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A Sentence by Sentence Formula for Writing Great Cover Letters

A Sentence by Sentence Formula for Writing Great Cover Letters
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Writing a cover letter is a big deal – and it takes some time. But who has time when your bills are stacking up and there are 10 other jobs you want to apply for today?

Don’t skimp on your cover letters though – each one should be unique to the specific job for which you are applying and this means you’ll end up spending AT LEAST half an hour on each one.

To help you boost your job application productivity, I’ve created this sentence-by-sentence guide  to help you write a flawless cover letter every time:

The Intro:

cover letter intro

    After you’ve properly typed and spaced your address, the date and the recipient’s address, follow these steps to create a solid introduction for your cover letter.

    1. State the job listing you are responding to

    If you found the job posting online, list the website. If you found it in a newspaper, say what newspaper.

    Example: I’m writing in response to your job posting on Monster.com.

    2. State the position you want to be considered for and acknowledge the company’s name

    Example: I would like to be considered for the Jr. Web Designer position at CompanyABC.

    Alternative: I’m very interested in a career with CompanyABC and I would like to be considered for the Jr. Web Designer position.

    3. Mention your Alma mater or current employer

    Example: I recently graduated from University XYZ.

    Alternative: I am currently employed at CompanyXYZ.

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    4. Quickly state two skills that show you are qualified for the position

    Example: I believe my skills with HTML5 and responsive design make me an excellent candidate for this position.

    5. Express your desire to be considered for the position

    Example: I hope you will find that my work experience, along with my education, qualifies me for this position.

    Alternative: I hope you will consider my web design skills as proof that I am a suitable candidate for this position.

    *When you’ve reached this point, leave a row of white space and begin a new paragraph (without indents!).

    The First Body Paragraph:

    cover letter

      1. Elaborate on one skill or employment position that shows you’re qualified for the job

      Example: During my time at UniversityXYZ, I held a six month internship where I was an assistant designer for the university website.

      2. State what you learned, how you overcame challenges, etc.

      Example: This internship gave me hands-on experience coding in HTML5 and CSS3.

      3. Elaborate on more skills you learned

      Example: I also managed the redesign project of the university’s blog and created fresh graphics for the university’s social media pages.

      4. Relate the skills you’ve discussed to the requirements listed in the job position

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      Example: These experiences have not only helped me hone my coding skills, but they’ve also taught me the importance of teamwork and the value of constructive criticism.

      5. Include a transition to set up the second body paragraph

      Example: I believe that my internship experience, in addition to my educational achievements, would make me a valuable member of your design team.

      The Second Body Paragraph:

      body paragraph 2

        1. Introduce a new skill set, educational acheivement or a past job that qualifies you for the position

        Example: I graduated summa cum laude from UniversityXYZ with my B.A. in Web Design and a minor in Business Management.

        2. State what you learned or what challenges you overcame

        Example: While earning my degree, I learned how to create websites, design graphics and solve website coding errors.

        3. Elaborate on additional skills

        Example: I also tutored undergraduate students who were having trouble in their Web Design classes and participated in the Student Activities Board.

        4. Relate these skills to the job posting (similar to Step 4 in the first body paragraph)

        Example: My educational experience not only taught me the professional skills I need to be a web designer, but also how to effectively manage my time and troubleshoot programming issues.

        The Conclusion:

        cover letter conclusion

          1. Draw attention to your resume (which should be sent at the same time)

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          Example: In my attached resume, I’ve provided additional information about my professional skills and qualifications.

          2. Clearly state your willingness to come in for an interview and include the position and company name one more time

          Example: I would be happy to discuss my employment as a Jr. Web Designer with CompanyABC with you at a time and place of your convenience.

          3. Provide your contact info and your rough schedule

          Example: You can reach me at 123-456-7890 anytime after 3 p.m. during the week, or you may email me at personABC@email.com.

           

          *Leave a row of white space, and provide one final conclusion such as “Thank you for your consideration.”

          Then type and sign your name and you’re cover letter is complete!

           

          Here is – roughly – what your finished cover letter should sound like. Use conjunctions like “and” to combine shorter sentences when necessary, and make sure you don’t repeat yourself too many times:

           

          Hi name,

           

          I’m writing in response to your job posting on Monster.com. Please consider me for the Jr. Web Designer position at CompanyABC. I recently graduated from University XYZ. I believe my skills with HTML5 and responsive design make me an excellent candidate for this position.I hope you will find that my work experience, along with my education, qualifies me for this position.

           

          During my time at UniversityXYZ, I held a six month internship where I was an assistant designer for the university website.This internship gave me hands-on experience coding in HTML5 and CSS3. I also managed the redesign project of the university’s blog and created fresh graphics for the university’s social media pages. These experiences have not only helped me hone my coding skills, but they’ve also taught me the importance of teamwork and the value of constructive criticism. I believe that my internship experience, in addition to my educational achievements, would make me a valuable member of your design team.

           

          I graduated summa cum laude from UniversityXYZ with my B.A. in Web Design and a minor in Business Management.While earning my degree, I learned how to create websites, design graphics and solve website coding errors. I also tutored undergraduate students who were having trouble in their Web Design classes and participated in the Student Activities Board. My educational experience not only taught me the professional skills I need to be a web designer, but also how to effectively manage my time and troubleshoot programming issues.

           

          In my attached resume, I’ve provided additional information about my professional skills and qualifications. I would be happy to discuss my employment as a Jr. Web Designer with CompanyABC with you at a time and place of your convenience. You can reach me at 123-456-7890 anytime after 3 p.m. during the week, or you may email me at personABC@email.com.

           

          Thank you for your consideration of my resume.

           

          Sincerely,

          Your Name

          Featured photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo via join.deathtothestockphoto.com

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          Published on July 27, 2021

          15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

          15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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          During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

          But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

          Put the Pro in Professional

          After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

          1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

          The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

          Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

          2. Dress the Part

          While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

          Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

          For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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          Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

          3. Stage Your Workspace

          Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

          Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

          4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

          Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

          Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

          Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

          Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

          5. Arrive on Time

          In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

          Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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          6. Turn on Your Video

          Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

          If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

          Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

          7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

          Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

          Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

          Attend to the Pesky Details

          8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

          With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

          Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

          9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

          Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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          Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

          10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

          As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

          Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

          Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

          Talking Has a Time and a Place

          11. Chat Appropriately

          Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

          At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

          12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

          The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

          Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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          13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

          In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

          Manage Yourself

          14. Minimize Distractions

          While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

          Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

          15. Save Snacking for Later

          Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

          However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

          Final Thoughts

          Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

          Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

          Reference

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