One of the uncomfortable parts of a job search is discussion of salary.Most of us don’t really like negotiations over salary and fear that putting our current wage on paper might doom us to repeat it. For the most part, you really don’t need to put salary history on your resume. At the same time, if a job posting asks you to include salary history or requirements when applying, they will be looking for that information when you apply. Employers have various reasons for requesting salary information. They may want to screen out those who expect more than they are willing to offer or find someone who is qualified and willing to take the least amount of compensation. They certainly want to know you will follow instructions. You could comply with a request for salary history in several ways:
attach a salary history to your resume on a separate page
include it in your cover letter
use a salary range rather than the specific amounts
It should go without saying that your salary history should be accurate. You will be jeopardizing your career when they check with former employers and discover the truth. At the same time, if you think you were underpaid, there’s no reason to avoid saying so if it can be said diplomatically. Salary requirements can be handled with statements that show your flexibility and willingness to negotiate the overall compensation package including benefits. Here, too, a range can be helpful as long as it is within reasonable limits. Tools like a salary calculator help you figure out what the range for your expectations should be. Salary may not be on your resume, but it is definitely on everybody’s mind, and you need to be prepared to discuss it.
A list of “20 Things Every Twentysomething Should Know How To Do” has, among things like “parallel park” and “respond to criticism,” the ability to “write a cover letter” at number 16. This is very interesting, don’t you think?
Here’s their reasoning: “Filling out an application is a pretty simple process but, in all likelihood, the job you really want is going to take more than a list of references and previous employers. Cover letters require some effort, but it can be the difference between “don’t call us, we’ll call you” and “when can you start?””
It’s really simple to see why. A good cover letter is your introduction to the potential employer and is their first impression of you.
So knowing how to write a good cover letter is important:
Do some research on what a good cover letter entails. A good place to start is here on this blog.
Write some sample cover letters and ask friends to critique them. Ask friends who regularly make comments about misspelled words and grammar mistakes — they see those things. Ask friends who have businesses. Ask your older relatives. Then take those marked up samples and see where you can improve.
If you are struggling with this skill, consider investing in a professionally written cover letter for a potentially lucrative job. It is a small investment for a big return. You can use it as a learning experience to improve your writing. Some jobs do not require writing skills once you are hired, but it is a good skill to have anyway.
Even if you are not the one who wrote your own cover letter, the fact that you recognize the importance of a good cover letter shows you value professionalism enough to invest in it.
Your cover letter should change every time you submit your resume to a new position.This is because your cover letter is an introduction to you, the first thing the reader of that resume sees, and a generic form letter will not give a good impression. It may even cause them to pass over the resume because they did not see you put any effort into the cover letter. Think of it like this:what would you think of someone who introduced themselves to you using the same script they used on everybody else? Some things are worth repeating, like your name, but other things may not apply, and if that new acquaintance seems more into rattling off their accomplishments than starting a conversation about mutual interests, then you might smile politely and move on as quickly as possible. In the same way, when you need an introduction, it should be personalized to the setting. Your cover letter can be tweaked if you have invested in one that has been professionally written, but it should always reflect the job you are applying for and the company who is seeking to fill the position. If you can have the name of the person reading the resumes, even better!
This reality is one reason a cover letter is offered in our A La Carte Services. You don’t necessarily need to rewrite your resume for every application, but it really is a good idea to put as much individualization into your cover letter as is appropriate. Just like a friendly introduction that makes you want to talk, a good cover letter makes them want to read your resume and bring you in for an interview.
Tips For Cover Letters — Your First Impression Counts Big
The first impression people have of you can keep them from wanting to know you better or encourage them to seek you out.Your cover letter is that first impression for your resume and its quality will often determine whether or not that resume gets attention. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you are writing your cover letter:
Do your homework. Find out who to address the letter to, what style would be appropriate, and the job description. You want this letter to be personalized appropriately, professional in tone, and accurate in specifying what you are applying for. This is NOT the place for a generic “to whom it may concern” form letter that obviously is used on all your applications.
Identify your strong points and write a rough draft or outline matching those strengths to the job description. Now reduce that to one paragraph.
Keep it short. All you are doing is a three-paragraph overview to get them interested in looking at your resume. The first paragraph tells them what job you are seeking and how you heard about it (include any mutual contact people). The second is that paragraph you came up with from the previous tip. The third paragraph should be a “thank you for your time” and statement that you will be following up by the end of the next week. Be sure you do the follow up!
Proofread, edit, and proofread again! This is really important. If you know that you overlook mistakes, get someone to proofread it for you and check your corrections. Focus on being professional, polite, and concise. If your letter is on paper, hand-sign it. For an email, a typed signature is acceptable.
Think you have your perfect cover letter?Pretend you are the person getting that letter with your resume, along with hundreds of other applicants, and read it again. If you feel that you still need help, consider a professionally written cover letter. This is your potential employer’s first impression of you: big things are at stake. Make that first impression a good one so they will want to read your resume, call you in for an interview, and offer you the job!
Your professional portfolio is a collection of physical evidence that documents, describes, and emphasizes your professional accomplishments. A professional portfolio can be very useful in encouraging potential employers to offer you that coveted job. Many job seekers know they need these documents during their job search, but aren’t always sure of what needs to be included and how they should be presented. Here are some simple answers to help get you get started. Why use a professional portfolio?
Effectivelyexpress your professional and career goals
Articulatethe work you have been doing to achieve your goals
What goes into a professional portfolio?
Introduction:Statement of your professional goals and your professional philosophy.
Career History: Resume or Curriculum Vitae.
Narrative description of experiences you want to highlight such as: Academic Work, Research, Teaching, Leadership, Service, Publications, Conference Participation, Lectures/Speaking Engagments, Performance Reviews, Recognition, and Awards.
Appendices: Annotated materials and examples to illustrate or elaborate on the previous portions of your portfolio.
Professional References: Not all employers ask for these during an interview, but if they do, show them you’re prepared by having your list ready.
How to get started with your professional portfolio?
Develop the practice of collecting materials that represent your skills, achievements and accomplishments.
Study job postings and learn what potential employers value when they are hiring.
Determine what materials and examples provide the best representation of your goals and philosophy.
Select an organizing principle that best reflects your work: chronological, functional, thematic.
A portfolio will help you stand out amongst the scores of job applicants. It will look very different from all the other candidates because your experiences will be unique. This makes it easy for you to stand out and impress those potential employers.
Searching and applying for jobs is not enough to ensure land the job. You must make a good first impression in order to get the job, and in most cases you are going to have two opportunities to make a first impression to a potential employer.
The first, your cover letter.
Your cover letter is essentially your “on paper” first impression. While your resume gives information of your skills, experience, and accomplishments in the work force, a cover letter is more personal. It will still give information on your skills, experience, and accomplishments, but it will be written as a letter, which means it can also give your potential employers a glimpse into your personality. Of course, it must remain professional in order for you to be considered a serious candidate for the position, but feel free to let your personality seep into your cover letter, and finally, be sure to let the employer know the value you can offer the company.
The second, your interview.
If your cover letter and resume have done their job, then you may be asked for an interview. This is your real, in person, first impression. If you want the job, then the impression you make at the is the so important. You must look professional, smile and be cordial with everyone-from the receptionist who greets you to each individual member of the hiring committee. Your potential employers are not looking to hire a robot. They want to hire a person who they can work with and who they can see working well with the rest of the company. Be personable and be yourself.
Making a good first impression in your cover letter and your interview will help you land the job and start on the path to a successful career.
If you were in a social situation, you would not go up to a person and start talking to him or her without introducing yourself. The same is true of applying for a position. Unless a position advertisement tells you to skip the cover letter, make sure you tell the reader who you are and why you are applying in an introductory cover letter. A cover letter is not a regurgitation of what is on your curriculum vitae or resume. That is why so many potential employers may skip reading the cover letter unless they asked you to list specific information in it such as salary history or availability for work. However, you can grab your reader’s attention by making a bold statement in the first line of your cover letter. Instead of just listing the job for which you are applying and the fact that you are interested in it, tell the reader why the position is important to you. What piqued your interest enough about this position that you are taking time to apply for it? The second paragraph of the cover letter should outline how your skill sets allow you to make a difference, to be successful in this position. What makes you the best person for this job? It cannot just be experience. Everyone else applying for the position should have relevant experience too. Your experience is already listed on your resume. How can you use your experience in a way to help this company or organization. Will it increase their bottom line, help them to be in compliance, see that they are more efficient? Lastly, close with a statement on your desire to meet the employer to talk further about the position. Your interest should show strongly in every statement that you make in your cover letter so that an employer will feel obligated to talk to you, as if he may be missing out on the best candidate for the position if he does not interview you.
When you are busy organizing job descriptions and sending out hundreds of resumes, the last thing you want to do is to think about composing yet another document. After all, many employers do not ask for a cover letter, and many of them may not take the time to read one. So should you just skip the cover letter? It depends on the application requirements and what you want to say to a potential employer. A cover letter is not a restatement of your resume. The mistaken assumption that it is is one reason why hiring managers do not read them. However, companies often run multiple ads for different positions, and the first line of your cover letter should make it clear which job you are applying for and how you found out about it. Use the second paragraph to show how your experience can add value at the employer’s company. This is where people make the mistake of reiterating what is on their resume. Instead of informing the advertising employer that you were the Director at XYZ Advertising Agency, you can state that the position also gave you exposure to various media outlets, key decision makers and Fortune 500 companies. The third paragraph of your cover letter is your opportunity to clarify anything that is not specifically addressed on your resume, such as you have the skill sets for one career but would like to use them to move in a different direction, potentially into a related career. You can also use this paragraph to give the employer information that they asked for in their ad that would typically not go on a resume such as salary history and expectations. Use your closing paragraph to express that you are looking forward to speaking with the employer regarding the position. If you send a paper copy of your cover letter, make sure you sign it in the space between Sincerely and your full name. This is one detail people often forget to do. If the employer does not request a cover letter or specific information that does not go on a resume, you do not have to send one. However, a cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills and to give the employer a feel for your personality and work style.
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