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

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

Where Do You See Yourself?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

For many people, answering the interview question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” can be overwhelming. If this is you in a nutshell, worry not. Hiring managers aren’t really that concerned with the specifics of your answer anyway. 

What they want to know is a glimpse into your ambition, goals, focus, and drive.

They want to know you’ve at least considered your future and what you’d like to accomplish. 

Even if you don’t know exactly where you see yourself in five years, there’s still a right way to answer this question during an interview.

Why ask this?

Asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is more about getting insight into your hopes and aspirations. Interviewers are seeking objectives to give an inside look into how you operate and structure your thoughts.

Naturally, a potential employer wants to understand your career goals to assess how their position fits into your grand plan. Companies want trustworthy, detail-oriented, and dedicated team members who are willing to take a leap — not a noncommittal employee who is only sticking around until a better opportunity arises elsewhere.

The question itself can be phrased in a multitude of ways. All of the below examples aim to uncover similar information for hiring managers to review: 

  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • Do you have an ideal job at this stage in your career?
  • What are you looking for?
  • How do you define success?
  • What is most important to you in your career?
  • Do you have goals planned for the next five years?
  • Where will you be in five years?

Tips: Before the Interview

Life gets tricky and, ultimately, no one person knows completely where they will be in five years.  Hiring managers are aware of this. Focus on what your dreams are, where you would like to take your career, and how you plan to do this.

Also, be sure to focus on how you plan to help the company. Show yourself as someone who will add value to the team and help advance the company. 

While developing your answer, keep in mind what the interviewer wants to know when they ask you this question: your work-related goals, ambitions, desired training, and so on. What type of positions do you see yourself occupying? What type of training? Are you interested in leadership positions, or would you like to keep your focus on the technical aspects of your work? Provide direct and relatable answers.

If the answer doesn’t come to you at first, think about how you have grown over the last five years.

Consider the natural flow of progression in your career thus far and what aspects sparked joy and curiosity in your daily efforts.  These aspects are a great benchmark for navigating the direction forward. 

During the interview

Answering “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

When answering this question, be honest and be yourself. Sharing what you think the interviewer ‘wants to hear’ may seem like a good idea, but if it’s out of alignment with your truth, you can get in trouble down the road if you do get hired. Plus, it’s much easier to be yourself than to try to be someone you’re not.

Be specific and keep it work-related.

The interviewer doesn’t need to know that you plan on having two kids and a white picket fence in five years. Keep your answers to-the-point and about your work goals and visions.

An example response:

Let’s say you’re interviewing for an HR position at an organization and are asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” You might answer as follows:

“I’d like to expand my horizons by jumping in feet first and learning as much as I can, as quickly as I can, with the organization. From there, I’d seek out opportunities — at least one to two a year — to expand my knowledge through training and educational opportunities to support my job. I’d love to participate in at least one project geared toward leadership training if the opportunity arises. I also understand that the organization has a strong volunteer team, and I’d like to be an active participant in that team, as well. At some point, I’d also like to be considered for a supervisory or management level role.”

Keep it primarily work-related, show ambition, show that you’ve done your homework, and provide quantifiable goals. The key is to be confident, honest, clear, and succinct, and, of course, to answer the question.

What Not to Say.

Whatever you do, do not respond with, “I don’t know.”

To answer “I don’t know” shows that you haven’t given any thought to your future with the company or life in general. Again, one of the main reasons this question is asked is to find out if you have goals, ambition and a good work ethic and that you’ve considered how you might handle the position should you be hired.

So there you go. While the chances are good that you’ll be asked this question at some point during your career, the ball is in your hands to answer like a touchdown pass from inside the red zone. 

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

Executive Job Search Strategy

Executive job search strategy

Remember when you were early in your career and you’d apply for a job then go home and wait?  You knew you had all the required skills and experience, so it was just a matter of time. A few days go by and the call comes in. The next day is the interview.  3 days later you have the job and you start next week. Well, those days are long since gone! Nowadays if you don’t have an executive job search strategy, you come close to setting yourself up to fail.

Truthfully, now that you’ve positioned your career higher up the salary chain, those quick job search turnaround days are non-existent. The path to senior and executive-level job placement is an extended process that requires patience and good strategy.

Pro Tip: Manage Expectations

The challenge is to manage expectations that meet the reality of your job search. On-average an executive-level job search requires 4 months to 1 year from the initial point of contact to an actual first day of employment.

The average time it takes to find a job depends on many factors such as:

  • Time of year
  • Geographical demand for your skills
  • Whether you encounter ageism
  • Experience and salary requirements
  • Professional network
  • Job search skills

Time of Year

Q4 is traditionally the slowest hiring period so don’t go rushing into October with high hopes of December placement. However, in contrast, the busiest season for hiring is the first quarter. Manage expectations and remain positive to keep pushing on through slower times of the year.

Geography

All across the country, there are region-specific industry dominants. Depending on your career path, your advancement could depend on your flexibility towards a potential move of house and home.  Consider your chosen industry and region when outlining your timeline for ideal job placement.

Experience & Salary

Aim for your goals, however, do a little research into the companies you are applying to. You want to ensure they have the capacity and need for your set of skills and salary requirements.  Are they in an upswing or decline?  Have their social media channels just blasted news of a hiring fair? These elements can either hinder or expedite the hiring process and in turn, your job search strategy.

Your Network is Gold.

We’ve mentioned this in previous posts and it’s worth rehashing. Your network is solid gold.  At the Senior and Executive career levels, your LinkedIn profile should already be well polished with several years of connections to draw from. When it comes to job searching, this is your ideal go-to for making quick work of landing a job with ease and accuracy. 

Your job search skills.

How’s your job search game?  Ultimately, your drive dictates how fast a job can be obtained.  The steps are defined, now it’s on you to get organized and progress with confidence.

A quick note on ageism.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, the chances are good that you’ve seen or experienced age discrimination at work—as two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 have at some point, according to AARP. From a recruiter’s perspective, there are concerns that older employees not only require increased salaries but will be with the company for a shorter period.   Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the big picture. 

Ageism can slow your job search process by the assumption that retirement is near.

If you are in a category susceptible to ageism, be prepared to talk about how much longer you plan to work.  Make sure you’re up to speed on technology and current education, as applicable.

Additionally, find the right company by considering what work environment is ideal for your own daily routine. Some company cultures trend younger – startups, for instance- and you may not want to be significantly older than everyone else in the room.  Or that could be exactly what you seek. Either way, due diligence is highly beneficial.

Resume specifics: To show yourself in the best light, hire a professional resume writer to modernize and retool your resume. Seriously, at this stage, a professional is a value-added investment to career advancement.

Extensive work history can begin to look muddled on a resume, as can the skills section after a few decades of career growth. Allowing a professional to optimize your resume, and LinkedIn for that matter will give you the leg up with ATS and recruiter processes.

Here is a link to our schedule at Power Writers USA so you can see availability and book a free 15-min consult. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

7 Success Tips to Setting Career Goals

7 steps to planning career goals

With the beginning of every new year and now a new decade, many are looking within and setting career goals for short and long-game success.  Have a read for 7 success tips to setting career goals at any time of year!

Setting goals is a significant component of the career planning process. To have a successful and satisfying career, it’s best to define your goals and devise a strategy to achieve them. Having a career action plan is like a roadmap that will guide you from choosing a satisfying occupation to progressing through an extended and successful career.

How Setting Goals Affects Your Career Success

Look at your career action plan as a 2-sided approach with both long and short-term goals. Without a doubt, the more specific you can be about each step will greatly increase your probability of achievement.

Especially if or when barriers get in the way.  Life moves quick and ultimately we never know what experience is just around the corner. Your plan can be your peace of mind in the event of sudden unexpected changes.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Consider a short-term goal as obtainable in approximately six months.  Long-term goals look ahead to roughly three to five years to achieve. Naturally, the timelines are somewhat fluid. Sometimes you can crack a short-term goal in fewer than three months and other times a long-term one may reach fulfillment towards the end of a decade.

Just ask Bill and Melinda Gates how long it’s has taken to eradicate Polio in 3rd world regions or how many years they’ve been working on developing clean and safe nuclear power plants for global benefit.

To achieve each long-term goal, you must first accomplish a series of short-term goals.

For example, let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That may be your ultimate long-term goal, but before you can tackle it, you must achieve a few others, such as complete college (four years), medical school (another four years), and a medical residency (three to eight years).

Along the road to reaching those long-term goals, there are several short-term goals to clear as well. Such as, excelling in entrance exams and applying to college, medical school, and eventually residencies. Since grades matter when it comes to achieving those goals, it is necessary to break your short-term goals down even further, like earning a high-grade point average and remembering to eat healthy along the way.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

Your hard work will play the most prominent role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals correctly, it will be much more challenging to accomplish them. Ideally, your short-term and long-term goals meet the following criteria:

#1: Have specific goals. You might say, “I want to be successful.” Well, who doesn’t? But can you define what success means? Success to one person may mean becoming CEO of a company while to another person it may mean getting home from work no later than 6 p.m.

#2: Your goals must be measurable. Have a timeframe for achieving your goals and a way to determine when you have reached them.

#3: Don’t be negative. Your goal should be something you want rather than something you want to avoid. It is much better to say, for instance, “I want to improve my skills over the next four years so that I qualify for a better job” than “I don’t want to be stuck in this job for another four years.”

#4: Be realistic. Your long-term goals must be compatible with your abilities and skills. Stating “I want to win a Grammy Award” if you can’t sing or play an instrument will set you up for failure.

#5: Your goal must be reachable within your time frame. Break a long-term goal down into smaller goals. It is better to take baby steps than one big giant leap.

#6: Pair each goal with an action. For instance, if your goal is to become a writer, sign up for a writing class. 

#7: Be flexible. Don’t give up if you encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress. Instead, modify your goals accordingly. As an example, say you need to continue working but this is keeping you from going to college full-time. Be flexible. Although it won’t be possible to finish your bachelor’s degree in four years, you can still enroll in school part-time and take a bit longer.

The point is, goals can become actuality with patience, perseverance and a solid plan. Need help?  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

Holiday Reading for the Career-Driven.

holiday reading books for the career driven professional

With the holidays upon us, we thought we’d dedicate some thought towards scheduled (ok: forced) downtime. In doing so we polled the office and discovered 3 books that came highly recommended as holiday reading for the career-driven amongst us. 

A Case of The Go-Getter.

For the highly career-driven types, the act of ‘not working’ can come at us with rough edges. It’s not entirely natural to just sit back and not work our game strategy. In many ways, the idea of slowing the pace can feel like losing ground.  As a potential solution, we recommend double-timing the concept of taking a ‘holiday break’ with the addition of some inspirational reading. 

These 3 books are bountiful with ah-ha moments, industry hacks and refreshing stories of challenge and triumph.

#1:  Driven by Robert Herjavec

This book has achieved legendary bookshelf cred.  Some may recognize Robert Herjavec as one of the Shark Tank hosts.  Others may know his name from the massive career wave he’s made in the tech industry.  Either way, his story is that of a classic grind from near poverty to astounding wealth and career successes.  The book is written like an approachable novel traveling through biopic storylines with powerful advice and validation. It is a captivating read and a truly inspirational business book. An absolute must-read!

#2:  The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

At 164 pages this little book is a powerhouse of gloves-off dictation.  If you are a writer, this is your book.  Creative entrepreneurs, this is your book.  If you are a visionary who is constantly seeking routes of betterment in life and in career, this is your book.

Steven Pressfield is the author of several novels including that of The Legend of Bagger Vance. (Which if you haven’t seen the movie, you haven’t fully lived.  Strong opinion but I’m sticking to it!)  The Art of War goes richly into content regarding the challenges faced when we ask too much from our creativity. 

Honestly, it’s a funny and lighthearted read even though it touches on inner battles and the psychology of creation. Go get this book. I will completely alter the quality of your work.

#3: Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson

Altogether, what’s refreshing about this book is the female perspective of corporate success. Arlene Dickinson was a single mother who literally went from newly divorced with no savings, only a high school diploma and four young children to CEO of one of the countries largest marketing firms. All within the span of a decade. In short, this woman has grit! 

The book teaches patience, it teaches how every little, tiny step forward is still worth celebrating and it teaches the depths of digging into your goals through the art of persuasion.

Gift Yourself Time.

To summarize, take a moment to yourself this holiday season. Gift yourself time to calm down.  Put the phone down, leave the to-list in the office, kiss your family and then get comfortable in your favorite chair. 

There is a great benefit to awarding yourself genuine downtime, not just for our health but also for our continued career-driven momentum. 

How To Choose a Career Coach

Choosing the right career coach

With the closing of the decade, we’re seeing all sorts of 10-year reflection content on social media right now.  Have you seen it?  Perhaps it’s the end of an era that sparks the human interest to compare and assess using time as the main reference. Whatever the reasoning now is a great time to check in on career goals. Here are our tips on how to choose a career coach, should you be so inclined.

What A Career Coach Can Do

Some of you would have been in school at the crack of 2010 and are now well seated in your chosen careers.  Others may have changed directions several times and are looking back at an intersection of self-discovery and career interests. Looking forward, consider the benefits of sourcing, vetting and connecting with a career coach who can help you identify goals for the next 10 years of career growth.

6 Tips for Choosing a Career Coach

1. Define The Problems.

Ask yourself: Why do I need a career coach? If you’re not clear, take out a piece of paper and write down every question that comes to mind about your career transition.  Once you understand your needs, you can identify the best type of coach for the job.

If you’re interested in changing career directions: Find a coach who is experienced in career reinvention.

If you are looking to stay in your field but need help navigating the job search process: Find a coach who has strength in resume writing or has exceptional referrals to a professional resume writer.  Additionally, this coach should also have good tactics for job searching via social media and other job-hunting avenues.

2. The Interview

Yes, of course, it’s recommended to interview potential coaches! This is your career. You’re in the driver’s seat so vet ay potentials and set up some meetings.

Keep in mind, some coaches offer a free introductory call, while others only do so unless you sign on for three months or more. Also, it’s common for people to work with career coaches on a shorter-term basis, such as three sessions for job-search coaching or six sessions to complete a career exploration package.

Smart questions to ask during the interview:

  • How would you describe your coaching style?
  • What should I expect from our work together?
  • What are your fees, packages and/or recommended routes?
  • Can you share some of your success stories? (Listen to see if the coach tends to work with people like you.)

3. Choosing The Services Best Suited to You.

Coaches charge in a variety of ways: by the hour, by the month, by the task or some combination of all three. Some ask for a multi-session commitment; others go session-by-session.

Some offer full branding packages that include reworking a resumé, LinkedIn profile and cover letters while others offer each of those services a-la-carte.

Ask a lot of questions and be sure the coach is clear about what you’ll get for your money before you start work together.

4. Ready Yourself to Win.

Coaching sessions are generally about an hour long and to the betterment of both parties, you want to go in prepared.  Ready any questions or specific topics of direction.  Organize relevant documentation. Speak your mind. Be honest about the process, if the coach is doing (or not doing) something that doesn’t sit right, share and help the relationship achieve full potential.

Additionally, maintain open lines of communication regarding any personal challenges impacting your career plans.  The goal is to craft a realistic action plan.  To do this, all facts should be on the table.

5. Respect The Process.

To achieve a deeper understanding, many coaches use one or more industry-specific assessments.  Techniques such as personality tests and interest inventories help you identify your strengths, interests and best work options.

Now, while these are helpful, they can’t always provide you with “the answer.”

All career changes involve a process of assessment, reflection, research, and testing. As well as hard work and patience. This all takes time before you gain real and lasting clarity. 

6. Manage Timeline Expectations.

There is no clear timetable for a career change. It truly depends on you, your goals, the state of the economy and a thousand other variables. From a coach, you may only need a couple of brainstorming sessions, or you may get into the process and realize you’d prefer a few months of support.

Just know, you are going to hit plateaus and they will be frustrating. Be patient and loving to yourself.

Ultimately, the key to a good coaching relationship is finding the right coach for your specific needs and then working together effectively.  Some coached are available to advise clients in person; others use a mix of phone, video conferencing and in-person meetings. 

Ideally when vetting a potential coach think about what best suits your style of work ethic and daily practices. On our team at PWU, we have exceptional career coaches available. Reach out if you would like a recommendation and contact details.

Whether you are anticipating a new career direction, seeking advice on the job search or planning for semi-retirement, a good coach can help you reach goals faster and more successfully than by going it alone.

Will Resumes Be Necessary in 2020?

will resumes be necessary in 2020

There has been a lot of talk about resumes becoming less important in the future. We understand things change rapidly in the world of hiring practices, but could this be true? Will resumes be necessary in 2020?

It has been said that resumes really only account for about 10% of the hiring process and that social media accounts are replacing resumes. While it’s true, hiring managers are using social media platforms to investigate and vet potential employees, the idea that the resume is going away is not actually supported by career experts.

Social Media vs. Resume

Undoubtedly, recruiters are turning to platforms like LinkedIn, when they connect with potential candidates, what do you think is the first thing they ask for? That’s right, a resume!

LinkedIn is a great place to build your “brand” and strategically develop your profile to reflect your professional interests, experiences, and what you have to offer. Additionally, a great advantage to LinkedIn are the recommendations and multi-media options. All of these are great tools to entice recruiters, and once they are interested, that’s when a resume will always be necessary.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

More than 98% of Fortune 500 companies are utilizing the benefits of ATS these days. In the past decade, only the larger companies were using ATS. Now, it’s common practice for smaller companies to also be using ATS. This means that the chances of your resume being scanned for keywords and phrases are even greater. This allows the recruiters to filter out potential candidates and theoretically make sure their candidate is a good fit for the position.

The responsibility is really on you, the applicant, to be sure that keywords and phrases are in your resume. The success of your resume will be totally dependent upon ATS.

Resume Formatting for 2020

Knowing that ATS is so valuable and will only grow in importance in the future, how can you be sure you are ready for it? One of the most important things to consider is the fact that, while word processing details can make your resume fancier, ATS prefers very simple text-based documents.

Applicant Tracking Systems are very particular about formatting. There are many fonts they can’t “see”. They cannot “read” what’s in a text box, and pictures or graphics do not mean anything. However, bold, italics, underline, and shading is fine.

It’s one thing to hand out fancy resumes, but when it comes to applying online for jobs, simple, text-based, .doc resumes are going to increase your chances.

Beware Social Media Self-Expression

Now that we live in a world where it’s easy to google another person, recruiters too have adopted this ease in their candidate research. Knowing you will be researched, use it to your advantage!

Create social media accounts where you can develop your brand. Allow these accounts to reflect who you are, what you’re about, and what you have accomplished. As always, carefully consider if your accounts are reflecting the kind of information that you would want recruiters to find. While it’s fun to be impulsive and passionate about our social profiles, to maintain professionalism remember to consider future perspectives.

2020 Job Search

Not a lot is changing when it comes to the job search. While there is an increasing role for social media platforms, the resume is still essential. Another “old school” idea that still, and will probably ALWAYS be important is NETWORKING. In truth, someone who is referred to a hiring manager is more likely to get an interview and with the potential to be hired.

So, don’t be shy, network with your friends, in-laws, and other folks you know in your industry. Referrals always have an advantage compared to someone the hiring manager has no reference for.

If you have any questions about your resume or job search, reach out for a free resume review and consultation. Our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization, Coaching and Recruitment services. 

Connect with us here for a free 15-minute consultation. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

8 Tips to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

8 tips to beat applicant tracking systems

From the first known resume in 1482 by Leonardo DaVinci through the 1500s in England into the 20th Century and current Digital Age. Resume formats have changed dramatically over the years. Modern-day resumes must now contain a very specific format in order to beat Applicant Tracking Systems.

If you’re on the search for a new job and not getting the desired traction, your resume may not be ideal for ATS. In which case, have a read below for 8 tips to beat Applicant Tracking Systems.

#1 – Use ATS Resume Keywords Correctly.

The design of Applicant Tracking Software is to scan for keywords that relate to the job and industry. The proper usage of keywords is what sets your resume apart from others by gaining ATS high ranking. Like a high score in PacMan, ATS high ranking means your resume levels up.

Look at the job description of your ideal position. If you’re applying for a job within a specific industry, this is where you can identify the major keywords that relate to that industry or the position you seek. 

Include these keywords in a core competencies or skills section.

But be careful, one thing that’s just as bad as not having the correct keywords is over-using them. The ATS will reject an overstuffed resume as quickly as it would a resume with insufficient keywords.

#2 – Format Your Resume Correctly.

Stick to a traditional resume format at all times.

Text boxes, footers, headers, and graphics read as clutter during the scan which can result in your resume being rejected. Choose a basic format like reverse-chronological, functional or hybrid, to ensure the resume can be scanned by ATS and easy for a recruiter to read.

#3 – Send The Correct File Type

 Applicant tracking systems need to be able to scan and read your resume. The safest way to ensure that your resume will be read is to submit it in a Microsoft Word Doc file. 

Even though many of the systems are now advanced enough to read a PDF, you should still send a Doc file to be on the safe side. A Doc file is the preferred file type for both ATS and many recruiters.

You should also always check the job description to see if the employer wants a certain file type. Often times, employers will specify a certain file type, so it’s recommended to have both versions available.

#4 – Label Sections

If your layout is not done properly, the ATS may have trouble identifying where you worked, what you did, and how long you were there. We want to ensure the ATS can read the entire resume correctly. To do this, label your resume sections properly. Use subheadings such as work experience, education, and interests, etc.

Also, verify that the location, position, and length of employment information you provide is clear and consistent throughout your resume.

use a professional font

#5 – Use A Professional Font.

We can’t stress this enough, stick to a professional font. When your resume passes through ATS, the next step is recruiter review. And professional recruiters generally do not favor comic sans.

The best fonts to use for your resume are:

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica

#6 – Make Spelling And Grammar Top-Level Priority.

Spelling errors can, and will, cause a resume to be automatically rejected. Additionally, the majority of recruiters will also dismiss a resume even if it contains only a single error.

Consider this, according to CareerBuilder, 58% of resumes contain spelling and grammatical errors. Read that again, over half of the resumes out there are a hot-mess in the actual wording department.  Join 40% of applicants that get spelling and grammar correct.

Pro-Tip: Grammerly is a wonderful tool!

#7 – Resume File Name

Yes, what you name the file matters. Even though it might get through ATS, recruiters will often ignore unprofessional resume names. Use your first and last name, or a combination of the two.

You should also add either the word “resume” or the position you seek.

Examples:

JohnS.Resume.doc

JohnSmith.Resume.doc

John.SalesManager.doc

This is also important because if a recruiter needs to go back and find you in the system, they can easily do so by searching your name in the database. This also holds true if someone is referring you. Your resume needs to be easily found should the recruiter want to pull up your file. 

#8 – Make Sure You Are Qualified For The Job.

To sum it all up, make sure you meet the qualifications of the job posting. Blindly sending out tons of resumes is a waste of your time.

It’s better to take your time and go through each job description to verify that you’re qualified. The ATS are designed to see if the candidate is a good match for the job and verify that he or she has the qualifications needed.

However, don’t be discouraged from applying for jobs where you meet most of the qualifications. If a position asks for 2 years of experience and you only have one, go for it anyway!

Patience and persistence are the names of the game now. It may take longer than you anticipated, or you could find the ideal fit quite quickly. Stay with it to step up to your next opportunity!

If all this overwhelms you…

Remember, you can always hire a professional. Whether you’re needing a Resume update, Cover Letter, Recruitment Services or LinkedIn Profile Optimization, our team at PWU has what you need.

Follow the link for a free resume review and consultation. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca