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Archive for February, 2012

Writing a cover letter should be something that you create a basic template for that can be upgraded and customized to each position and unique employer.

You want it to be a brief marketing message that communicates your interest in the specific job and employer that uses key words from their organization’s website and the job description that sells why you are the person they want in that role.  It is a time to list your strengths that related to the position and your past success stories that tie.

Cover letters are typically 1/2 to 3/4 of a page long.  Don’t overdo it here.  Share relative information and make them want to know more about your experience, qualifications and what you can do to save them time or money or increase their revenue.

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Cover Letter – Example #1

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Jane Doe

1234 Home Sweet Home Road

Alabaster, TX  12345

972-123-1234 (cell)

janedoe@gmail.com

 

February 19, 2012

Dear Hiring Manager:

In response to your ad in the Friday, February 17, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News for a Property Supervisor, I feel my qualifications favorably match your requirements.

YOUR REQUIREMENTS                                        MY QUALIFICATIONS

Must have minimum of 3 years experience with multiple residential sites 13 years of Property Management experience for multiple commercial and  residential sites
Manage service requirements of vendor contracts Project manager for three team moves within EDS involving Real Estate, Facilities, and LAN project managers
Identify and supervise savings initiatives Saved $10,000/mo. on water usage by meter installation
Develop overhead, operating and capital budgets Met target goals of 2.7% variance in 1999 for $5m budget and saved fifteen thousand dollars the first three months employed by analyzing, researching, and following-up on P&Ls
Assure optimal functioning of building systems Inspected and evaluated builders on product completion
Degree B.S. in Management

Enclosed is my résumé for your review. I look forward to meeting with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe

Source: Job Search Guide, CTM Career Workshop in the Dallas Metroplex (http://www.ctmnetwork.org/)

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Cover Letter for Email – Example #2

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Hello Larry,

I am responding to your message for an HR/Recruiting Assistant.  This position is exactly the type of opportunity I have been looking for.  Attached is my résumé for your review.  I am currently a Human Resource Analyst for EDS.  I am seeking further advancement in a Human Resource – related field and this position offers an excellent opportunity to do so.

Related experience includes:

  • Supported internal recruiting efforts within an IT company, who employs 140,000 globally in 55 countries, in order to promote retention and employment
  • Developed relationships with recruiters, hiring managers and employees in order to understand and anticipate their hiring needs
  • Experience with administering current hiring practices and policies (including benefits, compensation, payroll, and behavioral interviewing) for new and current employee’s
  • Excellent organizational skills with the ability to multi-task and contribute independently with minimal supervision
  • Proficient with MS Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Exchange, Resumix, and internet usage
  • Great attitude and innovative thinker!

My enclosed résumé details my qualifications further.  In addition, I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you in more detail on how I can assist your organization in meeting its business goals.  Any consideration that you give towards my credentials will be greatly appreciated.

<< File: John_Hancock_Resume.doc >>

Thank you,

John Hancock

972 123 4321 (cell)

JohnHancock@gmail.com

Source: Job Search Guide, CTM Career Workshop in the Dallas Metroplex (http://www.ctmnetwork.org/)

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Recommended Resources

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High Impact Resumes and Letters: How to Communicate Your Qualifications to Employers (7th Ed)

Ronald L. Krannich, et al / Impact Pubns / January 1998

 

Cover Letters That Knock ‘Em Dead (3rd Edition)

Martin John Yate / Adams Media Corporation / November 1997

 

Job Search Magic: Insider Secrets from America’s Career And Life Coach

Susan Britton Whitcomb / JIST Works / January 2006

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I’d recommend a simple yet strategic marketing plan to follow-up on your interviews.

1.)  Contact Information

Make sure you gather the following information for every person that you interviewed with:

  1. First and Last Name (ensure proper spelling)
  2. Mailing address
  3. Email address
  4. Phone number

2.) Knowledge of Next Steps and When they plan to Make a Decision

Make sure you know what the next steps are in the interview process and when they intend on making a decision so you can customize your follow-up to their timeline.

3.)  Day of Email

Follow-up with a simple and tailored email the day of the interview to all that interviewed you.

  • Ensure that it is not the same for all interviewers.
  • Try to speak to what each interviewer seemed most interested in or what their role is in the company and how the person in this position will impact them.
  • Highlight your strengths and your interest in both the company and the position along with the opportunity to work with and for them.

4.)  Snail Mail: Class Act

Drop a handwritten note in the mail the day after the interview with your business card.

  • Again – unique for each interviewer and different from your email.
  • Note anything that you’d like to highlight about your past experience tied to their needs and reinforce your interest in the opportunity.
  • Potentially note that you’ll follow-up with a phone call.

5.)  Phone Follow-up

If appropriate, follow-up with a phone call ~4-5 business days after mailing the hand-written card.  Keep it brief.  Ensure it’s a good time.  Restate your thankfulness for the interview and your interest in the opportunity.  Ask where they are at in the process and the anticipated timing for next steps.

6.) Week After E-mail

If you haven’t heard anything from the Hiring Manager or Recruiter you might consider following-up with an email where you restate your interest in the opportunity and company.  This might be an opportunity to share a relative article that they would find interesting and valuable to their business.

** NOTE: If you haven’t heard any feedback 2-3 weeks after the interview there is a fair chance that they have chosen to move forward with another candidate.  Don’t follow-up too long as you might cause frustration and leave a negative impression. Following-up is an art and a science and you don’t want to get on the hiring manager or recruiter’s bad side for being too aggressive in your approach. **

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Business Cards are a great way for you to brand yourself!

It is impressive if you meet someone, connect with them, have a pleasant and beneficial conversation and then are able to hand them a small item that reinforces your conversation, brand and targeted next career goal.

It will also improve their ability to remember you when you follow-up.

  • Get them for free at VistaPrint.com
  • Print them from Microsoft Word Templates and business card paper (Avery)
  • Consider printing them two-sided
  • It can also be eye-catching to have a simple graphic related to your role or industry
  • It can add value and memorability if they are in color, are a unique shape or have raised lettering (thermography)
  • Same color paper and font to match your resume and cover letter paper: this ensures a consistent marketing brand

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Have ready a list of 3 professional and 2 personal references

  • Ensure that their contact information is correct
  • Be sure to keep in touch with your references on a regular basis
  • Give them advanced notice to be expecting calls from potential employers

Focused and Targeted References

1.) Name and Contact Info

Karen Smith

Human Resources Manager

ABC Company

Address

City, State Zip

Phone, Cell Phone

Email

2.) How they Know me and for How Long

Karen was my direct manager at ABC Company.

We’ve known each other for 5 years.

3.) Strengths and Successes they can Speak To

Karen can highlight my strong interpersonal skills and timely follow-up.

She can also speak to my keen attention to detail, drive for results and ability to multi-task.

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On-line Brand and References: Employers will often check social media websites

1.) Ensure your Facebook profile is professional (picture and public info – control via privacy settings)

2.) Leverage the ability to have recommendations on LinkedIn (professional headshot on LinkedIn)

  • Request them from former bosses, co-workers, clients and vendors
  • Strategically space out your recommendation requests
  • Be sure to recommend others (List your name and email)

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15 Resume Dos and Don’ts: Best Practices from a Recruiter and Career Coach

1.)  Always have a professional email address that you check on a regular basis

2.)  List a phone number that is currently working (with a professional ringtone and voicemail message with your name)

3.)  Employment History that has accurate dates

4.)  Ensure that past job titles are listed

5.) Avoid typos and use spell check

6.) Have a targeted job title and use key words so your target is clear

7.) Do not include references on your resume – if wanted will be requested

8.) Consistent formatting: alignment, spacing, font (size and style)

9.) Include core competencies, skills (soft and technical) and even community involvement or civic volunteerism

10.) If you have some college experience under your belt list it: Coursework completed towards a Bachelors degree in Business (80/120 hours or 2-1/2 years)

11.) Keep it to 2 pages maximum – ideally one page (guide the readers eye as it is a marketing piece)

12.) Use active verbs when describing your job description

13.) List accomplishments or brief one-liners of successes with metrics (save time, save money, earn money)

14.) Avoid using terms, acronyms or phrases that only those at your company will understand

15.) Tailor your resume to the job description using KEY WORDS

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Create a minimum of two versions of your resume.

1.)  Traditional: Chronological

2.)  Web-friendly Internet Text Resume — with minimal formatting so that it looks crisp and clean when uploaded into an On-Line Career Website / Job Posting Board / Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

http://www.job-hunt.org/resumeASCII.shtml

To create a text version of your current resume follow these steps:

  • Open you resume in Word or any other word processor, highlight the entire document and click “Copy” or CTRL-C.
  • Open a new WordPad file (standard in windows) or another Word Processor/text editor application (NotePad, Notepad++, Metapad or OpenOffice).
  • In the Wordpad window, click “Edit >Paste Special >Unformatted Text”  This will convert your current resume into text format.
  • Clean up any formatting issues, bullets or text strings that might have been transferred incorrectly.
  • Save the file as “Your resume TXT.txt” or “Your resume WEB.txt”.
  • You can now use this file to upload to any online job posting board.

It will prove beneficial to follow the same process with your cover letters, as they are asked for often in online applications.

3.)  OPTIONAL: Targeted resume for each Industry or Career

4.)  OPTIONAL: Functional

Another creative way of marketing oneself is with a Bio Profile

http://www.grahammanagement.com/Resume_Packages_Profile.xpg

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Strengths, Personality, Skills, Values, Interests, Abilities & Talents

As you start the job search it is important to do some reflecting by self-assessing some key areas so you can better know yourself and what you bring to the table.

The focus points are around your key differentiators and core competencies.

It answers the Hiring Manager’s questions:

“Why should I hire (or even choose to interview) you as opposed to all other candidates/applicants?”

AND

“What capabilities does this candidate possess that are critical to my business achieving competitive advantage?”

NOTE — This should be something that is not easily imitated, achieved or possessed by my competitors and that will make their product or service stand out from among the crowd.

WHAT MAKES you Y-O-U!

The more aware you are of your

  • strengths
  • personality
  • skills
  • values
  • interests
  • key differentiators
  • core competencies
  • ‘gifts’
  • abilities
  • talents

the more confident you are in who you are and what you have to offer.

Remember: An interview is a two-way conversation and just as the hiring manager is trying to picture you in the role you need to be doing the same.  If either party determines that the role is not a best fit with/for the candidate that party should end the conversation first as it will benefit both the candidate and company in the long-run.

(Education and Experience and Network can come into play in this section of self exploration but the focus is on who you are as an individual and how you stand out as a unique candidate.)

GIFTS

Experiences, Your Background, Abilities, Talents, Skills,

Knowledge, Personality, Behavior Traits

PASSIONS

Interests –> What You Enjoy

Values –> What’s Important

HOW DO I IDENTIFY MY ROOTS?

There are many tools in the form of surveys, assessments and exercises that you can do to ‘discover your strengths’ and there are many books that help you flesh this out more.  One great place to start is “What Color Is Your Parachute” by Richard N. Bolles.  There’s even a website he has filled with wonderful resources: http://www.jobhuntersbible.com/articles/wciyp.php.

Personality and Strength Assessment Surveys

  • StrengthsFinder 2.0

http://strengths.gallup.com/110440/About-StrengthsFinder-2.aspx

  • CareerDIRECT

http://www.careerdirectonline.org/learnMore/

  • PLACE Assessment

http://www.placeministries.org/t-adulttools.aspx

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

  • DiSC Profile

http://www.discprofile.com/whatisdisc.htm

  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter

http://www.keirsey.com/sorter/instruments2.aspx?partid=0

  • Use your resulting information for ideal career paths
    • ENFP Examples: Consultant, Psychologist, Entrepreneur, Teacher, Counselor
  • Use your personality type’s strengths as keywords in resumes
    • ENFP Examples: warm, enthusiastic, ability to inspire and motivate others

Skills, Values, Interests, Abilities & Talents Assessments

  • Use past Job Titles to identify talents, skills and abilities
  • Use the insight of others to identify your strengths and talents
  • Use your Values to determine target companies
    • Corporate culture – preferred work settings/ conditions, how you like to interact with people
  • Your interests help in determining your ideal industry and position

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