Targeted Cover Letters (and Resumes)

Not too long ago, Start.ca held a community partners breakfast at their new office at 700 York Street here in London ON. A couple of Talent Acquisition Professionals there mentioned their preferred method of applying for jobs. I noticed that what Start.ca wants is what job seekers could be doing to benefit the active job search. One point that has stood out is the company’s preference for a targeted cover letter and resume. Your first question might be, “How can a company tell if my application is customized to its role and culture?” Well, it is actually quite easy for an employer to tell if your application to their company is just one of fifty that you blasted out on any given day.

Put yourself in HR’s shoes. You have to get through 200 resumes by the end of the week and decide on the top 5 candidates. They might have 10 seconds to review your resume. After all, these are human beings, too, and they get bored reading the same things over and over again. It is a good idea to find ways to set yourself apart, to make your application interesting. There are so many ways to do this, including your tone, style, word choice and content.

Recently, career development professionals have noticed a striking trend in the contemporary active job search: submitting numerous identical cover letters and resumes with a change in company name and position title will not be a very effective strategy. In fact, it can end up exhausting the job seeker, taking away morale and momentum and replacing it with doubt and frustration. There are ways to customize your applications, but they do take an investment of time. It could take 1-2 hours to complete each new application but the return on that investment will far outweigh the time it takes to create the applications. As a job seeker, it is important to switch up routines and try new things, focusing on curiousity and where things could take you rather than fixating on a definite outcome.

See below for a tool that can help you customize your job applications. It will take time and energy, but your applications will come across to employers much stronger than the blanket application approach. Like any tool, it will not be useful on its own. It is all in how you use the tool that produces results.

In the left column, you will find the duties, tasks and skills of the job. On the right, you will find a place to list your skills, knowledge, and specific experiences. The middle column can be used to put both columns together in a statement to show exactly what you can offer the company. In doing so, you will need to work on ways to connect your ideas because listing a bunch of unrelated points will not sound very good. These can be very simple, like a transition word or phrase but it is important that you also take the time to put your ideas together in a clear, straight-forward, and relevant way. On the second page, you can copy and paste the job ad as that will be the best place to get all the information you will need to complete the application.

Targeting Your Job Applications

 

 

Harvard Career Experts Weigh in on Effective Cover Letters (Source CNBC)

Cover letters: something you wouldn’t think of as controversial. But people differ in opinion when it comes to using cover letters and whether they really are an effective tool in the job search.  A veteran Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) here at the LEHC once used this metaphor. A cover letter is like gift wrap; the resume of course being the gift. Anytime you give a gift, it is pretty much assumed that it will come wrapped. What would be the fun otherwise, right? Well, you might say, “I just tear through the gift wrap and throw it in the garbage because all I really want is the gift, not the wrapping.” Still, the expectation is there regardless so as a job seeker you are likely to set yourself apart in a bad way without a cover letter when Human Resources is flipping through those two hundred resumes it just received for one opening.

And, a cover letter can really make all the difference if it is done right. This is your chance to make your case as a human being, a living, breathing, interested, and passionate human being. This is where you can set yourself apart. But it takes time, and a lot of focus and energy. With the eventual exhaustion of a job search, this energy can be hard to come by. You start just changing a couple of names and submitting it because it only takes 20 minutes that way, not 60 or 90. If you invest the time in really customizing the cover letter, the return will be much more advantageous to your job search success. Remember, though, a cover letter is only one piece of the active job search puzzle. Stay tuned for a resource to help you target your cover letters and make them more impactful. In the meantime, you can read what Harvard Career Experts have to say here.

Online Applications Got You Down?

As Career Development Practitioners, we hear that job seekers are growing tired of submitting tens or hundreds of applications into an online black hole. It takes a lot of energy to job search, and it is difficult to keep proactive and positive, which is so important in finding what you are really looking for. As a job seeker, it is wise to find ways to recharge and reinvigorate your job search in the face of no response. Think of your job search routine and see if there are any adjustments that might make you more productive. For example, if you get up first thing in the morning and the first thing you do is start scrolling online, without eating or other self-care, then it might be time to mix it up a bit. Make sure to sleep and eat well, to make time for enjoyable things, and to network in as many different ways as possible. Build a LinkedIn profile, attend local events, reach out to the people you already know. There is no great mystery to networking. As a job seeker, you are only trying to add value in everything you do and show an organization exactly what they are missing out on (you!).

It is also useful, and necessary, to add several elements to your active job search, not just one or two. Remember, the very definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect a different result. Like anything, variety and moderation are crucial in your active job search. It is important to maintain healthy habits and perspective, and remain disciplined, during an active job search, one of the most stressful times in life. The LEHC is here to help. We are a team of professionals that want to guide and support you, taking some of the weight off your shoulders and helping you keep morale in an often very discouraging circumstance. Our team has many resources and suggestions for your job search. Visit us today and renew momentum in your active job search.

Start by exploring these two resources. One is to demonstrate a “five-pronged approach” to job search, emphasizing the importance of utilizing all five elements. The other is a way for you to test your current practices and see where specifically you might modify your approach and strategy. These are simple tools to use but they do take some investment of time on the job seeker’s part. Please try them out, see how they work, improve them. Job Search Strategy FrameworkA simple tool to modify your job search tacticsContemporary Job Seekers need to utilize all five elements of an active job search