How do you structure a cover letter? What kinds of information should you include? Is there a a specific tone? So many question and so many answers. Check out these tips for writing a great cover letter!
You’ve been looking for a job for a while and nothing is working. You’ve created a great resume, you interview excellently, but for some reason nobody is calling you back. You shake your fist at the economy, blame the poor job market, and bitterly think about how good you could be if they just gave you a chance. You need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience, this whole system is broken and designed specifically to ruin you – you who could be so amazing if only the world weren’t so pitted against you – how is anyone expected to succeed like this?
Stop. Stop right there.
Yes, the system is broken – that’s just how it goes. But that is not an excuse to sit at home all day complaining about it. Successful people happen every day, all the time, and they deal with the same system you do. Generally speaking, they aren’t special. They’re not smarter than you, or better looking than you or born into better circumstances. The only thing separating you from the hundreds of people finding success right at this moment is the effort you put into what you do.
Give it All You Got
Yes, the job market is terrible. Successful people skirt that and make their own opportunities. Want to own a bakery? Start baking every single day. Learn to make the most delicious cupcakes on the face of this good green earth and give samples to your friends. Start selling them to their friends. Get a side job and save like a maniac with the goal of a bakery in mind. Be so good no one can ignore you. Be so good people line up outside just for a bite of one of your delicious pastries. Put hours and hours into perfecting what you do. If you want to be successful, you can’t half ass anything. Because there are 20 people who want the same thing as you do and they’re willing to put in the work.
Prepare Your Goals in Advance
Make a list every morning of three things you want to do that will inch you closer to your goal. Find people who are doing what you want to do, ask to buy them lunch, and pick their brain about every detail of their success. Find out what kind of person excels in the industry and become that person. Zero in on this one thing and make your life about it. Live and breathe it, research it to death, do as much as you can on your own so when you’re finally being considered for that job, you’ll have a lot to show them.
Pay attention to your appearance – in a perfect world it wouldn’t matter, but we don’t live in that world. People’s first impression of who you comes from how you look, so look like someone they’d want to hire. Maybe they’d love you if they got to know you, but that’s not good enough. Make them love you from the moment they see you until the moment you leave. Be charming and friendly and professional and show them you have initiative and the skills they want.
If all that sounds like too much effort then you have no right to complain about not having the job you want. If you press full speed ahead into your goals, they’ll get done. But if you’d like to lazily wander after them, then you will only experience mediocrity throughout your career path.
Applying for jobs, writing your resume and acing an interview are all about presenting yourself well. You want to highlight the skills you have and how they match up with the job you’re applying for. Some of these skills are easy to assess. Are you familiar with Microsoft Office? How fast can you type? Do you have specific certifications etc. Other skills are less easy to qualify.
What are Soft Skills?
Skills like leadership, flexibility, and problem solving are all considered soft skills. Soft Skills generally refer to the personal skills one has that allows them to work effectively with others. Soft skills are about how good you are at interacting within a team and with others.
Are They Important?
For most employers, soft skills are just as important for the applicant to have as hard skills. While hard skills will prove you are able to do the specific tasks of the job well, soft skills will tell employers whether you can work with others and help their business grow. Soft skills speak more to who you are as a person rather than a worker, and while companies want good workers, they’re also looking for great people.
Showing Off Your Soft Skills
Soft skills can be a little harder to make clear. On your resume, in your cover letter and during an interview be prepared to share examples of how you displayed creative thinking, leadership and decision-making skills. Pay special attention to the soft skills that the company has put in their job listing and think of examples for each.
Improving Your Soft Skills
If you feel that your soft skills aren’t where they need to be to land you the job, there are a couple ways to improve them. Many soft skills simply need to be flexed and used to get a better handle on them. Seminars on leadership and teamwork can serve as a base to grow from. Volunteering in your spare time will also give you instances to use and grow your soft skills. You can also use stories from volunteering in your interview to demonstrate your ability.
Take time to grow your soft skills and find ways to share them through your cover letter, resume and interview.
If you’re about to head into your first interview, it can be pretty daunting. Preparing for an interview can be difficult, especially for beginners. Today we’ve got a heads up on what you can expect from a job interview, and some helpful ideas on the best way to prepare for it.
What to Expect
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. You’re most likely going to be meeting with one person, at their place of work to talk about getting a job. It’ll probably be you and the employer sitting down across from one another at their desk, or at a boardroom table.
On to the less obvious stuff. Your interviewer may ask to see your resume. Depending on how they do their hiring process, it’s never a guarantee they’ve seen it before. So always bring a copy of your resume with you. This is something beginners often forget. Bring your resume in something that prevents it from getting bent as well. If your interviewer asks to see your resume and you pull out a crumpled piece of paper, that’s all they’ll need to know about how much you want this position.
What Questions to Expect
Every interviewer is different and every interview will vary as far as the questions go, but when you’re preparing for an interview there are a few common ones you can expect. Your interviewer will probably ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself. This is so they can get a sense of who you are. Give a brief description of where you went to high school and college, talk about your interests and how they led you to this position.
You’ll also be asked about a specific time in your past where you demonstrated a key ability. Most often, the ability they will ask about comes right from the job posting. Make sure to think of specific examples from work or school where you overcame an obstacle, had to deal with a difficult team member or found success. They more you can relate these to the job your interviewing for, the better.
Another very common question that gets asked in interviews is where you see yourself in five years, or what your goals for the job are. Being ready with an answer to this question shows that you’ve thought about your future with the company.
How to Prepare for the Interview
Now that you know what to expect and what questions you might get, what else can you do to make sure you’re ready? Undergrad Success points out the number one thing you can do is learn about the company!
Demonstrating knowledge about the company shows you’re interested in not just the job, but this specific company as well. It can be as easy as checking out their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.
There is a section when you’re filling out your LinkedIn profile, right near the top that’s called the Summary. The summary is where you talk about yourself, who you are and where you’ve worked. If you’re like most people, you find talking about yourself a little weird and you’ve spent a lot of time starring at that blank summary section wondering what exactly to write. Writing a strong bio is essential for getting people interested in the rest of your profile.
If you have Twitter you’ve come across this very same issue. Twitter offers you 140 characters for your Bio. You want to say what you’ll be tweeting about, maybe a quick joke and a nickname. There’s not much space available. You need to be concise.
Then there’s the opening section of your resume, at the very top you need a summary of who you are, what you do and what you’re good at.
Why You Need a Bio
Whether it’s for professional purposes or not, it’s good to have a Bio ready to go. In the world of work you need to be able to tell people who you are and what you’re about quickly, and directly. Here are some tips to help make writing a strong bio a little easier.
When people first read your bio or summary, they want to meet a person, not just a list of achievements. Share who you are, and what your area of expertise is. As Forbes puts it, “Tell Your Story”.
A story is always the best way to get people interested in you. How you got into your industry and what has drawn you to specific work is an awesome way to share your passion with others.
Move into Professional
Telling your personal story should lead into your professional story. How you got started, where you are now and where you are aiming to go. Share your passions and your professional history including your achievements and successes. Once you’ve hooked people with your personality and story, it’s time to show them you’ve got the stuff.
Write in Third Person
According to Chris Brogan, you should write your bio the third person. You want it to sound as professional as possible, so instead of writing “I studied abroad…” write “James studied abroad…” While it’s generally understood you’ll be writing your own bio, this added element of professionalism can go a long way.
Keep It Short
Some summaries are anything but. People go on and on about what they’ve done and where they’ve been. No one wants to know everything about you right off that bat. Too much text and they lose interest and move on. Focus on the things that you’re proudest of, and the things that highlight you and your accomplishments best. Most importantly, if using your bio for a specific job application, make sure you share the things that best match up with that job.
Whether for your resume, LinkedIn, a website – whatever, it’s always a good idea to have a bio ready to share.
Do you consider yourself a go-getter? Do you have drive, passion and motivation about your job or are you one of the many who go to work and then go home? Actions speak louder than words. It’s one thing to say that you want to be successful but it’s another to actually act on it. If you are a go-getter, you know the trials, tribulations and failures that go along with achieving your goals. Here’s five tips on how switch from a go-hoper a go-getter:
1) Accept failure & move forward
Know that there will be bumps along the way and handle it with grace. Nothing comes easy and if you have your eye on the prize, forget the bumps and move on!
2) Never give up
Like we just mentioned, even if one thing doesn’t work out, something else will. Focus on the things that do work which will get you closer to the finish line.
3) Always be positive
Dwelling on the negatives will only set you back. Tell yourself that you can achieve it. Good things happen to positive people!
4) Be aggressive (in a professional way)
Everyone is capable of doing anything. But there’s a difference between the people who go after what they want and the ones who just sit there and don’t bother. Try to network and do things outside the box – don’t be shy. It’ll be worth it in the end.
5) Do something everyday
Set small goals and do something that will lead you to your long-term goal. Do something productive everyday to keep your mind active.
If you want to be satisfied with your salary, you need to be satisfied when you start the job, not with what you see as potential down the road. A lousy salary isn’t suddenly going to come up to your expectations once your employer gets a load of your spectacular, shining personality. If you want or expect a certain salary, it’s best to have that in place your first day on the job. You can certainly move up from a starting salary, but you should not be working up TO the starting salary you were hoping for.
What is the job worth?
To start with you have to know what the job is worth. If the going rate for the position is $40K then no one is going to offer you $60K no matter how exceptional you are.
Your first job is to figure out what that job is worth. If you know people in the industry ask them. Best not to say, “Hey Jan, so how much do you make in that job of yours?” Better to try, “Jan, can you tell me about current market trends for a person in your position?” Use the Internet to research salaries in the industry – sometimes the Internet needs a break from showcasing cute cat pictures. As well as online salary calculators you can check out websites and directories of professional associations.
What are your expectations?
You are going to be giving a huge chunk of your time and commitment to this job. What is that worth to you? If that number isn’t in the same vicinity as the amount people are earning for the job you’re applying for, then either the job or your expectations are going to have to re-locate.
If you were buying a house you’d have a top number you couldn’t go beyond, a bottom most happy number and a number in the middle. For salary expectations it’s like buying a house, but the numbers are upside down. The lowest, bottom number is the one you could get by on, the top number the one where you would dance all the way to work everyday, and a middle Goldilocks number.
By having clear expectations going into the interview, when the time comes to start negotiations you’ve got a number to start with.