How To Write A Great Cover Letter

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!

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3 Types of Cover Letter

When you think of a cover letter you probably think of an application cover letter but there are actually more types of cover letters, each with different intentions and different tones. Check out this overview of three types of cover letters.

Your Professional Bio

Your Professional Bio

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.

Start Personal

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.

Resume No-no’s

Resume No-no’s

 

We often talk about things you need to do on your resume. Equally important are the things you should do.

 

Never repeat

Even if you did some of the same tasks in a different job or different position, don’t simply copy and paste. Instead use different words, highlight what was different, how the outcome was different, how you approached the situation differently.

 

A mess of formats

Sometimes as we update resumes, add and subtract from them the formatting gets messed up. Fonts inadvertently change, sizes switch, different types of bullets show up. When you are editing your resume make sure you go over it and ensure it’s a uniform, professional looking document.

 

Don’t let spell check do all the work

If you think you can let spell check be your editor, you need to completely rethink your staff. Spell check will certainly catch a lot, but it will also automatically rewrite words it doesn’t recognize. Re-read your resume several times to ensure it says exactly what you want it to say, and then get other people to proof it for you again!

 

Don’t mistake a job title for a personal statement

You might want to become a marketing manager but so do a million other people. Instead of going with a job title, create a personal statement about your skills and ambitions and use that as the descriptor for the job you’re after.

 

Waste the real estate

You have so little space on the resume to capture the hiring manager’s attention while highlighting all of your interesting, captivating attributes. A resume is no place to list your particular like of Bengal cats or adult coloring. If you have space for extracurricular activities talk about things you’ve done to improve your professional status or volunteering activities that benefited others.

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.

Move Your Resume To The Top of the Pile

Move Your Resume To The Top of the Pile

 

Stacked in a pile with a bunch of other resumes, you want to make sure you do everything you can to make yours stand out. Here are three simple things you can do to catch the recruiter’s attention.

 

Company culture

Before you submit your resume to any organization, check them out on every platform you can. Website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Do they seem fun loving? Serious? Innovative? Forward thinking? Glean what you can about the company culture, their beliefs and values. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not, but if you fall in line with what you read then make it apparent on your resume.

 

A touch of flare

You certainly don’t want your resume to become a circus of action and color, but you can create highlights or a touch of flare with a chart or graph or a bit of colour. Check out these resume ideas from skillcrush.

 

 Watch your words

People use all kinds of standby words like results driven on their resume that don’t actually say much of anything. Instead of using a generic term to say what you’re going to do, show them what you’ve actually done.

 

So instead of saying you are driven to succeed tell them how you have already succeeded. I did this and the result was that.

 

Give specific examples of what you did and how it impacted the workplace. Did what you did increase productivity? Did it save money? Did it improve morale? Be specific and concrete with your examples.

 

The more specific you are with your intentions and accomplishments the more likely you are to grab that recruiter’s attention.

Grab The Resume Reader’s Attention

Grab Resume Reader’s Attention

 

Whether your resume is being read by the HR manager, the head of a company, a hiring manager or a recruiter, you can bet it’s sitting in a big pile of other resumes. When your resume hits the top of the pile you have about six seconds to grab that person’s attention.

 

Make your intentions immediately obvious

If you are applying to a posted job, use the job description to highlight the skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. Make it part of the mission statement. Use bold type. Put the most pertinent information front and center.

 

Highlight accomplishments

When listing the what I did’s on your resume don’t leave it at just a list of bullet points. Expand on those bullets. Explain how what you did impacted the company, improved efficiency (in quantifiable terms. I did X and productivity increased by Y), made for a more enjoyable, productive workplace.

 

Demonstrate your leadership attributes

Even if you were not in a leadership role, you talk about the leadership role you took with yourself. The times when your imitative impacted the job or the company or others. Never be afraid to shine a positive light on your accomplishments.

 

Show a career progression

Think of your resume as a timeline for your career. Make it easy to see how you grew from position to position with an increase in responsibility. Make it easy for the hiring manager to see your professional development through each position.

 

Don’t forget your keywords

Each industry has certain keywords that are an integral part of the community. Use those keywords in your resume to ensure the hiring manager knows you are in integral part of that community.