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5 Minutes to a Better Cover Letter2If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’re probably well-aware of the importance of a compelling cover letter. It’s how you can stand out from the crowd, how you can demonstrate a slice of your personality that you really can’t convey in your résumé. It’s also a great way to take a deeper dive into some of your past experiences and really highlight your accomplishments.

How do you write a cover letter that gets noticed? Seems like a daunting task, right?

It doesn’t have to be. I’ve laid out several simple pointers below that will guide you through the cover letter writing process and help you create something that is polished and memorable.

Remember: Cover letters are not just a repeat of your resume—viewing them as such will put you at a serious disadvantage.

Cover Letter Basics:

  • Name, address, and date at the top of the letter
  • Cover letter addressed to a specific person if possible. If individual unknown, send letter to the title of recipient (Production Manager, Technical Director, Human Resources, etc.)
  • State your interest in the position
  • Make note of special skills that qualify you for the job
  • Provide contact info and a time you can be reached
  • Thank the contact and close with “Sincerely”
  • Always ask someone else to proofread your letter and resume—don’t miss simple grammatical errors!
  • Sign your letter with either blue or black ink, NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Be concise and to the point (no cutesy statements or overbearing comments)
  • Use the same paper as your resume
  • Avoid using “I” too often or repeating the same words

Beyond the Basics:

  • Focus on two (or, at the max, three) major accomplishments in your career and really dive into them
  • Use concrete facts whenever possible. For example:
    • I saved XYZ Company $3.5 million dollars in their annual budget by…
    • During my time at ABC Inc., I trained over 200 people in…
    • I helped Company X grow by 4% through my….
    • I was the top salesperson at ABC, Inc., selling $$ annually
  • Let your authentic voice come through, but don’t sound too casual. It’s a fine line to ride and you may need a friend to weigh in.
  • Do your homework. Understand the company’s values and what they’re looking for in a new employee and make sure you highlight those parts of your experience.

Interested in learning more about creating an effective cover letter or interested in consulting a professional to ensure that you land that next job opening? Contact Me Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Have you ever considered sending your resume to a company that wasn’t hiring? Or applying for a position that didn’t have any current openings? It may sound crazy, or even like a waste of time, but applying for your dream position—whether it exists or not—shows courage that other job-seekers don’t have. When taking the initiative to send an unsolicited resume, you convey the message that you’re not just looking for a job and a paycheck, but rather a career with a company that excites and interests you. If you take this plunge, here are a few things to know…

Use the Element of Surprise to Your Advantage

Your email to the company’s HR department or recruiter should explain why you’re contacting them, what you know about the company, and how you would fit into their current operation. Research the company and learn about their strengths and potential challenges they face. Show them how your skills and experience could remedy, or even prevent, future issues. For those reviewing resumes, seeing something like this can be a refreshing and welcomed surprise, and that can create a lasting impression.

Don’t Hold Your Breath, But Do Cross Your Fingers

When you invest your time and energy into submitting an unsolicited resume, know that you may not receive a response right away, if at all. Don’t take it personally. If the company has current job openings that you aren’t applying for, recruiters or hiring committees must fill those positions first. Follow up a few weeks later, but don’t be too discouraged if nothing comes of it.

When you submit your resume, send it to a real person, not just the generic catch-all email for the company. Don’t be afraid to drop off or mail a copy of your resume, too. Call their office to follow up. Since it’s so easy to email your resume without much thought, you can distinguish yourself by putting your face or voice to the name they see.

Think of This as an Investment in Your Future

When a job opening does occur, that recruiter may have a spark of recognition when they see your name among the other applicants. Better yet, he or she may contact you to let you know that a position is opening up. Perhaps you may be considered to take on some freelance work or they may contact you down the line for a job your talents are more aligned with.

In the end, putting your name out there and trying to make new connections is not going to hurt.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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According to a recent report released by the popular professional social media site LinkedIn, many of us are guilty of using words in our resume that may seem unique or appealing, but are actually overused. The report explained that “while you may think that you’re using words on your resume that will appeal to hiring managers, some words can actually turn them off.”

Make sure that you aren’t unknowingly sabotaging your own job search by perusing the list:

>> Creative

>> Organizational

>> Effective

>> Extensive Experience

>> Track Record

>> Motivated

>> Innovative

>> Problem Solving

>> Communication Skills

>> Dynamic

The article explains that popular word choice varies regionally. It explains that “the word ‘creative’ was overused in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States,” while “‘effective’ was used by too many job hunters in India” and “fantastic” was popular among Italians. It’s all so interesting!

If you’re in the middle of a job hunt, it’s crucial that you present your skills and your experience as uniquely as possible. Make sure that you take the time to scan your resume for these words and work in alternatives that more adequately relay what makes you a great candidate.

Having trouble putting your skills into words? Contact UXL today to learn how I can help to transform your resume and end your job hunt once and for all.

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By Margaret Smith, Professional Life & Career Coach

You are probably all familiar with the daunting task of writing a cover letter, or perhaps you’re facing the task of writing one for the first time. Either way, the quick and easy pointers I’ve laid out for you below will benefit the quality of your cover letter, and better your chances at landing the job.

Remember: Cover letters are not just a repeat of your resume—viewing them as such will put you at a serious disadvantage.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to personalize your introduction, align your skills to the position being targeted, and get noticed.

The objective is to have the cover letter catch the attention of the reader and cause them to pull your resume from the pile of applicants and place it in the pile of potential interviewees.

Cover Letter Quick Tips:

  • Name, address, and date at the top of the letter
  • Cover letter addressed to a specific person if possible. If individual unknown, send letter to the title of recipient (Production Manager, Technical Director, Human Resources, etc)
  • State your interest in the position
  • Make note of special skills that qualify you for the job
  • Provide contact info and a time you can be reached
  • Thank the contact and close with “Sincerely”
  • Always ask someone else to proofread your letter and resume—don’t miss simple grammatical errors!
  • Sign your letter with either blue or black ink, NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Be concise and to the point (no cutesy statements or overbearing comments)
  • Use the same paper as your resume
  • Avoid using “I” too often or repeating the same words

Interested in learning more about creating an effective cover letter or interested in consulting a professional to ensure that you land that next job opening? Contact Me Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

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