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

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

Employee Engagement Drives Performance

Employee engagement drives company performance

Last week, we talked about mental health in the workplace. Now we can draw a line directly between positive mental health and employee engagement.  This is simply due to the basis of a person who is engaged, generally has a greater sense of purpose in their daily practices. And, purpose along with employee engagement, drives performance.

Which, ultimately leads to better decision-making. 

Companies that rank high in the employee engagement area are Google, Virgin, Cisco, Salesforce, Hilton, Dreamworks Animation, American Express, and the list goes on. 

Employee Engagement By Definition

“Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.”

That being said, employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction.

So what’s the difference?

Employee Satisfaction only indicates how happy or content your employees are on a daily basis. For some employees, being satisfied means working close to home and with nice people. Others are just collecting a paycheck and doing as little work as possible.

Examples of employee satisfaction are

  • Work hours
  • Office location
  • Commute length
  • Flexibility
  • Company culture
  • Office politics
  • Leadership tone
  • Consistency 
  • Workload
  • Social status
  • Health & Safety
  • Trust

The list is extensive and we could go father than those listed above.

As a result, job satisfaction is how employees think and feel about their jobs.  

A satisfied employee may view their job as enjoyable, fulfilling and meaningful.  Whereas, a dissatisfied employee can view their job as pointless, demeaning and stressful.

So, why is employee engagement important?

Employee engagement drives performance which goes beyond the day to day normals. Going further, employee engagement drives performance. Engaged employees look at the whole of the company and understand their purpose, where, and how they fit in. 

In addition to this, employee engagement addresses their level of motivation, involvement, and emotional commitment to the job, the company, and their co-workers.

So how is this achieved?  Here are a few examples:

1. Assign company values

Assign one of your company’s values to a certain employee, every month, based on a peer voting process. The person who best represented that value can be set as an example and properly acknowledged for their actions.

2. Encourage personal projects.

Dreamwork Animation does through a short story initiative.  Designers pitch short stories where the winners are awarded the time and team resources to bring the animation to life!  

Depending on your company, personal projects can bring different departments together and connect employees outside of the on-going routine.  All of which benefits the overall engagement of everyone involved.

3. Assign a buddy/mentor for every newcomer.

If your organization is on the large side, this engagement tip can make a HUGE impact. Onboarding, as we know, is critical to your new employee’s ability to adapt and gain an early sense of achievement. As a result, a trustworthy relationship is built with someone more experienced in the company that can guide the newcomer. 

4. Encourage charity.

Perhaps there’s a cause that aligns with your company’s mission. You can empower employees to team up and raise money for that cause, in a friendly but competitive manner. 

5. Encourage volunteering

Volunteer-for-a-cause is a great way to allow the team to gain a deeper connection to their jobs.. Give your employees dedicated time to volunteer for a cause they support. 

6. Celebrate achievements

Big or small, they are the solid proof that the work people are putting in has meaning. No one can go through tasks and assignments for months or even years without burning out. Refill the team’s energy tanks with some recognition and celebrate hard work. This is also a great way to foster a stronger team function.

7. Have themed office days.

For the more open-minded companies, this initiative can bring a lot of fun.. Have a Hat Day. Maybe a March 14th, Pi Day where people can bring in pie-like treats. Seasonal Theme Days can help break up the looping annual routines. 

The range is diverse and can really boost up employee morale.  Not to mention, pleasantly fracture monotony in the work routine.

8. Celebrate your people!

Birthdays, promotions, retirements, newcomers welcoming, there are plenty of important moments where people can be put at the front of the company. They literally make the company and it’s a great and relaxing way of showing them that they matter.

Cultivate Top Performers.

The goal of Customer Engagement practices is to develop as many top performers as possible.

Top performers embrace change. They search out ways to improve themselves and challenge the status quo. These achievers hold themselves accountable for delivering results. 

Whereas, low performers avoid accountability, cling to the status quo, and resist change.

Outperform the Competition.

There’s plenty of stats out there on organizations with an engaged workforce outperforming their competition. Companies have reported higher earning per share (EPS) and faster recovery after recessions and financial setbacks. Engagement is a key differentiator when it comes to growth and innovation. 

As a result, a company that has an effective employee engagement strategy and a highly engaged workforce is more likely to retain top performers as well as attract new talent.

Moreover, the expectations of employees have changed.  Mobile professional careers are much more common than “job for lifers”. Also, the retention of top talent is more difficult than before.

The bottom-line, successful organizations are value-driven with employee-centric cultures.

How does your organization measure up?

Tune in next week when we goo deeper into how employee engagement is measured in the workforce. We’ll discuss how to measure employee engagement.  Along with what is needed to prepare a readiness assessment and embark on a value-added engagement survey.

Pursuing a Career in Data

Pursuing career in data

Over the years skilled data analysts have become one of the most sought-after professionals in the world. The reasoning? Supply and Demand. With the mass increase in companies relying on data as a business tool, the need for analysts has boomed. As a result, trends are in favor of those pursuing a career in data.

The pool of educated and experienced data analysts is limited.

On the supply side of the equation, there has been a consistent lack of skilled and experienced professionals to fill the increasing demand. Due to this shortage, even at the entry-level, data analysts can command huge salaries and excellent perks.

What do Data Analysts do?

Right now, some of the top jobs in data analysis involve helping employers make investment decisions, target customers, assess risks or help decide on capital allocations.

As data analysts, you probe through mountains of data to spot trends, make forecasts, and extract information. This, in turn, helps employers make better-informed business decisions. 

The career path a data analyst can take depends, in large part, on what industry holds there interest. As a result, they could work at big investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. They could also work in health care, marketing, retail, and/or insurance.

In general, data analysts are everywhere.

As a matter of fact, financial institutions such as investment banks are a great entry-level career direction. Doors to management can be opened when highly-skilled data analysts excel in this area.

After all, who better to shepherd new hires into the company than you?

Tech companies are big business.

Big tech companies such as Facebook and Google analyze big data to a dizzying degree. To do so, they employ many of the top data analysts for a variety of purposes including advertising and internal and user analysis.

Moreover, it’s widely known that technology changes rapidly.

Due to this, the structural dynamics of tech companies are constantly evolving. New departments are created that incorporate new challenges and pursue new market opportunities.

Data analysts who excel in their existing tech roles are oftentimes the first chosen as leaders of these newly created departments. 

Data Analyst – Education

For those interested in pursuing a career in data, the majority of colleges in the US offer data analytics or data science as both a major or minor. Beyond the bachelor’s degree, there’s also a vast number of data science master’s programs.

That being said, if you’re interested in building your skills in a more flexible or shorter timeframe there are also multiple certification programs and courses available from a variety of educational institutions.

Graduating from a data analysis program with a strong grade point average should lead to an entry-level data analysis position without much trouble.

Alternatively, even a less-focused degree in mathematics, statistics or economics is enough to get your foot in the door.

Data Analyst – Annual Compensation

Some of the top jobs in data analysis can reach as high $100,000 annually during the first year out of college. Experienced professionals are making double that or more.

With that in mind, education is often the most important thing on your resume when applying for a data analyst job. Few people get hired without strong academic performances in math-related fields of study.

Data Analyst Career Paths

Overall, data analysts are good at working with numbers and details. Additionally, they are confident and organized in managing multiple tasks, data programs, and data flows.

You’ll also have strong presentation skills. Typically, with this role, you are required to present your analysis visually and/or orally on a regular basis.

A solid rule, pick an industry that sparks interest. Then pursue the education that backs you up. As mentioned, data analysts are in great demand. Choose wisely and have fun pursuing a career in data.

14 Potential Career Directions:

  • Business analyst
  • Management reporting
  • Corporate strategy analyst
  • Compensation and benefits analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Insurance underwriting analyst
  • Actuary
  • Sales analytic
  • Web analytics
  • Fraud analytics
  • Credit analytics
  • Business product analyst
  • Social media data analyst
  • Machine learning analyst

For resume guidance, our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization, Interview Coaching, and Recruitment Services. 

Connect with us here for a free 15-minute consultation. 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

4 Career Benefits of the Holiday Season

4 career benefits of the holiday season

The holidays are just around the corner and with them are a much-needed break. For many, especially if you’ve recently started a new job, it’s tempting to skip the holiday downtime for fear it will reflect badly on your productivity. Truly though, with a bit of planning and heart, these 4 holiday season career benefits

1. Taking breaks improves productivity

It’s easy to believe that working late and not taking time off means you will get more work done. However, recent research has found that when working long hours, employees lose creativity while also find it hard to maintain the same intensity level in their work. So, by working yourself too hard, it could actually be detrimental to the quality of your work.

A better strategy is to budget your time around daily, weekly, monthly tasks.

Especially if you’re seeking to maximize the career benefits of the holiday season.

To help manage the workload try assembling a plan.  Take early stock of all high-level tasks that must be finished before your break.  Write these into your schedule and tag them for importance.  This is your mandatory list.

Secondly, form a list of mid-level tasks.  These are the non-immediate-but-overall-important tasks that will greatly benefit current and upcoming workflows.

Lastly, write yourself a bonus list. I find this one the most fun to write.  These are the tasks that if you got to them, it would be considered stepping ahead of your goals. Be specific here to help guide the process.

What small elements would boost your current progress to the next level?

These 3 lists combined will not only gain you traction on the current momentum, but they’ll also greatly ease your mind when away from the office.

2. You’ll be healthier

If you don’t take the time off to relax and unwind, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming overly stressed. We all know stress has negative implications for your health with outcomes such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression.

It’s important to look after yourself, as well as your workload. 

With an increase in spending and pressure of family, it can be easy to lose focus on your self-care needs at this time of year. 

Now is a great time to use those massage gift certificates or max out the annual health benefits package.  Book the acupuncture, check-in with the chiropractor, make the time for a little pampering.

3. Quality time with loved ones

Chances are that if you’re working long hours, you don’t get to spend as much time with your loved ones as you’d like to.

By taking this annual leave from work, you set time aside to connect and appreciate, whether it be at home or on a trip together. Spending time with your friends and family may be just what you need to unwind and improve your mood after a stressful period at work.

4. Work-Life balance is important

If a good work-life balance is not met in your job, it’s likely that you will start to build negative feelings towards work or your employer. In order to be happy at work and maintain the drive to work to the best of your ability, it’s important for you to balance work and your personal life.

There is so much to do and see in the world, which just isn’t going to happen from the confines of your office. Take a break and experience new things, or you may regret it later.

If you’ve been meaning to take up a new hobby, this could be your chance to give it a go and you never know, it may even open doors to new opportunities in the future. Step away from the computer and go enjoy yourself over the holidays! 

As always, if needed, our team at PWU is here to help. We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization and Recruiter Services. Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

The Resume Format Employers Prefer

employer preferred resume formats

Resumes come in many shapes and sizes. When written and presented properly, they are like a key, opening doors of opportunity all along their path. If a resume has a purpose, it is to make an employer interested enough to invite you in for an interview. That thought in mind, it got us thinking about what resume format employers prefer.

Structurally, there are two favored resume formats. Functional and Chronological. That being said, each has its own advantages depending on individual needs.

Below we share details on both these formats and how they affect your job search process.

Functional Resumes – Highlight Abilities

The goal of a functional resume is to showcase all the strengths and benefits of the individual’s work history. When looking at specific job postings, this style of resume will pull focus to skills and emphasize the depth of these abilities.

As an example, this format is particularly beneficial to people who

  • are beginning their career
  • have gaps in their work history
  • are reentering the workforce
  • have a history of frequent job changes
  • are looking to change career paths

As a rule, functional resumes work well in situations where acquired skills are very transferable. For example, if you have worked as a retail manager, chances are you were responsible for hiring, training, coaching, evaluating and handling employee relations issues.

Start with a summary.

All resumes should start with a strong summary. However, summaries are of extra value in functional formats since this is the beginning of the career success story. Since the aim is to slightly hide the specifics of work history while really shining a spotlight on strengths.

Along with your educational background, you’ll still need to summarize work history, but this is usually done at the bottom of your resume with graceful writing practices.

Chronological Resumes

The chronological resume is the most preferred by employers. It is straightforward and easy to scan. When executed properly, it clearly shows the progression of a career.

As it emphasizes work history, the chronological resume is most effective for candidates with solid experience in their field.  By showcasing your work history front and center, we can immediately show the employer that you have relatable experience.

As mentioned, this type of resume contains an objective and/or summary statement designed to open the conversation on your career story. It is vital to ensure that your dates are all accurate. Check the timeline once and then check it again. There is no room for work history errors.

Both resume formats draw natural attention to educational information along with any specific certifications and additional training.

It all comes down to how you package yourself.

Overall, employers seem to prefer chronological formatting. With this in mind, there’s no need to be discouraged if your story is better told in a functional style. In this case, use the format that shows your experience in the best light. The goal is to get the interview and increase your chance of landing the job you want.

Need help?  Our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization and Recruiter Services.

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

Overcoming Job Search Pain Points

Overcoming job search pain points

Without question, the process of job hunting is daunting. Truly this is a result of extreme competitiveness and a constantly evolving workforce no matter the industry.  The game has changed dramatically over the years so we assembled 6 points on overcoming job search pain points.

1. Working with Recruiters.

Recent studies we looked at found the average job posting gets 200-250+ applications. This, in turn, requires recruiters to work at quick paces to process applications in the hopes of finding ideal candidates.

Being seen is a much-understood frustration. So how do you aid the process?

Firstly, we recommended asking around your network to identify any possible recruiter referrals. Reach out, ask questions and see if you can set up some coffee meetings or quick phone conversations.  

You’re looking for a tenured recruiter that supports your skillset and has strong lines of recommendations. Keep in mind, you don’t have to be applying for a specific position to start the dialogue with a recruiter.  Just open a conversation and see where it goes.

Additionally, if no known recruiters come up in your network, generate a list of 2-3 reputable staffing firms in your area and start making calls.

Lastly, always remember, LinkedIn is the hotpot of professional networking. A search of your industry should pull up recruiters who specialize in what it is you have to offer.

2. Self-elimination.

Too often, job seekers aren’t taking chances when applying for positions.  A common phrase we hear is “Well, I can’t apply to position YXZ because it lists skills I don’t have.” 

We can’t stress this statement enough: Apply for or pursue positions even if you don’t have every skill or asset the position lists. It’s common for managers writing job descriptions to overshoot the actualities just to cover all bases. 

As a job seeker, apply the 80:20 rule during the application process. Apply for positions where you meet about 80%+ of the definitive requirements.  This is especially true if the position is within your desired industry and on your passion forward career path. 

3. Getting lost in the Applicant Tracking System.

Previously, we’ve talked extensively about the joys and wonders of ATS software.  To beat the algorithms, one must play the keyword game strategically.  Check out our blog from last week here for a few tips on ensuring your resume is ATS compatible.

4. Low Confidence.

It’s not uncommon for professionals to experience low confidence during job search processes. If you need a confidence boost, try some of these tactics:

Engage in self-reflection on why you’re a fit for each position you apply for.  Get out a pen and write a list of why you’re qualified for the position. 

Re-visualize a past, positive interview, essentially re-living it.  Close your eyes and go through the interview again, focusing on the details which contributed to a positive outcome.

Practice and repeat. Preparation is great for minimizing anxiety and ensuring you deliver a strong interview.  Instead of simply jotting down pieces of your elevator pitch or how you’d answer common interview questions, take the time to practice.

5. Network Leveraging.

Referrals are still the top resource managers and recruiters use to identify ideal candidates. Not only do referrals require less time to generate than other hiring channels but they statistically lead to a higher success rate. Referrals consistently prove to be better long-term performers. 

Yet, on the flip side, many job seekers are timid about engaging their network. Try making a ‘Network Outreach List’ of those who you could contact about possible openings in their companies. Then simply reach out and communicate.

 “I’m looking for a new job.  Is your company hiring? 

6. Always the Bridesmaid.

You know the saying and in job search, it goes more like this: “I keep being told that I was the second-place candidate” or “I was out beaten by another applicant, again.” 

There’s a lot we can say here, but it boils down to a few points.

Focus on building rapport in every interaction to increase your memorability. Whether it’s conscious or not, managers are more likely to lean towards candidates who they felt a connection with over candidates they didn’t. 

Engage in small talk, identifying commonalities, use their name multiple times during the interview. Be real. Be authentic. Establishing connections can be incredibly helpful in increasing your chances of getting selected. 

Finally, don’t sweat it. If all this overwhelms you, our team at PWU has just what you need.  We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization, Interview Coaching, and Recruitment Services. 

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

How To Properly Express Career Skills

properly expressing career skills

Sure, we get it.  Talking about yourself can be tricky.  You want to sound proud but at the same time not sound like you’re bragging.  You want to sound highly skilled but not come across as a know it all. Without a doubt, one of the top 3 client frustrations we hear is how to properly express career skills. 

If you’re new to the workforce than a shortage of well-rounded skills can be a limitation. For those with extensive years of work history, the challenge becomes that of streamlining an entire career into a cohesive, easy to read, list of skills. 

The goal is to get that interview.  Here are a few tips we use to keep the message tidy and descriptive.

Skills to Put on a Resume

Stating that you worked as a brand manager at Company XYZ is no longer enough to secure a job interview.  Even if you’re applying for the same position at another company.  The job market is heavily saturated so recruiters and hiring managers are seeking a combination of skills and specific traits associated with job titles. 

So, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what skills should be listed on your resume.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the basic skills to show off.

1. Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are specific universal abilities. The most sought-after skills recruiters want to see include:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Leadership
  3. General Organization, Motivation, and Time Management Skills
  4. Communication Skills
  5. Creativity
  6. Analytical or Critical Thinking and Numeracy Skills

These are skills we can all relate too however not everyone can deliver efficiently.

Take public speaking for example. Not everyone can handle the stress of standing in front of an audience, especially that of skeptical clients or stakeholders. That’s why you should provide examples of what it looks like when you use that skill.

Put the skill in the context of actual achievement to show hiring managers the impact you have when you’re in action.

2. Job Specific Skills and ATS Keywords

To sieve through large numbers of resumes, companies are turning to applicant tracking systems. This software crawls through applications in search of specific words and phrases, including skill keywords.

Here’s the problem — the algorithms behind the software understand only as much as you tell them. You can’t depend on them to infer your skillset from the jobs you’ve held.

So, how can you improve your chances of having your skills recognized by a resume reading robot? Check out our previous article on how to optimize your resume for ATS for a few tips.

Sharing your unique set of skills requires more than just listing your skills one-by-one in the skills section. To stand out from the crowd, be specific.

If you lead a team of sales representatives, don’t just add “leadership” to the list, share more details like the example below:

Leadership Skills

  1. Lead a team of 4 sales representatives who generated 25% of total sales revenue and outperformed 7 remaining teams.
  2. Motivated team to increase their productivity by 17%.

Being explicit about your abilities isn’t limited to general skills like communication skills, teamwork, or leadership. Do the same for technical skills as well.

A skills section should be the mainstay of any resume.

Ideally, a recruiter or hiring manager should glance at your skills section and see the requirements they’re seeking as well as your unique capabilities.

Need help?  Our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization and Recruiter Services. Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca