Tag Archives: cover letter

Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

Job applications are rough. You can spend hours just finding the right jobs to apply for, and then it takes even more time to fill out each job application. Since it takes so long to apply, it’s important to find a way to stand out, to make those hours spent looking up positions and filling out job history worth it. One way to do that is with a stellar cover letter.

With so much of the job search going online, the cover letter is a great place to show your potential employer who you are as a person, and how your unique experience and personality make you the right pick for the job. Here are a few tips to make your cover letter stand out. (more…)

How to Get Hired Quickly in 2018

Make 2018 your year

The new year is a time for resolutions, both big and small. Maybe you’ve decided to spend more time with your kids, get to the gym more often, cook a new dish, or start a new hobby. And then there’s your biggest resolution of all—getting a new job.

The key to making good on resolutions is to have smaller resolutions that lead to your goals. For example, if your goal is just to “be healthier,” you probably aren’t going to achieve much. If you set smaller goals like cutting your diet by 500 calories, working out three times a week, etc., you’ll hit your goal in no time. The job search is no different.

Here are a few job search resolutions to ensure that you get that dream job in 2018.

Practice Writing Your Cover Letter

Cover letters aren’t required by all companies and industries, but bringing one to an interview (or submitting one with a resume) can be a gamechanger. A well-done cover letter shows how your skills and experience make you the perfect pick for the job. Physically visiting the business you’re applying to and dropping off a cover letter can be a great way to get noticed.

When you’re applying for jobs, ideally, you’ll want to cater each cover letter to the job you’re applying for. However, nothing is stopping you from basing each cover letter on a general cover letter for the industry you’re interested in. Now is the perfect time to start refining that letter.

A great cover letter shows two things: how what you’ve done is relevant to the position you’re applying for, and why you want to work for the company. Since you can’t focus on the latter in a general cover letter, focus on the former. Filter through your accomplishments and list your strongest ones. If you don’t have any experience in the industry, find experiences in your career that are relevant. Try to feature your soft skills as well.

And even if no one reads your cover letter, going through the process of writing it can clear your head and help you focus on what you’re really looking for in a new job.

Gain Skills or Learn More About Your Industry

One way to stand out to employers is to build up your skillset, whether that means going online to find free learning applications or gaining certifications in new technologies.

Really understanding your industry will grab the attention of hiring managers. One way to build that understanding is to start a personal blog where you write about new developments in the industry. Set goals for yourself, such as writing one or two blogs a week. After a few months, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge about your industry and a blog that showcases that knowledge.

Writing a blog is a great idea even if you aren’t a great writer. However, if you use spellcheck and Grammarly (there is a free edition), you might even become a better writer over time. And writing well is a skill that everyone can use.

And if you don’t have time for a blog? Subscribe to email newsletters about your industry. Industry blogs are good resources as well.

Ace Your Interviews

Obviously, you should want the job you’re applying for—otherwise there’s no point in interviewing. However, you should go into each interview having prepared in every conceivable manner. You should already know almost everything about the company and where you fit in.

Interviews can reveal more about the company and the culture. However, at the end of the day, learning about the company is not your end goal. You’re here to get a job. So do your homework.

Know the ins and outs of the job, know your skills, and prepare a list of questions ahead of time. This could be your only chance to show the company you’re the right person for the job.

Any questions about changing up your job search for 2018? Let us know in the comments below!

The Resume Issue: Our Top Resume Advice

Resume_yellowOver the years on Movin’ On Up, we’ve offered a lot of advice to job seekers and those new to the career world. And oftentimes, we choose to write about resumes, because they’re a very important element in landing your next job. Your resume is usually the first impression and can make or break your chances at landing that dream job. So, we’ve compiled a list of our top resume-related articles to help you set yourself apart.

30 Power Words to Power Up Your Resume and Boost Your Job Search
When you’re looking for a job, it’s important to make sure your resume stands out among the sea of other applicants. One way to help you get noticed is by enhancing your resume with words that pack a punch. Using words that convey work ethic, positive attitude, and communication skills can help your resume stand out for the right reasons. Powering up the vocabulary in your resume may be just the thing your job search needs, so check out these 30 power words to boost your resume and job search.

3 Times When a Functional Resume is Your Best Bet
Sure, everyone would love to get their foot in the door of a company so they can personally introduce themselves. But in reality, it’s just not always possible. Instead, you have to find a way to get ahead of the competition without actually meeting a hiring manager. And, one of the best ways to do that is with your resume. With so many styles of resumes out there, it’s important to find the right one to complement your work history and skill sets. Sometimes, that right choice is a functional resume. Here are three times when a functional resume is your best bet.

Creating an Organic Resume
When you think of “organic,” you probably think of food. If something is labeled organic, it simply means there are no added ingredients, artificial chemicals, or hormones. And, just like organic food doesn’t have any additives, neither should your resume. It’s important to make sure your resume has exactly what the hiring manager wants to see, so cut the additives, highlight a few skills, and format your resume for a great presentation. By applying some simple organic concepts to your resume, you can help yourself stand out to hiring managers.

Lucky Words for Your Resume
A hiring manager will look over a resume for only six seconds on average. If they don’t see something that stands out, you may not end up landing an interview. Employers are not only looking for skills on your resume, but also for certifications, degrees, job titles, and company names. So, be sure to use keywords that highlight your experience, personality, and abilities. If you want a better chance at landing that next job interview, consider using some of these lucky words in your resume.

5 Resume Resolutions to Keep in 2014
It doesn’t have to be a new year to start making goals and sticking to them. If one of your goals is to get a new job, explore a new career path, or land a promotion, it’s important to focus on the smaller steps that will lead to your goal. Keeping your resume updated, making sure your references are accurate, and checking your resume and cover letter for grammar mistakes are a few of the ways you can help ensure your big picture goal stays on track. And, at the halfway point in the calendar year, there’s no better time to make your resolutions a reality. So, check out these 5 resume resolutions to keep in 2014.

Making sure you have an effective, clean, and practical resume can help you get noticed by hiring managers and recruiters who will decide whether or not you’ll get an interview. So, keep these tips in mind when you create your resume to increase your chances of landing that next big interview.

What tips do you have for creating a strong, effective resume? Share with us in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

3 Times When a Functional Resume is Your Best Bet

Let’s face it, if everyone could get a foot in the door and personally introduce themselves to the employer they want to work for, then everyone would have the job of their dreams. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. So what can we rely on to incite interest from hiring managers and get ahead of the competition?

The answer is – a resume. This document has been known to make or break your chances at landing that job you desire. It’s often your first impression and the emissary that chronicles your work history and skills. But there is more than just one style of resume. The key to finding the right one is to figure out what compliments your work history and skill set. If you want to really flex the skills you have acquired then a functional resume is the right format for you. Below are three reasons to choose function over form.

  1. When You’re New to the Job Market
    College grads typically have little to no experience in the field of their studies. A functional resume allows you to show off what you know, what you’ve learned, and show that you have the know-how to get the job done. Remember to tailor the skills on your resume for each employer. Different aspects of your diversity or knowledge may be beneficial to some and not to others.
  2. When You Have Gaps in Your Work History
    Sometimes gaps in our work history are out of our control, and without an explanation they may give the wrong impression of your work ethic, or the appearance of a “job hopper.” Many companies may see the value in your experience but may not want to invest time and money to train you only to have you leave months later. A functional resume takes the focus off of when and where, and places it on the value you received from your time there.
  3. When You Don’t Have Relevant Work Experience
    Not all past experience will relate to the job you want. If you’re looking at beginning an advertising career, your accounting experience is probably not going to sell your creative side. A functional resume allows you to focus on the soft and hard skills that are more related to the position you want.

A functional resume may not be for everyone. If you don’t know what is best for you, look at your work history and put yourself in employers’ shoes. If your skills are valuable to the position but your years of unrelated employment aren’t, a functional resume is the way to go. Have any tips on how the functional format helped you land a job? Tell us in the comments section below.

Are Cover Letters Extinct?

CoverLetter_July_2013_WebFinding the job of your dreams isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a continual cycle of searching for openings, tweaking your resume, customizing your cover letter, and following up. It’s natural to get worn down and look for short-cuts in this process, and the most common step to get cut is the cover letter. After all, it takes some serious thought to express in a few short paragraphs why you’re a good fit for the job and how you can benefit the employer, all while weaving in your personality and credentials. The rise in technology has made cutting cover letters short even more widespread over the past few years, leaving many job seekers to wonder – “are cover letters extinct?”

An Ongoing Argument
Unfortunately, employers have not reached a unified answer. Some, like Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered, an online hub for job search advice, think cover letters have gone the way of the dinosaur. In a 2009 study his company conducted a survey of hiring managers, Rosenburg found “90% ignored them and 97% made a decision whether to interview or not based only on the resume.” While others, such as Don Charlton, founder and CEO of The Resumator, an online hiring software firm, strongly disagrees. Charlton explained in a CNN article, “The cover letter is the only thing you have that separates the person from being a candidate and being a human being.”

Technological Oversight
One of the primary reasons that cover letters get a bad rap is due to an oversight in applicant tracking systems. With the influx of workers looking for jobs over the past five years, companies and recruiting firms have been overwhelmed with candidates. As they’ve turned to automated systems to manage and sift through job seekers, many have left off the option to attach a cover letter or failed to set up a keyword search for cover letters. Often times, recruiters and hiring managers only select candidates by the results of keyword searches of resumes.

A Dilemma
So, what’s a job seeker to do? Unless an employer has specifically said not to include a cover letter, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go the extra mile of providing one. If you’re dealing with an online system, just attach both your resume and cover letter when you’re prompted to upload documents. When sending an email with your resume attached, use your cover letter as the email message. Your message might help the employer decide to go the next step and view your attachment. If you’re worried that not attaching your cover letter could mean it will be overlooked, or if you’re worried about printability, Beyond, a professional networking and job search site, suggests attaching it as a text file as well.

You never know which side of the debate an employer might stand on, so don’t take a chance. Extra work up front is worth it if it helps you land an interview and find the job you’ve been looking for.

In your job search, what’s been your experience – cover letter or no cover letter? Join in the conversation by sharing your thoughts below.

Maximize Your Freelance Experience on a Resume

Freelance on a ResumeThe Great Recession and its aftermath has made it difficult for many people who have been trying to start a career in the past few years. Because of that, eager job seekers, like me, turned to freelancing to hone their skills and gain experience while looking for more stable work.

One challenge I always struggled with is making it work on a resume. How do I explain consulting for two companies, doing contract work for a major retail chain, and event coordinating for several nonprofits without looking like a job hopper?

Here are some simple ways you can use your freelance experience to your advantage on your resume and carry it over into an interview.

Condense or Attach
The easiest way to include your freelance work on your resume is to file it under its own section labeled “Freelance Work” or “Freelance Experience.” If you’re freelancing full time, consider putting it at the top of your experience list since it should have some of the most relevant and current experience in your career. If freelancing is a side project or a part-time endeavor, consider placing it under any current part-time jobs you have. This way, employers know you’re still working somewhere while you’re furthering your career. If you have more relevant information on your freelancing experience than the part-time job, you may consider putting it at the top of your list.

If you’re a young worker, still have a few years of solid work with an employer, but your freelance work doesn’t apply to the jobs you’re looking for, consider putting the experience on a resume addendum – a separate piece of paper with additional information about your experience. This will put the focus on your professional work instead of the freelancing. Once you have an interview, you can bring the addendum to show your commitment to self-improvement.

Results Over Variety
Your resume shouldn’t be the same for every potential employer or job opening. It should be tailored to best match the requirements needed for the job. That’s why including all the details of your freelancing experience might be a bad idea. Choose projects that have results that best reflect the job you’re applying for. You might even showcase specific clients who best represent the industry you’re interviewing in. Showing measurable achievements with a few projects is better than displaying generic job duties from a laundry list of big name clients.

If you want to use the names of your clients to your advantage, consider including them as references. Having an employer hear from someone else about the quality of your work is far better than the text included on a resume.

Consider Your Cover Letter
There’s a chance employers could see your freelance history in different contexts. Some may interpret it as your way of being an ambitious go-getter who made work for yourself between jobs. Others may be concerned that your entrepreneurial spirit means you will jump at the chance to own your own business or a job opportunity with more variety and flexibility. Depending on how much freelancing you do, they might wonder if it will conflict with your full-time responsibilities for them.

Consider including the reasons why you freelance in your cover letter so you can help clarify your goals and objectives. Understanding what you plan to do with your freelancing can help ease any potential worries an employer may have with your history.

How have you used your freelancing experience during your job search? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cutting Out and Trimming Up Your Resume

Trim Your ResumeIs your resume weighed down with countless pages of everything from your previous work experience? Is it weighed down with awards and community service activities that have no relevance to the job openings? Does your resume have more pages than “War and Peace?”

OK job seekers! Let’s get that computer warming, ink flowing, and that vocabulary loosening because we are going to show you how to shape up your resume. Whether you need to put your experience on an elliptical or lift up your language, we can show you what to trim and tuck so you can have a ripped resume that will grab employers’ attention!

Aerobic Audience
You need to be aware of who will be receiving your application. Resumes are not universal and you will need to customize it to each job opening in which you apply. That means you should carefully decide which skills, experience, hobbies or community service, and objective statement to include, and which to remove.

Only the relevant information should be in your resume. Hiring managers’ time is limited and you need to get your most important information to them in the quickest way possible. So, consider leaving out a summer lifeguard job while going to college for a more meaningful internship or mentorship.

Minimize Responsibilities, MAXIMZE Results
Most employers aren’t that interested in what your normal daily activities were in your job as much as they are in what kind of results you achieved. When going over your resume, find ways of cutting back any unnecessary job duties and replace them with your accomplishments.

Employers also like to see tangible, quantifiable achievements.  When listing your results, consider things like the time or money saved, the number of customers you served or increased, or any new procedures or processes you introduced that increased efficiency.

Stop Hiking the Paper Trail
While you may feel like you need to include references or transcripts to cover all of your bases, it could be cumbersome and make it more likely for employers to pass on your resume.  If the job application or employer doesn’t request those items, don’t include them. It might be useful to have a few copies ready if you are called for an interview, but keep it reserved for when they are specifically needed.

Cut the Computer Skills
Typing emails and using standard computer programs can be used by the most average person these days. Most employers will automatically assume you know how to type, fax, email, and use Microsoft Office®, so including your proficiency in computer programs in a resume might not improve your chances of getting noticed unless you are looking for work in IT or as a programmer.

An important factor to remember when slimming down your resume is that, just like physical fitness, you have to keep working at it. Slimming down in real life takes a continual life change. So, keeping your resume fit will also require you to stay informed on current trends on resume writing and where your target job market is going.

Keep it up, and you can hit your career and job searching goals! What are some exercises you’ve done to your resume to make it more effective? Let us know in the comments below.