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

The Careful Art of Negotiating Your First Salary

Professional resumes writing services will help you negotiate your salary

We want to see all our clients succeed in business and to get paid what they are worth for the hard work and dedication they put into their education, training, and careers.  On top of offering resume writing services we strive to provide great articles on our blog regarding many aspects of career development, hiring, interviewing, etc. for your reference.  This is a great little article on negotiating salary as someone entering the job market out of school.  A lot of people take a job offer and salary at face value but don’t be afraid to ask for something different, what’s the worst that can happen, right?

 

Salary negotiation is always challenging, but it’s especially intimidating for young grads starting their careers. Any how-to on salary negotiation will advise you to use your skills and experience as leverage. So, how do you make a strong case for yourself when you don’t have a lot of ammunition?

First of all – do negotiate. Some studies have shown that negotiating a few-thousand dollars more can add up to one million more in total earnings over the course of your career. Here’s my advice for young job-seekers on keeping their negotiation tactics professional, friendly, data-driven, and timely when they receive their first offer.

 

  1. Be enthusiastic. Even if the offer is lower than you expected, an offer is an offer. Always be gracious and express excitement before you begin to discuss details.
  2. Unless it’s the most perfect offer ever, don’t feel the need to accept (or negotiate) right away. Even if pushed to accept, ask to review the offer in writing if you’d like more time. It’s important to be able to weigh your options and do some research on how the offer stacks up. That being said, don’t take too much time. They have a job they need to fill.
  3. Do use the offer call (or email) to ask about benefits in addition to salary. When you’re doing your research after the call, make sure you know a typical salary benefits range. A full-time, but hourly gig might not come with benefits, whereas some of the best companies provide benefits that end up being worth 50% of your salary. Consider your entire package.
  4. Speaking of the whole package – look at vacation time, moving allowance, and signing bonus. It’s not typical for entry-level employees to be offered all of these, but it’s important to know if any are not included, as you may be able to negotiate these into your offer. Plus, moving bonuses are definitely worth bringing up if you’re moving to a new city.
  5. Be prompt. Once you’ve researched, respond quickly. Email is your friend. It allows you to collect your thoughts, craft ideal responses and put your best foot forward during the negotiation.
  6. Lead with enthusiasm. You’re still interested in the job and want to make it work. Then, bring up what you want to discuss.
    • If you’re going to ask for something, be prepared to explain what you want, why you want it, and if possible, how it will benefit the company. Example: “I’d like to start on X instead of the Y as I would benefit from some extra moving time and then be able to start with all of my energy focused on learning the job.”
    • If you’re going to ask for more money, don’t assume that saying their offer is lower than the average will work. Compliment your research with an explanation of what you want and why. Take the PayScale Salary Survey for detailed insight into how this offer compares to similar ones. This will allow you to justify your rationale for a higher salary. It is important to be data driven when negotiating.
    • Be thoughtful about what you ask. I’ve seen someone who was offered a $50,000 salary ask for $60,000. That’s a 20 percent increase. When you consider that a typical yearly increase is between two and three percent, and promotions are typically are usually between eight and 12 percent, that person essentially asked for the equivalent of two promotions. (Remember, be data driven!) Be ambitious, but realistic about what you ask for, and always back up your request with data about the company, the job title and the role’s responsibilities – not second-hand knowledge you’ve heard from friends or family.
    • Accept or Decline. At some point, you’re going to either have to accept or decline. Show either positive enthusiasm or that you’re grateful for the offer. If it’s not going to work for you, it’s not going to work for you. Bow out with grace. You don’t want to close off an opportunity for them to come back with another offer.

This article was originally posted here: http://www.payscale.com/salary-negotiation-guide/the-art-of-negotiating-your-first-job-offer