Cover Letter Tips: Make It Short and Sweet

Keep it simple
The ideal length for most cover letters is two or three short paragraphs on one page. Most likely, if your cover letter is too long, it won’t get read. Your goal is to explain why you want the position in as few words as possible. This means that your wording should be easy to read and understand. By staying away from long, rambling paragraphs, you’ll keep the reader’s attention. Impress the recruiter with your qualifications, not your fancy writing.

To avoid seeming flashy, use a simple font in black or charocal. If you’re e-mailing your resume or posting it online use a sans serif font like Arial or Helvitica.

Pay special attention to punctuation and grammar as well. A recent survey revealed poor grammar as the top reason why employers ignore applicants’ cover letters. Keep in mind, your cover letter is a written introduction of yourself. What first impressions will you send to potential employers?

Cover Letter Tips: Target Your Message

Know who you’re writing to
Have you ever noticed how quickly hearing your name gets your attention? The same is true for employers who see their names on cover letters. The greeting is the first thing a reader will notice, so make sure it is written to the right person. Take the time to find the name of the employer, and spell it correctly when you address the letter. If you’ve met or talked with the hiring manager previously, make note of that in the introduction. Using “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir/madam” is too formal and impersonal.

Cover Letter Tips: Stick to the Basics

Remember that your cover letter should include three basic parts: an introduction paragraph, a qualifications paragraph and a closing. The introduction paragraph should tell the employer why the position interests you. What is it about the company that you like? Research the company to find its mission, basic goals and achievements. Explain how you fit into this culture, but keep it short!

The second paragraph should be a brief description of why you qualify for the job. Specify skills you have that are listed in the job description for the position. Don’t paraphrase your resume. Instead, focus on telling how your experience and career goals are relevant to the position.

In your closing, restate your interest in the position and your intent to follow up. Include your availability for an interview and give a date that you’ll call if you don’t hear from the employer. Taking the initiative to follow up will show that the position is important to you. Also, make sure your contact information is correct and easy to find.

Top Ten Summer Fashion Faux Pas in the Workplace

1. Flip flops, especially when worn with hairy toes, chipped polish or calluses
2. Bathing suits as undergarments
3. Farmers’ tans combined with sleeveless tops
4. Swim-shorts or sarongs as office wear
5. Reflective sunglasses
6. T-shirts with sexual innuendos (Official Bikini Inspector, Big Johnson, etc.)
7. Shorts above the knee
8. Peak-a-boo bra straps under itsy-bitsy tank tops
9. Halter tops
10. Visible peeling after a sunburn

Best and Worst Business Jargon

In every workplace there are buzz words and lingo that identify employees as insiders. There’s also a lot of business jargon that adds nothing but confusion to a conversation. Usually, if you squeeze more than a couple buzz words into one sentence, the meaning will be lost to all but the most fluent business-ese speakers. Not all jargon is bad though. It can serve as shorthand for complicated ideas or unite a group through a common language.

Some of my favorites business speak is:
Bottom line – This one’s been around so long that it doesn’t feel like jargon anymore.
Brainstorm – Again, it works because most everyone knows what this means. Also, I like the mental picture of little clouds and lightening bolts coming from my co-workers’ heads.

But, I’d be happy to never hear these again:
Synergize – This just seems like something you should do to batteries not people.
Strategic planning – Shouldn’t all planning be strategic?
Mindshare – This euphemism for generating ideas in a group reminds me of the scene in the movie The Matrix where you see all the people lying in chambers connected to the Matrix by a bunch of wires.

What business lingo do people use at your work? Does it drive you crazy, or do you think it improves communication?

Money and Happiness

In his book, Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert argues that having money (beyond about $40,000 a year) doesn’t increase our happiness. But, most people strive for raises, promotions, bonuses and all that goes with financial success. If his research is correct and more money won’t increase happiness, then why is money so important to most people?

In your job, how much money do you think it would take for you to feel satisfied? Or if it’s not money, what do you think would bring you the most contentment at work? How does your job tie in with achieving happiness in your life?