Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?

Are cover letters still necessary?

With advancements in video interviews and social media job application processes, many clients ask about cover letters. Are cover letters still necessary?

At Power Writers, we always offer a bundled quote for clients which includes a cover letter. This is because as a guideline we lean in favor of cover letters still being necessary. However, there are many factors that affect this practice.

The first of which is ‘who’ the cover letter and resume will be reviewed by.  As an example, traditional hiring managers may lean heavily on the value of a cover letter. Whereas modern hiring practices are directed towards quick visual scanning of resume details for the purpose of quality filtration. 

What’s the Point?

Overall, the point of a cover letter is to build a bridge between you and the recruiter or hiring manager. Cover letters, when written properly show that you have something to say. They portray that you have something to add to the company and that you have extended forward thought into your placement within the company. 

When formalizing a plan for your cover letter, remember that a cover letter should address the following:

  • How you learned of the opportunity,
  • How your qualifications match the job requirements.
  • Your possible availability in the area.
  • How you can be contacted.

It’s common to wonder if writing the cover letter is even worth the effort since the carefully crafted letter won’t get read.

Recruiter and Cover Letters

A recruiter’s role is to focus on whether you have the skillset, education and years of experience required for the job. With recruiting firms acting as an extension of your potential new employer, cover letters are often only passed on to employers when requested.

Additionally, if employers are swamped with resumes, they may consider the cover letter unnecessary.  

That being said, it’s hard to know exactly. Yet strong arguments remain in favor of preparing a tightly written cover letter.

Major Career Change.

Our recommendation, if you are delving into a major career change then a well-written cover letter can be a powerful tool to aid the story the resume is portraying. This goes for those embarking on significant career growth as well.  

Big moves such as Senior Director to VP will be greatly complemented by an expertly written cover letter. As such, growth from Manager to Senior Manager will also be best highlighted by a cover letter written to align with the story told on the professional resume. 

Editing is Your Friend.

All this being said, if you do send a cover letter, be sure it is well written. A compelling cover letter is a powerful tool for securing a job interview.  In contrast, a poorly assembled cover letter can yield a completely opposite and much less desired result.

A well-written cover letter complements your resume and social media presence, pulling out the highlights most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Grammar or Go Home.

Like all angles of writing, never underestimate the importance of correct grammar and spelling. Hiring managers are rightfully critical throughout this first impression. A cover letter with inadequate proofreading can, and will, harm your chances of being selected for an interview opportunity.

Industry Trends.

What’s interesting is that we have yet to notice any significant industry trends in relation to cover letter requirements. It appears the requests for cover letters still spans across all industries.

Customize by Experience.

While you want to be honest about your work experience, you don’t necessarily have to include everything you’ve ever done in your cover letter. Remember this is a compliment to your resume.

Your cover letter should sum up the places you’ve been and the skills you’ve learned. Particularly those skills directly related to the job you’re applying for.

So if you’re applying for a marketing position and you’ve worked as a sales associate, include that. However, you probably don’t need to discuss the two years in college you spent as a waitress in your cover letter unless it somehow applies to your future marketing career.

Need help with the process?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

Along with Cover Letters, we offer Resume updates, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

A Starter Pack for Remote Workers

Remote work Starter Pack

The traditional workplace is an ever-changing entity. As a result, many once office-bound employees are now finding freedom in the option to work remotely. To help align with this influx, we assembled 8 tips that act as a starter pack for remote workers. Whether you’re new to the experience or a seasoned pro, these tips are for you.

There’s a common misconception that working remotely puts you at a big disadvantage when it comes to career advancement.  Some people feel this is a result of a lack of traditional value signaling. There’s no “face time” with the C-suite, no after-work happy hour to build team connections, no extra points for showing up early and staying late.

But what the naysayers overlook are the unique benefits working remotely presents for making big moves in your career. When you’re in charge of your own schedule, you tend to have more time and energy to invest in learning new skills. For many, building your personal brand becomes necessary which can be very valuable to long term career growth. 

As can new client developments from working outside the same daily office crowd.  Many who opt-in for coworking memberships report exponential new client growth from interactions with other members. Which ultimately helped them move up the career ladder within their current company.

 And for parents with small children or people living outside of big urban centers, remote work may be one of the only ways to build the career they want and have the balance of home life.

Adjusting to the Process

The newfound freedom is tough for some employees to adjust to. Since companies rarely explain effective ways to work remotely, we’ve put together a few recommendations that can help with the adjustment process.

1. Find a workspace

Have a designated space to do your work. Turn a spare room into an office. If space is limited at home, find a coworking space or a shared office environment. A designated workspace matters for a few reasons.

First, you’ll have room to spread out your work materials — such as papers, books, and reports — and leave them out the entire day. This beats working at the kitchen table where you have to clean up your materials for lunch; get everything out to work in the afternoon; and clear everything away for dinner. 

Second, a dedicated workspace can help your motivation. When you go to this designated space, you know that it’s time to get work done.

2. Invest in work materials

Some companies purchase equipment, from monitors to paper and pens, for their employees so they’re set up for remote work success. Others leave it up to the employee to purchase any needed extras.

Having the right materials, whether or not you buy them, is well worth it. Investing in a few supplies is a relatively minimal cost to do great work and maintain the autonomy working remotely offers.

3. Make a schedule

Give your day some structure and make a schedule for the day ahead. Organizing your day in a planner allows you to focus on stay accountable. 

Pro-Tip: Schedule breaks. For example, after writing an article for two hours, take a 15-minute break. Taking breaks is an important part of managing your energy throughout the day. Additionally, leaving your home or apartment for a bit and taking a walk is a great way to boost your energy levels for the productive afternoon ahead.

4. Communicate with Colleagues

Generally, you’ll find yourself working in large chunks of uninterrupted time. However, that’s not to say your heading for the hermit life! Prioritize communicating with colleagues. This is an important task when you’re working remotely and will be invaluable during the months and years of remote work successes ahead.

Oftentimes, it is helpful to check digital communication tools at designated times during my day. Emails, social media, and Slack, for example, can be distracting to the overall workflow when running at all times throughout the day. Some people set up an automatic response on their email, alerting colleagues when they should expect a response. And still others, like managers, may find it helpful to tell team members in advance when they’re available to talk or respond to emails.

5. Have designated work clothes

Separate work from play with the clothes you wear, recommends Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, in his book Remote: Office Not Required. Maybe you have a handful of “work” t-shirts, which are different from the t-shirts you wear when you’re relaxing on a Saturday afternoon or in the evenings. Having designated “work from home” clothes can get you into the right frame of mind, as Fried suggests.

6. Reduce Distractions

One of the benefits of working from home is escaping workplace distractions that are imposed on you. So don’t inundate yourself with “home” distractions, like turning on TV and scrolling through newsfeeds on Facebook. 

Why? It’s because multitasking doesn’t work. 

Switching between tasks can result in as much as a 40% loss of productivity, according to Dr. David Meyer in an American Psychological Association article.

7. Define the End of Your Workday

A common challenge is working too much when you’re working remotely. You see your computer nearby, and you have a nagging urge to check your email constantly throughout the evening.

That’s why it’s important to determine in advance when you’re workday will end. Include this in your daily plan discussed above. Then, close your laptop and place it in your bookbag or close your office door so your computer is out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.

8. Use your peak hours effectively

Some companies allow you to work where you want (remote working) and when you want (flexible work schedule). If your company offers a flexible work schedule, then it’s critical to determine your peak work periods. Do you work best first thing in the morning? Are you more alert around lunchtime?

The answer to such questions can help you determine your peak work periods. Prioritize your important tasks for the times when you are most productive.  Morning person? Get up and hit the toughest task for the day. Late starter? Tackle the uphill project after lunch. 

It’s good practice to save the less-important stuff for when you’re mentally fatigued. Knowing when you work best can help you get the most out of your day.

More companies should explain how employees can be effective when working remotely. Until then, try out the above suggestions and see what works best for you.

Need to ready your resume to highlight remote work experience?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

6 Traits of Visionary Leadership

6 Traits of Visionary Leadership

All throughout history, there is no shortage of truly inspirational and visionary leaders.  Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Telsa Motors, Ford Motor Company’s former president and CEO, Alan Mulally, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and of course Steve Jobs.  All of these leaders possess these 6 Traits of Visionary Leadership that inspired their teams to greatness.   

So, what are the skills that stand out as foundational in their approach?

Good Communication Skills

A visionary leader has good communication skills. They know how to verbalize their dreams and goals and can easily explain this to their team. For the leader, communication isn’t just one-sided. In addition to sharing her vision for the future, a visionary leader is also an active listener.

As more people “catch the vision,” leaders listen to their ideas and thoughts, incorporating them into the larger goal. Additionally, visionaries involve others in reaching their milestones and help the team members meet their personal goals.

Charismatic Leadership

Visionary leaders also have a unique charisma. Without question, it’s that certain something that draws people to them. It lifts team spirit and elevates moral which is a gateway to increased productivity.

True, some individuals are born with this type of personal flair but almost anyone can learn how to cultivate the confidence and energy associated with infectious charisma.

Foundation Development

Visionary leaders also are chief organizers. While many leaders have administrators that manage the processes, the leader often sets up the organization by establishing key departments or functions. As the organizer-in-chief, the visionary directs, develops and conducts meetings until reliable help is found. During the initial organization, a leader will take the time to build a solid foundation through establishing boards, councils or a company hierarchy.

Strategic Business Planner

Visionary leaders are strategic planners. Like a chess player, these leaders plan ahead to make the best business moves. Strategic planning involves creating an action plan with a particular strategy in mind. The leader’s vision defines what the organization will look like in the future and how it will function. His strategies are designed to take him toward his ultimate vision.

Risk Taker

Visionary leaders, like Elon Musk, are notable risk-takers. These leaders are willing to gamble on something they believe in, but the gamble is often a measured one. Visionaries are creative people that take the initiative with the appropriate action. Visionaries take intelligent risks that capitalize on prime conditions.

Resilience

Leaders who were brought in to guide companies through tumultuous times have to have tenacity and determination. Furthermore, they could likely be dealing with situations where they have to fight against old ideas, company politics, and external pressures.

Build on Your Natural Abilities

As a leader, you may not embody all 6 Traits of Visionary Leadership mentioned above, and that’s OK. It’s important to know which traits come naturally to you and which may not.

To develop your own leadership style, find a variety of mentors. Mentors can provide experienced perspectives to help you determine the best way to respond to business challenges. These mentors could be peers, potential investors or leaders from entirely different industries.

While you don’t have to follow all the advice you receive, remain receptive to new ideas. Additionally, as you accumulate experience, examine your actions and ask for regular feedback to discover your strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t just rely on your mentors’ experience — search for case studies. Consume as many news stories, articles, documentaries, books, and blog posts as you can. Learn how others approach challenges.

Continued Education

Finally, network to gain additional perspectives. Take advantage of workshops, conferences and other opportunities focused on leadership development to learn new skills and network with others who can offer diverse points of view.

Many of the leaders you admire aren’t superhuman — they’ve honed their ability to utilize their best traits to drive positive change within their organizations. Your approach to a situation can mean the difference between positive mental health and burnout, profit and loss and success and failure. When you learn to harness your greatest strengths, you become a better leader and a catalyst for change.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

In addition to Resume updates, we offer Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching. Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

Resume Tips for Remote Workers

Remote Worker Resume Tips

Seeking remote work employment? Showcase your track record of successful remote work achievements.  But how do you really make those successes shine?  Below we outline a few resume tips for remote workers that may aid the process.

With the increase in remote work opportunities, employers have learned that total freedom of space is a required skill to manage successfully. At the same time, it’s a quick realization that not everyone is qualified for the responsibility.

In order for your resume to stand out from the crowd, weave the remote roles into your current resume gracefully.

Three ways to highlight your remote work experience and talents:

1. Out with It.

Making a great success out of remote work opportunities is an achievement that your resume should reflect that message clearly.

Historically, the ‘Previous Employment’ section of a resume would have the employer’s location. Alongside the title role. This is an area that can slightly shift in design to highlight the location of remote work.  Here are a few suggestions:

List the organization’s corporate location using a city/state format. Then, in the first sentence, note that the work is performed remotely.

Secondly, skip city/state altogether in the formatting and note that the work was performed remotely in the first sentence.

Another option is to list “Remote Work” in place of city/state.

For those with extensive remote experience consider separating home-office jobs into their own “Remote Work Experience” section. This has the advantage of increasing confidence in hiring managers. When they see a list of previous employers who have trusted you to telecommute, that speaks volumes for your abilities to perform well.

Just be sure you don’t distract from your best qualifications by inadvertently hiding some relevant non-remote experience in a lower section.

2. Talk up the Details.

Outline your previous job tasks and accomplishments. Deliberately detail how they were successfully performed remotely. The goal of really strong resumes is to tell your story. The proof is in the details!

For instance, an effective presentation of a customer service position might read something like, “Attended to 50+ customer inquiries each day through the company’s website from a dedicated coworking space with a high-speed Internet connection.”

Or for a sales role, perhaps include a statement such as, “Recognized by management as the top performer for the 2019 fiscal year for converting more cold calls into billable accounts than any other remote worker.”

3. Focus on Skills.

When work is being performed remotely, the skills section of your resume must make an impact.  While every good employee is strong as a self-starter, great communicators, and champions of time management, remote workers need to show this in spotlight style focus.

When discussing your skills, look at how they particularly fit into the remote work ecosystem. Good communicators, for instance, may want to mention their comfort using video conferencing, chat platforms, and instant messaging to stay in touch with others on the remote team.

Strong collaborators could talk about using shared documents strategies and scheduled daily check-ins to accomplish company goals and stay on target while off-site.

Always remember that your resume is to get a foot in the door.  It is meant to tell your story in a punchy and concise format that presents yourself as a solid candidate for continued remote work successes.  

Chances are if a company is hiring for a remote role, then they are perfectly aware of what challenges and successes are possible. Let them know you are a valuable addition to working from any location!

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

The Rise of Video Interviews

The Rise of Video Interviews

Over the last several years, organizations of all sizes and from all industries are increasing the usage of video interviewing. For hiring managers, the incentive to use video interviews is in the rich benefits gained in their ability to manage the speed and candidate accuracy for their specific recruiting process.  With all industries participating in the rise of video interviews, being prepared is of ultimate importance.

If you haven’t yet been asked to engage in a video interview process, chances are you will sooner than later.

To understand the popularity from the employer’s perspective let’s browse a few perks from their side and why they are engaged in the rise of video interviews.

  • Easier process for high volume job applications.
  • A decrease in the volume of poor quality in-person interviews.
  • Reduced hiring process timeframe.
  • Better collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Accessibility to non-local candidates.

So how to prepare for yours?

When you attend an interview, consider how long it takes to prepare for the face to face meeting.  Then add travel time. It’s not a short process. Undoubtedly, the perk to video interviews lies in the time-saving.

Dress as you would for an in-person interview from head to toe. Doing so will make you feel more confident. Don’t try the old newscaster trick of wearing a blazer with sweatpants assuming you’ll only be seen from the waist up. 

It’s also recommended to avoid wearing bright, flashy colors as this can look too busy on camera. Choose something that looks neatly pressed while you’re sitting down. Wear your interview outfit during your trial run so you can get feedback from your friend or family member about how it looks on screen.

Choose a location that’s free from the distractions of children, roommates or pets. Hang a sign on the door asking mail carriers and package deliverers not to ring the doorbell. Avoid public places such as coffee shops or courtyards which can suddenly become loud. Likewise, steer clear of libraries where you could be interrupted and asked to quiet down.

Make sure the background is free from clutter and embarrassing items like laundry piles. Set up lighting that’s bright but not glaring, illuminating your face from the front. Natural light is the best.

Turn off email, text and social media alerts. While it may seem like a stretch, be aware of any software updates and other notifications that may show up on the screen during the interview. Turn off programs that might interfere with the webcam and close browser tabs.

Test your technology

A few days before the interview, do a technical trial run to make sure your equipment is working correctly. Download any apps or plugins you’ll need. Whether you’re using Skype for Business or another video interview platform, make sure you have a username that’s professional, just as you would with your email address or social media handle. 

Check that your computer’s camera, microphone and internet connection are working. If possible, do a trial run with a friend or family member so you have ample time to adjust if any of your equipment or software is malfunctioning.

Charge it up

If you’re using a laptop or tablet, make sure it’s fully charged on the day of the interview. Better yet, keep them plugged in during the interview.  And pick a spot that has strong Wi-Fi. If you must use a tablet, find a way to keep it stationary. Otherwise, the screen will appear shaky when holding the device. Avoid using a smartphone for video interviews if possible.

Testing, testing ….

Check your volume controls and speak clearly so the microphone picks up your voice and the interviewer doesn’t have to strain to hear you. This can take practice but you really want to understand how to project your voice. And remember that digital connections can sometimes be delayed. To avoid talking over the interviewer or having your first few words cut out, let the interviewer finish the question and then pause for a few seconds before delivering your answer.

Prepare for the Questions

Like the in-person interview, you’ll want to prepare for the interview questions. To be a key player in the rise of video interviews, you’ll want to nail these questions.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What’s your expected salary?

As you would in a traditional interview, close the video interview by sharing your appreciation. Be gracious and listen for the cue to end the interview on a high note.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

4 Keys to Successful Leadership Transitions

4 Keys to Successful Leadership Transitions

Leadership Transitions – sometimes they are welcomed and sometimes they are dreaded. Either way, they are never easy and when not done well can leave lasting scars. If you are in a transitional situation, these 4 keys to successful leadership transitions are useful.

Too often, people focus on the logistical aspects of the transition and neglect the interpersonal. The departing leader, the new leader and the board all play critical roles. They must manage the interpersonal, and if they do, there is a much greater probability that the transition will go smoothly.

Business leadership transitions occur for many reasons:

  • An owner selling the business to a family member, partner or outside interest.
  • Leadership change opens the role allowing another team member to advance in the organization.
  • Crisis such as death, accident or illness requires an immediate transition
  • A leader chooses to leave the organization or is forced out by owners or board

So, how best can leaders best handle transitions? Consider the following 4 keys to successful leadership transitions as a guide.

1. Clearly define roles.

For the former leader within the organization. While a clean break is usually healthiest for the new leaders and the organization, for many reasons this often does not occur. If the former leader is the owner, parent or CEO becoming chairman, they will still want to be involved in some way. It is healthiest for the organization if the former leader has a well-defined and limited role. Most of his communication should be with the new leader and not the people under them.

2. The former leader creates a new identity. 

This really applies to those who are transitions, however staying within the organization. Identity is attached to leadership in the sense of the leader’s purpose within the organization. During the time of transition, that identity is shifting and needs a new focus. Often the new leader, board members or consultants could help the former leader create their new identity. 

What are the former leader’s passions, interests, and hobbies? While hobbies, such as golf, are time-consuming they rarely offer the mental stimulation or recognition they need to form their new identity. Could they volunteer, mentor or consult outside the organization or take on a project of some kind? This is a time when the former leader could make a difference by getting involved in a non-profit or helping young entrepreneurs.

3. Communication is key. 

When both the former and new leaders talk about their new relationship, their emotions, and identities, they could work through many issues festering just below the surface. The new leaders must always treat the former leader respectfully and explain upfront that they may be doing some things differently. 

They could identify where they are aligned and not aligned, and discuss how to resolve the unaligned areas. Everyone must be invested in helping the former leader move on and the new leaders take charge.

4. Role of the Board. 

The best way that members of the board could support the transition is to transition along with leadership. Members of the board who have served with the former leader and are aligned with him/her could serve as confidantes to the former leader and guide him/her through the transition. They too ought to depart the board and allow new leadership to create their own board of advisors. 

Too often board members use the justification of having institutional knowledge when in fact this knowledge could prevent the organization from moving forward in a reinvigorated way. Boards today require fresh thinking and diverse perspectives. 

What better time to create that, than in a transition of leadership.

The smoothest transitions often have a well-articulated succession plan and clear processes for managing and communicating the changes. They also address the identity, emotional and relationship issues of both the former and new leaders and create an environment of open communication among the leaders and the board. The organization moves forward by respecting the former leader while having the latitude to innovate and build a team for the future. 

When done well, everyone excels in their new roles and the organization thrives. As an additional option consider hiring a transitional leader to aid the process.

10 Ways to Improve Analytical Skills.

Tips to improve analytical skills

In such fast-paced working environments, having high-level analytical abilities is an absolute must. Employees are expected to think on their feet, solve problems and analyze data in real-time. We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to improve analytical skills.

To do all these things and achieve professional success, it’s in a person’s best interest to continuously seek ways to improve.

Here we’ve listed 10 ways to improve analytical skills. and, as a result, not just improve your career but also create greater efficiency in all areas of your life.

1. Read More Frequently

A good way to start expanding your analytical skills is through the power of the written word. Indeed, the more you expose yourself to different ideas, the more you’ll increase your own cognitive abilities. The trick, however, is to not skim over pages.

When reading a book, magazine or article, you should think about the overall plot, take note of each character in the story and think about other possible scenarios. This will stimulate deep thinking and force you to test your logic and broaden your imagination.  All of which strengthen your mind’s ability to think analytically. 

2. Listen to Podcasts

If you commute to work daily and spend hours behind the wheel, this is an exceptional portion of time to activate brainpower.  Thought-provoking podcasts increase your critical thinking skills while on the road.  And, if you happen to be in a highly competitive industry, podcasts are a great way to stay up to date on current happenings.

Podcasts?  There’s an app for that! These days it seems the boom in podcast hosts is peaking. There is huge exposure available to opinions and expert advice in just about all industries. 

A few good podcasts worth listening to include Developer Tea, Broken Brain, Applying Awareness and TED Radio Hour, all of which will offer useful tips for stimulating creativity and challenging your thoughts and ideas. All of which, ultimately, help you enhance mental capacity.

3. Exercise

With everything we’ve learned about exercise in modern times, it’s no stretch to understand that moving the body is good for the mind.

The type of exercise you choose to do is entirely up to you, but taking a tai chi or Zumba class might be a good idea. You will need to memorize steps and sequences as well as focus on executing them in a controlled manner, effectively challenging both your analytical thinking skills and your physical stamina. 

4. Play Brain Games

Brain games like Sudoku, chess, backgammon, and Scrabble can help expand your critical thinking skills. It’s true, just 15 minutes a day of playtime can increase your mental stimulation and improve your analytical skills. 

Bonus points: The best part is that they are fun and they can be used as bonding experiences. 

So, instead of sitting in front of the TV all evening, play a brain game with your family and monitor your improvement over time. And if you can’t get anyone to play with you, don’t worry: ask google about Lumosity. It has plenty of brain games designed to encourage your thinking.

5. Surround Yourself with Different Personalities

If you socialize in a small circle, you’ll most likely discuss the same topics day in and day out. 

Although it’s not bad to have a tight-knit group, it’s important to surround yourself with people that you wouldn’t normally socialize with. These are the people that will spark your imagination and offer you a new and different perspective. 

If you’re not sure where to meet different people, start by attending networking events and engaging with everyone you meet there. You’ll be surprised by the effect that others can have on your analytical abilities.

6. Learn Something New Every Day

After graduating from high school or university, most people become passive when it comes to testing themselves and learning new things. Once we are comfortable in our careers and know what we are good at it, we tend to put a pause on learning. 

Try to learn something new every day; whether it’s a feature on your phone or a new recipe, it’s essential to keep testing yourself and gaining new skills.

7. Take an Online Course

This could be a short LinkedIn or Udemy course!  It doesn’t need to be extensive. Try to take courses in subjects that you aren’t very familiar with or good at. For example, not many people are born Excel gurus, but with time and dedication, you can master the use of formulas and cells and become an Excel expert yourself. 

The point is to expand your knowledge and challenge yourself with topics you don’t have any prior experience in.

8. Join a Book Club

We mentioned earlier that reading is a great way to increase cognitive abilities, but why not take it one step further by joining a book club?

You’ll not only be engaged in stories that you wouldn’t usually take a second look at but also challenge your thinking by analyzing the book and discussing it with fellow club members. You’ll also hear a different perspective and make new friends in the process!

9. Ask Questions

Curiosity drives us to be more motivated, intelligent and creative. The questions that we ask encourage us to pursue different outlets and methods, forcing us to compare what we previously thought and come to a logical solution. So, when you’re next interested in a topic, don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, the more knowledge you soak up, the better your analytical skills will become.

10. Be Observant

When you’re observant, you tend to notice more around you, and this sparks your critical thinking. We often focus on getting things done quickly rather than slowing down and focusing on the details. But it’s important to take time to watch how others behave; doing so might even help you find new methods of dealing with any problems you might face. 

Standing out in a Competitive Industry

Standing out in a Competitive Industry

When you’re applying for a job, standing out from the crowd is always a challenge. But, this tough task can suddenly seem insurmountable when you’re applying for an extremely competitive position. Have a read below for 5 actions that are helpful to you standing out in a competitive industry.

However, spending all of your time obsessing over the intense competition will only serve to make you feel more anxious and self-conscious—qualities that definitely won’t help you approach your job hunt and interviews with confidence. So, let go of that intimidation and instead focus on doing what you need to do to separate yourself from the pack.

But, how can you draw positive attention to yourself, when there are hundreds of other people applying to that exact same job? Here are five tips that are sure to help you stand out from that pile of other applicants.

1. Get Personal

Feeling like you’re submitting your materials into cyberspace is always frustrating—especially when you put so much time and effort into them. And, when you know that tons of other people are following that exact same process, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a long line just waiting to draw your number.

This is when making a personal connection can make a huge difference. What exactly does this mean? Start by seeing if you know anyone who currently works for that employer. Whether it’s an old friend or an acquaintance on LinkedIn, having someone who can hand-deliver your resume or put in a good word for you can really help to put your name at the top of the interview list.

If you can’t track down someone who can refer or recommend you, you should still make an effort to be as personal as possible in your application materials. Skip that generic “To Whom It May Concern” line (those letters typically find their way directly to the wastebasket!), and instead do some digging to see if you can find the name of the person you’d be working directly for—or even the hiring manager.

Knowing that you put in the legwork and research necessary to personally address your documents immediately portrays you as a dedicated and resourceful applicant. And, that reputation is sure to put you back at the top of the pile!

2. Improve Your Documents

A resume that’s riddled with typos and grammatical errors. A cover letter that contains the wrong company name. Yes, they’re all sure to make the hiring manager remember you—but not necessarily in a positive light.

It seems basic, but going through your resume and cover letter with a fine-tooth comb is absolutely necessary. Not only is this a best practice when applying for any sort of job, it’s also a surefire way to help you differentiate yourself from the crowd—you wouldn’t believe how much of your competition is immediately discounted, simply because their documents are sloppy.

Aside from just scanning for basic errors, now’s also a great time to polish your materials and make sure that they’re memorable and impactful. Ensure that you include quantifiable achievements in your resume that don’t only tell how great you are at what you do, but show it as well. Start your cover letter off with an engaging and captivating story, rather than that standard, “I’m writing in regards to…” line.

No, you don’t want to send a singing telegram or print your resume on hot pink paper. However, these more subtle tweaks and additions can really help you to be remembered—in a way that’s not eccentric and over-the-top.

3. Go Above and Beyond

I won’t deny that your resume and cover letter are extremely important documents for job search success. But, does that mean they’re absolutely the only things you need in order to land your dream job? Absolutely not.

You should never hesitate to go the extra mile, show some initiative, and share some other materials that a potential employer might care about. Go ahead and send them a link to your portfolio or personal blog. Anything that helps them to get a better sense of who you are as a candidate will benefit you!

You can even take things one step further by completing a sample specifically for that employer. Applying for a social media management position? Pull together a brief example of a social media strategy that you think could work for them. Want to be a data analyst? Share that amazing Excel spreadsheet you built—complicated macros and all. Showing that extra effort demonstrates how interested you are in the position. And, if they actually like the sample work you create? Well, then you’ve already got one foot in the door!

4. Polish Your Social Media Presence

Your work examples and official career documents will only take you so far. After all, employers pretty much expect that you’ll put your best foot forward when it comes to those materials. So, what will they do next? More than likely, hiring managers will look you up on social media.

Believe me, you don’t want to be remembered as the candidate who stars in that video for “Phi Sigma Rho’s Longest Keg Stand” or the applicant who writes scathing reviews of every single ex-boss on Facebook.

So, before even submitting your stuff, ensure you’ve taken the time to clean up your social media profiles. Bonus points for actually taking the time to polish and update your LinkedIn profile while you’re at it!

5. Follow Up

You know all of that intense competition we talked about? Well, it not only overwhelms you—it’s also pretty overwhelming to the hiring manager as well. Suddenly, they have an inbox full of submissions, and it’s up to them to weed out the junk in order to find those diamonds in the rough.

So, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back immediately about that job you’re so excited about. In fact, you likely won’t receive a super timely response. This is why following up is so important.

If you haven’t heard anything (whether that’s a “yes”, “thanks, but no thanks”, or a “we’ve received your submission” email) in about a week or two, feel free to reach out personally and check in on a timeline for a hiring decision. Make an attempt to use the most personalized email address you can find. But, if you can’t hunt one of those down, a general “info” or “careers” address will suffice as well.

Craft a friendly message just asking for an update on the hiring process for that specific position, reiterate your excitement about the opportunity, and thank them for their time. Still radio silence? You’re free to follow up once more. But, after that, it’s time to let it go. We all know there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest.

Standing out from the crowd when the job competition is stiff can undoubtedly be tough. But, it’s not impossible! It just involves some thought and creativity. Put these tips to use, and you’re sure to find your way to the top of that resume pile.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

The job search time has been invested.  The efforts are now paid-in-full. Your first day on the job is scheduled. Sweet victory! Now it’s time to focus on exceeding expectations after you join the company. Here are 3 Tips for starting a new job.

1. Make relationships your number one priority.

The first month in a job is an important time to meet new colleagues, both inside and outside of your team. It’s important to continue cultivating those relationships in the months that follow. 

Do this in ways that feel natural to you. If you’re a fan of formal feedback, schedule in periodic feedback chats with your manager and colleagues. If you’d prefer a more casual approach, put in the effort to organize coffee or drinks with coworkers.

Importantly, be sure these efforts are not just focused on your manager or people above you. While it is important to be on the radar of higher-ups, it’s equally critical that others get fair attention. This includes those you work with and who work under you.

Spending all your effort on people above you can be perceived as sucking up—which means you’ll not only not build relationships with other colleagues, but potentially that they’ll distrust your motives. 

2. Write down your goals, and get feedback on them

Your manager might have a very defined set of goals for you, particularly if you’re in a role like sales which typically has very measurable and predetermined targets. If this isn’t the case, however, it’s important to give yourself some goals to work towards. 

Think about it like this: If you haven’t set yourself a target, how will you be able to measure whether you’ve done a good job after six months?

Putting tangible deliverables on paper—even if they change—is a good way to both stay on track as well as to create evidence for your manager and colleagues that you can deliver. This is no doubt helpful for formal reviews but can be equally as useful as a reflection tool to make sure you’re prioritizing the right things. 

You might write your goals in collaboration with your manager and/or colleagues. If you come up with them on your own, however, be sure to seek feedback from (at least) your manager, as you’re still new to the role and want to be sure you’re focusing on the right things. 

Lastly, remember that goals aren’t useful if you simply write them down and forget about them. Schedule yourself reminders to review your progress, either alone or with others, which can give you a chance to re-adjust if things aren’t going as planned. 

3. Keep an open mind and ask questions

While starting a new job can be daunting. There’s a lot to learn, being new to the company also gives you a fresh perspective—and one that can be invaluable to the rest of the team. Since you’re coming in without preconceptions or biases, you may well identify areas for improvement that others have overlooked. 

It’s therefore important that you ask questions when you don’t understand why things are a certain way. Rather than accepting them at face value. Just because a process, standing meeting or team structure exists in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that it’s a big picture ideal.

As a new hire, you’re in a unique place to be able to identify inefficiencies and broken processes. 

That said, approach areas for improvement with curiosity. There’s no room for judgment since there may well be a reason that something is done a certain way. It’s better to appear curious and learn something new than to assume you know the right answer. And potentially be proven wrong.

We hope these 3 Tips for starting a new job help. This can be a very playful time to relax, be yourself and get to know your new work environment.

If you wanted to take it a step further, check our previous entry on Setting Career Goals. We’ve put together 7 helpful tips here: https://powerwritersusa.com/7-success-tips-to-setting-career-goals/