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

The Rise of Video Interviews

The Rise of Video Interviews

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

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

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

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

So how to prepare for yours?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Test your technology

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

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

Charge it up

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

Testing, testing ….

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

Prepare for the Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Woo Hiring Managers During The Interview Process

Interview Advice

Preparation is key to having a successful interview.  Making a strong impression and giving the proper consideration to those who are interviewing you, including hiring managers, will go a long way.  Here are some great tips to help you prepare.   

Original article click here.

 

While it’s easy to think you’re the center of attention during a job search or interview, you’re actually wrong.

Although 92 percent of job seekers fear something about the interview process, hiring managers have a lot of pressure, too. Hiring managers are expected to select candidates who possess strong skills and experience while also making a great cultural fit.

As you prepare for your upcoming job interview, here are five things to keep in mind that will help the hiring manager make a decision in your favor:

1. Think ahead and be prepared.

Landing a job interview is like striking gold. After weeks of searching for jobs, submitting applications, and networking with employers, securing a job interview is a rewarding feeling.

When the interview process begins, the hiring manager may follow up with you before the job interview itself. Whether it’s via phone or email, be prepared for this communication. This initial contact is a chance for the hiring manager to screen you prior to the interview.

If the hiring manager schedules a phone call before your interview, have all of your bases covered. Thoroughly research the company, have your resume in front of you, and a list of references available. You should also have a few questions prepared just in case because this shows the hiring manager you are eager to land the job and will be prepared for the upcoming interview.

2. Relax and be yourself.

During every job interview, hiring managers want to learn about the real you. Sure, while they don’t care about the fact you love watching Netflix on the weekends, they do care about what makes you unique.

When you enter the job interview, think of it as another networking opportunity. The only difference is you need to market your best qualities and skills to the interviewer. Tell the interviewer about your work-related interests, relevant experience, and things you enjoy most about your career.

3. Demonstrate why you love the company.

Hiring managers love talking to candidates who’ve invested their time in getting to know the company and develop a relationship with it. During the interview, explain to the interviewer how you genuinely care about the growth of the company and how you plan to contribute to its success.

Take a look at any unique challenges the organization faces and come up with some solutions to the problem. This shows hiring managers you’ve done your research and you’re enthusiastic about working for their organization.

4. Prove your interpersonal communication skills.

Anyone can say they’re a team player or they are good listeners. However, to help hiring managers make a good decision, you need to be able to prove these interpersonal communication skills.

To prove your interpersonal communication skills, be ready to answer any question regarding your experience working in a team or making decisions. Bring plenty of accomplishment stories relating to your communication skills that demonstrate your success working in a team, too. This will show the hiring manager what you can accomplish and the strength of your communication skills.

5. Follow up with what you learned from the interview.

Every job seeker knows you need to follow up with a thank you letter after the interview. However, to make a sincere first impression, you should share what you learned from the interview in your thank you note. This shows the hiring manager you paid attention to details during the interview and were genuinely invested in the opportunity.

When job seekers understand what hiring managers expect out of a job interview, it can make the interview run more smoothly and work in your favor. Always remember to do your homework on the employer, prepare relevant accomplishment stories, and remember to ask thoughtful questions. This will give you the opportunity to help the hiring manager make a better decision and choose you for the position.

What tips do you have for helping the interviewer during the hiring process?

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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!