Cover Letter Tips

In many cases, employers would want to recieve a Cover Letter attached to your Resume. 

The Cover Letter gives you a chance to elaborate to the potential employers on the Skills and Experiences you wrote on your Resume.

Key Elements

Writing a cover letter/inquiry is like writing a brief persuasive essay. With the cover letter, you are able to write about your skills and qualifications as they directly relate to a position to which you are applying. In an inquiry letter, you are speaking to your experiences and skills but in a more general sense with the intent of demonstrating your fit, match, and/or candidacy for a possible future opening with a company or organization. In either of these documents, you will make a thesis statement or a claim about something, back up that claim with evidence and then draw it to a close. Once again, the key elements are your:

  1. Thesis statement: In this case, it would be that you are an excellent candidate for a given opportunity (i.e. job description of your choice) because of your specific skills, abilities, experience.
  2. Evidence: Support your thesis statement with brief, specific examples of relevant skills, abilities or experiences that make you an excellent candidate.
  3. Closing statement: Affirm your interest in the opportunity, request an interview or say when and how you will follow-up, and thank the employer for considering your application. 

Remember that cover/inquiry letters build a bridge between your resume and the opportunity at hand. Focus on the  most relevant, strongest skills you bring to the employer.

Guidelines

  • Be simple and brief. Say what you mean without verbosity. Keep it to one page, 3-5 paragraphs long consisting of 2-5 sentences each. You should use terminology and buzzwords of the career field to display your familiarity with the profession, but do not overdo it.
  • Only make statements that can be verified. You should be able to cite specific examples that demonstrate your skills.
  • Identify yourself as a good solution to the employer’s needs. Relate your strengths to the requirements of the position and explain how you meet the qualifications. Stress what you can contribute to the position, not what you want out of it.
  • Highlight important aspects of your resume. Use key phrases to bring your reader’s attention to the major achievements and talents that make you a good candidate.
  • Research the company before you write. Review websites, brochures, and conduct an internet search to glean pertinent information that can inform your approach to the letter.
  • Use active, descriptive words.  At the bottom of this page, there is a list of dynamic active and descriptive words to help you develop your cover letter.

Most Common Errors

  • Sending a generic letter to all employers. Tailor each letter to the specific needs and characteristics of each organization. Try to create an industry-specific cover/inquiry letter that is easily adaptable so you do not have to completely rewrite each time.
  • Neglecting to double (and triple) check that the person/company to whom you have addressed the letter is the same as the person/company to whom you refer in the body of the letter. 
  • Writing to negate your “weaknesses” instead of focusing on your strengths. Focus on matching your skills to the job description and/or the organization/company’s vision. Avoid beginning sentences with “although.”
  • Stating that you are willing or able to do “any or every job.” Instead, show that you have direction and are self-aware by being specific in what you want to do and for whom (i.e. the company or organization to which you are applying).
  • Using superficial or flowery terms such as: “hardworking,” “loyal,” “love,”, “perfect,” or “passionate.”
  • Submitting the document with errors and/or typos. Do not rely solely on the computer’s spell-check function. Proofread and edit thoroughly. Ask a friend, relative or CDC staff member to do the same.
  • Sending an unsigned letter.  Letters sent by email need not be signed. However, if you are sending a hardcopy or faxed letter, be sure you sign it.

 

How to Write an Effective Résumé

What is a resume? 

  •  It is a professional advertisement about yourself that translates what you have done in the past into what you can accomplish in the future.
  • Your resume should captivate the reader and answer the question, "Why should the employer want to interview me?"
  • Think of your resume as a 30-second personal commercial.

What Makes a Good Resume? 

  •  Your resume should be visually pleasing, attention grabbing, as well as clearly and concisely written.
  • Spelling, grammar, and neatness are of paramount importance. Research shows that spelling or grammatical errors in a resume can be fatal to employment chances.
  • Neatness and organization are a projection of your personality on paper.
  • Remember that potential employers are skimming resumes (a few seconds each!) and sorting through dozens, sometimes hundreds of resumes for one job opening!!

Getting Started with your Resume:

Make a master list of all your experiences:

  • Include activities, courses, all jobs, internships, and volunteer work.
  • Write as: Title, Name of the Organization, city, state, dates.

Identify your accomplishments in these experiences and the skills gained:

  • Refer to the list of action verbs (included on the last page of this handout).
  • Choose action verbs that stand out when skimmed down the page by first word only.
  • If printing a hard copy, use high-quality, light-colored resume paper.

Refine what you have written:

  • Be sure descriptions are very strong and very clear.
  • Do not leave out any relevant skills.
  • Keep the information visually organized and well-spaced over the entire page.

Proofread, proofread, and proofread!

  • Check spelling, word usage, punctuation, address, and phone number.

Prioritize your Resume Content:

  • Target your resume to meet the needs of the employer and/or the industry.
  • Research the position and organization to determine the skills, experience, knowledge and personal attributes required to excel in the positions for which you are applying. (Do they value leadership more than technical experience? How important are communication skills?).
  • Limit your resume to one page.
  • Have more than one version of your resume highlighting the skills, experiences, and strengths for each field to which you will be applying for jobs.

Resume Content Overview:

  • Your name: Make it visible! Center, capitalize, or bold the letters of your name at the top of the page.
  • Your address, phone number & email address: Place your present and permanent contact information (if different) at the top of the page.
  • -Be sure to have a "professional" sounding voicemail greeting ready.
    -Your MHC email account is the most appropriate choice (but be sure your account is in good standing, especially if you have all messages forwarded to a personal account!!)
  • Education: List all institutions you have attended for credit in reverse chronological order (most recent first). Include the name of the institution, the location, degree obtained (or expected), major(s), and GPA.
  • Honors & awards: Identify special fellowships, honors, and awards.
  • Relevant coursework: Present pertinent courses in columns, but be sure they are in fact RELEVANT to the fields in which you are looking for jobs.
  • Experience:
    • Write as: Title, Name of the Organization, city, state (dates) and list in reverse chronological order
    • Briefly describe your accomplishments, using phrases that begin with action verbs, e.g., "administered," "coordinated," and "implemented.” Use the strongest verbs possible.  Dynamic Words for Resume & Cover Letter Preparation
    • Identify skills and emphasize results and accomplishments. Use concrete examples or facts and figures to quantify achievements whenever possible.
    • Include summer jobs, internships, volunteer work, work-study, extra/co-curricular activities if relevant, committee responsibilities, and project involvement. Also add in academic projects or research whenever relevant.
    • Do not use the words "I," "me," "my," "also," "feel," "because," “duties included,” and “responsible for.”
  • Co-curricular activities or community service: List these if not already listed with experience (these may be combined or placed in two separate sections). Prioritize activities that highlight leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills when feasible. Also stress your ability to work well with others across different settings (academic, social, and athletic).
  • Skills: List special abilities such as language proficiency, computer software knowledge, laboratory techniques and equipment usage, other technical skills, etc.
  • Other accomplishments: Categorize and list performances, exhibitions, research completed, and publications (i.e. articles, chapters, photographs), if relevant and not included elsewhere.
  • Interests: This section is optional. Consider the relevancy to the prospective position and how this information might demonstrate your unique qualities.

Other Considerations:

  • Be clear and accurate: Be honest when describing your past experience. Employers realize that most students will not have had vast job experience.
  • Sell the experience and skills you have: Emphasize roles that reveal your values, skills, leadership, etc., even if they were at a beginner-level job. Use facts and figures to quantify your achievements, such as the number of people supervised, research findings published, and dollars saved.
  • Reproduce your resume in a professional way: Before sending your resume, proofread! proofread! Typographical mistakes, misspellings, or even a smudge can negate your job hunt efforts in a hurry! Make sure the layout is clear, consistent, and easy to read.

Create a resume that gets results!

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. As your official introduction, your Resume format should look its professional best. Before resume writing begins, research a few resume examples. The resume tips below demonstrate how to create a resume visually appealing and effective.

  •  Generally, resumes are two pages in length; resume Summaries are one page.
  •  Print your resume in black ink on high quality white paper. That goes for cover letters as well.
  •  Use an easy to read resume format; peruse sample resumes for design ideas
  •  Do not make margins too wide or too narrow
  •  Choose a resume format that allows you to headline key achievements
  •  Information that shows you’re a great fit for the job should be placed toward the top
  •  Use bold type appropriately. Use underlining sparingly, if at all.
  •  Arial and Times New Roman are standard typefaces on most business computers. Avoid unusual typefaces.
  •  Use a font size of 11 points or above
  •  Edit lengthy paragraphs until they are concise and read fluidly
  •  Include detailed contact information on the first page
  •  Start employment history with your current or most recent job and work backwards
  •  Combine long-form copy with logically placed, thoughtfully written bullet points.

Interview Tips

Set yourself apart with strong interview skills. A winning face-to-face job interview can take you from candidate to new hire. Good preparation takes the pain out of the process. As you get ready, follow these tips:

  • Know your resume
  • Know your potential employer
  • Interview styles

BRING YOUR RESUME TO LIFE

The person interviewing you generally uses your resume as a guide to learn about you and your abilities. It is up to you to transform yourself from a piece of paper to an exciting candidate with a track record of adding value to organizations.
When going through the interview questions and answers, be prepared to tell two-minute success stories that demonstrate the competencies you are asked about. Good interview preparation starts with the SOAR model. SOAR helps you tell crisp success stories, and works for both behavioral and competency based interviews.

S = Scenario
O = Ownership
A = Action
R = Results

Practice makes perfect. Using the SOAR model, rehearse success stories until they flow easily and naturally.

S = Scenario
Begin by briefly describing the scenario to set the scene for the listener. For example, this interviewer is interested in learning about your experience managing a small team.
Question: "Tell me about a time when your team members were not working well together."
Answer (Set the scene): "I was managing a group of five marketing people who generally worked on separate accounts. In this case, they needed to work as a team for a national launch of a new product. When a critical deadline was missed, I discovered that 2 staff members were keeping vital information from one another, and were creating tension in the wider group."

O = Ownership
At this point, demonstrate your influence in the scenario. Use an appropriate pronoun so the interviewer is clear about your role. Continuing the example,
"It was my responsibility to immediately resolve the situation as the revised deadline was one day away."

A = Action
Present the actions you took sequentially and identify key steps without excessive detail.
"I called a quick staff meeting and reassigned the task to two people I knew worked well together. I gave the team members in conflict separate tasks that required no collaboration. I also made appointments to meet with each of them later that week."

R = Results
Give the outcomes of your actions.
"The new deadline was met and tension was eased, as soon afterwards, the issue between the team members in conflict was addressed and resolved."

KNOW YOUR POTENTIAL EMPLOYER

Interview preparation is not complete until you thoroughly research the organization. Look for trends, study financials, know about recent developments. Do not forget to check out the competition!
Do research by reading industry publications, annual reports, company websites and marketing material, talking with your networks and so on. Learn as much as you can, and use the information to develop insightful questions.

INTERVIEW STYLES

Companies and recruitment agencies use different interview styles or a combination of styles to screen candidates. Each style uses unique interview question and answer techniques. Learn to recognize them so you can handle whichever one you encounter. The most common styles are:

  • Behavioral or Competency Based
  • Preference Based
  • Ad Hoc

During the Interview

First Impressions
Your interview starts as soon as you leave your home! Realize that as you travelto your interview location, you do not
know whom you might come across. The perfect stranger you sit next to on the bus, the bad driver in the car next to
yours, or the person behind you in line at the coffee shop could be someone in the company. So take care to mind your
manners and words even before you get to the organization’s office.

  • Be early! Arrive with plenty of time, so you can use the restroom to check your appearance and take some time to calm your nerves.
  • Offer a firm, but not crushing, handshake with good eye contact as you greet your interviewer.
  • Make upbeat small talk. Compliment the office decorations or the nice weather. Do not start off by complaining about anything. Wait for the interviewer’s cue to begin the actual interview.
  • Choose the seat closest to and opposite the interviewer, if you can, to show your confidence. Otherwise, sit wherever the interviewer tells you to.
  • Be polite, enthusiastic, confident, and calm! Demonstrate your interest in the interviewer and the company!

The Question and Answer Portion
The interview is an information exchange where you will answer questions about your background and experiences. It
deals with facts, judgment, willingness, emotional maturity and manageability. In general, the interviewer is assessing
your self-esteem, business comprehension, ability to get along with others, organizational and time management
abilities, and degrees of energy and stamina. The questions may be open-ended, so your job is to fill in the blanks with
specific experiences and competencies. Your goal during the interview is to inspire the interviewer’s confidence in you.

  • Make eye contact because it demonstrates confidence. Do not stare at the interviewer because it will make her or him uncomfortable. It is natural to look away when you speak or when you think about your answer, so relax!
  • Concentrate and listen to the questions carefully. Do not worry about what you will say next so much that you miss the point of the interviewer’s question.
  • Address different interviewers accordingly. In most cases, you will meet with several levels of management. For example, the interviewer from human resources will more likely ask general questions about the company and position, while the interviewer who is your potential supervisor will ask more detailed questions about your specific skills, attributes, and experience with teamwork.
  • Observe your interviewer’s body language and adjust your style of responses as appropriate. Your interviewers will subconsciously convey their reactions to your answers in how they might sit, cross their arms, or look at you. Be attentive to such non-verbal clues. If you sense your answers are not received positively, take the hint and change the direction in which you are taking your response.
  • Be positive, decisive, confident, articulate, and clear as to why you want the job.
  • Be honest! Do not be tempted to exaggerate. You do not know what the interviewer might know about you.
  • Qualify your abilities and quantify your achievements. Don’t be vague about your accomplishments. Give concrete examples!
  •  Give examples of your skills and experiences in the form of short success "stories." Convince your interviewer of your abilities by recounting instances of how you have taken initiative, led others, made decisions, set and achieved goals, solved problems, and communicated well in the past. Be sure to be concise as you tell your success stories.
  • Pause to think about your answer! It does not earn you bonus points to answer quickly. It is more important to reflect and compose an intelligent answer. If you need more time, avoid the “uhhs” and “umms” by repeating the question, saying “Now, let me see” or “I am glad you asked that question.”
  • Treat every question as important. Every answer you give tells the interviewer something about you. Use every question to your advantage to highlight your strengths!
  • Be prepared to interview the interviewer as well. You will probably have an opportunity to ask 2-3 questions in the closing minutes of the interview. Go in with a well thought out list of questions through which you will gain a better understanding of: the organization's culture, how this function interfaces with the rest of the organization, and professional growth and development opportunities. Remember the interview is a 2-way street; you have to decide if you like the company, too!

Here are some sample Interview Questions:

Personal: 

  • Tell me about yourself. (Be prepared for this question! You will surely receive it worded in one way or another. Work up a short statement describing how your academic preparation coupled with your experiences got you interested in this industry. Focus on how you are unique).
  • Describe your weaknesses. Describe your strengths. Describe your skills. (Try to do this to your best advantage. Make it relevant to the job you're applying for and directed to the person with whom you are talking.)
  • What do you judge your major successes or accomplishments to have been? Your failures? Your major disappointments? (You have to have answers. You do not have to expose any of your personal life!)
  • Are you a leader? Why do you say you are a leader? (Give examples!)
  • How did you like your previous job? What did you get out of it? What did you learn about yourself? What was the most rewarding thing about this (these) job(s)? Why did you decide to leave it?
  • What makes you want to be a __________?  
  • What are the most relevant and specific items in your background, which show you are uniquely qualified for this job?
  • What do you think you could present that World be a stronger asset than other candidates?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What makes you want to be a ___________ ?
  • How are you doing in your present job search?
  • What other organizations are you looking into?
  • What do you expect to get out of your career?
  • What aspects of a job are most important to you?
  • What are your goals for the next 4-5 years or ten years from today?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment to date, and why?
  • What do you consider to be you weakness?
  • What do you consider to be your strength?
  • How would you define success?
  • Describe a situation in which someone was unhappy with your performance and how you responded.
  • Do you read, speak, or write a foreign language?
  • How would you spend your spare time?
  • Tell me about the way you work under pressure.
  • Describe a team experience and your role on that team.

Job- Company- Industry:

  • Why are you interested in this field? This particular organization?
  • What do you think you'll be doing in the position you're applying for?  What do you think this job requires and how do you match those requirements?  What do you think the responsibilities of a __________ are?  Why do you think you're suited for __________?  Note: Many of the interviewer's questions may sound like a musical theme with variations. They may repeat themes to see if you're consistent or because you need to expand your answers.
  • How do you judge a company when you are looking for a job?
  • In addition to the company literature we sent out, what sources did you use to find out about us? What have you actually read? To whom have you spoken?
  • What have you read about our company and products lately, outside of information in our material—in magazines, on TV, etc.?
  • In your research on our company, a) Do you see any specific problems we have? b) Is there any division in our organization that you are most interested in?
  • What do you consider to be the most important skills for this position?
  • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in this field?
  • What is your understanding of this industry?
  • Where do you see our industry heading?

General Questions:

  • Employers may invite you to visit their place of business and spend a day meeting with a range of people. During the last interview of the day you may be asked about how your day went, whom you saw, what you discussed, what impressed you, etc. You should have some notes as to what went on (names of people, their positions, topics covered, etc.) so you can discuss this intelligently, even though you're very tired and eager to leave.
  • Women may be questioned more extensively about their motivation and direction as well as about their aggressiveness and ability to handle a tough situation.
  • Remember, after each answer you give, the interviewer may very well ask, "Why?" Be prepared to give reasons for everything. 

Remember, the Interviewing process is not just for the employer to decide; it is a chance for you to decide if you like the company, too!

Potential Questions to ask during the Interview:

  • What kind of person are you looking for?
  • Please describe the job responsibilities for me.
  • How often are performance reviews given?
  • What do you do in the typical workday?
  • What are your major responsibilities?
  • What do you deal with?
  • How many hours do you work in the average week?
  • Beyond the statistics, what differentiates your firm from other firms?
  • Has your firm shown substantial and consistent growth?
  • What is the financial condition?
  • Are there any plans for expansion?
  • Who are your most immediate competitors?
  • What would you say are the objectives or the “the mission” of the organization?
  • What do you like most or least about this organization?
  • What are the training opportunities available in the company?
  • What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the firm in the next five years?

 

 

 

Career Management

We can help you to manage your career better if you have the determination to succeed but desire expert guidance to reach your goal. 

Whether you're searching for a new job in your current field, considering a career change, aiming to move within your company, or returning to work after job loss or a prolonged absence, or returning home from abroad after completing your school or work/ family relocating Global Career Management Consulting’s experienced career professionals can partner with you to design strategies to maximize your skills and talents in the pursuit of your next opportunity.

We will work with you to:

  • Assess your current situation and identify your assets
  • Evaluate your portfolio and discover your potentials
  • Get you started and set career goals and target
  • Explore your options and examine your opportunities
  • Develop strategies to optimize your skills and talents
  • Enhance your industry, sector and market knowledge
  • Increase your performance, market value and job satisfaction
  • Excel at your choice of career and change for need
  • Push the limit and tap the opportunity and overcome challenges
  • Motivate your self and lead and manage the career change 
  • Achieve successful life by finding work life balance

We will work with you to understand what is it that you are good at and what is it that you are interested in and where is it that you stand in your professional career and how much you can be valued in the labor market and where is it that you want to be and what is the missing gap. 

Book an individual coaching session with uri ($100/hr)

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