Category: keywords

Does a Cover Letter Still Matter? (Template Included)

When I was applying for jobs in the 1980 and 1990s, having an appropriate introductory cover letter was not only expected, but also practically mandatory to submit along with my resume. The cover letter was the golden key to open the door to at least getting an interview with HR. It set the tone for what is to come. Hiring managers were all about the cover letter back then.

Fast forward to the days of the digital job search market. Should you include a cover letter with a résumé? That all depends.

To cover letter or not?

Why write a cover letter?

Nowadays, résumé writers write a cover letter that is fit to a specific job and its qualifications. Known as a “personalized cover letter,” this introduction tells recruiters that you are uniquely qualified for the advertised position. You have the qualities they are looking for.

The Cover Letter Structure

When perusing a job ad, you must have a connection that compels you to want to apply. The key here is to do your homework. Research as much as you can about that company so you can show how your philosophy aligns with theirs. There is a saying that “people understand the intellect but connect emotionally. The heart will always rule over the head.” Therefore, the cover letter must capture the reader’s emotional attention. How do you do this?

Make this job personal. We had a client who came from another country and wanted to change careers. As a plant manager, she decided she had a passion for real estate. We researched the company she wanted to work for, wrote her story, aligning it with the CEO’s story and goals, and addressing each of the job requirements. She got the job in about two weeks! See the cover letter sample template below and some headings that you can use in your cover letter.

1.    Problems I Fix

2.    Areas I Excel In

3.    What I am Passionate About

4.    How I Contribute to Team Goals

5.    My Proudest Moments

You get the idea.

(Image credit hloom.com)

See the sample template below to help to write your own compelling, personalized cover letter.

=============================

JANE DOE

Hollywood, CA 10000 | 555-555-5555 | jdoe123@email.com

November 11, 2015

General Hospital

12345 Hollywood Road

Hollywood, CA 10000

Career Opportunity: E.R. Information Receptionist (Hollywood) ─ Department 56789 ─ Req. #ER56789

Dear Hiring Manager:

WHY GENERAL HOSPITAL?

When I read your “Life at General Hospital” mission statement on your website, I quickly connected to your core values, including “collaborative…a place that values diversity…devoted to compassionate and comprehensive care for patients.” Your open position for an ER information receptionist aligns perfectly with my goal of working in a supporting role in a hospital environment.

I’M PREPARED FOR THE POSITION

My 6 years serving as a police department desk clerk with the New York City Police Department has given me the skills, experience, and knowledge necessary to add value and excellence to your E.R. team. I believe that quality care at any hospital is a team effort and that everyone the patient or their family encounters needs to have the same passion and goal of delivering a quality care experience.

What Your
Needs Are
What I Bring to the
Table
Interpersonal
skills to
effectively
communicate &
collaborate.  
Experience handling a
busy information desk in one of the busiest
precincts in Manhattan.  
Treats
co-workers,
patients,
and families with dignity &
respect.
Promotes an
environment
sensitive to
cultural
diversity.
As an NYC Information Desk Clerk,
these are core values that I adhere to,
and strongly believe in. I communicated
with the public and maintained a calm
and professional demeanor with highly
diverse communities.  
Ability to
set
priorities,
solve
problems,
use
proper
judgment
in difficult
situations
and be
flexible.  
I can re-prioritize on a
dime, using my
judgment in high
pressure situations to
solve and address
problems.

I am excited at the possibility of becoming a part of your team. Please call (111)-870-8758 for an interview.

Respectfully,

Jane Doe

Jane Doe

Encl: Resume

========================

When writing your cover letter simply follow the list of job requirements that you have copied and pasted from the job advertisement. I suggest that you address at least 6 to 8 points in the right column filling in your career story and skills. If you are uncertain if your cover letter made it through the ATS to a human, then you can even send it by snail mail along with a handwritten stickie (brief explanation or thank you for taking the time to read note).

The answer is to treat each situation separately and creatively for each client’s situation. We analyze each company’s size and culture, check to see if you are connected to anyone that could introduce you. Alternatively, perhaps they know a decision-maker that can pass along pass along your résumé. We believe that the cover letter can still work to set a candidate apart if used correctly in the right situation. If uploading to a website to apply, a good clue if the company believes in cover letters is how easy they make it for you to add one. Job seekers are coming up with many creative ways to stand out and called for the interview. For example, I read about an individual that uses “out of the box” tactics. He delivered a box of doughnuts to the hiring manager in person that contained his cover letter and resume. This may not be your cup of tea; however, this illustrates just one way each job seeker is unique in their own way of getting noticed.

Keep the cover letter in your career toolbox and pull it out when needed and appropriate. We hope this has helped you write your cover letter. If you would like us to research a company and write one for you, we customize cover letters for $89-99. Please send us a message at 201-667-2994 or https://JobSearchSuperhero.com/contact-form

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WHO I AM – WHY HIRE ME TO HELP:

I am a Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE), and an active member of The National Résumé Writers Association. I was The NRWA’s Education Chair for a few months in 2012 and then I went on to serve 5 years as their first Social Media Community Manager. I currently help the organization facilitate monthly career related webinars.

  • I’ve spent 7+ years, developing résumés and profiles that convert into interviews and new jobs for job seekers.
  • Prior to that I was a Fleet & Operations Manager for 7 years that worked closely with Human Resources to recruit both drivers and operations staff.
  • I handled inbound candidates through the complete hiring lifecycle from their recruitment, to their interview, and thereafter where I was tasked to make hiring recommendations to my superiors. Finally once hired, I handled new employee on-boarding and training.
  • I became very passionate about putting the right (peg) candidate in the right (hole) job.
  • On average – 75% of my clients see an increase in LinkedIn profile views within days after I revamp their profile.
  • 85% of my résumé and or LinkedIn clients receive calls for an interview.
  • As of our most recent client feedback survey, we were thrilled to learn that an average of 75% of our clients have been interviewed or hired after we helped them with their career documents and LinkedIn profile.
  • We work with clients from all around the United States remotely using Skype, FaceTime, and other similar video chat options along with phone, text, and email to optimize their career brand.

WHAT CLIENTS SAY ABOUT ME:

To see valid, verifiable reviews of my resume writing business, written by my clients, please see Google reviews –> click here and also visit my LinkedIn recommendations, and Yelp reviews.

Mill Montejo & The Talent Mill Team
CONTACT THE JOB SEARCH SUPERHERO FOR HELP!

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Six Secrets to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile So You Can Land the Interview

Get a Job Search Superhero on your team!

To answer the question “does having a professionally written, completed and keyword optimized LinkedIn profile really get it looked at by more recruiters?” one only has to ask: where/who do YOU turn to when you need something? When you need to find an auto mechanic, a plumber, a way to get restaurant food delivered to your home, an answer to self-diagnose a suspected illness (although I wouldn’t recommend this), and just about any question you can think of = you search the internet. Therefore, to cut the job search process in half job-seekers must accept that their skills are now best highlighted on the web. LinkedIn has become that platform even more than before since their purchase by Microsoft. With Microsoft’s dominance in cloud based Office 365 software, their goal of LinkedIn becoming a go-to place for recruiters to find candidates was an easy pivot.

Everyone has likely heard about “keyword resumes,” and how keywords that match the job advertisement are critical for your résumé being selected for the interview. But did you know that it is even more important to write a powerful, keyword infused LinkedIn headline that offers a value proposition and gets you noticed? Did you know that having a well-written summary with results oriented statements can get you selected for the next step of an interview? Yes, the résumé is important and is your entry-ticket to the interview, but you will job search while you sleep if you have a well written and optimized LinkedIn profile. See some action steps below to do it yourself, or setup a time to chat with us if you want us to handle it all for you.

1) USE THE KEYWORDS AND ACRONYMS RELATED TO YOUR INDUSTRY
Different recruiters type alternate keywords into their searches, so to raise your chances of being found use common variations of the keywords in your LinkedIn summary, and skills section. For example, if you want a job in New York, use the word “New York,” and/or “New York City,” the abbreviation “NYC” and the postal code “NY” wherever you can on your LinkedIn profile. This way when a recruiter types in a filtered or specific search for a job-seeker from NYC you stand a better chance of being one of the profile results returned in their search.

Keywords are crucial to your job search

2) DON’T SAY YOU ARE LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT OPPORTUNITY

Instead, use that precious profile real estate space that ranks high in a search to promote what you can do for a new employer. If you were an employer or recruiter looking at a LinkedIn profile, who would you call in for an interview? The person who has this headline for their LinkedIn profile:

“Looking forward to my next opportunity where I can lend my talents to a productive team.”

                                                                         OR 

Director of Sales Emerging Markets ► identify & evaluate opportunities ► develop & execute strategy ► drive sales growth

Obviously the 2nd headline is not only more of an eye catcher telling me what the person’s general career role has been, how they work, and the positive results of their work, all including many keywords (in italic) that usually appear in the job advertisements that person is targeting.

3) ADD ALL RELEVANT SKILLS FOR YOUR TARGET JOB INDUSTRY

When the ‘endorsements’ feature was first added to LinkedIn many though it was pointless to endorse others. How could folks that did not know you possibly endorse you for the work? Well, the endorsements have not gone away and people that connect with you see your posts and learn about your expertise. The skills section while not ranking as high in a search as the headline and summary do, still count as keywords. You should think of all the acronyms, and different skills related to your target industry and add them. Don’t forget to move them around and place the ones you wish to be recognized for up at the top as most folks when prompted will endorse you on the top three skills displayed.

4) DON’T JUST COPY AND PASTE YOUR RESUME

When LinkedIn first started many were copying and pasting their résumé into the job description sections and calling it a day. That is not an accepted practice today since recruiters and potential employers will always seek you out on LinkedIn and are looking to find out more about you. We now write the LinkedIn summary in first person, in a business casual tone, that includes results based statements about how your work has impacted previous employers in a positive way. We need to remember to write our work summaries so we come across as an “achiever” and not simply a “doer.” So as you write your new LinkedIn summary think not so much about what you did for past employers, but think about what the positive results were because of your daily work.

5) ADD AN INDUSTRY RELATED BANNER IMAGE

Go to a site like https://pexels.com and search your industry keywords to see what free banners are available. This website gives you many free downloads to choose from. Some images will be Adobe stock which are on sale for reasonable prices if you really must have that specific image. But there are enough free images that you can easily replace the default LinkedIn teal section above your profile photo. You can also make yourself a keyword banner for free by copying and pasting your résumé into the website https://wordle.net and trying different color patterns and keyword variations in the image you will convert into a banner.

Don’t forget to add a banner related to your target industry or just a pretty sunset

6) ADD A PROFESSIONAL PROFILE PHOTO VISIBLE TO ALL

Resist the temptation of using an old wedding photo and cropping someone out, or a car selfie, or an outdoors hiking photo unless you’re a business dude running that type of business. Certain LinkedIn users will use a photo that represents their brand or niche like I did with my own cartoon-like profile photo. I chose this because I wear the label of Job Search Superhero so I felt the comic art was appropriate for my brand. I am also an artist who has a passion for superheroes and have been drawing them since I was a teenager. However, LinkedIn profile image best practices recommended by seasoned writers across the USA agree that a profile photo should be taken of you wearing at minimum business casual attire and sitting or standing in front of a light-colored background. The tools built into LinkedIn will help you resize the image but it is best if it is shot from about three to five feet away and from the chest up.

In closing, there are many actions you can take to promote your career brand online that will get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. But you have to work your social media like you worked your job because every keyboard click on LinkedIn signals you are an active user and raises your profile in searches. You have to join LinkedIn groups and engage in conversation or post your own articles and conversation. All of this connects you with the people that could potentially hire you, or steer you towards your next work gig. Job searching in the digital job market is not for the faint of heart. But I have faith that you can do it! We are here to help!

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What You May Be Doing Wrong with Your Résumé and Why It’s Costing You the Interview

By Mill Montejo – The #JobSearchSuperhero

 

Why do job seekers insist on using one-page fancy/sexy resumes with photos that are hurting their chances of being selected for the interview? 

They’re sexy and short but the ATS doesn’t like them. Use them for the interview ONLY instead.

 

The answer here is that whoever is passing along this information must not be doing the research by speaking to the engineers of companies like Adobe, and the makers of ATS systems. If they did, they would realize that “No, lean/short résumés don’t really work with today’s ATS systems. Résumés have been getting longer and longer for more than ten years now. There are still recruiters who suggest one-page résumés, which is 1990s thinking. The nature of the workplace has changed dramatically since then. Young people can expect to change jobs 15 times or more during their careers, and even if they stay with the same company longer than 5 years, product-to-market times are so short that a résumé will contain lots of significant projects and title changes.”

-Pat Criscito – CPRW

Artificial Intelligence is the “first impression” that gets you the interview now.

 

 

Not only do short one page resumes not offer enough space to write all the keywords necessary to be scored higher by the ATS, but they don’t allow you to create enough white space for readability, and to include all the relevant information for consideration. “The most important thing is to get the résumé selected from the ATS system in the first place. Otherwise, it won’t be read at all. If that means the résumé has to be a bit longer, then so be it.” -Pat Criscito.

 

So the fancy one page resumes created in Adobe Photoshop, or PowerPoint with the candidates photograph on it are likely not being seen by a human because 1) they do not parse well when uploaded/submitted through a website, 2) if they are in PDF format there is a chance they will not be seen, and 3) the inclusion of the candidate’s photograph is actually frowned upon by most HR Dept’s because they want to avoid the appearance of practicing any “ageism” in their hiring practices.

 

A longer resume allows for additional keywords and white space for readability.

 

What is it about keywords and how can I make sure I’m using them correctly?

Our resident Job Search Superhero at The Talent Mill writes lots about keywords, keywords, keywords. The reason is that this is where the initial recruiting and hiring process is handled. With so many applicants applying to limited jobs companies employ the help of machine learning software first before a human even sees the resume. This makes it a priority for either you or your resume writer to always identify targeted keywords from the job advertisement you are pursuing, and work to insert them into appropriate sections of your career document.

Please DO NOT believe the misguided advice that résumés should only be one page in length. At the National Resume Writers Association, writers subscribe to the idea that a modern, professional resume should be “as long as it needs to be to present relevant, concise information that will properly position the candidate and distinguish them from the competition. If that can be accomplished in one page fine, but we should not get hung up on the length of the resume as long as it includes relevant and targeted information.”

-Norine D’Agliano – Résumé Writer & Trainer

You should also keep in mind that a longer resume can create more keyword density and is likely to be scored higher by the Applicant Tracking System. Optimizing your resume with targeted keywords from the job ad is an excellent strategy when you are trying to work less at your job search. A keyword-dense resume will help recruiters find and contact you instead of the other way around.

In this digital job market each resume must be targeted to the job advertisement keywords.

 

Why are “keywords” so crucial in today’s job search?

Even though you must first know what problems companies in your target industry are having that they need to solve in order to sell your skills to them, using the right keywords is the first ticket to the interview because they will be reviewed and selected by a software search string (whatever the recruiter or hiring managers enter). Keywords are job-specific terms, industry-specific language and abbreviation, jargon, acronyms, and even buzzwords.” Keywords in a resume should mirror the industry and employer language. See some examples of industry keywords below that should also be inserted into LinkedIn and your resume to help them match you to open jobs.

  • Degrees (e.g., “MBA,” “BA in Business Administration with a Minor in Marketing”)
  • Industry Certifications (e.g., “CCNA,” “CPA,” “CFA,” “MCP” “CPRW” “NCRW” “ACRW”)
  • Job Titles (e.g., “District Manager,” “Pharmaceutical Sales,” “Administrative Assistant,” “Operations Manager”)
  • Job Functions (e.g., “Office Management,” “Payroll,” “Grant Writing”)
  • Computer Applications (e.g., “MS Office Suite,” “Word,” “Excel” “PowerPoint” “Publisher” “Visual Basic” “VBScript”)
  • Industry-Specific Terms and Programs    (e.g., “Six Sigma Black Belt,” “HIPAA Compliant”)
  • Employer or School Names (Names of employers are used to recruit from the competition)
  • Hard Skills (e.g., “Web Development,” “Network Security,” “Accounting”)
  • Soft Skills (e.g., “Teambuilding,” “Problem-Solving”)

 

Keyword Stuffing

When stuffing your LinkedIn profile and resume with job-specific keywords you should always try to follow the writing methods that professional resume writers use to maximize keyword density. They include all possible formats of the keyword somewhere on your resume.

For example, here’s how a professional with an MBA listed this qualification on her resume:

UNIVERSITY NAME – City, ST

Master of Business Administration (MBA), 2004

Earned a master’s degree in business administration while working full-time.

In the example above both “MBA,” “Master of Business Administration,” and “master’s degree” were included, so that regardless of how a recruiter entered this keyword combination during a search, their resume would be “found” and register a “hit.”

 

One warning: DO NOT type in additional keywords in a white colored font to attempt to game the system by making the extra keywords invisible to the human eye. The ATS will still be able to read them in the underlying code. The reason I say this is because when the recruiter receives your resume it will be sent as an image with all of the keywords the recruiter selected (and you typed in white) highlighted in yellow. You will be BUSTED, and never to be trusted, and it is very likely that your resume will wind up in the trash.

 

 

How do I know if a small company is using an ATS to sort through resumes?

From our research as well as colleague Pat Criscito’s extensive research and ATS Engineer interviews we know that “100% of Fortune 1000 companies use ATS and 80% of small/medium businesses use them (100 to 15,000 employees).” We know for a fact that small companies create more jobs in the U.S. than larger companies. We should also keep in mind that many companies outsource their hiring tasks to recruiters and almost 100% of them use Applicant Tracking Software.

So the bottom line is that there may be many companies and individuals out here trying to sell you on using a one page-resume, or putting your photo into the resume, or promising you a great resume in one day for $49-99. These should be seen as red flags and possible scams. Our most recent client paid a company that said they were in California $250 for a resume and from the language and grammar used in the resume she said she realized they were probably somewhere overseas and that she had been scammed. She then had to pay us to write her a modern professional resume that she could be proud to use in her job search. She wound up spending about $600 by trying to save a few bucks and not doing her research online. When searching for writing professionals, one should not only search google but also search industry websites like The NRWA’s professional resume writer listings where many of the writers have been helping job seekers for decades. Remember that not everyone that hangs an internet shingle up is authentic, professional, and experienced. Do you want to trust your chances at getting called for the interview to just anyone?

Best of luck in your job search!  

 

About the author

Mill Montejo is a tech-savvy résumé & LinkedIn profile writer, an active member of The National Résumé Writers Association. She runs a small home-based business with a small team of writers in the Greater NYC area serving jobseekers in NY/NJ as well as from across the country via remote screen share & web chat. Changing careers? Need your career documents modernized or infused with industry keywords? Contact Mill at https://JobSearchSuperhero.com/contact-form