So, you’re ready to start looking for a new job. Good for you!
But before you go jump into an ocean of applicants, let’s talk about what you will need to know before you start your job search. Whether you’re looking for an internal position or venturing down a new career path, there are a lot of things to consider before you upload your resume on a company website or job posting sites such as Linkedin, Monster, and CareerBuilder.
It’s important to include a strong cover letter along with your resume when applying for a new job. Writing a cover letter is somewhat comparable to a professional bio or profile with a more in-depth synopsis about your experience that relates to the company you are applying.
Here are some things to consider:
- APPLICANT TRACKING SOFTWARE (ATS)
Never heard of ATS? Well, let me tell you about ATS, and pay attention this is important!
ATS software applications are the new gatekeepers for businesses large and small. This electronic tracking system ciphers through thousands of resumes and cover letters looking for Keysearch Words (yes, this is an actual recruitment filter).
Most ATS applications filter resumes and cover letters by using a ranking system. This system, along with the keysearch words, generally is set up by the hiring manager or department, Human Resources (HR).
What are keysearch words?
Specific skill sets, experience, certifications, degrees, and job descriptions. Some competencies can be used, but these will need to be a single word specific to the job posting.
Keysearch words are strong verbs,
no adjectives or adverbs, and nouns, such as a title:
- Licensed (Job Title)
It’s imperative to research the company and when necessary, hire a professional writer to work a complete in-depth Cover Letter and Resume Analysis. Ranking low on a business’s ATS will get your application dismissed without any human oversight.
Yes, size does matter.
This is your time to shine and brag about yourself like a narcissistic teen. However, the documents are to be written in a professional context and shouldn’t be more than one page.
There are some exceptions to this rule:
- Physicians applying for Chief Surgical Officer, Chief of Staff, etc.
- Lawyers who have more than five years of experience and are applying for Regulatory Councils, Senior Litigation, Corporate Transactional Law, etc.
It’s rarely appropriate to write a two or more-page resume or cover letter.
Your cover letter is your introduction to the hiring manager. Before they see your resume, a well-crafted cover letter convinces the hiring manager to keep reading as this is the basis of your experience. The letter should include your contact information (on the top and bottom), company information, business name, address, phone, email, and hiring manager’s name and title.
After the contact information, it’s time to hook the reader. The delivery of a hook is somewhat complicated because it’s imperative to match the voice tone of the hiring manager. After all, once the ATS moves your resume forward, a real human will be reading it.
Once again, this is where the research pays off. If the HR person has a sense of humor, then match it.
An example of using humor as a hook:
Good Day Madam,
I must admit, I was skeptical nonetheless intrigued, the first time I visited The Company Name and website. With a persistent worry about something trivial, the keys on my laptop seemed smaller and more difficult to maneuver. Just then, this interesting popup, well popped up! It was an intended “advertisement” for a newsletter and a free Quick Start Guide eBook!
Using verbiage that is extremely laid back and playful is a gamble. Even if you are matching the tone of the job posting. But in this case, it worked and landed the freelance marketer a fun gig and a pad on the resume.
Another example is from an internal job posting for a Billing and Collections Department Manager. The hiring supervisor had read through more than twenty cover letters before coming across this applicant. Because the hook resonated with the reader, she continued to read through the entire cover letter and the applicant was moved forward for an interview:
You need a Credit and Collections Manager. I’m the one person who has gone above and beyond for Company Name since May 9th, 2011 and will continue to prove my worthiness as your next team member.
This is a bold statement. The hook is, Regina needs something specific and the applicant confidently (almost arrogant) suggested they can more than deliver.
Within the body of your cover letter, you should be candid and sell yourself with accomplishments and experiences not noted within the resume. But leave some element of surprise for when you land that interview.
The body of this document should be two paragraphs, no less than three sentences per paragraph, and includes specific work experience that directly relates to the posting. The following are great examples:
- PMI-ACP Certification – the company’s and project accomplishments or benefits due to this certification
- 3D Builder, MagicaVoxel, etc. – specific projects completed and explain the high-level results
- Communication – Presentations, collaborations, and budgets (go into detail regarding analytics but no charts)
Don’t lose the reader in this segment! Keep it engaging, make them want to know more about you. Watch out for run-on sentences and fragmented thoughts. If using bulleted items, start with the experience in bold then define (reference the list above). This is a delicate art form, but one that can be done.
The final paragraph of your cover letter is the conclusion. The conclusion should warrant an urgency or action to call. Be sure to include a brief overview of why you are the perfect candidate for this job and straight up ask for the interview. You need to be candid regarding your desire for a personal demonstration of your skills without being demanding.
A great start to a conclusion, “In addition, you’ll find…”
Along with your conclusion, you’ll want to add a polite yet engaging sentence and if known, use the hiring managers name. This builds a more personable and genuine rapport with the reader. Then sign off using Sincerely or Kindest Regards with your signature, yes, we can work that onto a digital cover letter, and printed version of your name with your email and phone number.
- I’m confident I am the ideal candidate for Job Posting and I’m eager to speak with you to discuss my future involvement with your team
- I’m confident my passion and skill sets will exceed all expectations
- I am excited to learn more about this company and visit with you
- I will call on Wednesday to follow up and schedule an interview
Cover letters are one of the most difficult documents you will create. It can be overwhelming to write about yourself no, sell yourself and convince a hiring manager that your skill sets are without a doubt the perfect match for that job.
You can search online and use a cookie cutter template. However, if you truly want to stand out and can’t create the documents yourself, contact a professional writer (such as me).
Here is a list of some services writing services I offer:
- Full Resume and Cover Letter Analysis – Whether you’re looking for a professional writer or need a proofreader, I’m happy to help. Please bear in mind, analyses are to be taken as constructive criticism and in no way are meant to judge your writing abilities.
- Research – I will examine your credentials, (certifications, degrees, etc.) and research the company and job posting you are interested in. This is to determine if there is additional information I need, such as:
- – The position is in a different city or the company is global, are you willing to relocate
- – Your skill sets suggest budget experience, but the job posting is more specific, “Must have experience in tracking costs, schedule and performance progress, must be able to identify and mitigate risks.” What, if any, experience can I add.
- Write – You will need both a traditional and ATS resume and cover letter for digital and print.
- Create & Manage – Professional and social network management such as LinkedIn are important to promote yourself. An exceptional portfolio or bio is vital in today’s job market. For employers, networking platforms are a great way to get to know a person without ever meeting them. A social media platform can be your best asset or your gravest disappointment.
Please feel free to email me for inquiries, pricing, and other related services.