Category Archives: Cover Letters

Your Cover Letter Should Include These Six Elements

When submitting a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s usually a good idea to include a cover letter, as well—even if you’ve been told that cover letters are “optional.” Simply put, a cover letter gives you an additional chance to pitch yourself; it’s one more piece of marketing collateral that can help you convey your value as an employee and stand out from the competition.

But all of this is contingent on your cover letter being well-constructed. If you’ve never drafted a cover letter before, you may wish to consider consulting with one of our resume writers, who can ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Or, consider these brief guidelines—six elements that characterize an effective cover letter.

Six Things Every Cover Letter Needs

  1. Specifics. Using bullet points, outline two to four of your most significant career accomplishments—and whenever possible, use statistics and numbers to lend those achievements some specificity. Hiring managers respond better to quantifiable accomplishments than to generalities; “increased sales by 35 percent” is always better than just “increased sales.”
  2. Personalization. Every cover letter you send out should be customized; don’t simply copy and paste the same text for every job opportunity. Whenever possible, do a little online research and find the name of the hiring manager or HR head who’s going to be receiving the cover letter, and address it to them individually.
  3. Brevity. This isn’t the place to tell your life story. It’s not even the place to outline your career history; that’s what your resume is for! A good cover letter is more like an elevator pitch, quick and punchy. You never want it to exceed a page; often, half a page is sufficient.
  4. Keywords. Another important way in which you can customize your cover letter? Look through the job description for the role you’re seeking, and try to incorporate some of that verbiage into your cover letter—emphasizing your fit for the position. If the job description uses the phrase “customer service” two or three times, that’s a phrase you should include in the cover letter.
  5. Contact information. Your name, address, phone number, and email address should all be included in the cover letter—always!
  6. Value. The big picture here is that you’re trying to show a potential employer the benefits you can offer them—and that means displaying the unique value you have as a professional. Try to articulate those things you believe make you special as an employee. This is where those specific accomplishments come in handy; and, where generalizations like hard-working and motivated generally come up short.

These guidelines should point you toward a strong cover letter—but if you still have questions, we’d love to look over your resume and cover letter and suggest some revisions. Reach out to the resume writing team at Grammar Chic, Inc. to schedule a consultation. Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Does Your Resume Highlight Your Passion?

In an increasingly competitive job market, passion can be your greatest competitive advantage—the thing that helps you stand out from the crowd. If you’re vying for a job along with similarly-experienced and similarly-skilled professionals, being the one who loves their work the most—the one with the most spirit and enthusiasm—can help you rise to the top.

But how are potential employers going to know you’re passionate? Hopefully, it will come through in your job interview. Even before you get to the interview, though, your resume can highlight what a passionate employee you are. Here are a few ways you can make that happen.

Using Your Resume to Showcase Your Enthusiasm

Highlight Your Awards and Accolades

Have you ever been formally honored for your professional achievements? If so, don’t be shy about it! List awards on your resume, as they signify not only that you care about what you do, but that your good work is seen and affirmed by your superiors.

Note Your Volunteer Work

Have you done volunteer work that’s somehow related to your industry or profession? For example, are you a healthcare professional who volunteers at free clinics during your off-time? That’s the kind of thing that definitely shows passion—enough passion that you’re willing to go above and beyond, even when you’re not on the clock.

Show That You Can Exceed Expectations

One way that passion manifests is in completing your work in a way that surpasses quotas and expectations. Do you complete projects on time and under budget? And can you attach numbers or proof to quantify it? If so, include it on your resume for sure!

Demonstrate a Commitment to Education

One final thing that shows passion is a commitment to learning. If you’ve voluntarily taken any continuing education or training courses, you might consider listing those credits on your resume—proof that you love your field so much you actively like to learn more about it.

Inject Passion into Your Resume

You might associate “passion” with “coming on too strong”—but clearly, that’s not the case. There are some subtle yet powerful ways you can use your resume to underscore your professional enthusiasm.

For help crafting a robust and effective resume, reach out to our writing team. Our resume experts can help develop a resume that captures all your skills, experience, and enthusiasm. Set up a resume consultation today by contacting Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Customize Your Resume

For jobseekers, a single resume just isn’t enough. While Grammar Chic’s resume writers recommend having a single “master resume” you can use as a reference, that document should be tailored to meet the requirements of each new job you apply for. Here are a few reasons why.

It Helps You Stand Out

If nothing else, having a customized resume helps you stand out from the competition. Imagine: 150 people apply for a single position, and 149 of them have the same old boring, cookie-cutter resume language—but yours is the one resume that’s actually been tweaked to address the specifics of the job in question. Immediately, you’re a standout candidate (and a breath of fresh air to the hiring manager).

It Shows That You Care

Not everyone takes the time to customize their resume—so what does it say about you when you do take the time? Well, for one thing, it says that you really do want the job. Spending a few minutes tailoring your resume to the job in question shows that you’re already going the extra mile, and that you’re willing to put in some work to land this position. Employers love to see that sort of thing!

It Highlights Your Qualifications

The reality is, most hiring managers spend mere seconds reviewing a resume before they determine whether or not you’re qualified. So you may be qualified, but if all the pertinent details are buried at the bottom of your resume, the hiring manager may never see them. When you customize your resume, it helps you put the best, most qualifying information front and center.

It Gives You a Chance to Include Keywords

When tailoring your resume, you should always read the job posting, make note of any major keywords that it contains, and include them in your resume wherever applicable. Make sure you’re using the same verbiage the hiring manager’s using, emphasizing your qualification for the role.

It Proves Your Awareness

Finally, it’s wise to customize your resume because it shows the hiring manager that you know how competitive the job market is—and you know how important it is to use every tool at your disposal to rise to the top. Again, your potential boss will love to see that sort of initiative.

Of course, having a single master resume is fine—but make sure you take the time to customize it for each role you apply for. And if you need guidance from certified resume professionals, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How Jobseekers Can Make Their Networking Emails More Effective

Have you ever received an email from an unknown sender, with a generic greeting like “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madame?” Most of us have, and most of us respond to these emails in the same way—by promptly hitting the delete key.

But what if you’re on the sending side of that relationship? If you’re a jobseeker, this isn’t such an unlikely prospect. Jobseekers send cold emails all the time, to hiring managers or recruiters who they may have met at a networking event or a seminar, or who they know through a mutual friend.

These cold networking emails can be meaningful ways to establish key connections, but only if you actually get your message across—and that means sending emails that get opened and read, not immediately deleted.

As you seek an effective email strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind.

The Subject Line is Critical

Let’s be honest: A lot of us immediately delete emails we get from unknown senders, especially if they come with generic subject lines. It’s important to make yours specific, then; did you meet this contact through a mutual friend? Put the person’s name in the subject line. Did you meet this contact at a networking event? Mention the event in the subject line. Offer whatever memory joggers, whatever moments of recognition you can.

Be Personal

Even if the person you’re writing to is a middle-manager in a huge company, he or she still wants to feel like a person—not a cog in the wheel. In your opening paragraph, explain why you’re writing to this person, in particular. Citing common ground is always a good idea to establish that personal connection.

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

It’s always good to be up front about your intentions. You want a job, and should say as much. Don’t try to be too clever or too vague in your phrasing; saying “I just want to pick your brain about potential opportunities” is needlessly watered down. Say that you’re hoping for career advancement and would like to ask for the person’s help.

Keep it Brief

It’s also important to emphasize how much you respect the person’s time—something you can do by keeping your message succinct and to the point. A couple of paragraphs is usually sufficient.

Brag—a Little

Finally, don’t be afraid to shine the spotlight on yourself a little bit. You don’t want to rehash your entire resume, but do offer two or three bullet points that show the value you bring as an employee. This may feel immodest, but within the context of asking about job opportunities, it’s perfectly acceptable.

Have Your Documents Ready

Hopefully, your email will get results—and the next step will be sending along your resume and cover letter. Have those documents honed and ready to go—and if you need help doing so, don’t hesitate to contact our resume writing team. Grammar Chic, Inc. can furnish you with a resume and cover letter that truly help you shine as an employee. Reach out for a consultation today, either at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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10 Things You Should Remove from Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile Today

Jobseekers depend on their resume—and, to a slightly lesser extent, their LinkedIn profile—to inform recruiters and hiring managers about the skills they bring to the table. With that said, there is such a thing as having too much information on your job search documents—or, rather, having information that does more harm than good.

It’s worthwhile to periodically go through your professional documents and eliminate anything that’s dragging you down. We’ve prepared a checklist for you—10 things you’re safe to eliminate from your resume and your LinkedIn profile now.

What to Exclude from Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

  1. Secondary skills. It’s commonly assumed that your resume should mention every skill you possess—but that’s not always the case. If there are skills you’d rather not continue to hone at your next job, it’s often best to leave them off; focus on the things you love, the things you’re good at, and the things you want to keep doing.
  2. Silly email addresses. If you’re still using a goofy email handle from your college days—that Hotmail account you signed up for back in the day, perhaps—it’s time to set up a new, professional email account through which you can handle your job search.
  3. High school jobs. Unless you’ve just graduated from college and these are the only jobs you can list, it’s better to forget them.
  4. Hobbies and leisure activities. There are some isolated cases in which your hobbies belong on your resume—specifically, if they dovetail with the job you’re applying for—but usually, you’ll want to leave them off. Believe it or not, hiring managers don’t care that you love to play golf or collect vinyl records. They care about the value you can bring to their organization.
  5. Antiquated technology. By this point, there’s no need to specify that you know how to use email, Microsoft Word, or the Web browser. Everyone should be able to do these things—and listing them on your resume just dates you.
  6. Your home phone number. Just include your cell; make it clear to employers that you can always be reached, no matter what.
  7. Paragraphs of text. Your job descriptions should be easy to read—and for that matter, easy to skim. Always use bullet points. Big blocks of text are a major turn-off.
  8. Salary figures. You’re likely to either sell yourself short or position yourself as unattainable—and either way, it’s undermining your prospects.
  9. Generic job titles. Make sure your job titles give a pretty clear indication of what you actually did in that role; just saying “Manager” is usually not descriptive enough.
  10. Duties. This one may surprise you—and to be clear, your resume should provide some insight into what you’ve done at your different jobs. The point here is to focus more on achievements as opposed to a laundry list of responsibilities, whenever possible.

Make Your Resume Sleek and Effective

Writing an effective resume is as much about what you leave off as what you put on. For help fine-tuning your resume and LinkedIn profile—and making them powerful personal marketing collateral—contact us for a consultation. Reach out to the resume writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. via www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Jobseekers Don’t Need New Year’s Resolutions

The start of the year brings with it the promise of new opportunities—a clean slate and a fresh beginning. That’s why so many of us—with only the best intentions—begin each new year with a set of resolutions.

There’s nothing at all wrong with New Year’s resolutions, of course—but if you’re a jobseeker, you really don’t need them. That’s because, for jobseekers, your resolution could only possibly be one thing: to find a job. After all, isn’t that the whole point here?

So scratch the whole resolutions thing. There are better ways to think about your job search, and to revamp it for the new year. Instead of making resolutions for yourself, why not make a checklist—things you can update and refresh to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders as you carry your hunt into 2018?

All Things New: A Jobseeker’s Checklist for the New Year

Get a new cover letter.

Your cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager will see as they consider your candidacy—and if it’s not written properly, it can be the last thing, too. Scrap your old cover letter and develop a new one that emphasizes two to four of your key skills; that provides some context for your career achievements; and that thanks the hiring manager for his or her time and attention. Also, leave room to customize your cover letter to match the specifics of each job you apply for.

Get a new resume.

Has your resume been reviewed by a professional resume writer? If not, contact the Grammar Chic team today and let us give it a thorough evaluation. We can point out some opportunities to tighten your writing, improve your formatting, and better showcase the values you offer as an employee. If needed, we can rewrite your resume from scratch, and ensure it’s something that will win the attention of hiring managers.

Get a new LinkedIn page.

It’s increasingly common for recruiters to check you out on LinkedIn before they ever consult your resume—which means your LinkedIn profile should be polished and optimized. Again, this is something Grammar Chic can assist with. Contact us for a review of your LinkedIn profile, and we’ll highlight some areas where you can improve keyword use or better showcase your skills and achievements.

Get a new social media presence.

Even Facebook and Twitter can be important to your job search, as potential employers use these social platforms to investigate candidates before making hiring decisions. Do your social media profiles create a strong first impression? Do they make you more relatable? More professional? Or is there some dubious content that needs to be scrubbed?

Get a new list of targeted employers.

Finally, make sure you’re heading into the new year with a well-researched list of employers you’d like to target—complete with information about potential openings and HR contacts. Use this list to guide you as you customize each iteration of your resume and cover letter!

Start Strong

The new year is indeed a new opportunity for jobseekers—but you don’t really need resolutions to take advantage of it. You just need to make sure all your job search collateral is honed and polished. To make that happen, contact Grammar Chic, Inc.’s resume writing team at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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Four Ways to Ensure an Effective Cover Letter

Do recruiters and hiring managers actually read cover letters? Our resume writing professionals get this question all the time, and the short answer is yes, they absolutely do. A cover letter, when done right, provides a quick, concise window into the resume itself—and helps recruiters determine whether it’s really worth their while to investigate the job candidate further.

But wait. You’ll notice we said something about cover letters done right. Not all of them are, and a bad cover letter can hurt your case more than it helps it. So how can you be sure your cover letter is crafted to get results?

Make it short.

There are four recommendations we’ll offer, and the first is to keep it concise. Remember that the cover letter is a summary of your resume, so it doesn’t need to be as long as the resume itself! What we recommend:

  • Keep it under a page.
  • Write an introductory paragraph, then a paragraph or so of career summary—basically explaining why you’re the right person for the job.
  • Include three or four bullet points, highlighting your biggest career accomplishments.
  • Wrap it up with a conclusion and a signature.

Make it specific.

Remember that old writer’s rule, show, don’t tell? That’s certainly true when you’re writing a cover letter. Don’t just tell the recruiter that you’re dedicated or hard-working or energetic; those are just clichés. Actually furnish them with specific achievements that set you apart. Use stats and numbers whenever you can. You’re not going to go through your whole career history in the cover letter, but you can hash out a few high points.

Make it personalized.

Most of the time, you should be able to avoid the general To Whom It May Concern greeting, addressing your cover letter to the specific recruiter you’re meeting with. If you don’t have the name handy, some social media research or a call to the company’s HR department can often give you what you need. Keep it personal if at all possible.

Make it job-specific.

You can’t afford to have just one go-to, generic cover letter in your arsenal. You should be customizing it to fit each position you apply for, honing in on the skill and accomplishments that best fit the job description.

With these four points, you can ensure that your cover letter is built to garner attention—and to lead recruiters deeper into your resume. And of course, our resume writing team can assist you in putting together both resume and cover letter; reach out to us to learn more! Connect with Grammar Chic, Inc. at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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