Tag Archives: Job Hunting advice

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Cover Letters, Resume Writing, Resumes

Sending a Thank You Letter Could Cost You Your Job

As a jobseeker, it’s important for every piece of personal marketing collateral you send out to be error-free and professional.

This includes, obviously, your resume and cover letter. And, it includes the thank you note you send after your interview.

Believe it or not, the thank you note is more than just a formality. It could be the thing that seals the deal—or, the thing that breaks it.

No, really: It’s possible to email a post-interview thank you letter that’s so bad, you lose out on the position to another candidate.

Don’t believe us? Here are five ways in which your thank you letter can wreck your chances.

It’s full of mistakes.

“It was a pleasure to meat you today.” “I hope you choose to higher me.” Do you see the problem with these sentences? Hopefully you do, and hopefully you’ll proof your own thank you letter thoroughly enough to eliminate similar mistakes from your writing.

The bottom line is, there are probably multiple qualified candidates who interviewed for the position—and the hiring manager may very well make the final decision based on who didn’t send an email full of embarrassing typos.

It’s too casual.

Was the person who interviewed you super laid back, using a lot of casual slang and humor? That’s great! But it’s no reason to fill your thank you note with similar frivolities.

You don’t have the job yet. Just play it safe. Keep your email professional.

It’s too generic.

On the flipside, it’s very possible to send an email that’s reads like a form letter—and then, what’s the point?

Your thank you email should define you as a candidate. It should help differentiate you from other applicants. That’s why you need to get into some of the specifics of your experience, your interview, etc.

It’s too long.

Don’t come on too strong! If your email text wouldn’t fit onto a thank you card you bought at the store, then it’s too long.

It’s too late.

You should send your thank you email within 24 hours of the interview. If you’ve already waited a week, then just don’t bother sending it at all.

We’ll Write Your Thank You Email for You!

If you’re unsure of how to craft any of your personal branding materials—from the thank you letter to the resume itself—you can always call in the pros! Reach out to the Grammar Chic, Inc. resume writing team to learn more. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing, Resumes

Yes, You CAN Proofread Your Resume Effectively

Your resume may be a powerful showcase of your skills, your achievements, and your professional trajectory—yet if there is even a single typo on the document, it could sink your chances at an interview, and derail your job search completely.

We’re not being hyperbolic, either. Hiring managers and recruiters are inundated with resumes, and they don’t need much reason at all to discard yours—giving themselves one less applicant to tangle with. And typos, while often perfectly innocent, can call into question your professionalism and your attention to detail. In short: They make you look bad!

When building your resume, proofreading is an essential step. We understand that you may not be confident in your own proofing skills, and we get it. It’s challenging to catch mistakes in your own work. But you can do it—and we’ll show you how.

Practical Ways to Proofread More Successfully

Here are some pragmatic fixes for your proofreading issues:

Print out your resume. Here’s why: The mind engages text on the screen differently than it does text on the page. By reading both ways, you can be more thorough in spotting potential errors.

Read out loud. When you read the text out loud, you not only pick up on more errors, but may also become aware of issues—like over-repetition of a particular word—that makes the resume seem a bit off.

Put a finger on each word. As you read, either on your tablet or a printed document, put your finger on each new word as you read it—preventing your mind from skipping over anything.

Read it backwards. Start at the bottom and work your way up! This ensures that you’re actually seeing the letters on the page, not getting distracted by the ideas, context, or logical flow.

Get a friend to help. No matter how rigorous you are, you can still benefit from having multiple sets of eyes.

Make Your Resume Look Perfect

Your resume should look like perfection, and proofreading is an essential part of that. One more thing you can do to ensure the right level of polish? Hire a professional resume writer. Ours are always happy to help, whether you need a quick review or a complete rewrite.

Reach out to the resume writing professionals on the Grammar Chic team today. You can connect with Grammar Chic, Inc. online at www.grammarchic.net, or call us at 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Editing, Resume Writing, Resumes

Should Your Resume List Hobbies?

It’s a common conundrum among jobseekers: You want to stand out. You want to draw attention to yourself. You want to come across like a living, breathing, real human being on your resume. You’re just not sure how to do it.

One common solution to this problem is to list your hobbies. The resume writers here at Grammar Chic see a lot of resumes that have full hobby sections at the bottom—but is this really the best way to make your case to future employers?

Our Take on the Hobby Question

Generally speaking, we’re of the opinion that hobby sections should be avoided. They take up valuable space on your resume that could be devoted to a clearer portrayal of your professional value.

Remember that, when they look at your resume, recruiters and hiring managers just want to know one thing: Are you going to bring value to their organization? A list of career accomplishments, core competencies, or key metrics might answer this question. A list of hobbies probably doesn’t. Simply put, the fact that you like to play golf or read mystery novels doesn’t really matter to potential employers, and it dilutes the power of a good resume.

How to Showcase your Hobbies—Subtly

That’s not to say that there are not a few ways to highlight your personal, out-of-the-office interests, however. Here are a few more appropriate ways to shed some light on what you like to do in your spare time.

Highlight Volunteer Experience

Voluntarism can be a way for you to hint at some of your broader interests, especially if your work for non-profits dovetails with your other hobbies—for example, if you want to show that you’re a runner, you might list your voluntarism with local charity runs.

Use Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter can be the place where you mention that your love of travel has made you more culturally literate, or that coaching your son’s soccer team has taught you a lot about teamwork and leadership. Just make sure you tie your hobbies with actual workplace skills.

Don’t Forget LinkedIn

LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to list hobbies per se, but you can certainly join up with groups that hint at your broader interests—a sly but effective way to humanize yourself in the eyes of potential recruiters.

Focus on Your Professional Value

The bottom line? Your resume is your value proposition—and hobbies don’t really belong there. You can make yourself look both valuable and relatable, though, with a complete and powerful resume. Get one today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic resume writing team; connect with us at 803-831-7444, or at www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing, Resumes

How to Write a Resume That Recruiters Will Read

Recruiters spend a lot of their time reading resumes. It’s just part of the job—and a fairly big part of the job, at that. Because recruiters have so many resumes to read each day, they can’t afford to linger long on any one of them. In fact, the average recruiter spends mere seconds on a resume before deciding whether to investigate further, or toss it in the trash. Not minutes. Seconds.

What this means for you as a jobseeker is that you’ve got to make a huge first impression. You’ve got to grab attention. And the only way to do that is with a well-formatted and engaging resume document.

So how can you ensure that your resume lands a punch within that brief window of time your recruiter gives it? Here are five tried and true methods.

Make a Strong First Impression with Your Resume

Make it Skimmable

Remember that, with just a few seconds to spare, your recruiter isn’t going to read every word of your resume. Rather, he or she will skim through it, trying to catch on to the basic progression of your career. Make your resume one that’s easy to navigate at a glance. Divide it into three or four main sections—a professional summary, a list of core competencies, a professional history, and an education section, perhaps. Make sure each section is clearly delineated.

Top-Load It

The first section of your resume should be an executive summary—not a career objective—that clearly lays out your brand and the value you bring to employers. Following that, include a list of core skills—a bulleted list of keywords and key phrases that correspond with what you’re proficient in.

Get Straight to It

Don’t beat around the bush! Every word and every second count. Rather than open your sentences with florid prose or with fluff, lead off with strong verbs—action words that convey immediate impact.

Use Numbers

Nothing grabs a recruiter’s attention like the presence of numbers, which quantify your achievements. Not all professions lend themselves to clear metrics, but any numbers you can share are helpful, and should be included.

Format Consistently

Make sure your font, format, and style choices don’t fluctuate across your resume; if you bold company names in one section, bold them everywhere else. If you capitalize job titles here, capitalize them there. This is another way in which you can make your resume easy to skim, easier to make sense of at a glance.

Write for Recruiters

The bottom line: As you construct your resume, you’ve got to remember that a recruiter might read it—and that recruiters need something that will make an immediate impact. To make sure your resume packs a punch, we welcome you to work with our resume writing team. Schedule a resume consultation by connecting with us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing, Resumes

How to Keep Your Cover Letter Short

If you’ve ever applied for a job before, then you’ve probably composed a cover letter—but do you know what a cover letter is for, exactly? Basically, it’s meant to grab the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager and encourage him or her to take a look at your resume. What it’s not meant to do is serve as your memoir, your life story, or a fill-in for the resume itself.

All of this means that your cover letter should be short and to the point. How short? Well, if you go over a single page, you’ve almost surely gone too far. The question is, how can you ensure a cover letter that’s truly tight and focused?

Steps for a Shorter Cover Letter

We’d recommend that you first take some time to carefully review the job description itself, which should offer you some clues as to the top two to four skills the employer is seeking. After you determine what those skills are, think about how your own experience coincides with them. Hopefully you can come up with a few short bullet points that don’t rehash your entire career, but do point out the ways in which you are well qualified for the role in question.

Remember that your cover letter will be accompanied by your resume—so you don’t have to include everything, and you don’t have to worry about leaving something out. All you need to do is focus in on the handful of career achievements you’ve had that overlap with that job description.

You can condense your cover letter into a few impactful points, then, without the need for tricks—tricks like tighter margins or microscopic fonts. Those gimmicks are transparent, and besides, they make your cover letter more difficult to read. Just focus on summarizing, and beyond that, let your resume speak for itself.

Finalize Your Cover Letter—Then Send!

Once you finish your succinct and powerful cover letter, proofread it a few times, double and triple check your contact information, and then you should be set—all ready to pair the cover letter with your resume, and to present yourself in the best possible light to hiring managers and recruiters.

For help with any of these steps, don’t hesitate to reach out to our resume and cover letter writing team. Contact Grammar Chic at 803-831-7444, or at www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing, Resumes

No, You Shouldn’t Include References on Your Resume

Often, the things you don’t include on your resume are just as important as the ones you do.

Case in point: We blogged just a few days ago about the Career Objective, and how it really has no place on a resume.

Today, we’ve got another resume element you’re better off ditching—and that’s your list of references.

Why References Are Out

Our resume team still sees a lot of resumes that come with reference lists—but in truth these lists are unnecessary, and in some cases, can be harmful.

The main reason why we recommend against reference lists is that they simply aren’t in keeping with modern resume trends. When you include one, it makes you look older, out of touch. Of course, what you want is a resume that does just the opposite.

An alternative to listing resumes is to say that references are available upon request—but we’re not big on this, either. The reason is that this is redundant. Employers know that you’re willing to offer references if they ask for them—if you’re serious about the job, anyway. No job candidate is going to deny a request to provide a few references. There’s just no need to state your willingness on the resume, and doing so wastes invaluable real estate.

The bottom line is that your resume should be about you. That’s what hiring managers care about—and a list of other people’s names isn’t going to tell them much.

Rethinking the Reference List

Does this mean you should delete your reference list altogether?

Not necessarily. We still recommend keeping a reference list. We’d just advise that you make it a separate document—not part of your resume.

Have a file where you have references on hand, so that when a hiring manager does request to see them, you can provide them quickly and easily.

Make sure that, when you hand out a reference sheet, you let your references know; nothing good can come of them being caught off guard by a request from a potential employer, and besides, it’s just good manners to fill them in.

Update Your Resume Today

You need a resume that’s compact and powerful—and reference lists take away from that. Get your resume up to date today. Reach out to the Grammar Chic resume writing team for a full resume makeover. Call 803-831-7444 or visit www.grammarchic.net.

Leave a comment

Filed under Resume Writing, Resumes