Writing A Great Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter might seem pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot more to it than, “Hi I’m Joe and I’d like to apply for this job.”

Here are some tips to help you write a great one.

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Set Yourself Apart From The Job Hunting Pack

Set Yourself Apart From The Job Hunting Pack

 

A generation ago landing that first job was pretty easy compared to the situation now. Job seekers simply didn’t have to contend with the fierce competition for every position the way they do now.

 

With so many people vying for your job, you may find it’s the little things that set you apart from the pack.

 

Do your homework

If you want to shine during an interview, then thoroughly acquaint yourself with the company before you even begin tailoring your resume for them or writing your scintillating cover letter. That means checking out their About Us page, their Facebook page, Twitter. Get a feeling for the sort of company they are and incorporate that into your words, in person and on paper (or virtual paper).

 

Go over your resume with a magnifying glass

We don’t literally mean you should go over your resume with a magnifying glass, but we do mean you should check and check again and then get someone else to check for you to confirm there aren’t any typos or spelling mistakes on your resume and cover letter. Before you send it out print your resume and give the hard copy on final going over.

 

Follow up

After sending in your resume you might think your part of the initial application process is over, but there’s still one more thing you need to do. Follow up within a week. Follow up can be as simple as a quick note to the HR person or hiring manager, confirming how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity. You can also reiterate exactly how it is that you’re going to benefit the company.

 

Thank them for the interview

Within twenty four hours of your interview, follow it up with a thank you note. In the note, thank the interviewer for meeting with you, and once again, quickly touch on why you are going to be such an asset to the company. If you can manage to squeeze in something you discussed during the interview, brownie points for you!

 

Always have your elevator pitch ready

You never know when you’re going to run into someone who could possibly benefit you professionally. The last thing is want is to find yourself tongue tied when what you should be doing is wowing them with all the reasons you’re such a great candidate. Your pitch should be short somewhere between thirty seconds and a minute and it should include who you are, your great attributes and what you’re looking for.

Work on it unit you’ve come up with something snappy and attention getting. Practice your elevator pitch when you don’t need it, so when you do need it, it chirps out of your mouth like an early morning songbird.

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

For most people writing a cover letter is one of the most difficult parts of the job search. You have to sell yourself, but be modest. You have to be professional, but you also want your personality to come out. Learning to write a great cover letter can be hard. We’re here to make it a little easier.

GRADUATES: Have You Applied to Jobs Yet?

If you’re about to become a graduate soon, we know that you’re probably in the middle of finishing up that final paper, attending your last class EVER or cramming for exams. Congrats in advance! But while those are all very important, did you start applying for jobs yet?

It’s never too early to get a head start because remember, the hiring process takes a few weeks or even months for some companies. If you have some time between all the chaos at school, sit down and get your resume and cover letter together and send them out to employers. This will save you a lot of time, as you’ll be employed either right out of school or a few weeks or months afterwards.

Graduates should talk to a career counselor:
These people are here to help you. They’re also included in the tuition that you paid for at the beginning of the year. So why not take advantage of their service and get advice from them? Counselors get very busy around this time and the months leading up to graduation so give them a call first and schedule an appointment.

Graduates should start connecting with people on LinkedIn:
Create a professional profile and include a professional picture of yourself. Send requests to hiring managers and current employees in the industry you want to get in to. You can also start getting in touch with other supervisors or leaders whom you worked with in any of your past internships. Shoot them an email and ask if there are any job openings. If there aren’t any, tell them you’d like to keep in touch so when an opportunity does pop up, they can refer you.

Graduates should apply for internships to gain experience:
You don’t necessarily have to find a full-time job after graduation. If you have minimal or no experience at all, intern at a few places for a few months. But don’t forget to keep applying for jobs during this time. In the meantime, build a personal but professional relationship with employees there for a better chance to get hired in the company you are interning at.

Good luck on your journey as you start the next chapter of your life!

 

Social Media Series (Part 2): Best FREE Job Apps for Your Phone

Most things are mobile friendly these days and people take their phones with them wherever they go. So why not use it to apply for jobs? Download these free apps and apply on the go!

Job Board Phone Apps
Known job boards that are now mobile friendly.

Indeed: The biggest job search engine in the world right now and it’s very user friendly on your mobile device. Receive job alerts straight to your phone and you can also upload your resume from there. If you see something suitable to your friend, there is a button for you to email it to them, again, through your phone.

CareerBuilder.com: The great thing about this app is that you can search jobs by description, keywords or salary. But that’s not all! It also allows you to search for job openings nearby with GPS capabilities.

BeKnown: A professional networking site launched by the popular job board, Monster. BeKnown is an app where you can view individual profiles, connect with them and see their recent updates. You can also use this app to search for jobs on Monster.com/ca

Social Media Phone Apps
People use LinkedIn so often that they may not think that it could be a very useful tool for job hunting.

LinkedIn: If you’re a LinkedIn user, you already know that there is a job board section       on their website. If you download the app, you can search jobs like you normally do on your computer. You can also save jobs to apply to them later and obviously connect with others wherever you go.

Twitter: Using proper hashtags (NOTE: Please hyperlink “Using proper hashtags to blog title “Social Media Series (Part 1)”] will narrow down your job search. A list of positions will appear in the “discover” section of Twitter on your phone. Use hashtags such as #jobs #hiring or #[position name].

Other Awesome Phone Apps
Primarily used on mobile devices.

TweetMyJobs: The cool thing about this app is that it uses the GPS to locate where you are on the map and automatically populates the map view with current jobs nearby. It then gives you the option to view it “as a map”, “street view” or “list view”. You can also select the “search range” for jobs, whether it’d be a 3 or 20-mile radius from your location.

Proven: Allows you to search and apply for jobs on Craigslist and Indeed on your phone and you can also upload your resume and cover letter. The app also attracts applicants.

JobServe: Your job search can get very specific by using this. You can search for jobs with a number of filters: how long the job has been posted, salary, industry, permanent, full-time or contract, location and keyword.

 

 

Should I Apply to a Job if I Don’t Have Experience?

It happens so often that people miss a job opportunity because they actually don’t’ have the qualifications listed don’t have the qualifications or experience listed on the job posting so they don’t apply. Well NEWS FLASH! All the requirements and experience listed on the ad just make up a “wish list” for employers. They may not expect a candidate to have all those qualifications but still list them to weave out anyone who is not 100% qualified for the position.

An easy rule to remember is that if you have more than 50% of the qualifications and experience listed in the posting, you should apply. Most employers are willing to train new candidates and make exceptions if the qualifications and experience are very easy to learn.

However, don’t apply to a job if there is a very specific and mandatory education or skill requirement that you don’t have. The bottom line is to apply even if you think you don’t have experience but feel like you can confidently take on the role.

Transferable skills are an asset

After going through a good amount of schooling and having some work experience under your belt, there have got to be some skills you already have which can be transferred over to the job you want to apply to.

Work-related experience: See if the skills you’ve picked up during your previous work experiences can be applied to the job. For example, if you were a leader of six people and the job ad requires a supervisor to oversee 10 people, you still have the potential to become a supervisor because: a) You were already in a role that required some kind of leadership of others b) You know a thing or two about managing others, even if it’s less than the amount in the job ad.

Breaking into different industries: Breaking into a different industry can also work because employers might want new insight in the company. If you are an accountant and want to work in a payroll company, they might take a second look at you because the skills of an accountant are similar to payroll positions.

Your cover letter will support your “no/lack of experience”

Like we mentioned before, your cover letter can make or break your chances at getting the job. So even if you don’t have the exact experience they’re looking for, use your cover letter to highlight the experiences you do have that would make you an asset to their company.

Convince the employer: This goes back to thinking about all the transferable skills you have. If you write your cover letter well, you will have the hiring manager sold on the fact that even if you don’t have experience, you do have the skills. In the letter, talk about how your skills can be applied to the role and how you can benefit the company as a whole.

Show your knowledge for the position/industry: Do your research on the position or industry you are applying for so you know the key points to hit when writing the cover letter. That knowledge may make the difference between an interview and being passed over for one.

Maybe You’ll Get Lucky

You never know what is going on in the minds of hiring managers and their intentions for the company. Maybe they want someone who isn’t familiar with the industry to bring in new perspectives. Or they like your resume and cover letter so much that they are willing to offer you an interview. The possibilities are endless. Applying for a job even if you don’t have exact experience doesn’t hurt but it certainly does increase your chances at a job offer than not submitting one at all.

 

Part Two: Landing Your First Job: 4 Essential Tips

Tip #1: Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Obviously the best way to put your best foot forward is to physically put your foot (and the rest of you) in front of the person you’re trying to impress. Unfortunately, that’s getting a few steps ahead of yourself. You may not be able to immediately put your fantastic self in front of your fantastic new job yet, but you have a few tools at your disposal to sing your praises for you.

Warm Up to Your Potential Employer 


Cover letter:

Your cover letter is the warm up show (see “Cover Letters are a Must When Applying for Jobs”). It’s your opener, introduction and a chance to showcase a little more personality than you can within the more structured confines of a resume.  It’s also your chance to show interest in your prospective employer while getting them interested in you.

Properly introduce yourself in the letter:
When you first meet someone, you don’t say, “Hello Sir or Madame. What exactly does your company do? Well I guess I’m generic enough for you to ignore.”

You say, “Hello Mrs. Smith, what a pleasure it is to meet you. I’ve heard so much about your company. I was especially impressed by the inroads you were able to make in the European market last year. During my third year of university I had the opportunity to do a term in Germany. I believe my experiences there…” 


Show your interest in the company:

Discuss how you can be an asset. Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview at the end of your cover letter. It shows you’re serious.

Be Personal With Your Potential Employer:
If possible, make the cover letter personal.

Do your research:

Figure out the name of the person you’re sending it to, what the company does, their goals, awards and achievements. The fact that you cared enough to find out what you could about them will make them more inclined to want to find out more about you.

Write a different cover letter for each job:
Again, your goal is to pique interest in you while setting yourself apart from the rest. Remember, it’s not always the most qualified person who gets the interview – people can be trained and taught, especially in entry-level positions. It’s about making an impression and warming up the hiring manager so they want to see more.

Be Professional on Paper

First impression:

Even though you and the hiring manager have never met, putting your best foot forward on with your cover letter is the first step to make a good impression.

Revise and edit:
Double, triple and quadruple check your resume and cover letter. If you’ve done that, get someone else to check it again. Typos somehow have the ability to become invisible to the person who made them. But they won’t be invisible to the person deciding whether or not to call someone in for an interview!

Tip #2: Using Your Personal Network to Network
Tip #3: Giving Your Time to the Community
Tip #4: An Interview – SUCCESS!