Validation for Veterans


A reader writes:

Good Morning, Anita,

Recently, I returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan. Since coming home and taking a much-needed break, I feel that I am ready to join the civilian workforce and begin supporting my family again. Like many other veterans, I am running into some difficulty finding gainful employment and paying the bills. What advice can you give to me and other veterans looking for employment and experiencing the hardships of transition? Thank you!

Dear, Valued Veteran:

First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country and for the sacrifices you have made in the name of freedom. I can speak for many reading this blog that we greatly appreciate your efforts and dedication to the United States of America.

Unfortunately, as you mentioned, transitioning into the civilian workforce and regular life after serving in the armed forces can be difficult. Not only do you face the same challenges as those currently unemployed, but you must also Army_Bootsacclimate to new surroundings and hone your military training to fit open employment opportunities.

To get the ball rolling, make sure that you register with Veteran Affairs (VA) as soon as possible after you are discharged. You should qualify for medical and dental insurance. These benefits will diminish your financial burden significantly if unexpected medical emergencies arise. Co-pays for preventative medicine and routine exams are relatively low for this program and maybe expunged if you are unable to afford them.

Next, I suggest that you take some time to sit down and write a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter describing your skills, experiences, and work ethic. These items are job hunting gold and are necessary in landing your next career. For tips and advice on how to create and perfect these documents, take a quick look my posts How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter. If you feel like you need additional help, you can look into services such as CareerPerfect  to write your résumé and cover letter for a nominal fee. The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program also has services that can help.

Some strong qualities and experience to highlight are:

  • Military efficiency
  • Overseas experience
  • Problem solving skills
  • Flexibility and decision-making abilities under pressure
  • Leadership roles
  • Other relevant experiences

Also, take your military occupation code (MOS), area of concentration (AOC), Air Force specialty code (AFSC), or Navy Soldier_Saluteenlisted classification (NEC) and enter them into a skills translator, like those found at www.vetsuccess.gov/military_skills_translators, to turn them into commonly desired skills in the private sector.

Now that you have a strong and noteworthy résumé and cover letter, head on over to my friends at Select Staffing for employment assistance. Visit their website (www.selectstaffing.com), fill out the online application, and call your local office to schedule an appointment with a recruiter. Select Staffing is actively seeking skilled, dedicated, and versatile veterans for a wide variety of positions. They highly value the characteristics, commitment, and skills possessed by servicemen and women and are determined to do their part to help.

I know that they are currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • General Professional
  • Security Services
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Legal Assistant/Paralegal
  • Accounting
  • Data Entry Operator
  • IT Auditors
  • Utility Workers
  • Project Managers
  • Business Intelligence Analysts
  • And much more!

If you are looking to sharpen your skills and become educated in your field of interest, sign up for the GI Bill. Once you have done so, get in contact with Veteran Affairs Education and apply for benefits online to help cover tuition, books, and living expenses while you are in school. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this benefit as you will strengthen your résumé and have better chances of landing a lucrative career.

I found a great webinar that I think would be great for all veterans to watch, titled “Job Search Tips: Webinar for Military Veterans Transition to Civilian Careers” by Lida Citroën. It is a bit longer than my typical videos but worth the time.

Readers, what advice do you have for our recently-returned Veterans?

Veterans, what have you found to be the most helpful with you return to the civilian workforce?

Reasons for No Résumé Responses


A reader writes…

Anita,

I am desperately seeking a job and I feel as though I am sending out résumés left and right with no response. I have experience in a variety of fields and have been stretching the boundaries just to find some type of employment. What am I doing wrong?

Hi, Craving Call-backs,

Thanks for the question. I have a feeling many of you out there are experiencing this problem in your job search. With the lagging economy, fewer employers are actively hiring large numbers of people and the competition for those jobs is much steeper.Keyboard Bite

I have come up with a list of 8 reasons why you may not be getting the “we must hire them” response. Check them out below.

1. Applying for a job you are not qualified for. Many of you are looking to find any job available and have tried applying to jobs for which you do not meet the minimum requirements. It seems like it is worth a shot, right? Wrong. Unbeknownst to the masses, job descriptions do serve a higher purpose than just putting some text out hoping to hook a few applicants. They clearly spell out the necessary skills, training, education, duties, and responsibilities of the job. If a company is looking for a person with 5-7 years experience in the automotive sales industry and you have 2 years of sales experience and love cars, odds are you won’t get the call-back. It’s better not to waste your time or theirs by submitting your résumé.

2. Generic cover letter and résumés. Employers are well aware of job seekers that work on autopilot, distributing the same résumé whenever they feel even the slightest pulse. Before you send out a résumé or cover letter, take the time to tailor it to the job you are applying for. For a full list of tips on how to do this visit my post How to Tailor Your Résumé. As for cover letters, do your research and include the hiring manager’s name, company name, and business address, even when it is an email. If you need more pointers, see my other post called Covering the Cover Letter. Remember, it is the little things that get you noticed.

3. Generic job title. As we have seen in the previous section, generic is not the way to go. It can come off as lazy or disinterested. If the job description says they are looking for the Director of First Impressions (or receptionist, in layman’s terms), by all means put that as the job you are striving to obtain!

4. You don’t live there. If you are looking for a job in a city other than where you reside, you will most likely be pushed to the wayside. Employers do not want to pay for relocation and do not want to interview a candidate they know Lost in the Pileis not in the area. If you have friends or family who live near the job location, use their address on your résumé.

5. Keywords in job description not included. With the large influx of résumés coming in for advertised positions, many companies do not have the time to read them all. It is common practice now to feed résumés through software programs that pick up keywords that apply to that position. If you do not reach the set number of keywords necessary to move to the next round, your résumé will be discarded. A great way to lower your chances of this happening is to skim the job description and include as many keywords as you can without being grammatically incorrect or overly obvious.

6. Didn’t follow instructions. Be sure to read the job description very carefully. Some employers have very strict standards and procedures on how they accept applications, résumés, and other materials. If they request that you send your résumé in Word and you send them a PDF, right off the bat, you have shown you cannot follow directions. Who wants a person like that as an employee? If they require that you submit three references and you submit two, odds are that you will be rejected before you can say “hire me.” By the way, this includes salary requirements. I know it seems you’ll be pricing yourself too low or too high, but there are ways to give a number and then indicate you’re flexible.

7. Focus on accomplishments, not duties. Employers want to see what you have accomplished, not what you did on a daily basis. Accomplishments show drive, ambition, productivity, and more. List actions that you can take credit for. Try to use words like managed, implemented, developed, applied, created, etc.

8. Typos in résumés. Punctuation problems, misspelled words, and goofed-up grammar force many employers to slam on their brakes. With computers, spell-check, and (I know I will sound old here) plenty of dictionaries, there is almost no excuse for why you should have grammatical errors and typos in your résumé. Do not always trust spell-check; go through the entire document from bottom to top and read every word. Proofread it over and over again and ask for feedback from professionals you trust. If you notice a typo after the fact, do not send a corrected version, but definitely fix your résumé before sending it out to the next opening.  Be sure to check for these common mistakes I find all the time:

  • Is the correct word there, their, or they’re? It’s or its? Where or wear? Figure it out, and be right!
  • Bulleted items should only end in a period if they are complete sentences.
  • Jobs, activities, and accomplishments you have had in the past are in past tense. Those that are current are in the present tense (manage vs. managed, raise vs. raised, negotiates vs. negotiated).

I hope with these tips you can begin to see the résumé response from employers you are looking for. It is also important to remember that recruiters and employers are swamped with job inquiries. Give it about 1-2 weeks before following up with that prospect or putting that position behind you. Keep your chin up and your attitude positive!

Readers, have you had trouble getting résumé responses from potential employers? What have you found to be the best trick to get the call-backs rolling in?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Happy Hunting,

Anita

Understanding Unemployment


A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I was recently laid off from my position as an Accounts Payable Clerk and my severance package is just about to run out. I was offered 2 months’ pay after the layoff, and I have been living off that while looking for a job. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find gainful employment and now will be filing for unemployment. How do I go about filing for and obtaining unemployment benefits?

Dear, Moving Forward,

Thank you for the great question. It can be a difficult time maneuvering your way through a layoff and coming to terms with what your future may look like. After you have exhausted your severance package or if you were not presented with a package, you may feel like you are up the creek without a paddle. Try your best

to remain calm. You do have the option to receive unemployment for up to 99 weeks if necessary.

Every state has a different process and procedure as to how you go about obtaining these benefits. Most states allow you to file a claim right from your own home or wherever you have access to the internet by completing an online application. If you do not have this type of access, you will want to visit the state’s unemployment office or see if you can file over the phone.

Be prepared with specific information that may be asked by your state’s representative. Each state varies on their requirements, but a few pieces of key information are listed below.Discouraged_Job Seeker

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Telephone number
  • Former employer’s name
  • Former employer’s address
  • Former employer’s telephone number
  • Employer’s Federal Identification Number. (located on your pay stub)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Employment start and end dates
  • Compensation amounts, typically just your wages
  • Grounds of your release or termination of employment

After you have submitted the initial application and are approved, you will be given the option to reapply for aid each week. Funds are typically paid to your bank account, via check, or sent to a debit card.  Select whichever method of payment fits your situation the best.  If you choose direct deposit to your bank account, be sure to submit a voided check to verify your routing and checking account numbers.

Job HuntingMore details and information about filing for unemployment in your state can be found visiting your state government’s unemployment office.

My final piece of advice is to not stop your job search! As a matter of fact, some states won’t continue sending you checks unless you prove you have applied to jobs each week. I will be writing an article soon on what you should do while you are unemployed to increase your chances of landing a great job. Stay tuned for this post. In the meantime, I have a quick video I’d like to share with you that synopsizes this post.

Readers! Have you had to file for unemployment benefits? Share with me your experience and how you are overcoming adversity.

Thanks and I look forward to your comments!

-Anita

Networking Know-How


A reader writes:

Hi Anita! I am new to the area and in search of a new job. I have heard and learned from reading your blog that networking is one of the most important aspects of job hunting. Can you offer any advice to help break the ice and get the most out of professional networking?

Dear, Need-to-Network,

Thank you so much for the great question. I have said time and time again that networking is extremely important when it comes to finding your next position. The more people you know, the more likely you are to bridge the gap between Business Man with Cardbeing a stranger or being the candidate that comes highly recommended. Getting your foot in the door and your résumé to the top of the pile is an incredible advantage in today’s world.

First off, get yourself a professional set of business cards with your contact information on them. Even if you are not currently employed, you should still be prepared. Being able to exchange business cards is networking gold! Think about it. How embarrassing is it to be empty-handed when you finally meet the CEO of the company you are dying to work for and he/she asks for your info. You just blew that first impression. Companies like Vista Print offer deals where you get 250 business cards FREE! All you pay is shipping and processing. Now you have no excuse not to have them! Include your name, address, telephone number, email, and other vital contact information.

One of the big No-Nos in networking is focusing your attention elsewhere, as in playing with your phone or carrying on a text messaging conversation. It makes you look Thumbs up from Womandisinterested, unapproachable, and worst of all, unprofessional. Do yourself a huge favor and leave your phone in the car or keep it in your pocket on silent. You are networking to meet new people, not to catch up with old ones.

Many of us, including me (I know, HARD TO BELIEVE), can find ourselves at a loss for words when placed under pressure or in a new social setting. Before you go to an event, prepare and arm yourself with what we call an “elevator speech.” When a hiring manager or person of interest asks you “what do you do?” or “what are you future career goals?” you will be ready to give them a response with a punch. You will leave them with an impression that you are smart, confident, and maybe even their next star employee!

Keep your spiel short, sweet, and strong for the most impact. Also be ready with follow-up questions to keep the conversation moving. (Check out my “Sell Yourself… Quickly” post for more tips.)

Finally, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to others. This is probably the most difficult part of networking. It would probably be easier to be a wallflower and blend in with the crowd, but that is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. If you see a group of people talking, pick up your head, perk up your posture, and stroll over and introduce yourself. The more you do it, the less awkward it gets. Before interrupting their conversation, however, do be sure you read their body language; if they’re having a serious and intense discussion, wait a bit before going over.

Check out this video on Networking’s Golden Rule for one final tip:

Readers, what tips and tricks have you found helpful during networking opportunities?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Color Me Professional


A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I’m looking for work and want to be presentable when cold calling & interviewing but it’s hard in this heat to not wear something comfortable. What colors should I lean toward when I am going to an interview or cold calling (in person), etc?  I really appreciate your posts and you always have excellent advice.

Hi, Color Curious,         Woman in Grey Suit

Thanks for the question. Color choices say a lot about who you are right off the bat. It shows all sorts of emotions and personality traits and can even evoke feelings from the person with whom you’re interviewing or meeting. Research has shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 85% of communication exchanges between 2 or more people. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you are communicating the right vibe and professional language when searching for a job or participating in an important meeting? I would definitely hope so!

You want your color palette to be professional, clean, and not overbearing. I suggest sticking with a solid base color and accenting with brighter colors and patterns. Read on to find out which shades make the grade…

  • Navy Blue – This is the most popular color because it presents a sense of strength, dependability, friendliness,  and light-heartedness — all qualities that a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. I suggest selecting this color for your suit or main outfit components.
  • Gray – The most popular color after navy blue is gray. Gray is the color of intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and expectancy. It provides a neutral canvas for you to wear a bright-colored tie or blouse underneath.
  • Black – Black is a great color to incorporate in your wardrobe for job interviews. It is very commanding of attention and suggests possibility and potential.  Interviewers may react to this color as sophistication and polish. It can be overpowering, sending messages of arrogance, so I would use this as an accent color or for a top or bottom, but not both.
  • Red, yellow, and orange – Steer clear of these three strong shades. These colors can be overwhelming and can overpower the senses. They evoke passion, romance, and emotional response — not the best thing for job interviews.

Man in Blue ShirtI only selected these colors as a guideline. Depending on the type of job that you are looking for or the company’s environment, you may want to branch out from this modest color selection. If you need more information or need advice, do your research! Visit the company’s website or even call the office and ask what is appropriate.

What are some of your winning color stories? Did you wear something out of the box that landed you the job? How about some clothing mishaps that you wish you could take back? We all know we have some…

For some more color tips, view this video!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week tips and tricks for career success!

Best Wishes,

Anita

Have Diploma. Will Work.


A reader writes:

Hi, Anita!

I am graduating from college this coming August and have started to take on the full-time job of seeking employment. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Management and would like to pursue a career in Human Resources. Can you point me in the right directions to landing my dream job?

Hi!

Thanks for the question and congratulations on graduating! It is that time of year again when college graduates are getting their minds into full-blown job-hunting mode. With our country’s job market still a little shaky, recent college graduates will Have Diploma. Will Workneed to work harder than ever to gain employment in their field with the perks they desire. I hope most of you have taken the time out of your school schedule and obtained internships or even positions with companies that you wish to work with in the future. If you have not, have no fear.  Miss Anita has some tips and tricks just for you.

To start your search off on the right foot, you must begin developing and building a network through personal and professional contacts. You never know who may have the inside source to lead you to your first out-of-college job. The more you interact with your peers and other professionals, the wider you will make the road of opportunity.

The single most important pieces of paper that you can have during your job search are a strong and compelling résumé and cover letter. Many universities and higher education institutions offer résumé writing assistance and with some tips from yours truly, you will be on your way to employment in no time. I suggest that you check out two of my posts, How to Tailor Your Résumé and Covering the Cover Letter, for some more information on the subject. Be sure to include work and volunteer experience, hobbies, and educational background. Make the hiring managers take notice and have a reason to call you for an interview.Diploma

I know we all fantasize about the dream job that we wish to have right out of college. For some, this may become a reality, but for the most of us, it will take time to obtain the skill sets needed for the position and to move our way up. If you are offered a job that is not in the ideal field of your choice or may not be exactly what you are looking for, take the job. Every job opportunity is a gateway to any number of experiences that will benefit you in the future — not to mention a great résumé builder.

Before exhausting every job board, website, and career center on the web, I suggest filling out an application and scheduling an interview with a temporary agency like Select Staffing. Temporary positions will allow you to dabble in a variety of fields and give you great experience. You can test out what you like and don’t like about a job and learn about the working world. Very often, these temporary positions turn into full-time employment with the company you are working with. For more information, visit their website at www.selectstaffing.com .

Ramit Sethi,  author of the New York Times bestselling book I Will Teach You To Be Rich has a great video and article in Forbes about landing your dream job that I think is worth looking at. Read it by clicking here and view it below!

Are you currently searching for a job out of college? If you have some advice or great stories to share, I would love to hear them.

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

-Anita

Summer Job Seeking


A reader writes:

“Dear, Anita,

I am a sophomore college student spending this summer in a beach town to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. I really need to find temporary employment but have little-to-no real work experience. I have been searching but seem to be having no luck. Do you have any advice for me that will help me land a great summer gig?Summer Job Seeker

Thanks for the question, Summer Job Seeker!

Many students come out of their first year of school needing to make some extra money for the fun-filled year ahead of them. Others crave some real world experience to apply the skills they have learned in school. The challenge that most students face is a lack of real professional work experience to bring to the hiring manager’s table. Sure, you may have had your own lawn-mowing business in highschool or a lemonade stand at your community pool, but although these are great experiences, they are not something that will pump up your résumé.

Even though your résumé may be slim on professional positions, volunteer experience can have a large impact as well. Most high schools require that all students complete a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate. Contact the organization that you worked with and request a written recommendation documenting their experiences working with you. This will provide the hiring company with some understanding of your work ethic, attendance record, and contribution potential.

BSummer Job Seekere driven. There is nothing more powerful than the eagerness to work and learn as much as possible. This alone can bring your name to the top of the interview list. If you come in prepared, with a confident attitude and a bright outlook, you will surely stand out in the mind of the hiring manager. Don’t forget to dress professionally from start to finish of the job-seeking process. For guidelines and tips for nailing your appearance and attire, check out my recent post, Dress for Success.

After you have filled out an application with the potential employer, don’t let them forget about you. No more than 3 days after submitting your application, résumé, and recommendations, call or email to respectfully inquire on the position you applied for. This will not only show them your interest in the opportunities they have available but your desire to work for them.

I wish you the best of luck, Summer Job Seeker, and all of you that are seeking employment during these sunny months.

Are you looking for summer employment or have some tips and tricks to share with your fellow readers? Post them in the comment box!

Thanks again for the question and if you have comments, leave them in the box below! Do you have a question that you need help answering, visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/!

-Anita

Staffing Stardom


Dear Anita,

I have been on the hunt for employment opportunities and recently I have seen a number of people submitting video resumes to potential employers. I have a great resume and cover letter that I send when applying for open positions. While looking for a new position, should I invest the time and money to create a video resume?

Dear Camera Shy Colleague,

Great question! Many of you are probably looking for the next up-and-coming way to promote yourself in today’s job market. Nowadays, a plain old paper resume and cover letter may not be enough to WOW the technology-savvy and time-constricted employers looking to fill their positions.

So what is the big deal with video resumes? First, they are a great way to get one step ahead of the competition! In a very short amount of time, without having the employer even pick up the phone or read a page or two, they can get a clear view of how you communicate, your professional presence, and a plethora of other information…You know how they say a picture says a thousand words, imagine what your own personalized video short can be saying. My friends over at The Select Family of Staffing Companies were ahead of the curve by being the first national staffing firm to introduce video resumes to their candidates. Many Select locations offer this service for free! The possibilities are infinite! With that said, there is a right way and a very wrong and incorrect way to get this done.

A few quick tips:

• Dress professionally. That means: business attire. Dress shirts, sweaters, ties for men. No low-cut tops or plunging necklines (be remembered for your brains not your bust). All clothing must be clean and pressed.  You don’t want any wrinkles to slow you down on your path to employment. No excess piercings or visible body art.

• Make your interview short and sweet. Limit it to 3 minutes maximum. The employer isn’t looking for a 30-plus minute screening of your personal documentary. Get to the point – why you are the perfect candidate!

• Make sure you are in a quiet, businesslike environment when filming your video. That means: solid background, steady camera or web cam, and little-to-no background noise. Put away the pets and turn off all cell phones and unnecessary electronics.

• Rehearse what you’re going to say. Do not read right from your resume. Most employers can do that for themselves. Unless you are a master at editing and compiling video footage, you will not want there to be any awkward stops, rewinds, or re-records. It is ideal to have a smooth video with no re-takes. Knowing what you are going to say will make those 1-3 minutes fly by and glide smoother than glass.

• Right away, thank the potential employer for their time and introduce yourself. You want the employer to know exactly who you are. By stating your name clearly and with conviction, you demand the attention of your audience.

• Now that you have their attention, hold it tight…. with a death grip. Share your goals for the future, explain why you are the catch of the century, and show them why you are different and more interesting than the other people in the pack.

• Give them zero reasons why they should pass you up! Discuss why you are the perfect fit for said position and what you can do for the company that hires you. Show your enthusiasm and what drives you to succeed. Most importantly, share what you will do to drive success and productivity in the new position.

• Thank the employer again for viewing your resume. Restate your name clearly and confidently, and insert contact information at the end of the wicked cool video.

Have any of you made a video resume? If so, how were they accepted?

Thanks for reading,

Anita

Reaching a DREAM


Hello Faithful Readers!

100th blog post!I am so gosh darn excited to announce that with your tremendous help and excellent questions, together we have reached our 100th post on “Job Talk with Anita Clew.” It is hard to believe that in such a short amount of time, with the dedication from my followers and the contributions from readers like you, my initial goal of 100 posts on Job Talk has finally been realized!!

In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought it would be nice to share some of my thoughts on the importance of setting goals that you hope to achieve. Making changes and sticking to them is a difficult task. But in order for you to reach your dreams, you must set a goal and keep your eyes on the prize.

To make your goal a reality, you have to make SMART choices.

You have to start by making a goal that is very SPECIFIC. For me, writing 100 blog posts was what I set out to do after launching “Job Talk with Anita Clew” in November 2010. It was a concrete goal, one that has little variance and can only be achieved one way.

Make your goal one that can be MEASURED, where progress can be gauged accurately within the time frame set to achieve it. Imagine a fundraiser with an empty thermometer showing how much money has been collected during a set period of time. Every time you make progress, you fill in the thermometer. As you get closer to your goal, the more excited you will become to achieve it.

The next key attribute to setting a goal is making sure it is ACHIEVABLE in the near future. Of course, many of us would like to be a billionaire or the first person to land on Mars, but in reality, this is something that most likely will not happen within a reasonable time period. As human beings, we are wired to seek instant gratification, and when we do not get it, we give up easily. Making your goal achievable in the short-term will make it easier to keep up the hard work when times get tough.

Make your goal RELEVANT and REALISTIC to your dreams, passions, career, family, or to whatever gets your gears turning. If you have no personal drive or incentive to complete your goal, it is very unlikely that you will. For instance, try setting a goal to come to the office 15 minutes early this week so you can be collected and ready to start the day fresh. By Friday, once you have reached your fifth day in a row, you will see how excited and more productive you will be for making your goal.

Finally, give yourself a TIME deadline to reach your goal. Deadlines are one of the main reasons why anything gets accomplished in today’s world. When I set my goal, I gave it 2 years, a reasonable time to write 100 blogs posts, at a rate of 1 per week for 104 weeks. Seems pretty doable, right? For example, have you ever set out to lose 10 lbs in the next 2 years? Give yourself too much time, and you may cheat – have an extra brownie or two…or three, and skip your afternoon workout “just this once.” But if you set out to lose 10 lbs in a realistic time period, like 3 months, you will be much more likely to stick on track and be accountable.

Follow these steps and make your goals a reality like I did! Cheers to 100 posts and to our 45,000+ followers. Without your support, none of this will be possible. Next stop on the path to success, 250 posts, and to helping another 45,000 people with their questions!

Best,

Anita

Covering the Cover Letter


A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I have two questions that I hope you can address: What’s the secret to a good cover letter? And is a cover letter even necessary these days?

Dear, “C.L.,”

I have been asked to address the cover letter question by a few readers as I know it’s a hot topic when it comes to searching for a job. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I have seen over the years that look like a generic template and a game of plug-and-play (insert name here… insert date here…. etc.) I’ve even seen cover letters that have a different color font where the hiring manager’s name is supposed to go… a tell-tale sign that it is a standard form letter that has been forwarded or used countless times.

My advice is this…

  • If you’re writing a cover letter just because you think it’s the right “protocol”… Don’t bother.
  • If you plan to reiterate the content of your résumé in your cover letter… Don’t bother.
  • If your cover letter is not a quick, relevant read… Don’t bother.

I, personally, only think a cover letter is necessary if you’re changing careers or if you need to clarify certain things that your résumé can’t explain alone. A cover letter can also serve as a nice personal touch if you recently spoke to someone (say, a hiring manager) about a position. You can use the letter as a thank you for their time and consideration as well as to reiterate 4-5 key reasons why you would be a good fit.

I found the following article on CareerBuilder that I think “covers” the cover letter question very well. I encourage you to take a look: http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-2446-Resumes-Cover-Letters-Do-I-really-need-a-cover-letter-New-thoughts-on-an-old-standard/

Okay HR and Hiring Managers… we want to hear from you. Do YOU think cover letters are necessary? Do you even read them? Please post your comments here!

Anita

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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