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8 Things You Should Never Say In Your Cover Letter But Probably Have

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8 Things You Should Never Say In Your Cover Letter But Probably Have

Even more than your résumé, a cover letter is a chance for you to demonstrate to a company why you are a good fit for them. It gives you the chance to show off your personality, brag a little, and point them to your salient qualifications so that they don’t gloss over the parts of your résumé that are important. Sadly, while writing a cover letter is a great opportunity, it is one that often goes horribly wrong.

The reason the cover letter causes problems for many people is they use one or more of the following phrases which are immediate red flags to any employer and will make them throw your résumé away and leave you jobless for yet another day. If you want to keep yourself out of the “Do not call” pile and land an interview, avoid these common cover letter errors.

“To Whom it May Concern”

Any banal, impersonal greeting is the kiss of death right from the outset. If you are starting a cover letter with this or “Dear Hiring Manager” it looks like a form letter that you just copied and pasted. Address it to a person whenever possible. If no name is given, try doing a little research to find out who their HR manager is. They will admire your pluck and ingenuity. If you can’t find anyone, don’t address it to a person and instead include a formal greeting such as “Good morning” or skip the greeting altogether.

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“I’m a hard worker”

This should only be included if you have never had a job before in your life. Employers all want hard workers, but more than that they want efficient workers, smart workers, intuitive workers, and dynamic workers. They aren’t looking for someone to plod through the day. They want a personality that solves problems, creates solutions, behaves positively, and gets results.

Rather than highlighting that you would make a good drone, give examples of ways you improved companies with which you have worked, added value to a brand, helped your fellow workers, or dazzled your clients.

“Looking for a more challenging position”

This statement makes it sound like the work your are doing is beneath you, which can make you seem arrogant and discontented. An employer wants to hear that you know how to challenge yourself and can expand the reach of your position on your own. They want someone that will be happy with whatever task they have rather than looking for greener pastures.

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“Seeking Advancement”

You don’t even have one job yet and you already want a promotion? Employers want people that are motivated and upwardly mobile but they also want someone who will prove they can do the job they are assigned. Nearly any company has opportunity for advancement. The key is proving that you deserve to be advanced, not telling them they should help you climb the ladder.

“I am perfect for this position”

This is a classic case of “show, don’t tell.” Words are very cheap in cover letters and if you just flagrantly point out that you are the right choice they will almost certainly dismiss you. The reason for this is they do not want to be told how the world is, they want to decide for themselves. Give examples of why you are perfect for the position and get them to make that judgement on their own.

You also come across as cocky if you tell them you are perfect. No one wants to hire a blow hard to work in their office. They want a hard worker who is happy to be there. If you come off as a braggart, expect to go to the bottom of the pile.

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“I don’t have any experience”

You never, ever want to confess that you aren’t well-versed in the functions of a particular job. Even if you don’t even know what the job entails, you should not point out where you are deficient in a cover letter. You might as well say “I know I’m wasting your time but keep reading anyway.” It annoys the hiring manager who has a stack of résumés to go through. The good news is they won’t be reading it much longer, since it will be in the trash.

If you don’t have any experience, just omit that fact and focus on facets of your personality and résumé that are related to the position. Show enthusiasm for the job. For most jobs they will train you to do it anyway so there is no reason to make yourself look weak before they even meet you.

“I have experience”

While you certainly don’t want to say you have no experience, simply stating that you have experience in a field or industry doesn’t say that you were good at it, just that you did it. It’s a generic statement that nearly everyone adds to a cover letter and makes you seem like a dry, dull candidate.

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State what you have done, why you love it, and the ways you made a previous job your own. Be specific about what you have done. Include sales goals you reached, number of people you managed, or how you expanded or streamlined the company. Add as many facts and statistics as possible to show that you aren’t just blowing smoke.

“Thank you for your time”

While it is true that everyone appreciates being thanked, this phrase and those like it take a very passive stance. They are also conclusive making the person reading it feel as if no further action is necessary. They have read your letter and you have thanked them. It is over.

Instead of just thanking them, add something that implies the conversation hasn’t ended yet. Use a phrase such as “I look forward to hearing from you” or “I anticipate your response.” This motivates them to take the next step and puts the ball in their court.

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Once you have written a good cover letter, it is time to prepare for your interview.

Featured photo credit: Antonio Litterio via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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