Archive for October, 2014
How to write a successful covering letter
University of Kent Careers and Employability Service.
Why do you need a covering letter?
|“My pet hates: incomplete and inaccurate application forms, no covering letter, poor grammar and spelling, careless handwriting and letters written on scrap paper”
Partner in firm of solicitors.
The covering letter is vital to your CV. This is why it is the first page and not an addition. “Please find enclosed my CV” won’t get you very far.
Your covering letter demonstrates your writing style better than your CV (which is usually more brief and factual).
The covering letter puts flesh on the bare bones of the CV. It points out to the employer the information showing that you have the qualities the job calls for, and makes a statement about yourself and your suitability for the job. It should give the personal touch that your CV will intrinsically lack.
A survey in the US of employers found that
- 42.9% wanted candidates to submit a cover letter for each position.
- 29.8% felt that they were not important (“I don’t have the time to read them anyway”)
- 27.4% had no preference
How long should your covering letter be?
In the same survey above
- 19% of employers preferred a full page
- 46% preferred half a page
- 11% had no preference
- 24% felt the shorter the better!
The key point here is that it should never be longer than one page long.
Find a quiet place to write your letter …..
Who should you address your letter to?
Try to find the name of the person to write to. Research by Forum3 found that those who included a letter with their CV were 10% more likely to receive a reply and those who addressed the covering letter and envelope to the correct named person were 15% more likely to receive a letter of acknowledgement and 5% more likely to gain an interview. They also found that 60% of CVs are mailed to the wrong person, with the managing director being the main beneficiary of the unsolicited mail.
|Think of a covering letter as a glass of brandy. It’s a short measure, quite potent, you’ll know very quickly if you like it or not, and it’s very easy to judge the quality.
A CV is more like a glass of wine. It’s a bit longer, and while like brandy it’s basically fermented fruit juice it takes more time to grade, and probably a bit more skill.
David Welsh, Richmond Solutions
A recent survey by Saddleback College in the USA found that the preferred salutions of HR managers were:
- Dear Hiring Manager, 38.1% (I’m not so sure that this is right for the UK!)
- Dear Sir/Madam, 17.9%
- Dear Human Resource Director, 9.5%
- To whom it may concern, 26.2%
- Leave it blank if you don’t know the name. 8.3%
“We would recommend to students that they think carefully about how to re-write at least their covering letter, and possibly also their CV specifically for the post they are applying for. The best applications were succinct and clear, with unfussy covering letters and CVs.
|A survey of 500 employers and 2,000 consumers by the jobsite Foosle found that 60% of employers think CVs don’t accurately represent people applying for jobs in their organisations. Many candidates use buzz words they think employers wish to hear. ‘Hard-working’, ‘team player’ and ‘motivated’ were the most over-used words on CVs making them meaningless to employers and doing little to make candidates stand out.|
It is also always worth checking over a covering letter before sending it, as there were silly errors such as spelling mistakes or the covering letter written for a different placement. A good idea that we saw surprisingly little of is to list the competencies that the job advert says are being looked for, and outline how and why you fulfil those competencies. “
The writing rules of George Orwell
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive voice (e.g. “Bones are liked by dogs”) where you can use the active voice (“Dogs like bones”).
- Never use jargon if you can think of an everyday equivalent.
Does your surname matter?
Researchers at Cambridge University found that, if your surname is King or Prince, you are more likely to be a manager, whereas those with more “common” names such as Cook or Baker are more likely to end up in blue-collar jobs.
What do employers look for in covering letters?
- 33% Tailored skills from the job description
- 26% Clarity (well-written, formatted, specifying job applied to)
- 20% Details from your CV (additional accomplishments, explanation of any gaps, etc.)
- 19% Your value, not the basics, why we should hire you
- 18% Spelling & grammar
- 17% Personal vision & uniqueness
- 12% Brevity
- 10% I never read them!
Suggested structure for your covering letter:
|If you start with a name (e.g. “Dear Mr Bloggs”) you should end with “Yours sincerely“. If you start with “Dear Sir or Madam” you should end with “Yours faithfully“.
Put your covering letter as the body of your email. It’s wise to format it as plain text as then it can be read by any email reader.
|“As an employer who’s just gone through recruiting a graduate, I’d say about 50% of graduates sent me a pro-forma letter and standard CV, with no attempt at matching their skills and experience to those on the job specification.
Several had either got my company’s name wrong, or left in the name of the organisation that they had previously applied to. A good 30% of the cover letters were between four and six pages long and a number had used CV templates without removing the format.
But those who can write a relevant cover letter and CV stand out like diamonds and are a joy to shortlist.”
Emails are not as easy to read as letters. Stick to simple text with short paragraphs and plenty of spacing. Break messages into points and make each one a new paragraph with a full line gap between paragraphs. DON’T “SHOUT” (WRITE IN UPPER CASE!) Your CV is then sent as an attachment. Say you’ll send a printed CV if required.
If you don’t know the name of the person you are writing to, it’s probably best to use the formal Dear Sir or Madam and to sign off Yours Sincerely or Yours Faithfully (see above).
If they have already emailed you, reply back in the same style, so if they have signed their email “Jenny”, write Dear Jenny, but if they have signed it “Ms Smith”, write Dear Ms Smith.
If they have emailed you and addressed you Hi Dave, then it’s OK to reply Hi Jenny.
Also mirror the way they sign off, if they use “regards“, “best wishes”, then it’s safe to do the same.
For more about this see the excellent BBC article Should e-mails open with Dear, Hi, or Hey?
How should you start it? Survey of covering letter opening lines.
Here are the most common opening lines from a sample of covering letters by University of Kent students (numbers of occurrences in brackets)
- Now see our Covering Letter Examples
- Also see our other pages on making applications including on-line applications.
- If you are having difficulty with any part of your CV or covering letter, you can consult the duty careers adviser from 10.30a.m. – 12.30 p.m. and from 2.00 – 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
How not to write a covering letter:
Content Source: University of Kent Careers and Employability Service
Interview tips – 5 Tips to Prepare for that First ‘Real’ Job Interview
You’ve graduated and now have to land that perfect job. Do you know how to present yourself at the job interview?
You have graduated high school or college and now you’re ready for your first ‘real’ job. You’ve mailed out résumés and have been called in for your first interview. How can you do well at the interview so you wind up being offered the job?
1. Dress professionally. No midriff shirts, low-cut blouses or flip-flops because you’re going to work and not the beach. While it’s not necessary to buy a suit, it is particularly important to look professional. If you’re trying to get a job in a conservative office such as an accounting firm, don’t dress as if you were going to a concert. If you are applying for a retail position, you have a little more freedom. Rather than list what clothing is and is not acceptable, I would tell you to dress as if you were going to meet one of the most important people in your life- because you are!
2. Make sure you are well-groomed. Don’t look as though you just rolled out of bed and couldn’t bother to take care of basic personal hygiene. Nothing will make the HR Manager bring the interview to a close faster than unwashed hair, dirty fingernails or body odor. As an employee, you will be a reflection of the company and no customer wants to do business with an unkempt person.
3. Be aware of your body language. A firm handshake at the start of the interview shows you are self-confident. Maintain eye contact, stay relaxed and be attentive to the interviewer. Ask questions and listen thoughtfully to the answers. Think before you answer questions from the interviewer- don’t ramble and keep the conversation on the topic.
4. Be prepared for the interview. Research the company beforehand- every business now has a website where you can learn what they do and who their customers are. This shows the interviewer you are interested in the job and took the initiative to find out all you could about the company.
5. Be present in the interview. I’ve interviewed candidates who acted as if they were waiting for a bus. They didn’t ask questions, but instead just listened to me, and I wasn’t really sure if they were paying attention. Be enthusiastic, ask questions and participate in the interview. After listing all the duties required of the position, I asked one candidate if this sounded like something she’d be interested in. Her reply was a quiet, “I can do the job.” She didn’t answer my question, she seemed indifferent, and she didn’t get the job. If you can’t be excited in the interview, you’re not going to be energized in the workplace either.
First impressions count, and you want to let the interviewer know you want the job, are willing to work hard and will do your best. You might not necessarily be the most qualified candidate, but still land the job because you were the most outstanding one. Good luck!
Published on JOBCOM – www.jobs.mvnoblog.com
New Job Blues- Now What?
You’ve landed what you thought was the job of your dreams. Each stage of the interview went smoothly – you sold them on your skills and expertise, and your prospective boss sold you on the position and benefits of joining the company. He/she seemed excited about extending an offer. And then, with offer in hand, it was thrilling to give your notice (or tell your friends you’re finally employed after a long stint of unemployment!). All seemed right with the world.
You’ve now been on board a few days… a week… perhaps even a month. Suddenly you’re not so sure you’ve made the right decision. The job that seemed like a dream is starting to feel like a nightmare. Perhaps the position isn’t what you thought it would be; it’s either too narrow, too broad, not challenging enough, or more of a stretch than you imagined. Maybe the company isn’t measuring up. Or, perhaps your boss isn’t the caring, supportive mentor you thought he/she would be.
In a state of confusion, you wonder what you should do. Stick it out? For how long? Leave? Then what? The decision to stay or leave a new job is a personal one, with no right or wrong answer, as everyone’s situation is unique. And most people, at one time or another, have been faced with this dilemma. To help you think through your next move and determine what’s right for you, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
Is it just the newness of the job? Changing jobs can be an unsettling experience. In your previous job, you knew your way around – you knew what was expected of you; you knew your job; you knew the players; you felt like you belonged. In a new job, however, it takes time to learn the ropes and feel like you’re truly adding value. Sometimes it’s best to give yourself time to get over the “newness” and then decide if the job is right for you.
Can you live with your boss? Hiring managers sometimes put their best foot forward in an interview, then do an about-face when a new employee arrives. Even though your boss isn’t the supportive manager you thought he/she would be, can you live with the change? If so, it may be worth staying. If, however, you experience a nauseous stomach on Monday mornings or a rise in blood pressure every time he/she walks into your office, it may be wise to consider leaving.
Can you navigate the politics? Office politics can be the bane of many employees’ existence. If you’ve been hired into a political crossfire, it will be important to assess your political skills to determine if you can make it work. If politics aren’t your strength, you may want to leave before you find yourself failing without even knowing why. If you’re good at developing relationships and working with differing styles, as well as “managing up”, you may want to consider staying and seeing if you can make a tough situation work.
What will you learn if you stay in this job? Sometimes a seemingly wrong job can turn out to be a terrific opportunity to learn new skills, become exposed to new technologies, and gain valuable experience. Is it possible this job could be a stepping-stone to a better, more satisfying job down the road? Could it ultimately propel your career forward? If so, and you can tolerate everything else, it may be worth staying.
If the scope of the job has changed, can it be renegotiated? If the actual work turns out to be far different from what you thought it would be, you may want to speak with your manager to see if aspects of the job can be changed. If the scope is too narrow, can more responsibilities be added? If the workload is too great, can you get some assistance? If the job ultimately represents a step backwards and/or you’re doing work you didn’t feel like you signed up for, it may be worth looking elsewhere.
Can you afford to leave without another job to go to? If your boss, or the job, or the politics are so bad it’s beginning to affect your health and personal life, then leaving sooner rather than later may be the best move. But can you afford it? Carefully evaluating your financial situation prior to jumping ship will help alleviate regrets later on. Consider also the momentum you had in your job search prior to starting your job. Can it be easily resurrected so your time of unemployment is minimized?
The decision to stay or leave an intolerable new job is a tough one. How long to stay is also a dilemma. Many have left after two weeks, never to look back. Others have stayed, only to regret staying too long. And still others have stayed and managed to make everything work out. Only you can decide what’s best for you and your situation.
If you answer the above questions honestly, you will surely make the right decision for you. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what the job is doing to your health and self-esteem. Recognize that the longer you stay, the greater the requirement to add the job to your resume. Know that it’s always an option to stay and look for employment on the side. If you do that, it may be valuable to evaluate your job, boss, team, and culture requirements so you can develop some insightful interview questions to ask the next time around.
Talking with a trusted friend or colleague can be helpful during this challenging time. Whether you choose to stick it out and hope for the best, or leave right away and cut your losses, trust that you’ve made the right decision. And know that regardless of the outcome, the experience has presented an excellent opportunity for learning and personal growth that will be invaluable in helping you manage the rest of your career.
Published on JOBCOM – www.jobs.mvnoblog.com
Resumes- cover letter is to get the attention of the hiring manager.
The goal in a cover letter is to get the attention of the hiring manager. Use this article to help write your own.
Cover letter writing is almost as important a skill for a job seeker to learn as resume writing. The cover letter accompanies the resume at all times as the primary support document. Whether you use traditional mail, email, faxing, or another type of electronic submission, this should always be sent with the resume. There are, of course, other tools you’ll use when job seeking. Your cover letter and resume come first of course, followed by follow-up letters, thank-you letters for after the interview, reference sheets, salary histories, and job acceptance letters. If you have good cover letter writing skills, and good resume writing skills, the other written tools should be a snap to compose.
Your goal in this is to get the attention of the hiring manager, just as it is with resume writing. The method and format are a little different however. Your resume will cover all, or most of your professional career, and will be from one to two pages. Your cover letter will be a very brief page serving as an introduction to the resume. Cover letter writing style must be direct, to the point, and able to grab the attention of the reader quickly, with a goal of making the reader want to read the attached resume.
Many people, when engaged in this type of writing, have a tendency to say too much. Good cover letter writing is short and punchy, and will take two or three key points from the resume and emphasize them. The old adage “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” holds true in both resume writing and cover letter writing.
As an example, let’s assume that you are a materials handling manager for a defense contractor, seeking another position. In your line of work the buzz words are MRP, lean manufacturing, ISO 9000, and cost savings. Your writing efforts should reflect these buzz words to show your value to your current employer and any future employers. Your resume will go into more detail about how you accomplished these goals. The cover letter will simply point out to the hiring manager that you accomplished them. An example of this would be two bulleted paragraphs in the body of the letter that say….
• Experienced in quality assurance and quality control, MRP, ISO 9000, QS 9000, and Lean Manufacturing.
• Demonstrated results in saving significant money for employers through cost savings, inventory level reductions, and on-time supplier delivery.
The hiring manager, according to many surveys, devotes only about fifteen seconds to each resume and cover letter he or she reviews. With that in mind your writing skills need to be top notch to get this person to look at your resume. Your resume writing skills need to be just as good to get the reader to want to grant you an interview. In turn, your interviewing skills need to be excellent to get the hiring manager to offer you the position. This long, and hopefully positive chain of events begins with good cover letter writing skills and ends with job satisfaction and a nice paycheck.
Published on JOBCOM. Jobs.mvnoblog.com
Executive Job Search – Job seeking Ways to Find a Job Faster
Got a difficult problem in your job search? Say, a lack of networking contacts? Or trouble answering interview questions? Good news: You take solve your job search problems today, simply by writing them down. Read on to learn a 3-step method that shows you how.
Got a difficult problem in your job search?
Say, a lack of networking contacts? Or trouble answering interview questions?
Well, you’ve got company. Problems in a job search are as common as mosquitoes in July.
But … have you ever written your problem down on a piece of paper?
I’ll bet you haven’t.
Because, when you write problems down, you take an immediate, huge leap towards solving them. Think about it: Every great invention or solution, from the atomic bomb to the Xbox, was first worked out on paper.
Why not solve your employment problems the same way?
Here’s a three-step method that will help you do it ..
1) Start by asking the right questions
Most folks put themselves behind the eight ball in their job search by asking questions that are depressing and demotivating.
Questions like, Why won’t anyone give me a job? or How do I network when I don’t know anyone?
Ack. Pass the happy pills.
Instead, start asking questions that motivate and inspire you.
Better questions to ask are:
* How could I give people a reason to call me with job leads?
* How did my 10 closest friends find their current jobs? How could I brainstorm with them and use their methods in my job hunt?
* What worked in my last job search? The job search before? How could I do that again?
Important: Ask questions that you yourself can solve. Never depend on the government, your school, parents, family — anyone else — to do this for you. Because, once you give up responsibility for solving problems with your job search (or anything else), you become a prisoner of outside forces.
When you ask the right questions, however, you’re halfway to the answer. So write down at least five empowering questions about your job search, right now.
Then, you’re ready for step two …
2) Brainstorm at least 20 possible answers
After you write down five good questions, circle the one question that looks most promising. You’re going to use it to get hired faster.
Let’s say you write the following question down atop a clean sheet of paper:
How could I give people a reason to call me with job leads?
Write a number 1 below it. Write a possible answer next to that number. Then move on to number 2, 3 . and don’t stop until you have at least 20 answers to your question.
Not 15 or 19, but 20 answers — or more.
There’s a reason for this: Left to its own devices, your brain will pull a Homer Simpson after two minutes and try to talk you into going out for donuts or beer. Brains hate to think. Like bench pressing, thinking is strenuous work, no matter how good it may be for you.
But don’t let your head off the hook. Don’t stop until you get 20 possible solutions. Brainstorm as if your career depended on the outcome. Because it does.
Now. Most of your 20 answers won’t be very good — that’s OK. Your best answer may come right after the most hare-brained. By forcing yourself to write out 20 answers, you’re flushing the creative pipes while going deep into your subconscious mind to dredge up a winner.
Don’t knock it until you try it!
3) Take action on one solution today
Choose the most promising from your list of 20 answers. Then, get started — today — to make it happen. No excuses.
Let’s say the most actionable of your solutions is to throw a networking party where you can meet friends, family and acquaintances, and let them know about your job search.
Now. What do you need to do to make this party happen?
Well, you have to make the guest list, send invitations, get the food, etc. So write down all the sub-goals necessary for the party to be a success. Check each sub-goal off your list as you complete it. Before you know it, your networking party will be a reality.
After that, take the next most-promising solution from your list of 20 and make that one happen. Repeat until hired.
Here’s why these 3 steps work when it comes to solving problems — clear thinking plus continuous action equals results.
If you’re struggling to find a job, write down clear, empowering questions of your situation. Then, brainstorm at least 20 possible solutions and take action on the best one today. When you do, you’ll be that much closer to getting the job you really want, faster.
Now, go out and make your own luck!
Posted on JOBCOM – www.jobs.mvnoblog.com
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