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

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

Building Your Senior Management Team

BUilding your senior-level management team

In the startup stage of every enterprise, it’s a matter of survival to create the most cost-effective operating system.  Naturally, this requires owners to do as much as possible on their own. But with growth comes a massive shortage of time which means eventually, building your senior management team will need mandatory.

Especially if your plan is to take the business to the next level.

Building the best team demands matching people’s strengths to specific jobs.  So while your best buddy from grade school may feel like the right choice, you’ll still need to cross-reference strengths and skills to job requirements prior to signing an offer letter.

When assembling a senior team, you’ll want to take the time and consider all the critical areas of your business. At the rudimentary level, we’ve assembled a thorough recap of senior-level roles. 

A Breakdown of the Roles.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

Basically, and without much exaggeration, the CEO is the boss of everyone and everything (but reports to the Board of Directors). Realistically, you’ll either be the CEO or hire someone more suited to the depth of the role. Which is not entirely uncommon. 

Owners are oftentimes ‘too close to the center’ when it comes to determining the company’s executive strategy. Therefore, hiring your own boss is fundamentally in the company’s best interest. 

Your CEO will have the ability to rise above the daily details and decide where the industry and business are headed. An exceptional CEO must be a remarkable strategic thinker.  They must be able to decide the company’s best route for navigating the future market conditions. 

That being said, the CEO’s ultimate skill is in hiring and firing. It is essential to assemble the right management team as support for your CEO. As a result, your chosen CEO will need to be able to identify and hire the best, fire the ones who don’t work out, and run the show all the same.

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

A COO handles a company’s complex operational details. Think about UPS moving three billion packages in the two weeks before Christmas: The company’s COO ensures the business can deliver day after day. Their team creates the systems to track the measurements and take action when the company isn’t delivering as expected.

When ensuring smooth operations become a big part of your business, it’s time to hire someone who revels in measurements, operations, and details.

President

To be honest, the role of a president is a little less specific than other executive team members. Presidents can oversee staff functions–human resources, finance, and strategy–while the COO oversees daily operations. In some organizations, the title of president is a synonym for COO, especially in smaller companies. Sometimes, the president fills gaps left by the COO and CEO. Other times, the title goes to someone you want at the strategy table but who doesn’t have an obvious C-level title.

Additionally, not every enterprise needs a president as many find this title fully covered by the efforts of a CEO and COO.  All things to consider when looking at your own enterprise.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Plain and simple, your CFO handles the money. They create budgets and financing strategies. They figure out if it’s better for your business to lease or buy. Then they build the control systems that monitor your company’s financial health. Money is your business’s blood, and in entrepreneurship, cash flow is everything.

If you don’t know the difference between cash flow and profit–go find yourself a CFO.

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Many current business battles are battles of marketing. Especially when corporate strategy hinges on marketing strategy. As a result, companies have been bringing in a marketing expert at the C-level rather than as a traditional vice president role. 

The CMO owns the marketing strategy–and that often includes implementation of the sales strategy. Your CMO will learn your industry inside out and help you position your product/service, differentiate it from your competitors’, enlist distributors, and make sure customers learn to crave your product.

If your business’s success depends mainly on marketing, you need a CMO. That could be you–but only if you have time to keep up with competitors, oversee the marketing plan, and still do the rest of your job–and do it well.

Otherwise, you need to look for the person with the right kind of buzz for the job, ready to keep up on what’s hot and what’s not.

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

This role is only really significant if your business or industry is impacted by technology. Specifically, if your company’s chosen programming language affects the overall company strategy. In this case, you may need a CTO.

Is your enterprise tech-based? If so, delve into your professional network and find yourself a strategic thinker rooted in the tech industry. If you are not tech-based, you can sit this hiring process out and keep the focus on the above mentioned senior-level roles.

Building Your Senior Management Team

Ultimately, trust your instincts when interviewing and hiring. You have successfully grown your business to the level of needing an executive team, which is a major win all in itself.

As always with leadership; hire smart, fire fast, keep working that strategy to get the work done.

If you need inspiration for job postings at the Executive and Senior-Level, we’ve got some great site resources available in our Career Help section.

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

Do I Need Multiple Versions Of My Resume?

It’s a common question.  Do I need multiple versions of my resume? 

This is an important issue to discuss because a lot of professionals tend to develop a background in at least three, or even more, thematic work areas as time and their careers progress. In this article, we show both sides of the equation and the reasoning behind them. 

Spoiler alert:  The short answer is no but let’s discuss all angles.

In modern business practices, job seekers develop a wide range of skills and experiences. It is competitive out there and staying ahead of the game requires diversification. For example, some job applicants have worked in human resources, communications, and event planning. 

“The quote I got from XYZ Resume Writers which says I need 3 different resumes and to focus on one specialization to keep the resume simple. Do I really need multiple versions of my resume?”

This perspective and business model is, more times than not, a reflection of the individual writer’s underdeveloped skill set.  It takes finesse to really shape the context of a work history into a professional format with high success rates.

So, can HR, Communications, and Event Planning all be covered in a single resume? 

We believe in a resounding YES. A professional resume writer with extensive years of experience can formulate diverse history into a keyword-rich resume that exceeds expectations.

It’s not what you’ve done in the past, but rather the direction you plan to go next.

There are always transferable skills that help ease the transition and bridge roles.

A written format that highlights all the skills acquired in these roles and draws a bigger picture directed towards the roles you are aiming for. 

Without the resume reading as cluttered and indigestible to the reader’s eye.

professional resume writer uses keywords for success

It’s about streamlining without losing focus on keywords. It’s about representing your assets with varying themes and keeping it tidy.

Plus, it is time-consuming to keep modifying a major chunk of your resume just to highlight focus. Why pay a writer to create a product which you then have to babysit and micro manage?

All this is assuming you are maintaining your current career path. 

Now, if you’re jumping entire industries or career fields then, yes, perhaps it may be necessary to have more than one resume in your toolkit.

For example, you started out as a roofer and then became a builder and later moved into sales of roofing products. As part of your role, you were very involved in a new software implementation and you’ve decided to go into IT. That sort of transition requires a finely-tuned eye to keep the right content, and minimize or eliminate the (less) valuable content…. relating directly to how the resume performs for you.

Additionally, If there’s too much going on it can be difficult for recruiters to judge whether you are actually good at the role they want you to perform. Again, a really strong resume writer will help direct the keywords and content to be heavy in the direction you want to go.

That being said, if you are looking to change career paths, Power Writers USA is here to help reshape your resume for success across your entire search. Feel free to connect with us for a free consultation and resume review.

Remember, the name of the game is algorithms and ATS filters, which is everybody’s challenge right now.  The past few years, formatting styles have changed and with that in mind, we’d love to take a look at what specifics points our team can do to improve the impact your resume makes across all your ideal job prospects.

Q4 Outlook for San Francisco 2019

Q4 Outlook 2019 San Francisco

To begin with, we want you to know we have good news in the 2019 Q4 outlook. According to data-driven insights from the leading global workforce solutions company ManpowerGroup, Q4 in the San Francisco area is promising.

Hiring trends were found pretty much EVERYWHERE.

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Nondurable Goods Manufacturing
  • Transportation & Utilities
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Information and Financial Activities
  • Professional & Business Services
  • Leisure & Hospitality
  • Government

Correspondingly, positive job forecasts were reported across all 50 states with 100 of the largest metro areas reporting a +20% national Outlook for Q4 2019.  This is a 1 percent increase from the previous year-over-year report.

To put in perspective, the last time this survey reported a Q4 Net Employment Outlook as high as +20% was in the fourth quarter of 2006.  See, we told you we had good news!

Relating back to ManpowerGroup® findings specifically for the Bay Area

  • employers are expected to hire at a solid pace of 23 percent growth
  • 25 percent plan to hire more employees from October through December.
  • 2 percent plan to reduce payrolls
  • 72 percent expect to maintain current staff levels
  • 1 percent indicate they are not sure of their hiring plans.

Interestingly, a study of 2800 IT leaders reported the challenge was finding skilled technology professionals. The study was conducted by Robert Half Technologies and was sectioned into major cities accordingly.

We loving this great little infographic made by the team at Robert Half which speaks directly to the state of high tech specifically in San Francisco.

Yes, the tech skills shortage is real.

In previous blogs we’ve talked tech growth and hiring trends, so we’re already aware of the industry boom, however, closing Q4 this strong is a great thing to report. While all aspects of IT have a need for quality employees, if you’re less than fulfilled in your current role or just starting out, now is most certainly the time to revisit the resume.

Our team at PWU engages with all sectors, specifically hundreds of IT professionals. Our business model is perfected for navigating ATS and recruiter profiling. Connect with us when you plan to make career moves through Q4 2019 and beyond.

Generational Patterns – Looking ahead at 2020

Whether you’re just beginning your career or considering a change in your professional workplace, 2020 looks to be a promising year for job seekers across the country.  According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, projections are showing 20.5 million new jobs will be added in 2020 with an additional 5.5 million replacement jobs becoming available. Many of which resulting from baby boomer retirements.

Consistent Increase in Baby Boomer Retirements.

Did you know that in most recent population projections from the U.S Census Bureau, millennials are projected to overtake boomers in the workforce by 2021?  As one generation nestles into retirement we’re seeing the balance tip towards new job opportunities for Americas 20-35-year-old professionals.

Is High Education the Only Way?

When our team reviewed job postings by title and education attainments, the stats reflected a relatively fair split across all matters of educational achievements.

  • 35 percent will require at least a Bachelors degree.
  • 30 percent will require some college or an Associate degree.
  • 35 percent not requiring education beyond high school.

In addition, the data also reflected that among the fasted growing occupations the highest-paid do require higher levels of education.  

Relating back to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics findings; among the 30 fastest growing and highest-paid occupations are Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists with a 41.2 percent projected increase in 2020 and Biomedical Engineers with a 61.7 percent projected increase in 2020. Both of these occupations require a Bachelor’s degree for almost all entry-level positions.

See the full list here https://www.bumc.bu.edu/gms/files/2012/02/Top-30-fastest.pdf

Cause & Effect

Does this data link back to the high-volume retirements of boomer-aged professionals? Consider how the aging population requires a greater focus on health issues which drive demand for better medical devices, equipment, data analysts and sales forces. Seems to us like a societal representation of cause and effect in its truest form.

At any rate, there’s never been a better time to review your cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile to consider what professionally written updates can be made to land you in front of a great opportunity in 2020.

Every career change is unique and our team at Power Writers is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, and LinkedIn Profile Updates.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!

Cover Letters – Do I Need One?

interview questions

You may be wondering if you need a cover letter to compliment your resume when applying for jobs. Are you asking yourself “What difference will it make or can it make?” Let’s discuss when you should send a cover letter and why.

Essentially we should be sending a cover letter along with our resumes to hiring managers unless they specifically say otherwise. Here are the two main reasons:

  1. You can speak directly to your specific qualifications and why these make you the best candidate for the job. Your cover letter allows you to tell employers “who you are” and align your experience and career with their business needs.
  2. The cover letter is used to send a targeted message specific to each job/career for which you are applying.

It is possible to find numerous examples of how to write a cover letter and what the best formatting options are. However, when you work with our professional resume writers you will get the benefit of experience, past client feedback, and current formatting to optimize the ROI. In addition, it can be a struggle to capture who you are on paper. This is why it helps to have a professional writer head the effort.

The window of opportunity to make a strong first impression can be a narrow one. This is especially true when the job market is flooded. The higher the volume of job seekers the more challenging it is to grab the attention of hiring managers. Once you have their attention your cover letter needs to be strong enough to hold it.

Knowing what to put in your cover letter is important, however, knowing what not to add is just as important. In a blog written by Joe Matar titled, 6 Things Your Cover Letter Should Never Say (But Probably Does)

The author talks about the need for your cover letter to be concise. The cover letter is your opportunity to fashion a direct message to the company. Joe Matar explains that saying “a skills and experience section” will not have as much impact compared to telling the story of your career and the value you bring. The same goes for this statement: “I want to work in this industry”. It does not show the employer your passion for their particular company. You want the hiring manager to know you are ready to invest yourself into the very specific needs of their business. Read more of what Joe Matar has to say on this here.

It is also important that you choose the appropriate letter type as well. For example your letter will read differently if you are applying for a specific job posting or you are simply inquiring about job opportunities within that particular company. Hiring managers should not be left guessing about your goals via the cover letter.

Before you start applying for jobs, be sure to invest time in creating a professional cover letter. Make the cover letter concise and direct. This document is an invaluable tool in ushering you through to the interview process in your job search. Use this opportunity to show future employers who you are, and why they need you on their team.


Power Writers USA wants to know what you think of this, and other blog articles we post.  Your career change is unique and PWU is here to help you along the way with Resume Writing Services, Cover Letter Writing, CV’s, LinkedIn Profiles Updates, and more.  Contact us now for a free consultation and resume evaluation!