This post is phase two of creating a great cover letter. It utilizes an actual vacancy announcement to take you step-by-step through the process of analyzing the announcement to determine if your background is a good fit for the position in which you are interested. Please visit often for new posts as we take you through our (five) step process.
In my first post on writing a great cover letter, I promised to share with you how I keep my job search organized. First, you can probably tell that I do not like a lot of paper so I started out using an Excel spreadsheet which I created. It became too time-consuming to maintain so I developed an Access database which also became to time-consuming to maintain. Too much paper and the lack of an effective organization strategy not only clutters my surroundings, but my thoughts as well, and it reduces accessibility. My current strategy mostly requires me to drag files from one location to another, or to save a file to a new location. Let me share, with you, my seven (7) fool-proof secret steps to maintaining an organized job search:
- First, I create a folder in Gmail, Outlook, etc. called Job Search and the year (i.e., CBO job search 2016);
- I then create sub folders under the Job Search parent folder (i.e., Announcements applied to; Announcements to apply to; Phone Interviews; In-Person Interviews; Remove from Consideration; Resumes, Offers, etc.);
- When I see an announcement that I want to apply to, or think that I want to apply to, I copy the entire announcement and paste it into the body of a blank email and send it to myself. This enables me to easily access the details of the position from anywhere. Nothing makes you feel less prepared as a job seeker than to receive that long-awaited call from a potential employer and not have ready access to the vacancy announcement that provides the details of the job that you are interested in. I have received phone calls from recruiters and was unable to readily locate the vacancy announcement that they expected me to be able to discuss intelligently. Although it was not their intention to do so, I became nervous and did not perform as well as I would have with the relevant information in front of me;
- When I complete the application process for a position that I have placed in the “To Apply to” folder, I pull the announcement into the “Applied to” folder;
- I review the “To Apply to” folder at least once per week and I delete any announcement that been in that folder for more than two (2) weeks and I have not applied to it. Lets face it, we don’t get to apply to every position that peaks our interest. My weekly review of this folder allows me to read the announcement again, with a clear mind to determine if it is really an opportunity that I would like to pursue.
- Any announcement that I have applied to and have not heard from in six(6) months is deleted from the “Applied To” folder.
- I maintain a flash drive with all versions of my resume (Chronological, Functional, Federal, etc.) as my cover letters for the jobs to which I have applied. I also email updated versions to myself in case my flash drive goes missing or gets damaged.
Try this process and see won’t it make keeping track of your job search progress much easier. Email me at email@example.com and let me know what you think. Until next time…Here’s to your job hunting success!
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Hello everyone. Today’s post continues our journey to career search success…writing a great cover letter. While some may advise that this step to landing your dream job is unnecessary, I emphatically suggest that it is absolutely essential. As a Human Resources professional, I compare submitting your resume in response to a vacancy announcement without an accompanying cover letter to having a birthday party with no cake. Some people are intimidated by the thought of writing a cover letter, but the process does not have to be stressful. The cover letter is your chance to present your written business case to your potential future employer to prove to them that they need you on their team. We will walk through this tried and true process that will end with your having crafted a captivating cover letter. Here are the six steps to do just that:
- Pick the four most-impactful duty statements;
- Explain how your background matches the duty statements;
- Research the hiring organization;
- Express your unique knowledge, skills, and abilities that distinguish you from the other applicants;
- Draft cover letter;
- Use your closing to express your continued interest and to ask for the job.
You may be wondering how to determine the four most impactful duty statements. In order to accomplish this task, you must study the vacancy announcement, and believe it or not, it is not very difficult. You see, duty statements are typically listed in vacancy announcements from the most important, down to the least important. As with any other “rule,” there are definitely exceptions to this one. Also, if you have worked in the career field for which you are aspiring, you likely already have a good idea of which duties are the most-positively-impactful to the organization as well as to your career success. While this may not be true in every instance, it is true more often than not. I think that you will agree that a highly-impactful duty statement for an Accountant might be to analyze Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that contain financial data, but ordering office supplies most likely would not be highly-impactful duty statement.
My initial review of the vacancy announcement is to get a feel for how closely the employer’s expectations match my expectations, as a potential employee, regarding the duties that I would like to perform. If I am still interested after the initial review, I conduct my own job analysis of sorts. I begin by highlighting the top four duty statements. You can accomplish this by printing a hard copy of the announcement and using a traditional highlighter to mark the top four most-important ones. Another way to accomplish the same task is to use a soft copy of the vacancy announcement in Microsoft Word or Adobe, and utilize the respective highlight tool to mark the top four duty statements. You can also insert comments (i.e., on which job(s) you gained relevant experience; how many years relevant experience you possess, etc.). Once you complete your review and make notes, you can either save it to a flash drive, to the cloud, or email it to yourself. You can also save it to your computers hard drive, but that would limit its accessibility in case of a telephone interview at a time during which you are unable to access your computer. If you are like me and not only want to reduce the number of trees killed each year; but also want to have access to your documents from any device when needed, this will quickly become your preferred method of preserving the document related to your job search. In a later post I will share another little tip to help you keep your job announcements organized when you email them to yourself.
Now you are ready to move on to step two (2) of matching your experience to the job requirements and explaining how your background has prepared you for such an opportunity. So my challenge to you before my next post is to select a vacancy announcement that you would like to apply to. Follow the steps in this post to identify the top four duty statements and to determine how your background has prepared your position of interest. My next post will detail how to develop concise explanations that relate directly to the duty statements that you have identified as the most-impactful.
Until then…here’s to successful cover letter writing!
Image compliments of Google image search.
Today, I will share with you my recommendations for making a plan that will help you to stay organized, on task, and more relaxed as you progress towards your next assignment. If you have read my biography, you know that Nnamtique’s mission is to provide practical job search tips and advice, from a spiritual, holistic perspective. As such, it should come as no surprise to any of my readers that I do not believe in coincidence, happenstance, or luck. I believe in destiny and rely heavily on my spiritual foundation and beliefs for guidance in everything that I do. So now that you are in the right mindset to launch your job search, I encourage you to see yourself living out your dream. You see, if you are unable to paint a mental picture of yourself achieving your objectives before they come to fruition, how in the world can you expect to develop an effective plan of action to realize them? The concept of the ideal job is as individual as each of us. There is no one-size fits all solution.
If you need a little more help to create your mental picture, I invite you to read Visualization A Key To Achieving Your Goals, by Essential Life Skills.net author, Zorka Hereford. I also believe in writing the vision and making it plain… (Habakkuk 2:2), so I encourage you to make a list of the must-haves that your new gig must offer in order for you to jump on board and join the team. Another reason why it is so important to put your list in writing is that it keeps your thought processes organized and helps you to remain focused on what is truly important. So come on, find yourself a pen and paper and start daydreaming. Envision your ideal job, with the organization that you choose; the work schedule that you want; in the (city/town, state, country, etc.) where you want to live and work; at the salary and with the health and wellness benefits that you want; the vesting and retirement plan that you seek; great amounts of paid time off; as well as the colleagues and the physical and emotional work environment, as well as any of the other characteristics that you need to be motivated to your highest levels of creativity and productivity.
Searching for a new job is a job within itself, that being said, it can be a challenging process. So why not increase your probability of success by doing a little ground work on the front-end? By following this advice, you will have already drafted the blueprint for your productive, successful career search and when you are writing your cover letters and updating your resume, you will have a tangible goal to work towards. Not only will you be motivated to persevere as you balance this with a current job, that you are obviously not totally satisfied with, as well as family and/or other responsibilities, you will also be more likely to achieve your goal.
Get ready…victory is on the horizon.
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In order to have a successful career search, you must have a plan. A great part of that plan should be to ensure that you are in the right mind-set for success. Most people launch their job search by diving head-first into actively searching for a new job. Remember, very few successful job searches are realized after the first resume is submitted. Determination, patience, and perseverance are vital keys to ultimately realizing your objective. This is why your mind-set going into an active job search mode is so important. So if you are about to embark on a new career or job search, you will find this article useful in helping you to approach it from the perspective of a healthy mind, body and spirit.
The first thing that you need to do is determine why you have decided to search for a new job, or change careers at this time. 1) Are you tired of your current job and need to make a change?; 2) Have you achieved some new credentials that qualify you for a new position or a new level of responsibility?; 3) Have you been laid off from your current company?; 4) Have you been terminated from your most-recent job?
If you have decided that you are tired of your current job and need a change, or if you have achieved some new training, certifications, or credentials that increase your marketability, you are more likely to approach your search with a more positive outlook from the start. The trap that you must avoid, though, is that you don’t allow yourself to become discouraged and give up, if the opportunity that you want does not materialize as quickly as you want. Remain focused and relevant in the career field that you want to work in by reading current articles/publications related to the field; join professional organizations related to the field; find a mentor who already works in your field of interest; and to gain exposure via cross-training and/or internships, when possible.
If you have been laid off or involuntarily terminated from your most-recent job you may face the added challenges of feelings of minimized self worth; being in an active search although you had not planned to be at this time; concern about paying the bills and maintaining health coverage; and the possibility of not having an up-to-date resume that is ready for submission to prospective employers. If this is your personal scenario, it is extremely important that you get yourself in the right mind-set mindset to meet the challenges of an active job search to give your self the best chance of emerging victorious. First, you need to tackle any feelings of minimized self worth that you might be struggling with. I have the perfect example of how the lack of the right mindset can cause you to not present your best you during a job interview. A young lady who interviewed for a position with an organization that I worked for had been laid off from her former employer and during her interview with our company, she constantly referred to her lay-off. As a result, instead of emphasizing her knowledge, skills, and abilities as they related to the job for which she was being interviewed, she called more attention to her lay-off situation and the seemingly unresolved emotions that she was still dealing with which made the interview panel members feel uncomfortable.
Remember, every success story has a couple of stumbling blocks along the way. Believe me, as a Human Resources professional with twenty-four plus years experience in the field, I have had mostly great work experiences; however, I have had a couple that I did not like and one that did not like me. I never accepted defeat, though. I took a little time to gather myself, got my mindset right, and launched my search. Look at your current or recent past situation as preparation for your next assignment. We often get comfortable in our current situation and let our complacency hinder us from going after new opportunities. Being laid off is typically more the result of the organization’s budget than anything else, so you definitely should not let that affect the way that you feel about yourself. Even if you were involuntarily separated from your job, you should use the situation as a learning experience and when you get your next opportunity handle things differently for a better outcome. The most important piece of advice that I have for someone who has been terminated is that you should never speak negatively of your past employer to a prospective employer. If you do, that prospective employer will likely view you as a disgruntled, negative employee who will bring that same type of negativity into their workplace. Your possession of all of the required technical job skills will likely not overcome their perception that you would be a negative influence within their employee population, so be mindful of this fact.
Remember, your objective is to present your best possible you. Success to you on your job search journey!