Sharing Is Caring!

Category Archives for Cover Letters

How to Conclude a Resume Cover Letter

A resume cover letter is an important part of one’s job application. It is the responsibility of the job applicant to carefully craft a resume and cover letter that conveys a positive message to the hiring manager concerning the qualification, experience and skills of the job applicant.

One of the main reasons for writing a cover letter is that it should compel the hiring manager to call the job applicant for an interview and move things forward. In a way, it is a brief “sales letter” wherein the job applicant describes his eligibility for the job available.

In this article we focus on how to conclude a resume cover letter? Here are a few examples to consider:

Possible last paragraph sentences:

* I look forward to the opportunity for an interview soon.

* I look forward to speaking with you about this job opportunity.

* I look forward to an interview and hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

* I am available for a personal interview at your convenience.

* I hope to schedule a personal interview at a mutually convenient time.

* You may kindly contact me on my phone number 900-000-0000 or email me at emailaddress (at) emailprovider.com

* Kindly review the enclosed resume and consider my application for the job.

* It would be an honor to work for your company.

* I will contact you next week to know the status of my application.

* Thank you for your time and consideration.

* Thank you for your consideration.

Sample closing words just before signature:

* Regards, Best Regards, Yours Faithfully, Yours Truly, Sincerely, Yours Sincerely.

Signature related tips:

* Below the closing words type job applicant’s name and leave sufficient space for a signature above it.

* While sending the cover letter via regular mail sign with a blue ink pen, if sending via fax sign with a black ink pen and when emailing it type your full name.

Enclosures:

* One can add “Enclosure or Enclosures” to the cover letter, usually it is the resume. For example: Enclosure: Resume

* Other enclosures could include: Copy of work experience certificate, copy of reference letters etc.

The above mentioned cover letter format points are a must read for every job applicant.

To enhance your knowledge about proper format, visit http://CoverLetterFormat.org, the site also includes a collection of free sample letters.

Position Your Job Search Tactics To The Right Audience

Do you know who are you talking to? When you write a cover letter, send a resume, introduce yourself, explain what you do, or ask for advice, do you tailor your message based on who you are talking to?

Job search 1.0 is to tailor your message to highlight the best of you. But be confident that there are many great things about you and not all of them are as relevant or eye-catching to everyone you encounter. Sometimes it’s obvious: if you are speaking to someone from your alma mater, mention your education; if you are applying for a posted job write to get the hiring manager’s attention for that specific industry, function, and company.

But in your everyday job search, your reach is much more expansive. You are talking to people from a variety of sectors and at a variety of levels. Some are peers, some are mentors, some are directly in a position to hire you. If you are consulting while you are jobseeking, some contacts are potential clients or prospective employers or both. I am coaching someone who has a business and is still deciding if he wants to attract investors, joint venture partners, or employers (i.e., go back to the traditional role of employee). He himself doesn’t change but his message needs to adapt based on what an investor, a joint venture partner or an employer needs to hear, and he needs to do so fluidly in a way that doesn’t contradict his other aspirations. He must position differently to each audience.

Positioning for multiple audiences is tricky stuff – this is job search 2.0. You must know yourself AND the prospect AND what you hope to get as you combine the two. This requires a high degree of self-awareness, mastery of job search strategy and marketing, and finally the ability to be specific to the audience in front of you while remaining flexible to the broader audience of your total search. But once you get to this higher level of the positioned job search, you will see there is no better way to search. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but being able to position yourself very specifically will enable you to appeal more broadly. When your eyes are fixed on one target, you’re more attractive to that target and become more attractive to everyone else. You also learn how to focus more effectively on other targets and can repeat the process as needed.

So stop appealing to the masses and learn how to focus on a single pursuit. You will actually broaden your reach by narrowing your positioning.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine helps people find fulfilling and financially-rewarding career paths, as the co-founder of SixFigureStart®, career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline has recruited for leading companies in financial services, consulting, media, pharmaceutical/ healthcare, and technology. She is the co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and others) of the best-selling “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” 2010; Two Harbors Press.

Job Search Emails – Avoiding the Spam Filters

The Subject Line is the Most Important Facet of Your Emails

Every job seeker knows that they have approximately 20 seconds or less to impress a hiring manager with their resume and attending cover letter.

It is equally well known that Recruiters & internal HR professionals are inundated with unsolicited emails on a daily basis, a large percentage of which are from those seeking employment, businesses trying to market their new products, etc. In other words, something is ‘wanted or needed’ from the recipient.

Unfortunately, many of these unsolicited emails end up in the spam folders because of incorrect punctuation such as exclamation points, and ineffective subject lines.

As an example, I have seen ‘please see attached resume’, which of course tells me nothing – not even what type of position the individual is applying for, or what experience they have to offer my firm.

Naturally, putting something like ‘please see attached resume’ or ‘stop, I’m the right one’ in your subject line guarantees that the spam filters will capture it, or worse, the intended recipient will receive the email and have to take their time to put it in the spam folder themselves – making a mental note of the sender’s name, I might add.

Conversely, if you put something such as ‘B2B Marketing Expert’ or ‘Vice President, Special Non-Profit Projects in Ottawa’, you will likely be successful in dispatching your email to the intended party, and have a much better chance that your email will indeed be opened and read.

Personalizing Your Email – Full Contact Name

It is an entirely different matter if your job search emails are ‘solicited’ for specific positions where you are told what to enter into the subject line, and are either given a direct email address, and/or given the individual’s name to direct your correspondence to.

However when this information is not readily available to you, it is your responsibility to learn whom the email should be directed to by performing a little research on the firm you are targeting. You may be able to quickly Google the company name and learn the contact names quickly or perhaps take a wee bit longer to find they are listed on a professional network such as LinkedIn.

Attention Grabbing Details – Use Bullet Points

Now that you have piqued their curiosity, it is imperative that your email content grabs them and holds them long enough to quickly read your first body of text, which would ideally be your major career accomplishments.

Remember you are competing with literally hundreds of others in this individual’s overflowing email inbox, so it is imperative that you are very efficient and powerful in communicating your value.

Make it easy for the recipient to see what it is you have to offer, whether you are conducting a job search, or marketing a new product or tool for your firm. Using bullet points, you can quickly highlight five or so items that will appeal to your specific target audience.

Make it Brief & Succinct

I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to keep in mind that your ‘email’ should be a brief and succinct message, versus a ‘cover letter’ in your job search toolkit.

Simply follow the instructions laid out in the job advertisement and act accordingly, as there will be instances where you will be asked to provide a ‘cover letter email’ rather than ‘attaching’ a cover letter in Word or RTF (rich text format).

Make your best effort to make your emails as short as possible, while still holding a powerful impact, highlighting your major achievements and accomplishments, and clearly stating what it is you are ‘offering’ and ultimately seeking from the recipients.

Complete Contact Info

Although this seems rather obvious, you do want to give the party as many avenues as possible to contact you, aside from your return email and telephone number.

If you have a strong professional portfolio set up on the Internet, share that link, just as you would do with your professional LinkedIn Profile. If you have a career website, be sure the URL is active and working properly when you add it to your closing.

I do not suggest including the more ‘personal’ social networking URLs such as your Twitter or Facebook page, as you want your target audience to see your ‘professional’ side, versus the more intimate side of your personality profile.

Getting the First Step in Writing a Cover Letter Right

The number of people who overlook this simple step to making their cover letter so much more effective is amazing. A cover letter is, to state the obvious, a letter. And all letters need to be addressed to a person, or it is simply junk mail.

A friend who is a store manager of a major retail outlet recently received a letter asking for an opportunity to hold a book signing. Evidently, this was actually the second letter the author had sent. In that envelope, the author also included a copy of the first letter. My friend asked if I interested. I was not, and he was not. He threw it away.

The first letter was addressed to, “To whom it May Concern.” The second letter was addressed to, “The Store General Manager.” Both letters went into great detail on who the author was and how she got to be where she was. In many ways, this was a badly written, cover letter applying for an opportunity to conduct a book signing (okay that might be a stretch).

How much more effective would this letter have been had she addressed it to my friend? Could it have been that difficult to find his name? What about a simple phone call?

In the past, I have had no problems calling a company and getting the name of the right person, once I explained what I wanted.

And it is all commonsense. Anyone opening a letter and reading a generic salutation is immediately going into “junk mail” mindset. At best, the reader will briefly skim the letter and might take a quick look at the resume before either tossing it or giving it to someone else.

I suppose some think that the substance of the cover letter or resume is most important. And I would not disagree with that. Nevertheless, to get to that great substance; you must overcome some basic prejudice. And the most basic prejudice is our belief in our self-importance.

To be clear, you do not need to address it, “To His Royal Excellency…,” rather a simple, “Dear Mr. GivemeaJob” should suffice. Using the correct name at the very least demonstrates you have done a bit of research. Will it get you an interview, or a job? It will not do that, but it will at least keep you alive.

In the hyper-competitive job market of today, every little detail comes. And this is actually a pretty big detail. Your cover letter must be addressed to a live, breathing human being.

For advice, tips and guidelines on writing your best cover letter; check out all the great ideas and free resources at http://www.LandingOnYourFeet.com. While you’re at it, sign up for the newsletter – all kinds of free EBooks and advice (for what its worth).

How to Send Interview Thank You Emails

It is good practice for job seekers to do letter writing and sending interview thank you emails, after meeting with a recruiter or company manager. Relaying a thank you letter after an interview is a must-do for job-search success.

Sample letters are hard to locate, but a fast e-mail is a great way of forwarding an appreciation letter for the job opportunity. If an email is not possible to send, than certainly a mailed letter should be sent quickly – within the first 24 hours. If you don’t have the time to send a detailed letter by e-mail, then just forward something brief but professional, and then follow up with a formal letter with more facts and information.

Even work at home jobs can at times require participation in interviews either by telephone or in person.

Why Send Interview Thank Yous

Sending a thank you reply letter following a job interview, is a great way to interact with your possible future boss, and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you want.

Browse on search engines for thank you letters samples, as learning how to send a thank you letter will confirm your interest to work for the company.

Interview thank yous are a great way of focusing and representing your strengths that will compliment the position that you are seeking.

Your future possible employer will see first hand that you are willing to go that extra mile.

You can also use this opportunity to mention other work experiences or job training that you forgot to mention during the interview.

Letter Writing Must Dos

Make sure you have all of the correct details necessary for the letter. Incorrect information will not make a good impression.

Be sure to proofread the letter template carefully, as spelling and grammar errors will not score any points for you.

Don’t include a lot of fluff. Keep it to the point, yet easily understandable, and of course always be sure that it is professional.

Thank You Letter Writing Sample

Dear ____,

Thank you for the time and consideration you extended to me to discuss the ________ position during my interview with you yesterday.

I appreciate having had the opportunity to familiarize myself with your company, and speak with you about my experience in related fields and my future goals. I can understand why I hear so many great things about your business.

I shall look forward to hearing from you regarding your hiring decision, and wish to thank you again for your courtesy.

Sincerely,

_____

Sending interview thank you emails is the key to your success.

Previously worked as a nurse and human resources manager, now, full-time home consultant and writer. Louanne welcomes you to find extremely helpful work from home advice at http://workingfromhometalk.com

 

How To Land a Job Outside of Your Network of Friends

Most jobs are found through friends, but what if I don’t have any friends in my field?

Reports have shown that a decent proportion of jobs are found through friends. It is easier to find jobs through friends than at random, because friends know you, trust you and are aware of what you are capable of. In many cases, if a friend recommends you, you come with a stamp of approval which gives you a foot in the door, to at least get an interview. However, you may not have friends in your field, making it trickier for you. You may be asking yourself how you will find a job in your field without friends. Below follows a description of ways to overcome this hurdle.

If you do not have friends in your field then networking is a skill that you should strongly consider developing. Networking is by far one of the most effective ways of making contacts in any given field. To network, there are six important groups of people that you need to target:

Current/Former Colleagues – while they may not be friends, your current and former colleagues are the best starting point. They may know people who are hiring, or they themselves may move into a position where they need to hire.

Alumni – contacts from school, college or university may also not have been friends, but are good contacts to talk with in your job search. Any one of them may be in your field, and may have or know of opportunities. You don’t know until you ask.

Family – while your direct family may not be able to help you, each member of your family has friends and contacts. Your family will usually be delighted to help you in your search, and will usually be able to put out a very good word for you.

Associates at clubs/organizations – though perhaps not friends, these folks may know contacts that they can send your way. It is worth putting the word out at any clubs or organizations of which you are a part of.

Professional organizations – try contacting professional organizations related to your field, these are excellent points of contact for finding good people to talk to. This is especially true because they are in the same field as you. They may know who is hiring and have contacts to pass your way.

Friends – while your direct friends may not be in your field, their other friends might be. It is worth talking to your friends to see if they know of anyone who may be able to help you. Friends of friends are frequently people that you will get along well with and connect with easily. If you can find them, these contacts will be a great information source.

Effective face-to-face networking to find good contacts can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and secure an interview. However, there are also other ways. One important method that should not be overlooked is social networking. These days, social networking sites can hold the key to finding a new job. Forbes quotes figures raised by career coach Julie Jansen who stated that:

85% of hiring managers use social networking sites like LinkedIn to look for potential candidates who’ve been referred by other professionals.

This is a huge number, so it is worth getting your details up on LinkedIn. You can add your resume, responsibilities, get recommendations from former colleagues, contribute to forums and even find jobs on this professional social networking website. Importantly, it also has a functionality that you can use to get connected to other contacts of your contacts. This is a very useful networking tool to use to find contacts in your field.

Aside from LinkedIn, you can also find contacts on Facebook, Twitter and other such websites. While primarily used for “friends” these sites are also extremely good for finding professional contacts and others in your field. Keep an eye on the statuses of others on such websites. One hiring manager reported that,

“I put on my Facebook status that we were looking for a new writer. Within a few hours, I had several high quality applications in my inbox!”

This clearly demonstrates the power and importance of social networking websites as a tool for finding a new job.

Finally, volunteering can be an excellent approach for making new contacts in your field. You can volunteer in an area that is of interest to you, and use this time to build up new skills and also to find new contacts. In addition, the organization that you are volunteering for will likely be very appreciative of your efforts, and you’ll be adding to your resume at the same time.

Paula Newton has been working for herself for many years. When not working on her own freelance projects she assists others in getting their work-from-home careers off the ground. She has recently joined the ResumeBucket marketing and outreach team. Her latest project is curating the huge number of sample resumes at ResumeBucket.

On the Spot Networking

We’ve all heard stories about the unexpected ways that some people have landed jobs; the man who gave his business card to a complete stranger in a coffee shop, the woman who pitched an idea while waiting for a bus, or the man who commented on a product and had great ideas to improve it or its marketing. The thing that all of these stories have in common is that these people had their minds set on networking all the time. This mindset is not something that comes naturally to most people, but it is something that can be learned and, as we see from these examples, can lead to great rewards.

One of the first things that we need to learn is to lower our expectations. For every story that we hear of someone landing a great job or closing an incredible deal, there are thousands of stories of people getting nothing except a nice conversation – if their lucky. Don’t be discouraged that your first encounter doesn’t lead to anything. Be prepared to try again and again, and don’t only think of your short-term gains, but consider what benefit you can give to the person you are speaking to. You may not be able to help in their present situation, but they may remember you in the future when they run up against a problem that fits your expertise perfectly. The more you talk to others, the wider your personal and professional web becomes.

Never Meet A Stranger

William Butler Yeats once wrote, “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” This needs to be part of your mindset so that you enter every situation prepared to meet your new friends. Networking is all about meeting people, learning about them, and then letting them know how you can benefit them. Networking is not about finding out how others can benefit you. This mission will often mean you need to leave your comfort zone and do things you never thought you would do. You need to be where the people are and be ready to pitch yourself and your skills, something not everyone is comfortable doing. Practice talking about yourself, what you do, and how you can help others with those you are comfortable with. Then you can put yourself in situations where you are talking with people you don’t know yet, but are able to act as if they are long-lost acquaintances. Avoid being too familiar during your first encounters, since this will put some people off; you will get a feel quickly for what level of familiarity you can have with others.

Don’t Let Them Go Empty-Handed

It should go without saying that one of the things all good networkers have in common is that they always have a business card to give to people they meet. These cards should be treated as a commodity, but shouldn’t be kept as precious gifts. Don’t be afraid to give them, even to those who only seem mildly interested. Also, try to be mindful and not hand them out to every person you pass on the street, either. Business cards are often the only link that people you meet have back to you, so make them stand out. Spend time on the design and wording on your cards and make them something that people will remember, rather than just another piece of paper to add to their wallet/purse.

Networking in today’s business climate is more important than ever, and standing out in a crowd is essential to getting noticed and remembered. Always be ready to actively pitch yourself and your skills and you will soon be the one that everyone is telling success stories about.

Brendan Cruickshank (Vice President of Client Services) – Brendan is a veteran of the online job search and recruiting industry, having spent the past 8 years in senior client services roles with major sites like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. These sites cover employment searches on everything from Illinois jobs to customer service jobs.

A Powerful Insight on Job Hunting

I am told that the all-time best selling book on finding a job (more than 8 million copies sold) was written 37 years ago by an Episcopalian clergyman who lost his job as a pastor in San Francisco in what we today call a downsizing. Richard Nelson Bolles’s experience in losing his job, successfully finding another, and his subsequent book, What Color is Your Parachute?, changed the way people looked at the job market and transition in their lives and, I’m told by my friends at Big Ben Bookstore here in Prague, that the book has been published in Czech.

What is so compelling about Bolles’s work is its common sense. Recently, I was going through some papers and came across an interview that Daniel Pink did with Bolles in 1999 for Fast Company magazine in which he offers a powerful insight into the mechanics of looking for a job. For years I have advised people to employ a technique I call the “List of 10”, which can be found on-line in the Hospodarske noviny archives, in my May 9th, 2006 column titled “How to Find the Job You Really Want”. It wasn’t until I read this interview, though, that I gained a new perspective on the vast difference between how employers look for people to hire and how people who want to be hired go about finding each other, and I want to share it with you in the hopes that it will change the way you go about looking for a job and that it will increase the likelihood of your success.

In the interview, Bolles describes a pyramidal diagram showing the progressive steps companies typically take when looking for people they want to hire. His diagram is called “Our Neanderthal Job-Hunting System”. At the base of the pyramid, which is where companies begin the process, is “internal resources”-looking within the companies for someone to promote and also to leverage these internal resources for names of individuals known to current employees. Then they begin to move up the pyramid to other methods such as general networking, employment agencies, unsolicited resumes, and want ads. This is the way most companies go about looking for new people to hire. It just makes good sense to do it that way-start with people who know the company and its culture to see if they know of someone who might be a fit.

Now, how do you think most of us as individuals go about looking for a job? Just the opposite! That’s why Bolles calls this a Neanderthal system–nothing about it has evolved or changed since the invention of want ads. Want ads are useful, to be sure. But if reading them is your only strategy for finding a job you need to consider the benefits of evolution and change your behavior.

How, then, can you use this information to evolve and to find a job more efficiently before the “outside” world reads about it and knows that it is available and thereby give yourself an advantage over the competition? Simple. Begin your search at the bottom of the pyramid by talking directly to people who work for the companies you have targeted as highly desirable places to work and at which your talents and skills can be used. If you sat down right now and wrote down the names of just five companies that you would like to work for and which you know could use your skills and abilities and made meeting someone inside each of those companies your main goal, you would be surprised how much easier it is to accomplish than you think it is. The method for doing this is described in my previous column mentioned above, but for today, let’s take a look at why it’s so effective.

It’s more effective because you go straight to the source. It’s the same approach we use in everyday life. Suppose you wanted to meet someone, say a man or woman whom you’d like to ask to dinner, whom you hadn’t personally met yet, how would you do it in a way that would increase the likelihood of that person accepting your invitation? You would ask someone to introduce you who knows you both and who has the respect of the person you wish to meet. Ideally, this person would also know enough about you to be able to describe your wonderful characteristics and to suggest an introduction. For many years in the business world we have called this technique “meeting someone on a favorable basis” and it is a powerful differentiator.

So, apply this logic to your job hunt-spend more time working the bottom of the pyramid than the top and you will greatly increase the chances of your success.

Good luck on the way up!

By Pepper de Callier, Prague Leadership Institute, http://www.pragueleadershipinstitute.com

A Cover Letter is a Sales Presentation of You

A cover letter’s only objective is to compel the reader into contacting you. In some ways, it is also to introduce yourself and set the stage for the resume. Yet, if you can write a cover letter that compels the hiring manager to call you, then the resume simply becomes what it is meant to be; a documented list of past experiences and accumulated skills.

Let us look at this from a sales perspective. A sales presentation is essentially composed of four parts:

– Approach

– Presentation

– Proof

– Close

The cover letter is the presentation and the close. The resume becomes the proof that supports your presentation as laid out in the cover letter. The approach is simply what you do to get the hiring manager to read your offer.

If the presentation is solid, the proof is something buyer needs to reinforce his belief that he made a good buy. So, in that light, the resume becomes the afterthought in a sense. If you have written a cover letter that effectively convinces the hiring manager to call you, then the resume simply reaffirms that, “yes, I am doing the right thing in calling this person, why; look at how sterling the resume is!”

On the other hand, if the cover letter fails to impress or convince; all the hard work of putting together the resume may be for nothing. A person must already have a “buying” predisposition for the proof to work, otherwise all the testimonials and proofs will probably not be enough.

Most people are familiar with the features and benefits of a product and what the differences are. In short, features are what make a product unique and the benefits are “what’s in it for me.” Yet in making the presentation, it is not enough to simply state mostly the benefits or mostly the features.

A good sales presentation makes the connection between a feature that the buyer most cares for and the benefit to the buyer. It is the connection that you draw that sets the stage for the close. It is not enough to say, “I am proficient in sales management, having directed 6 sales representatives in achieving 106% of sales quota for 2000.” That is the feature, that is nice; but so what.

It is not enough to say, “I can generate an increase in sales for your company by building a team of aggressive sales representatives.” That is nice, that is a benefit to hiring you I suppose, but what makes me believe that? And do I have to go back to the previous statement and make my own connection?

The feature and benefit must flow to something like, “I can bring increased sales and revenue to your company; as I did for Wily E. Acme Inc., where I achieved 106% of sales quota for 2000,” or words to that effect. You state the benefit first, and then, bridge to the feature. In this case, you are the product and so the cover letter is your sales pitch of you.

As you write your presentation, as much as making the connection for the hiring manager is critical, even more critical is making the right connection between the feature she is looking for and the benefits she needs. And the answer to that riddle is in the job description and your research of the company. You should not send form letters, willy-nilly, to every job you are interested in.

Select the position and the company that is a match for you, and then, you must dissect the job description. Make a bullet point list of what they are looking for. Then make a list of your skills and qualifications. And as you did in grade school, draw a line between what they are looking for and what you have to offer.

Research the company and industry and attempt to pinpoint which of the bullet pointed items seem to be the most important.

Mirror the words and descriptions that you picked out of the job posting and description. Nearly every job posting is pretty exact in what they are looking for. So,give them what they want in the words they wrote it in. If you use a template to get the flow of ideas down first, fine; then tweak the letter to mirror what the company is looking for.

And of course, you must close the letter by asking for a decision, “I suggest getting together immediately to discuss the possibilities between us, you may call me at (000) 000-1234.”

In concept, I suggest you write the cover letter as though it was a sales presentation. As you write the letter, write it in terms of what the buyer is looking for and in the words the company uses. You letter will be far more compelling.

By H. Kim. Although not a job getting guru, Hyo’s been around the block a couple of time. So, come over and take a look at some of the strategies, tips and advice, a few laughs and a couple of words of wisdom that he’s dispensing, plus his great list of resources at Landing on Your Feet Blog. Come on in, take your shoes off, stay awhile; can I get you a cup of coffee?

6 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Writing a Cover Letter

If you have been unsuccessful in getting a serious response, or responses, to the resumes you have sent out; perhaps it is time to take a hard look at what you have been sending out. First, please understand that generally you are up against huge odds in mailing or posting a resume to a job opening. Beyond the politics of whether that job posting is actually “open or not,” the sheer number of applicants for any job posting is just a lot.

At a recent job fair held downtown, the local paper reported that some 5,000 people showed up to see what the 135 companies present were offering. Minimally, those are the odds you are facing when applying for a job posting.

But if you are going to apply for that job you saw in the Sunday paper, you should at least do everything that you can do. What you send and who you send it to must be spot on. That said I want to discuss some of the common mistakes in a lot of cover letters that I have seen.

1. The simplest mistake is sending or dropping off just a resume by itself. As the song to “Married with Children” says, a cover letter and resume go together like a horse and carriage.

2. Another common mistake is not addressing it to a live human being. I know of no one that responses well to receiving a “To Whom It May Concern” letter.

3. Many writers mistake a well written letter with a long letter. A cover letter must be one page only, but more important, it must be direct and to the point. It must be easy to read. A lengthy one page letter will bore and distract the reader.

4. Too many people attempt to squeeze their resume into the cover letter by giving far too much information in that introductory letter. Introduce yourself in the lead letter and leave your life’s story to the resume.

5. Too many people write with words that they think the recruiter or hiring manager wants to hear instead of writing what the hiring manager do want to read. Use of flowery words and phrases are not impressive. The hiring manager wants to know why you are writing, what is in it for him, and lastly, what you want in clear English. If the posting states that they are looking for an aggressive sales representative, then write that you are an aggressive sale representative. Do not write that you are a proactive, results-driven, goal-oriented sales professional.

6. Finally, too many letters end with either a wishy-washy request for a call for, or worse, do not have a call to action at all. Without asking for a specific response, you have just wasted your time and the time of the reader.

As you write your next cover letter, consider these common mistakes. Make sure that you write a letter that is direct, in clear English, and asks for action.

By Peter Kim. Write your best and most compelling cover letter with free advice, guidelines, and examples at http://www.LandingOnYourFeet.com. While you’re at it, sign up for the newsletter with free EBooks and resources to help you. Loaded with great articles to help you find a job, this is where to go for commonsense, straight shooting info.

Job Search Savvy: Conduct a Targeted People Search

Who’s in Your Circle?

Each of us has a circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, coworkers, parents from the PTA, fellow soccer coaches, members of the knitting club, and so forth. Many job seekers have a robust circle of connections in the offline realm. In the online space, the circles can vary somewhat dramatically. In the online environment, ask yourself, “Who am I connected to?” and “Through which social networking sites am I connected to them?”

For those of who are already using social networking aggressively for people-searching and professional career-oriented networking, you have already established a great foundation-well done! If you are not quite as social networking/social media savvy or up to speed as you may be on the ‘people/career search’ curve, now is the time to start.

Even if you have been a longtime social network user for personal connections, you may not be aware of how best to employ social networking as a central part of your career-building activities or on behalf of people-searching as a tool to drive job leads.

Most people are still using online social communities as they were originally intended. They use them as “social communication/stay-in-touch/what’s up” vehicles with their “connections” tending to be more of the friends and family variety as opposed to business/professional networking contacts.

Personal Networks and Circles of Influence

The term “circles of influence” is one more familiar to those of us in sales/business development roles (particularly those in the insurance business), and those with a strong background in professional networking. It’s not a term that means much to those outside these areas.

It refers to an individual’s personal contacts, specifically those who exert some level of influence on others around them-their “circle.”

The influence or “sway” that they have may be due to several factors: their standing in the community or business world; special educational achievements; unique/special talents/skills; dynamic/magnetic personality; high moral/ethical character; polished speaking skills; or military prowess. Because of these traits, these individuals are looked up to and command a level of respect and credibility that others may not possess, and they tend to be well connected to other important people.

And as a result of their influence, these ‘centers of influence’ can be very helpful in opening doors for others, whether to new business opportunities/deals, providing access to VIPs or “inside” political contacts/powerful people, and making important financial/banking connections. However, this only applies if you know them and they know you. Remember that relationship building/social networking is a two-way street.

And when it comes to career/job help, having several of these folks whom you know and are known to you on some personal level can be worth their weight in gold.

They can point you toward others you don’t yet know who may be able to help you with your people search. Remember, always focus on people/relationships first; job opportunities follow).

Certainly, you have a competitive advantage if you have several solid ‘centers of influence’ in your personal network of family, friends, and business acquaintances. You can always ‘tap’ them if you need help of some sort that they can provide.

By starting with the people you know personally, and connecting in an ever- widening network to others they know, and continue to connect to additional contacts, you will come across and develop new centers of influence.

It’s those folks and your proper approach and cultivation that can and will result in helping you tap into others that they know. They will aid in your people-search process and ultimate goal of realizing a satisfactory employment opportunity and perhaps many more.

Power Referrals…Plug into the Juice

Referrals are the name of the game. And more to the point are power referrals. These can include centers of influence, but your referrals certainly don’t have to be. Your referrals can turn on some serious social networking ‘juice’ for you.

In social networking lingo, a power referral is someone you may know-or if you don’t, you can gain an introduction to-who can help get you introduced to other people they know, that you want or need to reach, such as a hiring authority at one of your Top 10 companies.

In some cases, these power referrers can open the door to multiple people you want to talk to. The best-case scenarios is that you develop a really good relationship with them, resulting in them becoming your advocate and/or coach. This makes them extremely valuable to your people-search cause and ultimate objective.

Power referrers can be immensely helpful, but they need to be nurtured and developed before you can approach them with your main goals. This may mean getting introduced to them and having them get you an introduction to the people they know. From the first contact/introduction through building your relationship, how you approach them is a key to moving your agenda forward.

Start with Your Core Personal Network

It doesn’t matter if you have five, 50, or 500 people you know in your current personal network. This is your core: Start with them. Even though these are people you know personally – friends, acquaintances, relatives, business peers, co-workers, church contacts-.you still want to start your approach with the social side of things.

The first thing is ensure your list is as complete as possible. Why? Because every single one of those people knows someone else. Maybe it’s just seven, but maybe it’s several thousand other people. You don’t know. Nor do you know where your next career opportunity will come from. Life is strange that way. Never overlook anyone. Leave no stone unturned.

You will want to divide your core list into two groups-those who you know well and with whom you’re in contact regularly, and those who don’t know you nearly as well (but need to).

If you have a strong existing relationship and regular communication with a contact, you can jump right in, broadcasting your message of a needed job change or new employment. Hopefully that will produce some potential employer “interest” or news of job openings to pursue.

The other part of your list-those family, more casual friends, and acquaintances who don’t really know you that well or with whom you’re not in touch regularly-will require more effort, as you will need to start forging closer connections with them

Because there’s some sort of prior connection in place already, reach out to them, but not about your job situation. Start with a ‘Hi, what’s new, how’ve you been?’ approach.

Re-establish the rapport or connection you initially made. Find or rediscover common ground and interests. Learn what’s new with the family, their life, their kids, vacations they’ve taken, recent home improvements, or mutual friends in common. Show interest-sincere and genuine interest. And actively LISTEN to what they have to say which will help you reconnect with them.

Build on your reconnecting efforts with multiple follow ups, but do it naturally. You don’t want to leave the impression with them of, “What does he/she WANT with me?”

Once you’ve rebuilt these relationships,then you can ask for some help and share your employment situation/needs. Due to having had a prior connection with them, it will take less time to get to this point than if you were starting from scratch.

Depending on how ‘local’ your core network is, you can integrate some more traditional networking avenues into your plans. Move to arranging a lunch meeting, find out more about their job, industry and work. Ask for suggestions, help with a resume review, or general advice. It’s about creating and nurturing trust, credibility, and likeability.

Set yourself a schedule of calling on and talking with a certain number of your personal network each day, week, and month. Commit to following through and doing what you set out to do. Remember: consistency counts in your targeted people search.

Sherrie A. Madia, Ph.D. is an educator, author, and trainer. Her most recent books include The Social Media Survival Guide (Also available in Spanish), The Online Job Search Survival Guide, and S.E.R.I.A.L.PRENEURSHIP: The Secrets of Repeatable Business Success. She is frequently cited by the national media as an expert in social media. She is Director of Communications, External Affairs, and a Lecturer at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

To schedule an individual consultation or group workshop on online job-search, visit http://www.OnlineJobSearchBook.com.

The Best Approach to Job Search: Blend Traditional and Social Media Tactics

The most successful job searches are neither dumb luck nor magic. They are developed from strong networks that the job seeker has already built, both online and off. Effective job seekers must integrate social media outreach with the more traditional approach in order to present a consistent, aligned, professional image.

Recruiters are evaluated in part based on their abilities to screen qualified applicants, so they don’t react well to surprises, such as candidates whose interviews present an entirely different person from what is stated or implied on the resume. Job seekers often forget that human resource professionals are looking for the candidate they saw on paper, online, and in a profile photo-so consistency counts!

The best recommendation is that job seekers include links to their blog, LinkedIn profile, YouTube video resume-whatever online elements they have created-on their traditional resume. Standardize profiles across all social media sites, and link them together.

Candidates must position themselves effectively where recruiters are searching, as well as become content producers in order to attract recruiters directly to them. Bear in mind the current state of the job market:

  • Fewer jobs are available.
  • More competition exists for those jobs.
  • More touch points exists for job seekers and recruiters to interact.
  • Smart job seekers must optimize their personal brand and seek out those who are on the lookout for great candidates.

In addition to the standard-issue background and employer checks, hiring managers-and even college admissions officers-are turning to social networking sites to delve more deeply into the background of applicants. If you think this is unfair, think again. The Internet is not a private club for you and your friends. It’s a public space.

The rule used to be that anything on your resume was fair game for an interviewer to consider. While this is still the case, the same is now true for anything on the Internet that has your name attached to it-including your Facebook wall. If you don’t like the odds that a recruiter will check out your wall of potentially inappropriate updates, the best advice is to clean your wall.

Like anything else in the realm of social media, candidates should not forego traditional job-search fare in favor of a strict social-media diet of job search. Candidates should continue to post their credentials to job banks, respond to corporate postings, attend career and job fairs, and so forth.

That said, note that this type of activity would have been primary in the past, but today’s candidate needs to have a 21st century mentality about job search. While some attention should be devoted to traditional job search methods, the majority should be geared toward social media strategies-regardless of industry or job type. Social media is simply a more efficient way to find yourself a job sooner rather than later.

Good luck with your job search!

Sherrie A. Madia, Ph.D. is an educator, author, and trainer. Her most recent books include The Social Media Survival Guide (Also available in Spanish), The Online Job Search Survival Guide, and S.E.R.I.A.L.PRENEURSHIP: The Secrets of Repeatable Business Success. She is frequently cited by the national media as an expert in social media. She is Director of Communications, External Affairs, and a Lecturer at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

To schedule an individual consultation or group workshop on online job-search, send an email to: [email protected] or visit http://www.OnlineJobSearchBook.com.