Biggest Cover Letter Fails for Young Professionals

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“Do I really have to write a cover letter?” Is a common question asked by those in the job search. The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, you should write a cover letter. Cover letters help to tell a story that is hard to convey in a resume. It is your chance to push for an interview and answer any questions your employer might have by looking at your resume. Make sure your cover letter stand out by avoiding these three cover letter fails.

Fail #1 | Assuming “One-Size Fits All”

Your cover letter should address specific needs the employer expressed in the job description and should be customized to every employer. Think about cover letters like mail. No one enjoys receiving really generic mail that is addressed “Dear Current Resident”, just like employers don’t enjoy reading really vague and generic cover letters.

Fail #2 | Repeating Your Resume

Your cover letter is a supporting document to your resume. You should not repeat any accomplishment statements or stories that are told on your resume in your cover letter. Instead, pick two or three experiences or projects that are most relevant to the job description and go into more detail about how your experiences match what they are looking for in the job posting.

Fail #3 | Making Your Cover Letter About You

It’s not about you. Your cover letter is your chance to flatter the employer with how much you know about them through your research and how much you want to contribute to their goals and mission. Let your enthusiasm and excitement shine, but leave statements about what you’d gain from the position out of the cover letter.

Cover letters can be tricky to write but are so crucial for standing out in today’s job market. If you are still unsure of how to customize your cover letter and make your accomplishments shine, I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

 

Networking for Young Professionals

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We’ve all heard the phrase, it’s all about who you know when it comes to the job search. At first, the idea of networking and building connections might feel overwhelming. You might tell yourself you can’t network because you are introverted, you don’t know how to talk about yourself, or maybe you think it isn’t important for your field. Here is your reality check: networking is necessary for everyone, in every field. These three tips are here to help you make the most of your time while networking.

#1 | Have a Pitch: Having an elevator pitch is crucial to networking. More often than not, networking will be more conversational than just walking up to someone and talking for 30-seconds about yourself. However, the point of having a pitch is to provide you with the language to talk about your skills, achievements, and goals. If you have that plan you’ll be able to bring your pitch into conversations at formal networking events or even at a family barbeque. Don’t have a pitch? Think through this formula: current + past + future. What are you currently doing? How has your past shaped where you are now? Where do you want to go next?

#2 | Set Goals to Put Yourself Out There: Have a goal for why you want to network. Exploring careers? In a new place? Maybe you simply want to expand your network. While you’re setting the purpose of your networking, you also want to set a timeframe. Want to attend two networking events a month? Great! Put it in your calendar to help hold yourself accountable.

#3 | Don’t Save Networking for the Job Search: Many people believe networking is only beneficial during the job search, however, if you save networking for just the job search it may seem forced. You want your networking to be more focused on relationship building than asking for a job. If you are continuously thinking about networking throughout your career, you’ll have that established rapport and network to lean on when you need it.

Take advantage of that next networking opportunity and focus on getting to know others while also building long-term relationships. YOUR next job opportunity could come from someone you haven’t met yet—get out there and start establishing rapport with individuals in your industry.

Need more advice? Download our FREE Top 5 Resume Tips for New Professionals!

Don’t Make These Resume Mistakes

Whether I am working with a CEO, a customer service manager, or a teacher, I consistently see the same resume mistakes over-and-over again. Remember—if you haven’t written a resume in five or more years, things have changed! Please see the list below for the most common resume mistakes and how to avoid them. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT ME NOW!

Tip #1 – Don’t include personal details. Believe it or not, people sometimes include photos, marital status, and personal hobbies. Photos and personal details allow individuals to pre-judge you BEFORE you even get to the interview. Stay with professional information and documentation.

Tip #2 – Don’t include SO MUCH information. I understand that your work history is important and it’s difficult to know where to ‘draw the line’ with what is and what isn’t included. However, including everything makes NOTHING stand-out. Focus on what that particular employer needs to know about you. Keep the information concise and on-target for your desired positions.

Tip #3 – Beware of strange formatting. Don’t decide to utilize three different fonts, some clip art, and various colors. It’s very important to be consistent with your formatting and to give your resume a clean, cohesive, and consistent appearance. Remember – a recruiter or hiring manager is most likely only reviewing the document for about 5-7 seconds…you do NOT want that person to be distracted by formatting.

Tip #4 – Ensure space is utilized. Your resume contains prime real estate and we want that real estate to work for us. Put a header at the top of your resume instead of the word “Summary.” Mention your past positions or future desired positions by stating something like, “Executive-Level Administrative Assistant” or “Entry-Level Accounting Professional.” And, don’t include things like hobbies and volunteerism if you have more pertinent and relevant information that is DIRECTLY related to your future roles.

The tips listed here are just the start of things to consider when crafting your updated resume. If you are still unsure of how to include certain information or what sections you need to use on your resume, I’d love to chat – click HERE now!

5 Tips for Listing Education on Your Resume

When you decide to rewrite your resume, you need to consider the different sections to include, which information that needs to be addressed, and how to position your education within the document. Whether you have a high school education, three college degrees, or have attended workshops that align with your future career goals, it is important to know how to list education on your resume. Check out the tips below for the best ways to highlight your training and educational experiences.

Tip #1 – List education after job history. I typically place education after professional experience UNLESS the person graduated within the last few months and has ZERO professional experience. For the most part, after you have worked for a couple of years, your experience outweighs your education.

Tip #2 – If you didn’t graduate from college, you can still list the experience—without listing the degree. For example, if you attended two years of college for business, but didn’t graduate, you could list it as follows: Business Administration Coursework – ABC University.

Tip #3 – You do NOT need to include your graduation year. This is true no matter if you graduated high school, college, or attended 10 workshops. At some point, when you start to put a graduation date of 20+ years ago, you will find yourself open to potential age discrimination. And, the date works both ways: someone who graduated last week may be perceived as “not knowing anything,” and someone that graduated in 1990 may be perceived as being “old.”

Tip #4 – GPA is not a necessity. Now, if you graduated from college last Saturday and had a 4.0 GPA, that may be the highlight of your document. If so, then definitely include it. At that point, you probably haven’t had a lot of time to grow your professional history. However, if you graduated in 1993 and had a 4.0 GPA, it’s probably not as important today.

Tip #5 – Not ALL education needs to be included. For example, if you attended a technical college for one year, then worked for a while, and eventually earned your degree from a different college, you only need to put the information for THAT institution. Simply list the degree and from where it was earned—that’s it.

Consider all of your education, workshops, and seminars as an opportunity for you to showcase your desire for continuous learning while demonstrating your entire knowledge base. And, if you still have questions about where and how to include education on your next resume, contact me today!

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?

So often in life, we try to ‘get by’ with doing things ourselves. Whether it is making birthday decorations for your child’s party, painting your kitchen, or landscaping your yard, we are always looking for ways to save money, maximize resources, and take pride in work we completed ourselves.

However, have you ever thought that doing all of these things can actually COST you in the long-run? Hiring a professional resume writer may be one of those instances. Read further to discover WHY you may want to hire a professional when designing your new resume.

Consideration #1 – It’s challenging to write about yourself. No matter how objective you are as a person, it’s almost impossible to be objective about yourself. And, a good resume writer can assist you with extracting information you didn’t consider; the writer can help you identify your strengths, focus on accomplishment, and write about your skills in a way that makes an impact.

Consideration #2 – Do you know the latest formats and technology? If you haven’t written a resume in 15+ years, everything has changed. You will need to know the correct key words to include, formats that work with Applicant Tracking, and what should and should not be included on your resume. For example, if you are still including an Objective or the line, ‘References Available Upon Request,’ we should chat NOW. Neither of those are typical on today’s resumes.

Consideration #3 – You are losing money every day you don’t have a job. Or, you may continue to be miserable at a job that you DESPISE. So, yes, a professional resume writer will cost you money; however, I see it as an investment. If you pay someone else $300 or $500 to write your resume and you get a job within four weeks, think how much money you are saving by landing a job sooner. As an alternative, you can continue to stare at your resume and try to figure out how to change things for three months and not have one interview.

As someone who truly enjoys doing things for myself, there are things that I have now outsourced to others. After reviewing how much time it takes me to do those things, I realize that it makes more sense financially (and lifestyle-wise), for me to hire others to complete the tasks that I don’t enjoy the most.

For example, I hired someone to clean my house twice per month. Instead of me worrying about how I’m going to find the time to clean while work piles up on my desk, I look forward to those two days that someone else takes care of the deep clean. And, while that is happening, I can finish work projects and focus on helping others.

If you are ready to outsource your resume project and want to move forward, contact me today! And, if you prefer to complete your own document, download this PDF that will provide you with key words, skills, and examples that will help you as you develop your new resume!

How to Not Appear Old with Your Education on Your Resume

As you get older, it gets a bit more difficult to ‘figure-out’ how to include Education on your resume. Do you list high school or not? What if you went to college but didn’t graduate? Should you include the years of attendance and graduation? These are all things to consider when working with this portion of your document. Read below for some tips and ideas on how to include the “correct” information without appearing “old.”

Tip #1 – Don’t add years. That is right. The year you graduated college is not important. And, at some point, the year you graduated may start to date you and open you to age discrimination. If you know someone graduated from college in 1988, you may automatically think that he or she is out-of-date when it comes to today’s workplace. So, why put that information out there?

Tip #2 – List your major and your minor. Don’t just say that you earned a “Bachelor of Arts” degree—instead, state that you earned a degree in Chemistry or Marketing with a minor in History or Public Relations. This is the type of information that will be most applicable to your future job. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to include all of the classes you took or your GPA. And, be sure to list the name of the college from which you earned your degree.

Tip #3 – Don’t list EVERYTHING associated with your education. What does this mean? This simply means that you don’t have to list all of the clubs, sororities, or organizations you were involved with during your college career. Now, if you only graduated from college three weeks ago and have ZERO professional experience, you may want to consider adding your extracurricular activities to emphasize collaboration, leadership, and a focus within your desired work area. Otherwise, if you were a member of a fraternity from 1988-1992, it’s probably not vital that it ends up on your resume.

Tip #4 – Coursework but no degree? Here’s what to do. If you attended college for some time, but didn’t get a degree, then list it like the following, “Coursework – Accounting, ABC University.” Or, as an alternative, you could list the number of credits you earned towards the degree. And, if you have any sort of college education, there is no need to list high school education.

Still not sure how to list your unique educational experience? Email me at heather@feather-communications.com and I can offer you a free resume review.

If you want MORE resume tips, then download my free Top 5 Resume Tips to GET THE INTERVIEW.