Monthly Archives: July 2014

What Should Be Included in My Cover Letter For My Resume?

Posted: July 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

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In today’s job market, having a professional introduction is everything. Think about it for a moment. People spend a great deal of time developing social media profiles, producing intro videos, and creating online portfolios of their work – all in the hopes of getting noticed by the right hiring company.

In terms of a resume, a cover letter is akin to delivering an elevator speech to a new prospect or introducing yourself to a new network. Therefore, while you may give your resume much thought, a well-written cover letter is worth it’s weight in gold.

Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

A cover letter is something that sets the amateur job seeker apart from a professional. This one-page document can be a powerful “sales pitch” that compels a recruiter to bring you in for a personal interview. Unfortunately, too many folks get caught up in worrying that their cover letter won’t be good enough to get the job done. That’s why you need our expert advice on how to write the best cover letter.

Include the following five elements and your cover letter will shine!

Cover Letter Format

When writing a cover letter, use an actual format that is closely matched to the style and font used on your resume. This gives you a more branded look to hiring managers, something that subtly says, “I am serious about wanting to work for your company.” Many resumes also have matching cover letter templates you can download together or you can modify a standard cover letter format with the corresponding header, font, and layout.

Powerful Professional Opener

If you were in front of a recruiter at your dream job, what one sentence would best describe your value to the company? This is what you need to keep in mind as you write your opening sentence in your cover letter. Relate it to the actual job title you are applying for. For example, you may say something like:

“Hello and thank you for taking the time to review my above-average technical skills in consideration of the Project Manager assignment. I am eager to explain how my education, background and experience are a good match for [Company Name]’s objectives.”

What Belongs in a Cover Letter?

Writing a solid cover letter doesn’t mean you need to include everything except the kitchen sink. Consider that while you want to include your overall value statement to the hiring manager, you also want to pique their interest so that they will invite you for a personal interview. Do this by including a short bulleted list of your top skills or achievements (as they are presented on your resume.

An example could be:

  • Strong project management skills with a record of 97% successful completion on deadline
  • Proven ability to reduce project costs through careful organization of resources
  • Award-winning project in the IT market earning previous employer industry recognition

Length of the Cover Letter

Another area that many people struggle in is deciding on the length of the cover letter itself. To determine this, consider how much time you want the hiring manager to read your cover letter or if you want them to jump over to your resume to learn more? Make it short, sweet, and to the point because they are likely very busy.

A Strong Call to Action

Want to get the recruiter to stop in their tracks and actually call you? Then use a trick that marketing pros do to get prospects to take action – write a strong call to action statement. Essentially, ask the reader to give you a call for an interview. You can do this by simply saying something like:

“Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing back from you this week. I can be reached by phone Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm, at the following phone number (123) 456-7890.”

If you write your cover letter including these elements, you will increase your chance of getting asked to come in for an interview. This will help to impress even the toughest hiring managers and fast track you to a new job.


How to Prepare for a Phone Interview in 5 Simple Steps

Posted: July 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm

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Congratulations; you have been invited for a phone interview! Before you get too nervous, it’s time to get pumped up for this important call. But first, let’s share some valuable insight into phone interviews, and help you get ready for this event.

What You Need to Know About Phone Interviews

What exactly is a phone interview and why did you get asked for one? The phone interview is a critical step in the selection process for many recruiters. They often use this to screen candidates and decide if they are suitable to bring in for an in-person interview. Therefore, you can pat yourself on the back – because out of the hundreds of applicants that applied for the job, YOU got invited for a phone interview. This means you have the right qualities to start with. It also means you need to make the most of the time you spend on the phone with the recruiter.

Get Ready for the Phone Interview

Now that you understand a little more about what phone interviews are all about, it’s time to start mentally preparing yourself for the big day. Here are some pointers for preparing for a phone interview in just five steps.

Secure the Interview Details

When you are asked for a phone interview, you will want to do two things: Set up a calendar reminder for the day before, and understand how the call will take place. Some recruiters will call you directly by phone, or they may use a webinar or conference line to meet with you. Get these details in advance, be sure you can access any webinar or teleconference software, and have a noise-reducing handset available for the call. Confirm the date and time via an email at least the day before the actual phone interview takes place.

Choose a Space for the Interview

The environment in which you take the interview call matters more than you may imagine. You will want to be in a space that is quiet and distraction-free. You will want to eliminate any potential background noise from traffic, children, pets, office phones, and more. Do not take the phone interview in your car while driving, or at your current place of employment. Instead, go to a back office, a bedroom in your home, or a private meeting space; close the door, and get focused.

Have Your Resume Handy

As part of the phone interview, the recruiter may want to briefly go over certain aspects of your career history. Expect this and have a copy of your resume on hand to look over. In a phone interview, it’s easy to get confused or freeze up, so having your resume and something to write with can help.

Prepare Interview Questions

Your phone interview will consist of a brief introduction followed by a few direct questions from the interviewer. However, we advise that you also prepare a couple of questions of your own since you may be asked if you have any. Make the questions relate to your interest in the job and the company, such as finding out if the position is a new one or if you may be replacing someone. Ask if the job is full time, if you will be required to relocate, and any objectives that the position fulfills. Always ask the recruiter what the next steps will be in terms of the hiring process and if they have your full contact information in case they need more information from you.

Be On Time with a Glass of Water

In addition to being on time (or a few minutes early) for the phone interview, get yourself a nice big glass of cold water. This may seem a little silly, but your voice is the only way you get to make a first impression with the recruiter so you need to sound great on the phone. Clear your throat before the call, take a few sips of the cold water and you will be amazed at how this will get your voice ready for the interview. It also helps you to relax and focus on your speech.

Now, go ahead and head into the phone interview with confidence and a smile. You will sound wonderful to the recruiter, your strengths will shine through, and you may be on your way to a brand new career.



How to Write a Letter of Resignation and Leave on Good Terms

Posted: July 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm

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There comes a time in every working person’s life when the decision to resign from a job happens. Resigning from a job is just as important as making the transition to a new job in the career experience; therefore it must be handled with care. If you are in the midst of considering a new job, or have already accepted one; writing a formal resignation letter is probably on the list of things you must do. Learn how to write a resignation letter that will help you to leave your current job on a positive note, while helping to maintain a good future reference.

Importance of Writing a Letter of Resignation

Before you put pen to paper, there are several factors to consider when getting ready to write a letter of resignation. You’ll need to know:

  • Who to address the resignation letter to on your management team or the HR department
  • The professional reason for your resignation (make sure it’s a positive career move)
  • The actual date of your departure from the company and if you are giving advance notice
  • How long and if you intend to stay on to train your replacement or become a contractor

Guidelines for Writing a Professional Job Resignation Letter

Remember, the ultimate goal is to leave on good terms with your current employer, no matter what circumstances have led up to this moment. Why is this important? If you ever want to return to your current employer for a future work opportunity, do business with them as an independent contractor, or use them for a professional reference — your resignation letter can become a document stored in your permanent employee file.

Below, find some general guidelines for the process of writing a resignation letter:

Use a Professional Letter Format

Show your professionalism by creating your resignation letter on a formal letter template, which can be found by doing a search in your word processing software template library. You can also refer to a standard business letter format. This will help you to make a good impression on the person who will be reading it, and those who may look at it once it makes it’s way to your personnel file.

Address the Letter to the Right Person(s)

Your job as a resigning employee is to make sure that the correct member of your management team and the human resource department are made aware of your intent to leave the company. You will want to address your resignation letter to your immediate supervisor, then carbon copy or ‘CC’ his or her supervisor, and the HR manager for your company.

Open Up with a Statement of Gratitude

Soften the blow of informing your boss of your resignation by starting out with an expression of how much you have appreciated this job. You could include some note about how much you have learned and grown from this experience. Keep it simple and to the point because the next part will be harder to write.

Give a Clear Reason for Resignation

For many, this is the most difficult section to write, but it’s necessary. Write your reason out for resigning from your current position. You may want to say something to the effect that you have made the decision to pursue another opportunity as part of your career development or to pursue a career dream. Keep it positive and never bash the company, its leaders, customers, or another aspect of your current job.

Provide Your Final Date of Employment

In the next sentence, state what date you will be leaving the company – keeping in mind that the standard resignation is somewhere between two to four weeks for most professionals. If you cannot provide that much notice, give a valid reason why you must leave sooner.

Close with a Sincere Thank You

End your resignation on a positive note, again being thankful for the opportunity to work for this company and how much you have learned. Use this as a chance to speak appreciation for the job role you are leaving. This is important because you may want to come back or do business with the company again in the not so distant future.

Hold the Letter for 24-48 Hours

It can be tempting to want to hurriedly turn in a resignation letter. After all, you have a brand new adventure awaiting you! However, take a day or two to read it over and make any edits to it you need. This is important because you may avoid saying something you will regret later (if you are not leaving on the best of terms).

Print the Letter Out and Hand in Personally

Email is fine for everyday communications, but not for a career-changing event like your resignation. Take a moment to print out a copy of the resignation letter and personally deliver it to your manager. Do not merely leave it lying out in the open on your boss’s desk. Make it a point to deliver it and speak personally with your soon to be ex-manager

If you follow the above tips, your resignation letter will be well received and you will be able to leave your current job knowing you are a true professional.