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The latest news, trends and information to help you with your recruiting efforts.

Posted August 31, 2006 by

Writing Your Cover Letter – You Really Can Do It

The dreaded cover letter. This is where you, the job candidate, have to convey all this important information as to why you’re the perfect person for the job. It shouldn’t be that difficult, right? For multiple reasons, however, it makes some job seekers procrastinate applying for jobs. Do you ever find yourself making the following excuses?
I’m Not a Good Writer
Even if you’re not a writer by trade, you can put together a great cover letter. If you know writing a cover letter is not your strong suit, then research some samples for your career to help you with wording and keywords.
Think about what is most important to you to convey to a potential employer and jot that down. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. Concentrate on getting your thoughts on paper. You’ll have time to go back and tweak the sentences.
I Don’t Know What Achievements to Include
Be sure to look at the job announcement for which you are applying. What made you interested in it to begin with? Why did you feel you were qualified? Whatever those reasons are, you need to include them in your cover letter. You may know why you’re qualified, but the employer still has to be convinced.
Once you figure out these key achievements, writing them in a short bullet list really makes them standout. Bullets help skimmers pick out the important information so they know right away if you have the “right stuff” for their company.
I’m Not Sure How It’s Supposed to Look
This is a common concern. You might have all the information you need but now you’re sitting there wondering if it’s formatted correctly and professionally. Don’t get hung up on this. You can waste a lot of time and energy if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
When you go to format your cover letter, be sure that the header matches your resume. You resume and cover letter should look like a cohesive package. Now, if you don’t have your resume written yet, then you can decide how you want the header to look. The header includes your name and contact information ¬– so you want to make sure it stands out so the employer knows how to contact you for an interview.
I Don’t Know How to Customize My Cover Letter for Each Position
As a rule, you don’t want to send out a generic cover letter to each company to which you apply. The employer will know that it’s generic and that you didn’t spend too much time or effort to make it special for the job they are looking to fill.
Instead, do your research. Find out what that particular company’s history is, what the position entails and what their future plans are. Include the company’s name in your cover letter, along with the position you are applying for. If you find out an interesting tidbit about the organization, include it. Be sure to do so in a natural way though. If you start including every little thing you find out, then the purpose of your cover letter will be lost.
So while it can be intimidating to write your cover letter, when you surround yourself with the information you need, it goes so much easier. If you get stuck, take a break and then come back to it. Sometimes a fresh mind is all you need.

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Posted August 31, 2006 by

Get the Results You Want By Using an Executive Summary on Your Resume

In the not-so-distant past, the resume objective section was widely used. The resume objective, simply put, is a 2-3 line statement summarizing the goals you have set for yourself and the position you seek.
Many experts in the field feel that a section on resume objectives may be omitted. They suggest the use other useful information instead. A resume objective focuses on your personal goals, which often reads like a wish statement – in most cases, in complete disregard of what the employers want to know and expect to get from you. For this reason, more and more job seekers are using the executive summary instead of a resume objective section.
Resume Objective vs. Executive Summary
Resume objectives can be construed as being self-centric. For example, “Seeking a position in the sales department with an opportunity for faster career advancement” focuses completely on you. It does not tell the employer anything about your past career, your strengths or what you can do for them.
• A resume objective could lead hiring managers into thinking about the specifics of your objectives (i.e., what you want) instead of your skills and strengths.
• Resume objectives tend to be career-limiting and one-dimensional.
• A resume objective narrows down your opportunities when you are multi-skilled and qualified for more than one position.
An executive summary, on the other hand, talks about the results that you have achieved and the potential you possess which makes recruiters take notice – it also helps establish your professional identity. An executive summary presents you, in terms of your career skills, accomplishments and abilities, to the hiring manager or organization before they start reading your resume. That is why the executive summary is so important today.
Think of the executive summary as the introduction to a novel. You can read the introduction, find out the main characters and the plot before you actually start reading the novel itself. The introduction gives you the push you need to actually begin reading the book. If you like what you read in the introduction, you usually go on. It’s the same thing with the executive summary and your resume.
Why the Executive Summary Is Used Now Instead
Obviously, resumes that win interviews are simple and focused. An executive summary achieves this by saying who you are (professionally), what you have achieved and how and what you can contribute. A recent survey revealed that more than 72% of resumes that win interviews are well summarized and focused. Also, many job seekers who have changed their resume format to include the executive summary instead of an objective section have acknowledged this. Here’s why the executive summary is more often used now:
• It highlights your career skills and presents them as desired by hiring managers.
• It exhibits how you can benefit the organization by presenting your abilities and strengths as they relate to the current position that you are targeting.
• Executive summaries grab attention, permits use of descriptive verbs (such as accelerated, delivered, re-engineered and generated).
Executive summaries help recruiters decide whether to call you for an interview – and we all know that the real test of a resume is whether or not it produces interviews. So replace that objective section on your resume with a rewritten executive summary. It just might get you the results that you are looking for.

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