Welcome to Kaiser Whitney’s Job Search Resources page. Listed below are helpful tips on writing cover letters and resumes and useful information to get you ready for your upcoming interview.
Cover Letter Tips
The Cover Letter is just as important to the employment process as your resume. It is your first introduction to the company and is used to convince the person reading your letter that they should take a good look at your resume. To have the greatest impact, you should customize each letter you send out. Please do not send 50 copies of the same letter, it shows that you do not have specific interest in that particular company.You should always try to send the letter to a specific individual. Never, never, never send a blind letter to “whom this may concern.” You have the address, call the company up and ask them for the name of the person to send it to. If they tell you to “just send it to the HR department,” ask again, be nice, tell them you want to make sure it gets to someone specific. If you have good phone manners and are friendly on the phone, it should be no problem to get a name.
When preparing the letter, you should include the following items:
- Tell the reader how you got their name. Even if you have a funny story about your conversation with the receptionist.
>>“Dear Mr. Smith, I saw a job posting at www.job.com and the position listed you as the primary contact for cover letters and resumes.<<
- Tell them why you are interested in the company and mention the particular job you are writing about.
>> “I am writing to express my interest in the XYZ job. As you will see on my resume, my experience at The ABC included a lot of XYZ.”<<
- Ask them to “please take a moment to review my resume.”
>>” I look forward to speaking with you in the near future, Please take a moment to review my resume and compare my experience and credentials to the requirements of your open position.” <<
- Tell them that you will follow up in a few days with a phone call to see if they have any questions.
>>” I will phone your office in a few days to make sure you receive the enclosed documents and answer any questions you might have.”<<
- Make sure to include a phone number and email address.
If you are responding to a specific job posting or employment advertisement, you should make reference to one or two of the items listed in the ad. Do not go overboard in explaining everything your resume already describes. Keep your Cover Letter short and simple. One page is enough.
There are many ways to write a Cover Letter. It is important that you show your own particular style. The paper, font and general “feel” of the letter should be consistent with your resume. They should work together as two parts of the same package. One type of letter that works for one person might not accurately describe your situation. The important thing is not to bore the reader with another one of the million cover letters they receive. Keep it short and have a friend proofread it for you to avoid grammatical and spelling errors. Good luck !
Preparing a resume has become a complex science over the past few years. As the internet evolves and an increasing number of documents are being sent electronically, the focus is shifting more towards content. In the past, it was important to have a one, or in special circumstances, a two page resume that was laid out in an appealing format that was easy to read and nice to look at.
With the high speed of electronic mail, the process in which people review resumes is also faster. Having a short, organized document that quickly brings the reader to the point is critical. The resume needs to be able to tell the reader why and how you will benefit the company.
The only purpose a resume should serve is to get you invited to interview. Nothing more, nothing less. It is an advertisement document designed to convince the hiring official that it is in the best interest of the company to interview you. Some suggestions for preparing a resume for the 21st century:
- Include a “Summary” section instead of an “Objective” section. Companies are more concerned with what tangible and measurable successes you can bring to their organization. If you have particular goals or objectives you want the company to be aware of, bring them up in the interview, do not dwell on them in your resume.
- After the “Summary” section, job seekers can put a list of “Key words”. This list can include 6-20 separate words, just in a list in lines going across the page (do not make a list down the page because this will take up too much space on the document). This serves two purposes. It creates a list for the person reading the resume to focus in on what you can do. Also, having a list in bold letters will be easier for digital image scanners to pick up on your most important information.
- Double and triple check for spelling and grammatical errors. If you are the best candidate with the best experience, you will be put aside if your document contains errors that could have easily been avoided. It shows a lack of ability to pay attention to detail.
- It is better to have multiple versions of your resume. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to get you into the interview. As each interview situation will be different, so should the corresponding resume.
- There are different philosophies on lay-out. An entry-level job seeker will have their education listed at the top of their resume, while the resume of a more experience person with two or three jobs will put their education at the bottom. Sales resumes should include very specific numbers or percentages of volume sold to demonstrate a track record.
Every resume should explain to its reader in the first few lines why they should want to hire/interview you. Summarize your capabilities and highlight the achievements. List your key words and then, starting with your most recent job, list the name and location of the company, your job title and a brief description of your responsibilities. This should all relate back to the information in your summary section.
When reviewing your own resume, pretend you are interviewing yourself. Why would you want to hire you?
You managed to get an appointment to speak with someone in the company. Some companies conduct phone interviews to start, and ultimately, almost all companies will want to meet with you in person.
The purpose of this meeting is two-fold:
1. For them to meet with you to determine if you are qualified for the job and see how much you match the “corporate culture.”
2. For you to get to meet them, ask questions, learn more about their business and determine if you want to work for them.
By the time you get to the point where there is a formal “face to face” interview, it is safe to say that there is a match between you and the company on a basic level. Your skills and background match the criteria of the position the company is trying to fill. So what will make the difference?
Your resume may show that you are a perfect match for the position. Your resume could also show that you are a close match for the position but there is something else about you or your background that the company is interested in enough to meet with you.
Preparation for the interview is critical. Most companies have web sites where you can find out valuable information about the company. You could familiarize yourself with the company goals and objective (mission statement). You could find out information about their products and/or services. You can look through current events or recent press releases about the company. You should find out as much information you can about the company so you will be able to ask interesting questions and have a relevant discussion about the position you are interviewing for. Prepare three questions for the interviewer before the meeting and ask them during the interview.
These questions should NOT revolve around salary, vacation or benefits. Worry about getting the job first and negotiate those items later. Get the company interested in you and determine your level of interest in the company before discussing such matters. If you press about salary and benefits early in the interview, the person interviewing you will think you are only interested in making money and you have no specific interest in the position.
Be sure you are well rested for the interview. Make sure you have a conservative outfit cleaned and pressed for the meeting. Make sure your shoes are shined, your teeth are brushed and your hair well groomed. Sit up straight in the meeting. No slouching ! Show up 5 minutes EARLY. Be nice to the receptionist. If you are rude or demanding they will certainly report back to the hiring official.
Be natural. Try not to fake anything or lie, or embellish information. Most companies will ask for references. If they do, have a prepared sheet of names and numbers for people to contact. Make sure you tell those people that someone may be calling them.
Be sure to close the meeting professionally. Discuss what next steps should be and don’t be afraid to ask how the interview went.
If you would like in-depth expert information on the following:
- Salary and benefit package negotiating
- Tips on how to “dress for success”
- Closing strategy (how to ask for the job at the end of the interview)
- Follow-up protocol (emails, thank you notes, phone calls etc.)