The trouble with cover letters is that they need to be concise and must never be longer than a one-pager. Employers are busy professionals who have 10-20 seconds to skim your cover letter – so it’s important to state your case clearly and to the point.
How to cram lots of information into little space
It’s not as difficult as it seems. Less really is more when it comes to crafting a cover letter that hits home. It’s a simple matter of focusing your time and attention on the essentials, basically the items an employer is most interested in. Here’s 5 ways you can do just that.
1. Three paragraphs
Start with creating three paragraphs on one page. In the first one, tell the reader what job you are applying for and why. In the second you list your skills and experience. And in the third paragraph, clearly and directly ask for the opportunity to have an interview to discuss things further.
2. Stay concise
Make sure you limit each paragraph to three or four well-written sentences, cutting out all the fluff and non-essentials. These could well be the most important sentences you write in your career, so take your time to ensure they are compelling and inspire the reader to want to see your resume and even call you for an interview today.
Leave generous margins so there’s plenty of white space and be sure to double space between paragraphs. This will make the cover letter more pleasing on the eye and put the reader at ease.
4. Facilitate reading
Assist the reader see at a glance what you wish to say by using numbers or bullet points. You want the reader to be able get a two second snapshot of the cover letter, as most people do before they read it through.
5. Check and check again
Proof-read through to catch spelling and grammatical errors, then print it out for one final edit. When you think it looks good, send it over to friends and family and let them go through it with a fine tooth comb.
Now imagine how the employer will feel when he or she opens your new cover letter. Hopefully they will find a simple, clearly worded letter that contains only necessary information and with a call to action – getting you in for an interview.
The rule of keeping things simple very much applies to cover letters. With employers being inundated with applications, they will appreciate a brief and effective letter like yours. The next step will be to keep your resume short and sweet to stay consistent with your punchy new cover letter.
For more on cover letters, see First Impressions: 6 Mistakes to Keep Out of Your Cover Letter!
In today’s world, individuals will change careers on average 7 times more in their lifetime, compared to only a couple of decades ago – and this rate is rising. There is more choice available to us – especially for those with talent, drive, and ambition. Currently, the support that we tend to find is really…
After reading the book of Seth Godin, Purple Cow… Several ideas and thoughts came to my mind. In this book, Seth Godin explains that companies need to be remarkable to be successful nowadays… beforehand companies could create boring products and put a lot of ads on TV, and that was pretty much it! And it was working well!
Now the audience is more demanding, has less time and the number of choice is bigger…so you need to be remarkable to get noticed.
You need to create a purple cow (because all the “normal” cows are white, black or brown but not purple…) to be remarkable.
You also need to be focused on a niche and not selling everything to everyone. You need to focus your money and work on a small niche of sneezers or early adopters who will spread the word.
A CV is a 2D document made of a boring listing of duties and responsibilities. As a recruiter, I have seen hundreds of CVs, I can tell you, they are all the same. And those that are noticed are not noticed for the right reasons (fantasy font, colors, funny pictures).
And even if we need to follow certain rules, people forget that CVs are here to show skills and demonstrate them i.e. prove your skills. They put a job description of their current job on their CV instead of putting figures or quoting some successful case studies.
The good old days
But back in the days, you just needed to send a CV and it was working well… I do remember my father telling me he just sent a written CV by mail and got 2 interviews the following week (in the 70s). The number of educated people using CVs was quite low, the word to mouth technique was widespread. So the CV was a very efficient tool.
The cut-throat situation of today
Now it does not work so much. The number of people with degrees and strong educational background has exploded over the past decade, and everybody uses a CV whether you are a banker or a plumber. The consequence of that is that recruiters are inundated with CVs.
Every time a recruiter posts a job ad, he receives hundreds of CVs from all over the world. So he has less time to scout every CV and your possibilities of standing out are quite reduced.
Please don’t give them a reason to delete your CV
When I was recruiting, the button I was using more than anything on my keyboard was “delete”! So the CV is no longer an efficient tool, it is quite boring to read. It is a “normal” cow, you won’t be remarkable just using a CV.
The key is focus
The other lesson from this book is that you need to focus when elaborating your CV. You can’t only put everything you have done and hope for the best… You need to be specific and find a niche or a market to stand out. If you put generic things without giving any life to your CV it will be even worse. If you want your CV to look less ineffective and boring, you need to put some life on your CV ie figures, your trademark, your speciality, for example I specialized in coaching European Executives.
But please give some life to your CV, and obviously always respecting the basic rules. And you need to know who is going to be your target to customise your CV accordingly. Just one word for the CV: focus, focus, focus!
Laurent Brouat is a consultant at Link Humans[/url” class=”aligncenter”/> in London.
He is an expert on Networking and Social Networking, and speaks at conferences (MBA Reims Management School, Rouen Business School, Bordeaux Business School…) and is frequently quoted in the media.
He runs workshops on how to use Linkedin and writes a blog about career called
Linkedin have offered premium accounts to the greater public for some time now, these have been popular with salespeople and others for years. Congratulations to all you job seekers out there, the time has cometh for to get your credit cards out.
Cashing in on job seekers
LinkedIn recently announced their new Job Seeker Premium Accounts, basically charging job seekers to use an enhanced version of LinkedIn. Have LinkedIn gone nasty and exploiting the people that need it most? Not really, they will still allow you to use it the basic version for free so no panic.
There is definitely an online trend to charge for services at the moment. LinkedIn are hopping on the same band wagon as The Ladders, CareerBuilder and other platforms aimed at job seekers. They have all noticed that there is no great shortage of cash out there, however definitely a shortage of jobs. This could very well be due to layoffs avec payoffs.
As long as the value you are getting from a paid account outweighs the cost, it could be worth considering paying a little to speed up your job search.
What are the benefits?
First off, you and your profile will be bumped up to the top of the pile when applying for a particular job. This is very much like a sponsored link on Google, your name will come up highlighted in the applicants list which is likely to get you some attention from the hiring manager (along with the other paying applicants of course).
You will also be able to send InMails straight to employers that aren’t in your network. This is particularly useful when you don’t have any contacts in common and it’s impossible to obtain emails for direct contact outside of LinkedIn.
On top of that, there’s the Profile Organizer feature which lets you track the contact you have with others, save favorites and even add your own notes to others profiles. A good old spreadsheet can probably do the same but this one is automated for you.
Finally, there are some webinars with Lindsey Pollak that act as video tutorials on how to use the new functions and how to search for jobs on Linkedin in general. Lindsey definitely knows her stuff so this could be useful.
What’s the damage?
Your brand new and shiny job seeker premium account comes in three versions; basic, job seeker and job seeker plus.
As you can tell from the image, they vary a bit on price, the only difference in service is the amount of ammunition you will have for each feature.
Basic: With this option you get five folders in your Profile Organizer and you get 100 profiles in your search results. You get 10 introductions to inside sources at companies.
Job Seeker: Here we get five InMails which you can use to contact any employer inside or outside your network. Your search results expand to 250 profiles, you get 10 folders for your Profile Organizer and you get 15 insider introductions.
Job Seeker Plus: The top of the line deal lets you send 10 InMails, 25 folders in your Profile Organizer and your search results of hiring mangers go up to 500 profiles.
Is it worth upgrading?
If you use LinkedIn daily and have hit a wall where you have run out of InMails, can’t seem to get yourself organized enough and think insider introductions will help you – go ahead and try it. As long as you get useful incremental results, stick with it until you get that new job. This is assuming that you have the money to spend, check your budget and ideally cut back on something else instead.
Personally I was never convinced of the ‘regular’ premium accounts, I can live through not having 500 people coming up in my search results (the more precise search, the better anyway). I don’t really see the need for InMails as I tend to get the proper emails of people, more often than not you can guess it.
I think it’s a shame there are no free trials for the job seeker premium account but I can understand why. Job seekers are not long-term customers for any business, as soon as they get a new job they no longer need the service. LinkedIn have decided to milk it from day one which is probably the right decision from a business perspective.
What do you think?
Do you use the premium account today and has it helped you at all? Are you going to try it out?
Job interviews are stressful and preparing for them can be tough as you typically have no idea what to expect. There are a few classic questions that tend to come up and a huge one is about your weaknesses. It will sometimes be asked along with your greatest strengths, sometimes on its own. Everyone has…
The job of the resume is to get you an interview, but what if your resume doesn’t even get read? One way of increasing your chances is attaching a great cover letter, as the job of the cover letter is to entice the reader to learn more about you and read that resume.
A well written cover letter will help your resume or CV stand out from the crowd. A hiring manager, recruiter or HR person will be snowed under with applications such as yours and therefore you had better make yours be special.
The key question/problem the cover letter should answer/solve is “Why select you?” This means you have to clearly state what you do better than others, what makes you unique and how the reader would be making a mistake by not considering you for the position. Here are a few guidelines on putting together a killer cover letter today:
Make sure you put the typical details at the top of the page, get all the details right and check them a few times before sending off.
Mr. /Ms. (Name of Employer)
Dear Mr./Ms. (Their Name Again)
We begin with stating our business, basically telling the reader what job you are applying for and why. Let’s keep this short and to about three sentences, cover these points:
• Reason for writing and which role you are applying for.
• Drop any names of people you know in the organization here, e.g. “John Smith in your department encouraged me to send an application as he thinks I have the required skills to succeed.”
• Give any compelling reasons you have applied for the position or company. Keep it short and sweet, with the view to inspire the reader.
Here’s your chance to tell the employer why you are the man/woman for the job. Bring out some of your most relevant skills and experiences and mention how they will be applied in the new position. Pick out three examples of major achievements and provide the story to back these up.
• Start out with a short introduction focused on your achievements and how your skills and experience will be a good match for the new job.
• Use the rest of the paragraph to support and back up your introduction. This is where you exhibit your evidence in terms of specific positions/roles/responsibilities and so on.
• Keep this paragraph punchy and designed to impress, not to bore anyone. Don’t write too much about one accomplishment that you are the most proud of as you don’t know what the reader will think.
• Wrap things up with the final sentence, repeat the job title and company to further position yourself as the right person for the job in the mind of the reader.
• A short paragraph that simply mentions your attached resume, tells the employer you are looking forward to an interview and let them know you will be in contact by a specific date.
• Don’t forget to thank the person reading your cover letter for their time and consideration.
Your Signature (scan this)
Word of warning
A classic mistake is to use the same cover letter for all applications. This is counter-productive and the employer can spot it a mile away. The one size-fits-all cover letter will result in your resume being deleted before even opened.
For more on cover letters, click here to check out OneClick cover letters.
Image by SocialisBetter
Here are three pieces of advice for your job interview: put your best foot forward, make a good first impression, look your interviewer in the eye.
Pretty standard fare, you might be thinking. You’ve heard these tips numerous times. But have you considered what they mean and how important they really are? If not, here are some reasons to do so for each one.
1. Put Your Best Foot Forward
The wording here is a bit odd. It implies that we have three or more feet. It would make more sense and be grammatically correct to say: “Put your better foot forward.” But knowing what it means is what really matters: To start on a journey or task with purpose and gusto. In other words walk into your interview with a determined step, a smile on your face, a friendly handshake, and expectancy in your mind and heart. Be your best self and trust that your authenticity will compel the interviewer to take a good look at YOU, in person and on paper.
2. Make a Good First Impression
It has been said again and again that the first impression is the last impression. How can that be true? People judge one another by what they see and hear first. It stays with them, regardless of what happens next. So it’s worth your time to express your true self rather than to try to impress with affectation and showmanship.
Hiring managers are looking for authentic individuals who are honest, open-faced, quick to smile and shake hands firmly, ask intelligent questions, and speak openly about their qualifications for the job in question. Be positive and optimistic. Show your appreciation for the opportunity, get to the point of how you can benefit the company with your skill set, and avoid throwing verbal stones at previous employers or co-workers.
3. Look Your Interviewer in the Eye
You’ve probably heard the saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” And you know it’s true when you encounter other people. Our eyes sometimes say more than our words. So when you’re in an interview, look the hiring manager in the eye.
Listen and focus on what he or she is saying. And when it’s your turn to respond, hold your gaze and avoid distracting gestures such as playing with coins in your pocket or flicking your fingernails. One way to lose points fast is to look over the interviewer’s shoulder or glance around the room or stare at the floor when you and he or she are engaged in conversation.
The next time you’re preparing for a job interview, review these three not-so-secret secrets, put them into practice, and the wait for those six magic words, “we’d like to offer you the job”.
Fore more tips, click here to check out the Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Answers.
Today we had a chat with Heather Sanford, who is a jobseeker based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The reason I wanted to pick her brains on job hunting is that she is very prolific online and seems to know her way around social media better than most of us. If you think you can help…
I received a question from a loyal reader the other day. Let’s pretend her name is Ying and that she is in the photo. Ying works in the PR world and has been thinking about moving jobs for while now, let’s hear what she has to say.
“I’m actively looking for a senior in-house PR/comms role in a large organization. Given the current competitive job market, is it more effective to go through recruitment agencies or to directly approach target companies?”
Ying already knows what role she is looking for and possibly what companies as well. This means there is little need for using job boards, this is a case of how to pitch yourself to the employer.
The market is very tough indeed and the best route to a new job is to get introduced to the company by someone credible. By that I mean someone the company trusts and that is willing to put their reputation on the line for you. This someone can either work for the company already, they could be a client or supplier or even a competitor.
In a perfect world, we would have great contacts at every company we want to work for. Whenever we felt like moving jobs, we’d ring that particular contact up and they would introduce us to the right people.
Some people have great networks and are actually close to this, but most of us don’t and have to look at other options.
By getting to know people that work for your target company, you will get a way in. The best way to strike up these acquantancies would be to attend industry events, networking evenings and using social media online to get close to the right people. Networking will take time and a great deal of effort. Don’t expect results to come in overnight and remember that being an effective networker is all about helping others and this way they will return the favor one day.
Using a recruiter basically means you are leveraging their network and contacts to get a new position. Some recruiters have great relationships with hiring managers and can smooth talk them into interviewing you, sometimes even when there is no position going. The recruiter route is quick and can be very effective, the downside is that it will cost the company money to hire you. By using a recuiter you are attaching a price tag to yourself, which for some companies can be an additional hurdle for you to get a job offer.
Networking, recruiters… which is better then?
I would say use both. The networking should really be an integral part to anyone’s career management. The thing with networking is that you never know when a good opportunity comes up, typically when you least expect it. With recruiters it’s more straightforward, they will only look at smoking hot positions that need to filled pronto.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.