider you for the position you think you’re best suited to fill within the company.

Your Pain Letter has an important job to do. Its job is to get your hiring manager out of his or her busy routine to pause for a moment and think about the question you pose in your letter. It is a question about pain! Your Pain Letter is intended to get your hiring manager thinking about his or her biggest problem.

In order to write a Pain Letter, you have to invest some time and energy in researching the organization. You have to use your right brain. A Pain Letter is not a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. It sounds like a human being wrote it — you, specifically. And that you wrote that letter to address that need, specifically.

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If you doubt that this approach works, there’s a million and one reasons I could give to defend my position that this is something you should try. For instance, Managers like bold, confident and proactive people, and this approach forces the hiring manager to stop and consider your letter without being distracted by the pressures of formal recruitment process. There’s others I can add, but perhaps the most important thing I can use to buttress the fact that it works is this: I have used this technique in getting a job, not once, but twice, and it has worked. I’ll repeat: not once, but twice.

If it worked for me, I think it should work for someone as smart as you. Don’t you think?

Give it a try.

PS: I'll post the step-by-step process for using a pain-letter in the next post, including of course a sample or format copy in our next post. Just stay connected. Also, here's a list of courses available for August, as well as their schedules.