How to write a successful cover letter when applying for jobs online.

With all the emails people receive and ignore these days, one must question if a cover letter is necessary when applying for a job online. Personally I’ve created several filters and methods to avoid having to go through the onslaught of emails I receive on a daily basis. But I strongly believe that every resume sent to an employer should be accompanied by a cover letter as I see it as the first page of a good resume. Giving the application process a personal feel the resume can’t and it also shows the employer that you have the qualities they require, as you can focus on this in the cover letter.

In this brief guide I’ll go through some key components to a successful cover letter:

If emailed put your cover letter in the body of the email. If you plan on attaching it I would recommend that you convert it into pdf format, as employers are more likely to trust an attachment that’s in pdf. Remember to say what the attachment is, in the body of the email so it doesn’t seem like a blank email and deleted as spam.

Don’t make the employer work to read your letter! Make it easy to read so keep away from going crazy with the font you choose. (match the font used on your resume)

Keep it clear, concise and to the point. (you’re not writing an essay)

Use your own words not formal long-winded clichés. This is what gives it the “personal” touch so the employer can really connect with you.

Action verbs can help to make it sound better.

Spell-check and then double-check your spelling and grammar. Spell checkers won’t pick up form instead of from or sex instead of six!

Answer the question “Why should I see you?”

Make the person who reads it feel special: that it is addressed to them personally and not one of fifty identical letters you are sending out without thought or care. WARNING! Remember to research the “contact” so you’re actually sending the cover letter / application to the person making the decision. Don’t forget to double check the exact spelling of that person’s name. It’s very unprofessional to misspell a person’s name, especially in this case.

You might include your understanding of the work/knowledge of the company, and how you fit the criteria required. “I have a real interest in working as a ….” will not do: you must say why you decided to pursue this career, what first brought it to your attention, why you as a Science student should be interested in a career in finance.

Relate your skills to the job. Show the employer that you have obtained the communicating, team working, problem solving and leadership or other skills that are appropriate for the job.

Say when you’re available to start work (and end, if it’s a placement): be as flexible as possible, but don’t say things you know you can’t fulfill.

* A recent survey showed that  60% of resume/cover letters are mailed to the wrong person.

It’s important that you demonstrate to the potential employer that you understand the job requirements and can do the job. So include the skills and experiences you have that match the job description. You also need to show that you are enthusiastic and have a positive attitude towards the role and the hiring company.

Good luck with your job search.

Life Lessons You Can Learn From Cleaning Your Closet.

We live in an older home, which means the few closets we have are very tiny compared to ones in newer homes. I guess people back in the old days didn’t have much need for large closets… maybe they didn’t have much clothes. Today we have “collections” coming out every season and if you can afford it, you’ll soon amass a huge pile of clothes. Lately when I go to the closet for something to wear I find myself struggling to remove stuff off the hangers, as they’re so packed in there. You can only imagine how difficult it is when I do laundry and have to find space to pack things away.

It took about 1 hour, but I now have a closet with tons of space and though it was tough (I like keeping stuff), I got rid of all the clothing items I know I would never use again. Yes, I’ve been keeping some of these pieces for years, always saying that I’d wear it again someday, but in reality I knew I would never use it.

The few days that followed saw me use this approach to life in general. I took a closer look at all the websites I have, how much time and energy they were costing me and the income derived from them. Only when you take a closer look at things do you realize how much time you waste on things that’s not profitable. I’ve been on a mission after this, getting rid of the websites that just didn’t make sense having any longer. I can now safely say that I’ve gained an extra couple hours a day, with the time I freed up.

Take a close look at your everyday life and try to identify things that are like the unwanted clothes in my closet. Things you can trim and make room for more positive activities.

How can you apply this to your job search? Take your resume for instance. How much that’s on there is not relevant to the job you’re applying for? There’s no need to clutter your resume with certificates that are not related to the job requirements. If you’re applying for an IT position, highlight your professional certifications or designations. Show a link between your past work experience and your current career goals. If the information doesn’t serve that purpose, delete it.

Today I’m working on cleaning up my desk, you won’t believe how messy (is that a sign of productivity?) and unorganized my desk is. If my mouse wasn’t attached via a cord, I would surely misplace it, in this mess. I’ve already found notes I made several months ago on a great idea for a blog that could potentially generate some incredible income for me. I wonder what else I’ll find?

How to target your application to fit the specific needs of the employer.

One of the biggest mistakes I see job seekers making on a daily basis, is saying everything the employers doesn’t necessarily want to hear. Employers are usually very busy people and the mere fact that they’re looking to hire someone is clear indication that they’re up to their neck in work and need help. So the very last thing they’ll want to do, is go through a maze to know if you fit the profile of the employee they’re looking to hire.

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past 11 years when dealing with  job seekers and employers alike. The sad reality is that most job seekers look at 2 things when they see a posted job. The job’s title to see if it’s the type of jobs they’re looking for and the skills requirements that’s needed to perform said job. But there’s so much more to a job posting that’s prevents qualified applicants from ever getting past the job application step.

The job’s description is a good place to start, pay close attention to exactly what the potential employer is looking for. Not just skills but the actual duties involved. Then when you respond, key in on those specific areas and force home that fact that you can do all that they want. Highlight those areas very prominently in your application and this will not only make it easier for the ‘busy’ employer to find but it will show them that you pay attention to details. Something every employer homes in on, like a shark to blood. If you can’t act on instructions, you’ll never be able to complete assigned tasks competently.
Before I wrap up this article I’d also like to suggest that you pay very close attention to the specific application process itself. If the employer says to contact them via email and put a certain title in the subject of the email. Do so. They may be using a filtering process to make sure only job applications gets to their inbox. Chances are your application will never be seen or taken serious if you can follow simple instructions on applying.

Good luck with your job search and be sure to check out my website if you’re interested in applying for work or getting career advice.