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Start The New Year Off With A Bang Using These 6 Job Search Tips

Start The New Year Off With A Bang Using These 6 Job Search Tips

January means a new year, and for many, a new start—things like looking for a new job and planning for the future. With the flip of the calendar to 2016, January also means that companies are solidifying their budgets and strategic plans and know that in order to be successful, they need the right people in the right seats to move the business forward.

As a candidate, one way to stand out is to keep applying when others are not over the holiday break. But what do you do when January arrives and the floodgates open? As a hiring specialist who helps companies find and retain top talent, I can tell you that we generally peruse 100 to 300 resumes to find our client’s next superstar. And during this pre-screening process, I see many poorly prepared candidates who aren’t ready to speak with us, let alone to our client. Where the holiday season is huge for retailers, this time of year is very busy for hiring managers. This is a good thing for jobseekers, most of whom needed a job yesterday.

If you’re jobless or looking to enhance your career situation, now is a time to change your mindset and get back to the basics of an effective job search. Here’s a refresher on job search etiquette, with some common blunders sprinkled in along the way.

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1. You’re submitting a hundred resumes a week, but are you tailoring them to each position?

I can’t tell you how many times we get resumes with typos, referencing the wrong job, or not at all connecting their background to the position of interest. This happens with all kinds of positions, at every level of the workforce. You might make that connection in your cover letter, but it also has to be in your resume.

2. Organization is key

Keep a record of the jobs you’re applying to, including titles, companies, and contact information. If your resume is posted on any of the job boards like Monster or Career Builder, refresh them often and keep them up to date. This will save you from being caught unprepared or confused about what type of position a hiring manager is calling about.

3. Be accountable

We hear from almost every candidate, “I have been sending resumes, but I never hear anything back.” Meanwhile, we hear from employers and even our own recruiters, “We never heard back from that candidate. Why did they even send us a resume or apply?” The frustration is mutual.

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The lesson here is that if a hiring manager calls or emails you, reply. Even if you’re no longer interested or have already secured a position. It’s the considerate and professional thing to do, and you never know what the future holds. You could end up applying for another job at that same organization 5 years down the line.

4. There is no crying in baseball

If you’re contacted personally for an interview, be prepared to tell your story in a way that connects to that specific position, and shows how you can help that organization. We constantly hear from candidates that only want to talk about being the victim rather than taking responsibility—”It’s the economy’s fault,” or “I’ve been going through some personal issues.”

As hiring authorities, we want to speak to excited, motivated individuals that are ready to discuss how they can provide value. You also have to be prepared for when the hiring authority hones in on what you don’t have—candidates typically get offended by this and become defensive. This line of questioning must be handled with readiness and professionalism. Respond with something like, “While I may not have the exact skillset you’re looking for, this is what I have done in the past to get up to speed with the requirements of my position.”

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5. Play your part

According to our hiring clients, everyone needs interview coaching. Many candidates just show up and expect the employer to control the interview. The most effective interview for the candidate, and the most valuable for an employer, is extremely interactional. Be ready.

6. Follow up

As a job seeker in 2016, it’s your responsibility to appropriately follow up on any candidate process you participate in. Many times, I speak with candidates who tell me about an interview they thought went very well. Then I ask them about the next step, and they don’t know what to do. It’s entirely appropriate at the close of an interview to ask about next steps, but then do your part to follow up accordingly. Check in with your contact during the recruiting process, and do so with respect. Do not become impatient or stalk that person.

It’s a new year. Make it a new you. Employers will love interacting with you!

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Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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