Avoid the Top Three Cover Letter Mistakes!
The fact is I’ve never met a job searcher who wants to have a painfully slow job search. The whole point of sending out resumes is to get multiple interviews as quickly as possible. But many job seekers still unwittingly sabotage their efforts by using substandard cover letters. Instead of helping you, your cover letter may actually be hurting your job search.
For fast job search results, make sure to avoid these top three cover letter mistakes:
1. Not understanding the hiring motives of your audience
2. Repeating rather than introducing your resume
3. Overuse of the word “I”
1. Not understanding the hiring motives of your audience
There are three basic audiences that a job seeker sends his/her resume to: executive decision-makers, resume screeners, and third-party recruiters. Each of these groups has its own hiring motives.
· Executive decision-makers are looking for candidates who will have a significant impact on bottom-line initiatives, such as time saved, income generated, revenue built, etc.
· Resume screeners are searching for candidates who directly match the lists of qualifications in the job description.
· Third-party recruiters are looking for selling points to help position you as a top candidate.
Knowing these hiring motives will help you craft your cover letter specifically to catch the attention of your particular hiring audience. By appealing directly to the reader, you are creating an immediate bond that will make you a stronger candidate.
2. Repeating rather than introducing your resume
Repeating the exact same things you wrote in your resume is one of the most common cover letter mistakes. No one wants to read the same thing twice. By the time most people have finished writing their resume, they feel that they have run out of ideas and just cut and paste to create a cover letter.
Instead, the cover letter should be what sells the reader on your skills. Like the jacket-cover introduction to a good book, the cover letter should give the reader a taste of the great things to come and encourage them to read more.
If you are don’t have any idea what your top skills are and how they will help the company, neither will your reader. Take the time to craft the right words and statements to make your skills shine.
3. Overuse of the word “I”
A cover letter that begins nearly every sentence with “I” is as boring as a conversation with someone who only talks about himself. That kind of person one avoids at all costs. Is that the way you want your reader to see you?
Focusing all the attention on yourself may seem like a good way to sell your skills. But it can also reflect lack of interest in the company, in the job, and in making a real contribution to that workplace. There’s a good balance to be drawn between selling yourself and selling what you can do for the company.
Creating variety in the sentences of your cover letter is an easy way to show your interest without being self-centered. By shifting the emphasis to the recipient/company—and away from yourself—you can prove that your main interest is not just in winning the job but also in doing it effectively. Try to rewrite sentences that start with “I,” “me,” or “my,” to start with “You,” or “Your.” Show how you can make a difference for them.
A cover letter that is poorly written may cause your resume to be ignored. But a well-crafted cover letter will invite and encourage the reader to take a closer look at your resume. You’ll make a positive first impression before your resume is even opened.
Rather than making your cover letter an afterthought, take the time to really consider the type of presentation your cover letter will make. If your resume isn’t winning you job interviews, consider hiring a professional resume writer to help. It’s true what they say: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
The blackhole of resumes
Do you have a funny, strange, but true story about being canned? If so, this is the website for you. If your story is chosen, you could win a video camcorder and an Apple iMac G5 multimedia system.
Did you know Careerbuilder was blogging?
Check out Careerbuilder's blog as they have some interesting stuff there. (I guess I am on a Careerbuilder kick today- smile) Check this article out...
Tired of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Maybe you should look into a more commuter-friendly company.
Careerbuilder has a TV Station for Jobseekers!!!
Me Likey Windows Live
Below is a screenshot of Windows Live in its simplistic splendor. You can make cosmetic changes like adding more columns and hiding categories and such, but I will let you discover that on your own as you play with it.
The first thing I want you to do is “Sign in” which means you have to create an account. No worries, its all free.
Once you are signed in, you can add the name of your favorite blog into the search box. In this example, I am using my other blog “Jobseeker’s Revenge.” Once I entered the title of the blog I hit the search button. (See arrow)
The search results returned are specific blog posts from the web. Nice to see, but not what we want. We want to click the Feeds button (see arrow).
Now the search results reveal blogs titled “Jobseekers Revenge” and blogs that mention Jobseeker’s Revenge. After reviewing the results, it’s the first link I have an interest in so I click “Subscribe.” (see arrow)
And like magic (abracadabra), it appears under “My Web.” Please, hold the applause.
Now the next time I come back to my “Windows Live” homepage, I can choose to read the “Jobseeker’s Revenge” blog from the menu. (See arrow)
This is how it looks once you do. You see the most recent post in all its glory. You also have the option to read only the headlines (by clicking collapse all) or reading all the post by making one long page of blog entries (expand all). You can do these things from the links just under the blog title. (see arrow)
Now this is where the hack comes in I was telling you about earlier. Leave Windows Live for a moment and visit Pagebites. Pagebites is a careersite that aggregates (among other things) jobs from multiple careersites (Careerbuilder, HotJobs, etc.) Click the Jobs link (so that the word Jobs turns black) and enter in criteria relevant to your background. In this example, I am adding “Microsoft, Sales” for the keywords and Redmond for the city I am interested in working in.
Pagebites brings back over lots of results for Microsoft jobs where the keyword Sales is mentioned. Groovy! Now notice the orange RSS button? (see arrow) Click on it!
What pops up is an XML file on the results you just found in Pagebites. No need to make sense of it, all you have to do is copy the web address of this information. Click on the address until it is highlighted, on your keyboard hit CONTROL (the CTRL button) and “C” (also on your keyboard) to copy it. Once done, head back to the Windows Live page.
Now that you are back on the homepage, click the Advanced Options. (see arrow)
The first slot under Advanced Options says “Subscribe to a specific feed by entering the URL below.” This is where you enter the address in you just copied over at Pagebites. (Simply click inside the slot and on your keyboard hit CONTROL (the CTRL button) and “V” (also on your keyboard) at the same time and that will paste the info in.)
And Abracadabra! There is a link to the Pagebites’ job search results page, just under the link to the news feed for Jobseeker’s Revenge. Let’s take a look at it.
I click the Pagebites link and (as before with my blog example) I see the first result in the news feed and headlines for all of the other results.
Now this is VERY groovy! Why? By using Windows Live in this way, you can keep a close eye on all Microsoft job opportunities as they are posted to the multiple careersites in REAL TIME! Imagine a job being posted at 9:15am, you see it on Windows Live at 9:16am and reply at 9:17am ahead of your jobseeking competition who rely on job alerts that go out at a certain time or check only one or two careersites infrequently. When job searching, every bit helps, right?
How To Reign In Life As A Referral King (or... Queen)!
Set up a vanity domain name. Nothing too fancy, your name is enough (for example, www.jimstroud.com). You can also opt to go for something catchy like www.computerguy.com. I suggest using a name that people most commonly refer to when they think of you. Usually that is your name, but for some folks… its "Computer Guy." Do whichever you are most comfortable with.
Create a list of everyone you know socially, professionally and casually. Detail their professions, the last 3-5 companies they worked for and their hobbies or interests. Also find out what their dream job would be and the kind of people they would like to meet.
Create a list of personal recommendations. Write down your favorite restaurant, favorite types of movies, music, celebrities you admire, et cetera. The more you can think of the better.
Now comes the fun part, add to your domain a webpage that advertises your professional background, say… a resume page for example. (It does not have to be fancy.) Now add a link to your resume page called "Personal Recommendations." On your personal recommendations page list:
What does this information do? It lets people know what leads you can offer. It gives people a way to possibly connect with you beyond business referrals. (How much more comfortable would you be with someone if you shared an interest?) Thirdly, it makes you attractive to other referees who see your genuine effort to help others.
Once all this is done, contact as many recruiters you can that service the industry that you excel in. Upon contacting them, advise them that you are not necessarily looking for a job. Rather you are offering to them your free referral services. As you have X number of years in a particular industry and as they (the recruiters) also serve that industry, knowing you is of immediate and future benefit to them. Now if you have sold your "referral service" adequately enough, you would be among the first to hear about unadvertised jobs in your industry. Why bother with advertising (and associated costs) when they can just call you? (You like that? Me too!)
Now consider this! This technique is a golden opportunity that helps YOU out in two other very important ways. First and foremost, everyone appreciates a good lead (business, job, restaurant recommendation, etc.) and it costs you nothing to give one. However if you recommend things long enough and people tend to appreciate your information, you become somewhat of a person everyone needs to know. Think about it, who do you call when considering a video rental? Everybody seems to know at least one movie-fanatic who has seen it all and loves to tell about it, right? Is that you? If so, then you have positioned yourself as an expert on movies and your opinion counts more than the occasional movie-goer. (If you were to brand yourself as a giver of job leads, particularly in a niche area, then I dare say that you will become quite popular very fast.)
Secondly, you are solidifying relationships with those in your network as you produce leads for them! Like I said, everyone wants to know who there is to know and where the best place to be is. As you give out that information, people will thank you for thinking of them. This also gives incentive for them to think more of you and the leads that you want to receive. (Pretty cool huh? Yeah, I thought so too…)
If you are someone who after gathering names and creating leads are less than happy with what you have to offer (although I can not emphasize enough the power of knowing people on every level), I suggest getting out there and meeting new people. If you are a social butterfly, then this is not a problem. If you start to sweat when trying to approach someone in public however, I would like to suggest a different strategy.
Online personals (such as One and Only) are a good way to meet people when you are shy. Think of it this way, you want to place yourself in the best possible situation. Everyone involved in personals are looking to meet other people and chances are, they know people who know people. Quite possibly the people they know are people that can benefit you and/or your network. There are no worries about immediate rejection as mostly you chat by email. If you are single, I highly recommend this approach. Its fun and you might even get a wife out of it. (Hey, it can happen!)
Are you feeling powerful yet? If not, you will once you realize the influence you presently have within your network of contacts and as people seek you out for referrals. Once this happens you will be eligible for crown, cape and signet ring. The knights of the round table would stand at your entrance. Horns will blow and rose petals would fall because his/her highness has arrived with generous referrals for those weary peasants who happen into their domain.
Sick? Or sick of working?
No single malady keeps more people out of work, and even the combined muscle of big business, science and government hasn’t been enough to crush this microscopic troublemaker. Vaccines have progressed in flu prevention, but the closest we’ve seen to a cure is chicken soup and a hug.
Next time you’re in the midst of a self-diagnosis, wondering whether you should spend the day at work or with Oprah, consider the facts.
How do you know it’s the flu?
The term “flu” is tossed around casually enough to confuse what actually qualifies as an influenza infection. There is no real “stomach flu,” for instance, and while the flu shares some symptoms with the common cold, they are very different viruses. Far more than a case of the sniffles, influenza typically comes on with a miserable mixture of fever, chills and body aches. The onset of a high temperature—101 degrees to 102 degrees Fahrenheit in adults, and higher for children—is sudden, and the patient can hardly bear to stand upright.
And the flu bug is just getting started. Because it’s a disease of the respiratory tract (nose/mouth to lungs), flu is also characterized by coughing, stuffy nose and sore throat. The cough, dry and unproductive in early flu stages, is believed to be the result of fragile tissue being destroyed in the trachea.
Abdominal pain and nausea are less common, except in children, and everyone can expect a painfully pounding headache, especially after a coughing fit or in response to light. Other fun stuff includes pink eye and the requisite runny nose. The medical term for runny nose is rhinorrhea. Tell your boss you have a contagious case of rhinorrhea, and see how quickly that gets you a day pass.
That’s the flu.
READ: The Flu Goes to Work
Frustrated with your job search? Do something different! Read: The Job Search Strategist
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