Essential Do's and Don'ts of Cover Letter Writing: Steering Clear of Pitfalls

20231220_Impactful Cover LetterNavigating Common Cover Letter Blunders for a Flawless First Impression (Part Five of my Seven-Part Cover Letter Series.)

Creating a compelling cover letter is a delicate balancing act. While you want to capture the employer's attention and convincingly argue your fit for the role, common pitfalls can undermine your efforts. This article (Part Five of my Seven-Part Cover Letter Series) will help you navigate these treacherous waters, highlighting critical mistakes to avoid in your cover letter writing process. By steering clear of these errors, you'll ensure your application stands out for all the right reasons.

Avoiding the Extremes: Too Long or Too Short

A common question that plagues many job seekers is, "How long should my cover letter be?" The key is finding the sweet spot. Too long, and you risk losing the reader's interest; too short, and you might fail to convey your qualifications effectively. Aim for about half a page to an entire page, ensuring you have enough space to articulate your strengths and interest in the role without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary details.

Why Repeating Your Résumé is a Misstep

Your cover letter should complement, not duplicate, your résumé. A common error is simply rehashing the contents of your résumé in paragraph form. Instead, use your cover letter to provide context and narrative to your experiences. Highlight specific achievements or projects and explain how these experiences make you an excellent fit for the job. This approach demonstrates to employers that you understand the role and have thought carefully about how your skills align with their needs.

The Importance of Proofreading

In the age of autocorrect and spell check, it's easy to overlook the importance of thorough proofreading. Typos, grammatical errors, and formatting inconsistencies in your cover letter can be detrimental, potentially giving the impression of carelessness or lack of attention to detail. Always proofread your letter multiple times and have someone else review it. Proofreading can help catch errors you have missed and ensure your letter is polished and professional. It would help if you also used Grammarly, a free AI writing assistant.

Remember, your cover letter is an opportunity to make a strong, positive impression on a potential employer. By avoiding these common mistakes, you're one step closer to crafting a letter that avoids the pitfalls and highlights your unique qualifications and enthusiasm for the role.

Watch for Part Six: Advanced Tips and Strategies.

The Art of Personalization: Crafting Cover Letters That Resonate

20231226_Cover letters that resonateBeyond One-Size-Fits-All: Customizing Your Application for Every Opportunity

The Power of Personalization in Your Cover Letter

Crafting a cover letter that stands out in a sea of applicants requires more than summarizing your resume. It involves personalizing each letter to reflect your understanding of and fit for the specific role and company you are applying to. This part four article of my seven-part cover letter series will walk you through the essential steps of tailoring your cover letter, using the appropriate tone and language, and moving beyond generic templates to create a compelling and unique application.

Understanding the Unique Requirements of Each Role

Every job and company is different; your cover letter should reflect this. Start by thoroughly reading the job description and researching the company. Identify key skills, experiences, and qualities they seek, and think about how your background aligns with them. Mention specific aspects of the company or role that excite you, showing that you have done your homework and are genuinely interested in this opportunity.

Reflecting the Company’s Culture and Values

In addition to job-specific requirements, consider the company's culture and values. Use language and examples in your cover letter that resonate with the company’s ethos. For instance, if the company emphasizes innovation, highlight your creative problem-solving skills. If they value community involvement, discuss your relevant volunteer experiences.

Striking a Balance Between Professional and Personal

The tone of your cover letter should be professional yet approachable. While it’s important to maintain a level of formality, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Use a conversational style that reflects your natural way of speaking. Avoid overly complex or technical language unless it’s relevant to the role.

Consider the industry norms when deciding on the language and tone. For example, a cover letter for a creative position in a startup can be more informal and innovative, while one for a corporate law firm should be more formal and structured.

Crafting an Original Opening and Closing

Avoid overused phrases like “I am writing to apply for” or “Please find my resume attached.” Instead, start with something more engaging and specific to the role or company. Similarly, close your letter with a compelling call to action or a thoughtful comment about the company or role rather than a generic “Thank you for your consideration.”

While having a basic template is okay, ensure that each cover letter is significantly customized. This includes changing the company and role names and tailoring the content to reflect how you are an ideal fit for this specific position.

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Personalizing your cover letter can be the difference between being overlooked and getting an interview. By tailoring each letter, using the right tone and language, and avoiding generic content, you're not just applying for a job but presenting a compelling case for why you are the perfect fit.

Watch for part five of my seven-part cover letter series, Common Mistakes to Avoid

Lee Gamelin, Job Search Training and Development Specialist

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Over the past several months, I have employed ChatGPT as a valuable resource tool for articles like the one you are currently reading. My decision to integrate ChatGPT into my research process stems from a recognition that, despite my extensive experience in creating job readiness training programs and providing job search success coaching that have led to gainful employment rates in the 90th percentile, this AI-powered tool has added significant value to my work.

ChatGPT has not only refreshed my perspective but has also unearthed forgotten insights and highlighted areas needing updating. This dynamic collaboration between my deep expertise and ChatGPT's capabilities has enabled me to offer you, the reader, a more comprehensive and informed understanding of job search effectiveness in today's evolving landscape.

Why Including a Cover Letter with Your Résumé Can Make All the Difference

20231220_Impactful Cover LetterUnveiling the Power of Personalized Job Applications

In HR, recruitment, and career counseling, a hotly debated topic is whether job seekers should include a cover letter with their résumé. As an experienced professional in this field, I firmly believe in the value of a well-crafted cover letter.

A cover letter is more than just a formality; it's an opportunity. While a résumé outlines your professional qualifications, a cover letter lets you tell your story, showcasing your personality and passion. It lets you explain how your experiences align with the job and the company's values.

Many argue that cover letters are outdated and that recruiters don't have time to read them. However, in my experience, a compelling cover letter can make a candidate stand out. It demonstrates effort and a genuine interest in the position, qualities that are highly valued in any candidate.

I recall a recent graduate from a certification program who applied for a computer support specialist position. Her résumé was similar to others, but her cover letter spoke volumes about her determination to learn and her understanding of the company’s brand. This personal touch led to an interview and, eventually, a successful hire.

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An effective cover letter should be concise and tailored to the specific job. Start by researching the company and the role. If possible, address the letter to the hiring manager and open it with a compelling introduction. Focus on how your skills and experiences align with the job requirements and the company's culture.

A cover letter can be a powerful tool in your job application arsenal. It provides a unique opportunity to communicate directly with potential employers and to stand out in a crowded job market. I encourage all job seekers to take the time to craft thoughtful, personalized cover letters. It could be the deciding factor in landing your dream job.  Go here to read my The Art of the Cover Letter series.

#CoverLetterAdvantage #JobApplicationSuccess #RésuméAndCoverLetter #CareerGrowthTips #StandOutJobSeekers



Hire Power - The 6-Step Process to Get the Job You Need

Hire PowerTwenty-nine years ago, Irv Zuckerman published a marvelous book, Hire Power - The 6-Step Process to Get the Job You Need in 60 Days - Guaranteed! He made a book purchase money-back guarantee that a job seeker will get a job offer within 60 days if they followed the fool-proof Process in his book.

A lot has changed in those 29 years, certainly not the least of which is the advent of internet job boards. I don’t know how many readers got a job offer in 60 days by following the Process outlined in his book or how many job seekers tried to get their book purchase returned.

What I do know is his 6 step process is as relevant today as it was in 1993.

Step 1:  Learn how to create a word bank of 200 words that best describe your most significant achievement and demonstrate your skills.

Step 2:  Learn how to use your word bank to create the kind of self-presentation that will initiate professional discussions with people who can help you match your skills to the criteria of the job you want.

Step 3:  Learn how to ask the one question that best initiates a contact conversation from which you learn the criteria you must meet to get the job you want.

Step 4:  Learn how to create a competitive resume that draws on your word bank to match the job criteria you want.

Step 5: Learn how to conduct a competitive job interview that demonstrates your ability to meet each of the job criteria best

Step 6:  Learn how to develop a post-interview procedure that keeps the odds in your favor despite other candidates or interviewers.

Any omission alters the Process, and when you change a process, you naturally alter the results.

Organize Your Job Search and Manage a Network

JibberJobber logoOne of the essential elements of finding the job you want quickly is organizing your job search and managing a network. Here’s a great tool to do just that, JibberJobber. is a freemium tool that you can use for your career management. Job search experts tell you to do many things, and anyone in a job search knows it’s hard to do everything AND keep track of it all. JibberJobber doesn’t do it for you, but it might be the most valuable tool you use to help you in your job search. 

JibberJobber is the tool that will help you: 

  • Manage and keep track of network relationships. It is your relationship manager for your career.
  • Organize and track target companies you apply to or want to apply to.
  • Track jobs you apply for. When did you interview, send a thank you letter, what is the next step, etc.?
  • Prepare for interviews. Create and store elevator pitches, responses to questions, your 30-second pitch, etc.
  • Store essential documents like résumés, cover letters, reference letters, etc. Track where you use these and who you send them to.

 There is a lot more you can do in JibberJobber. One of the essential things JibberJobber helps you do is follow-up. JibberJobber believes that follow-up is a critical part of networking and your job search, as do I. JibberJobber has various tools to help you remember to follow up, which is one of the challenging things a job seeker gets to do. 

If you are seeking employment now, subscribe to JibberJobber.

No, I’m not an agent of JibberJobber. Just a fan!

Working the Hidden Job Market - The Basics

Everyone you meet is a potential lead when actively looking for work.  Since you rely on friends and acquaintances to help you locate work, make sure you handle yourself well. This means that you develop and maintain a reputation as someone that does excellent work, is reliable, trustworthy, punctual, etc. Your friends will have a hard time recommending or asking questions on your behalf if you are not someone worthy of working with.

Volunteer. Many organizations rely on volunteers, and this can be an excellent way for you to become known in the community and expand your skills at the same time. The added benefit is that you get to give back to your community.

Do Your Research. Read the news, investigate companies, and do your homework to learn about companies that interest you or are in your area. Check their websites (and their career postings on those sites) while you develop an idea of what they are like, who their clients are, or why you would want to work for them.

When you are working the hidden job market, you are promoting yourself. Do it happily and shamelessly to get the job you want. Take advantage of publishing software to create a business card or postcard (because you won't be carrying your resume everywhere you go, but you could manage a postcard). Imagine a postcard that advertises who you are and what you can do. Make sure you aren't shrinking your entire resume onto the card; leave plenty of space.

Work Satisfaction is Vital!

"Vocation" is the word we use to describe a calling or work where you find purpose. Working within your vocation means it is much more likely to enjoy your work. Work satisfaction is vital as you look in terms of the next job that you want to do. 

That may sound vague, so let's flesh it out a little. Your vocation, or purpose, is a theme for your entire life, not just work. The type of service you are here to provide is the aspects of life that you will serve, protect, or heal. 

Your purpose is present in every area of your life. It is:

  • Fun
  • Absorbing
  • Energizing
  • Fulfilling
  • Something that fits you absolutely 

You know you are living your purpose when:

  • You like getting up in the morning (or at least most mornings!)
  • You can see the contributions that you are making through work
  • Your income meets your needs and goals
  • Your relationships are satisfying
  • You feel healthy and energetic
  • You feel good about yourself

The Importance of Values When Seeking Employment

The Important of Values When Seeking Employment (1200 x 1200 px)Values exist at your very core. Understanding what you value means targeting the right companies for the right job. When our values are inconsistent with a workplace, we disengage and leave it physically or emotionally.

Do you know the things that are important to you? Although they may struggle with putting their values into words, people often do. Define what is important to you in terms of work and decide what kinds of jobs you will look for or companies you will consider.

Your values are fundamental to you. It's essential to match your values with those of your work. For example, if one of your values is about being paid what you are worth. You work somewhere that pays everyone the same wage no matter how much work they do; your values don't match the organizations. There may not be a big problem initially. Still, over time, if you observe that people are getting paid the same as you without seeming to work as hard, you may become cynical. Suppose you value the idea that teamwork and the efforts of the team combine to make the company do well. In that case, you may not have any difficulty having everyone paid the same wage.


# #employment #seekingemployment #seekingjob #jobhunting

Job Search Means Action - The Right Action

Job Search Means Action - The Right Action!This is how most people look for work and how most employers look for candidates 

This is the order of effort that most people dedicate to their job search: 

  1. Internet job boards and Help wanted ads
  2. Employment agencies
  3. Placement agencies
  4. Networking
  5. Direct employer contact 

This is the order of priority that employers use to look for candidates: 

  1. Internal networks
  2. Internal job postings
  3. External networks
  4. Placement agencies
  5. Internet job boards and Want ads 

As you can see, the order in which employers look for candidates is nearly the reverse of the order in which most job seekers look for work.  Is there something wrong with this picture?

Proaction + Right Action = Job Search Success

A Three-Step Process for Answering Interview Questions

Three step process for answering interview questionsThe late J. Michael Farr developed this simple and brilliant process.  His many books on the self-directed job search have sold over three million copies.

Step 1:  Understand what is really being asked.  Most questions are designed to find out about your self-management skills and personality, but interviewers are rarely this blunt.  The employer’s real question is often one or more of the following:

  • Can I depend on you?
  • Are you easy to get along with?
  • Are you a good worker?
  • Do you have the experience and training to do the job if hired?
  • Are you likely to stay on the job for a reasonable period of time and be productive?

Ultimately, if you don’t convince the employer that you will stay and be a good worker, it won’t matter if you have the best credentials, they won’t hire you.

Step 2:  Answer the question briefly.  Present the facts of your particular work experience and present them as advantages.

Step 3:  Answer the real concern by presenting your related skills.  Base your answer on the key skills you have that support the job, and give examples to support these skills.

Follow Michael Farr’s three-step process and use the S.T.A.R. Method when answering behavioral questions and you’ll rarely be at a loss for answering questions at an interview.

The S.T.A.R. Method to answer behavioral interview questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • What do you do when…
  • Have you ever…
  • Give me an example of…
  • Describe a…

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.

Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.

Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.

Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

And three more things…prepare, prepare, prepare.