How to Use the “You” Attitude in Your Cover Letter

When you are looking for a job and have created the perfect resume, then it may also be time to write a cover letter. For many people, writing the cover letter is much more difficult than the resume. The resume almost becomes a list, whereas the cover letter has to tell more of a professional story and elaborates on the resume. One of the keys to a successful cover letter is incorporating the “you” attitude – read further for specifics on HOW to incorporate this into your next cover letter.

Tip #1 – Make it about the employer. Instead of thinking about why you want the job, think of what you can bring to the organization. Is it your teamwork abilities? How about your project management expertise? What are you going to do to make the employer’s life easier?

Tip #2 – Do NOT start every sentence with the word “I.” When we write a cover letter, it’s typical for most of us to think in terms of “I can offer my leadership skills to the company.” Or, maybe you think “I’m a great leader who gets along well with others and I can make an impact with the company.” Instead, try to minimize the use of the word “I” in your letter.

Consider using sentences like “Your company could utilize my leadership skills, project management abilities, and focus on collaboration.” Or, you may be able to start the cover letter with “Your recent posting for an Educational Assistant greatly interested me.” By using words like “you” and “your,” you are making the cover letter about the employer.

Tip #3 – Show that you researched the company. Within the cover letter, mention the company’s recent award, how they were named a best employer within their industry, or that you understand their target market. This shows that you care about the job opportunity and know what the company is seeking in its employees.

If you are still struggling with your cover letter and want to know how to better position your skills, experience, and future goals, please contact me today at heather@feather-communications.com. I can give you a free cover letter review and offer ideas for improvement.

Do I Need a Cover Letter?

As you embark on your job search, you start looking at online sites and organize your information for a knock-out, fantastic, and focused resume. Then, you really start to read what the companies are looking for and discover that some of them ask for a cover letter and some don’t ask for anything except the resume. So, you wonder…do I actually need a cover letter? Or, can it just be skipped? I tell all of my clients the same thing – it’s better to have a cover letter and NOT need it versus needing a cover letter and not having one.

The cover letter provides you with an opportunity to tell your story further and explain more than you can discuss in a resume. And, sometimes there are extra achievements that you may want to include in your resume and simply can’t fit into the document. Instead, you can add those ‘bonus’ items to the cover letter. It’s important that you tell the reader something new in your cover letter and don’t just reword the resume.

Next, a cover letter can also be used as an introductory email. That means that even if the company doesn’t have a requirement for a cover letter, you can add it as an ‘extra’ document or use it in the verbiage of your email. Again, it provides a nice introduction to you as a job candidate and offers a warm preview for your resume.

Finally, your cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase your written communication skills. Effective communication is a vital part of any job today; demonstrating that you know how to discuss your strengths and accomplishments in a confident manner allows you to present yourself as the right candidate for the position.

Even if a cover letter is not required, it provides you an extra opportunity to go above-and-beyond during this initial stage of connecting with the company. If you KNOW you need a cover letter and just don’t know where to start, check out my free Cover Letter Checklist Tips – you will learn several ideas that will help you make an impression as you search for your new job.

Feather Communications Named one of the Top 10 Resume Services in Minneapolis

Feather Communications has been named one of the Top 10 Resume Services in Minneapolis.

Dr. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, founder of Feather Communications, is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and provides resume-writing services to clients throughout the United States. Find My Profession, a website geared towards helping clients land job opportunities, cultivated the listing of Minneapolis-area resume writers. According to the site, a solid history of glowing reviews helped Feather Communications secure a spot on the list.

“I’m excited to be included as a top resume writer,” Rothbauer-Wanish said. “My passion for resume-writing has allowed me to assist thousands of clients in helping them to identify their strengths and achievements,” she continued. As part of her website, she features a regular blog offering implementable tips that range from formatting resumes to how to write a cover letter.

Tips from Feather Communications have been featured on CareerSidekick, MSN, Monster, Recruiter, MFG Jobs, and the Management Resource Association websites. “I absolutely love what I do and I am passionate about helping people market themselves to land their dream jobs,” she concluded.

For more information on resume writing services, please contact Feather Communications at 715-559-6378 or email heather@feather-communications.com.

The 5 Must-Have Ingredients for a Successful Cover Letter

You may have wondered whether or not you actually NEED a cover letter. After all, some job openings ask for them and some don’t. Are they even read anymore? And, do you need to bother? My answer to clients is a resounding YES. After all, I’ve never heard of someone NOT getting an interview opportunity because they sent a cover letter and they went above-and-beyond the requirements. So, what should you do to make sure you cover letter stands out and isn’t thrown in the trash? Read below for my 5 must-have ingredients to create an impactful cover letter.

#1 – Focus on the employer in the FIRST paragraph. Instead of starting out stating why you want the job and where you want your future career to go, you need to demonstrate why you can make an impact with the organization and HOW that will help them. They need YOU to solve THEIR problems.

#2 – Start giving the readers some skill-sets that will help in the open position. Even then, you need to keep the “you” attitude and focus on the employer. For example, say something like, “Your organization is ready for someone that can build ongoing partnerships, establish contracts, and work closely with external partners – these are all skills I’ve honed while working with ABC Company.” See what we did there? Rather than saying something like, “My skills include….”  – we have turned it so the focus is—once again—on the company.

#3 – Use three or four bullet points in the middle of the letter. Don’t use one-word bullets and don’t list your skills. INSTEAD, focus on two or three past achievements or accomplishments that align with the job opportunity. This means that you focus on how many clients you landed within 90 days, the number of employees you supervised, the dollar amount of the account you secured, etc. Use numbers, percentages, and dollar amounts whenever possible.

#4 – Be positive and CONFIDENT throughout the letter. It’s vital that you don’t say thinks like “I think,” or “I feel,” or “I’m almost positive.” Instead, say things like, “I know,” “I’m certain,” or “I am positive.” Don’t think of it as bragging—think of it as stating a fact that you are AWESOME at your job and KNOW how to get things done.

#5 –  End with “I’m excited to hear from you,” or something similar. Don’t mention that you will call in three days or that you “hope” to hear from the hiring manager. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t follow-up with the organization, but you don’t have to use your cover letter space to do so.

And, for those that still may think you don’t need a cover letter. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared and NOT need it versus need it and NOT have it? Finally, I always tell my clients that they can certainly use the verbiage (or at least some of it) for an email to the hiring manager or in an online application system.

Still not sure where to start with a cover letter? Download my Cover Letter Checklist that GETS INTERVIEWS.

5 Tips for a Successful Phone Interview

These days, it’s all about saving time and resources for the company. This includes during a candidate search for a position. And, it’s fairly common for many companies to conduct phone interview or phone screenings first to determine if you—the job seeker—are one of the right candidates to bring in for a full interview. While it may not seem like a big deal to answer questions on the phone, you need to be sure to follow these key steps to ensure you make a favorable first impression.

Tip #1 – Be on time. Most likely, the company is calling you. That means you have your phone by you at least 10 minutes before the scheduled call—just in case the company calls early. And, if you are on a cell phone, be sure that you have it fully charged prior to the call. There is nothing worse than a dwindling cell phone battery when you know a call may be long.

Tip #2 – Take the call in a quiet place. Have you ever been on a call with someone that was in a loud location and it was difficult to hear? Right—you DON’T want to do that. If you currently have a job, perhaps you take the call in your car or—if you are at home, be sure your dogs, cats, and children are not around or in another part of the house at that time.

Tip #3 – Stand up and smile. While this may seem a little out-of-place for a phone interview, it’s really not. When you stand up, you feel more confident and are likely to appear more professional. In addition, if you can stand up and speak in front of a mirror, you will likely smile more and sound more pleasant.

Tip #4 – Prepare ahead of time. Don’t treat this as a ‘formality’ and take the phone interview seriously. While it may be only the first step in the process, it is a step that you must pass in order to get to the in-person interview. Research the company, know your strengths, understand why you are the right candidate for the job, and show that you are a true professional.

Tip #5 – Ask about the next steps. By asking about the process the company is using to hire for the position, you will show your interest in the job and that you are serious about the possibility of working for the company. This also gives you an approximate timeline for following-up with the interviewer.

Don’t take a phone interview lightly. While it may be only the first part in a screening process, if you can’t make it pass the phone interview, it is unlikely the company will contact you again. So, be sure to put your best foot forward during this time and evaluate your performance during the interview so that you can make modifications for the next interview.

Still not sure about your interview skills? Contact us today – we offer interview coaching to get you ready-to-go for your next employment prospect!

P.S. Don’t be afraid to get our FREE download – Top 5 Resume Tips to GET THE INTERVIEW>>>Click HERE to access it for some amazing resume tips!

Do I Need a Cover Letter?

In a typical day, I will get several emails via my website and respond to the potential clients with varying package offerings. My basic package is a resume only and the second package offers a resume and cover letter. The additional offers then include LinkedIn profiles and interview coaching. One of the most common questions I receive is the following: “Which package do you think I should go with? Do I need a cover letter?” My answer is typically YES.

Here’s the reason: Even if a job opening does not REQUIRE a cover letter, I’ve never heard of anyone NOT getting hired because they went above-and-beyond and sent a cover letter. Oftentimes, an online application has an ‘additional’ file category or an ‘optional’ cover letter attachment. Why not include a cover letter and share even more of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments?

So, what’s the purpose of a cover letter? Is it a summary of the resume? When done correctly, the cover letter can further tell the story of the applicant and can discuss additional strengths that can be brought to the workplace. After being at several national resume writing conferences, I can tell you that some recruiters read the resume first and some read the cover letter first—it’s a personal preference. However, when the cover letter is read first, it can provide a great first impression and memorable statement for the candidate.

Here are my general tips for a cover letter:

#1 – Keep it concise and one-page maximum. I met with a client recently that showed me several of her old cover letters and they were all two to three pages in length. That is simply too long and the reader won’t read through the material. In addition, if you are trying to show that you are a jack-of-all-trades, you are probably showing that you are master of none.

#2 – Use bullet points. Rather than large blocks of text, use a few short paragraphs and three or four bullet points in the middle of the cover letter to attract attention. These bullet points are a quick and easy way to change information depending upon the job opportunity. Be specific and showcase several of your past accomplishments that are directly in-line with the potential job opportunity.

#3 – Address the cover letter to an actual person. Never use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” as the salutation. Do everything in your power to find out the name of the hiring director or HR professional. And, if all else fails and you are unable to find out the person’s name, then use “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Human Resources Leader.” This salutation comes across as more personal and less like a form letter.

If you would like more tips on creating a cover letter that gets results, be sure to download our Cover Letter Checklist by clicking HERE!