Cover letters and resumes

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



What EVERY Cover Letter Needs

Here's a copy of a message I received today from my colleague, Jimmy Sweeney, Google+ (2)that I thought would be important information for all you job seekers.

Cover Letter Tips: Put The "Secret 7" To Work For You!

"Hello Lee,

Many hiring managers face a pile of cover letters each and every day from job seekers. 

If you want yours to stand out from the crowd, make it short, succinct, and snappy! 

In other words, grab the reader's attention and hold it. 

The last thing you want to do is bog down the employer with a multi-page letter filled with ponderous prose.

Instead incorporate the following seven secrets--the ones every cover letter should include:

Secret #1: Write a one-page cover letter, period.

Secret #2: Leave lots of "white space" in your letter so it's easy to read.

Secret #3: Create three paragraphs maximum or the cover letter will overwhelm.

Secret #4: Number or "bullet" your lists when this technique fits. It catches interest.

Secret #5: Bold face the first sentence of each paragraph to highlight your point.

Secret #6: Write only three sentences per paragraph for quick scanning.

Secret #7: Print out your letter and read it yourself. Is it a good example of the secrets on the list above? If not, edit where needed.

Effort = Effectiveness!

The time you spend now will come back to you a hundredfold when the hiring manager selects the most promising job seekers to call for interviews. 

Your cover letter is the first step. 

Make it count by using the seven secrets above.

 Bonus Cover Letter Tip: Don't be afraid to ASK for the opportunity to be interviewed. Ask and you shall receive! :-)

Yours for OUTSTANDING job search success,


P.S. The most-overlooked moneymaking secret in today's job market is the 'humble' cover letter. Perfectly focused cover letters are the fastest, easiest way to dramatically increase your job interviews and job offers, PERIOD."

Employee referrals, customized letters key to getting an interview

The best way to get your foot in the door at a large company is with an employee Google+ (2)referral, says Kristen Fife, a recruiting expert based in Seattle. It's important to customize your cover letter to indicate how you can help the employer with your particular skills. "I would love to be able to fill 600 positions tomorrow, but when we’re looking at the volume of applications that we do, the applicant has to help us understand how they are a fit for that position," says Curtis Colvin, who works as a director of recruiting.

Read the entire article here.

Make a lasting impression with your professional bio

Google+ (2)Create bios of varying lengths -- including a long one, a short one and a two-liner -- to display across your various online profiles, Meredith Fineman writes. Each bio should include a solid call to action as opposed to looking like a list of accomplishments.

Read complete article here.


Three essentials for writing a résumé for a posted job opening.

The first essential ingredient in writing a résumé for a posted job opening is a succinct, specific job objective.  The job objective tells the reader quickly whether your résumé is worth reading.  (It's imperative to do this if your résumé is being scanned for key words.)

Employers get stacks of résumés for each job posting they make, and they simply don't have time to read each one from beginning to end.  For the most part, all résumés that don't grab the attention of the reader within the first few seconds get tossed.

So, how do you grab their attention in that split second?  With a short, precise job objective.  This makes the employer's task easy.  If the employer is looking for an Administrative Assistant, all they have to do is go through the pile and pull out all the résumés that say "Job Objective:  Administrative Assistant." at the top of the first page.

If you don't include a specific job objective for an open posted position, the résumé may never be read at all.

Also, if you make the job objective long and rambling, that résumé may get discarded as well.  Five to 7 words should be the maximum length.  Focus on the employer's needs, tailor the objective to the company's posting, and avoid any generalizations and clichés.

The second ingredient is to tailor your entire résumé to support your objective.  There is absolutely no reason to include information that doesn’t do this.  Remember:  your résumé is a strategic marketing piece, not a tell-all autobiography.

And the third ingredient is to use powerful action words to describe your accomplishments, especially those accomplishments that made your previous company money, saved them money and/or increased the effectiveness of the organization.

Remember always:  getting your résumé read in the first place is a major milestone in getting interviews, and the only way to get your résumé read for a posted job opening is to indicate decisively and immediately that you're a match for what they seek.

The Real Purpose of a Résumé: Getting Interviews

The first résumé you send to an employer is an advertisement designed to get you an interview.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Many people think of a résumé as a summary of a person's entire life and career.  They often stick in everything they've ever done, and every bit of information about themselves with the idea that the employer is going to do be impressed enough to give them a job.

Unfortunately, employers are not in the business of helping people by handing out jobs.  When it comes to hiring staff, any employer has only one thought in mind:  how to make their business more profitable.  Employers hire people because they believe those people will help them make more money, safe money and/or increase the effectiveness of their operations.

A résumé must demonstrate clearly and concisely that you will help a potential employer's business be successful, especially smaller businesses.  Your résumé MUST contain all the best evidence supporting that claim.

The more you make yourself look like someone who can achieve results for an employer, the more interviews you will get.

The core imperative in writing a résumé is to make an identity-building statement central to the needs of the employer communicated so clearly and effectively that it's apparent immediately that it's worth the readers time to offer you an interview.

Keep in mind that employers are not the only people who will see your résumé.  Keep copies of your résumé with you always, and give them to friends, relatives, neighbors, or anyone else you meet.

The more people who see your résumé, the more employers will call you for an interview, and that includes many employers you never thought of approaching.

It's advertising!  Sending résumés directly to hiring authorities may be the best way to make sure they hear of you, but it's not the only way.

IT'S ALL ABOUT GETTING INTERVIEWS - No interviews, no job offers.  No job offers, no job!  You know the rest.

Write a compelling job objective statement in your resume to get noticed

If anyone tells you not to put an objective statement in your résumé, they are completely out of touch with how to get someone's attention in the 21st century.

Now, if your résumé objective statement reads "An interesting position with a growing company," you're stuck in the '50s, and few will pay attention to you.  However, if your résumé objective reads something such as "Computer Technician able to provide technical assistance to computer users in person, by telephone or electronically.  Skilled in the use of computer hardware and software, including printing, installation, word processing, electronic mail, and operating systems.  Seeking a position with a medium sized company in Greater Boston,"  you're going to grab the attention of anyone seeking a qualified Computer Technician.

The key is to know what you want to do, and to state it explicitly.  If you don't know what you want to do, writing a résumé is a distant task.  Clarity in how you will provide value to an employer is essential in getting noticed.  Write a clearly defined job objective and tailor the rest of your résumé to proving you're capable of carrying out your objective. Your résumé WILL be noticed!