Are Cover Letters Dead?

Are Cover Letters Dead?

You probably clicked on this article hoping we would say that cover letters are no longer relevant to the modern job search. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. And if you believe they are unimportant and don’t put any effort into crafting a thoughtful cover letter, you miss out on a huge opportunity. A cover letter is a platform to sell yourself. It’s a chance to explain your qualifications, share your passion for the job to which you are applying, and show a bit of your personality. So, even though cover letters aren’t dead, they don’t have to make you miserable! Here’s how to write a cover letter with as little pain as possible.

Create An Outline

Yes, you need to customize your cover letter to every single job. However, if you have a great outline to start with, customizing it is a breeze! Here’s a good start:

1. Introduction Paragraph

Use the introduction to do just that, introduce yourself! Launch into your elevator pitch with a strong hook. It’s the perfect opportunity to explain why you are applying for this particular job with this exact company.

2. Body Paragraphs

In one or two body paragraphs, describe your skills in experiences in detail and how they relate to this position. We recommend pulling a couple of requirements from the job description that are in your wheelhouse and expanding on your experience with them. Only discuss your most relevant positions and skills in your cover letter.

3. Closing Paragraph

Your closing paragraph is the perfect place to tie everything together and wrap it up neatly. Reiterate your passion for your career, qualifications, and why you want to work for this company. You can also use this spot to address any possible concerns. If you are relocating, want to explain a gap in employment, or re-emphasize any specific qualifications, do it towards the end. However, always be sure to end on a strong, positive note!

Make Connections

Take the job description and print it out. Then, highlight the requirements that you have and can explain in-depth throughout your cover letter. This will help to give you direction as you start to fill your outline with content.

Run A Grammar Check

Even if you’re writing in a program like Microsoft Word with a spell check built-in, you need to call in reinforcements. We love to use Grammarly to check the grammar and flow of a document. You can also recruit a friend or family member to read over your cover letter and look for any possible slip-ups!

There is no denying that cover letters are a lot of work. However, if that is what makes the difference between landing a job or not, how could you skip it?! Even if the job application says cover letters are optional, we recommend whipping one up to set yourself apart.

Now that you’re an expert on cover letters, let’s refresh that resume!

cover letter

Cover Letter: Four Steps to the Perfect Cover Letter

cover letter

It’s a candidate-driven market. The unemployment rate has been hovering around 4.0% all year. Candidates have options (and lots of them!). However, if you don’t write an outstanding cover letter, you may still be faced with a turndown.

If you really want to nail that job interview, here are four steps to writing a killer cover letter.

Make it personal

If you want to start your cover letter off on the right foot, you must personalize it. That means “To whom it may concern” won’t cut it.

You need to do your due diligence and address your cover letter to the hiring manager. If you don’t know who the hiring manager is, jump on LinkedIn and do a quick search. Find the organization for the job you are applying for and look at their list of employees. You can filter them down to find the right person to address your letter.

For example, if you are applying for a Marketing Specialist position, you can find the marketing manager on LinkedIn and use them to address your letter. If you are still having troubles addressing your letter, give a quick call to the company’s HR department and just ask. They will be more than happy to help!

If you don’t address the cover letter to a specific person (or worse, address it to the wrong person), you might as well not even apply for the position.

Mirror the job description

The hiring manager, of course, wants to hear all of your accomplishments and skills. However, you must refer back to the job description as you are writing your cover letter.

Think of the job description as a checklist. Now, I am not saying you have to copy it verbatim, but you do want to ensure that you illustrate that you’re qualified to tackle the job. I would suggest going through the description and highlighting all of the key qualifications the organization is searching for.

If you can do this, you will prove that you are a perfect match for the job and will almost guarantee yourself a callback.

Tell them why you’re interested

Don’t just regurgitate the same old cover letter you use for every job application. You need to tell the hiring manager why you’re excited about the job and the organization if you want to impress them.

It’s one thing to be qualified for the job. It’s another to be excited about the opportunity and the potential of working for the employer. If you can do this while tying in some facts about the company, you’re in good shape.

Hiring managers want to see what you know about the company and how you will play into the bigger picture. You can reference recent accomplishments, awards, events, or other recognitions. Showing that you’re excited about the job will help the person reading your CV letter be excited about you as a candidate!

Be yourself

It may seem weird to let your personality shine through the cover letter, but employers want to see the real you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Just make sure you keep it professional.

As company culture is becoming more and more important, employers are searching for candidates that will be a good fit for the organization. If a hiring manager can tell that you’re a good fit, your chances of landing an interview drastically increases! Good luck!

cover letter

Is an Optional Cover Letter Really Optional?

cover letter

We’ve all been scrolling through a job board and see the infamous “cover letter optional” on a job application. Many candidates jump for joy at the sight of this. Other begin to worry about whether they should include a cover letter or not.

Should I send one anyway to earn some brownie points with the hiring manager or recruiter? Is this just a cruel trick to weed out those who don’t include one? Here is some inside on whether optional cover letters are really optional.

Should I invest time in writing a cover letter?

The quick answer is yes, you should always submit a cover letter, even if it’s optional. Your cover letter is your sales pitch; it’s your opportunity to sell yourself! If you take the time to write a thoughtful, tailored cover letter, you will make a great impression with your prospective employer.

Taking the initiative to write an optional cover letter will tell hiring managers that you are excited about the position and organization. In fact, according to job search expert Hannah Morgan, “When the majority of people take the easy way out and don’t submit a cover letter, then writing one can make a difference if it gets read.”

Thus, spending the time to write a cover letter can mean the difference between you getting an interview. If you’re one of the only candidates to actually writes one, it may just propel you to the top of the lists of candidates.

They make you stand out

A cover letter is your opportunity to illustrate to the hiring manager that you’re a great fit for the job (and the organization). Sure, your resume shows if you are qualified for a particular job. It illustrates if you possess the necessary education and working experiences to perform the job. However, being qualified for the job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good fit for the role.

Your cover letter provides the hiring manager with valuable insight. It demonstrates your personality and allows them to get a better idea of who you truly are. This is your chance to show that you’re excited about the role. Demonstrate your passion for the role and tell a good story. Stories help bring your background to life and allows your personality to shine through the letter.

The bottom line is, if you write a killer cover letter, it can only improve your chances of getting a call back for an interview!

Job Application

This One Thing Is Even More Important Than Your Resume And Cover Letter

Job Application

We all know that resumes (and sometimes cover letters) are an essential part of getting a new job. But have you ever applied for a job where you sent your job application materials directly to the hiring manager or recruiter via email? This method is growing in popularity as companies try to insert more of the human element back into the hiring process. When this is the case, what you write in your email suddenly becomes the most important part of your job application. (No pressure, right?) Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

First and foremost, keep it brief

You already wrote a whole page about yourself in your cover letter; there is no need to do this in the email! Keep your voice professional yet personal and don’t go into a lot of detail. Here are the basics you need to cover:

Don’t forget about the subject line

It is IMPERATIVE that you include your full name and the job you are applying for in the subject line. This will allow the hiring manager/recruiter/intern that is vetting and organizing the hundreds of job applications they receive to make sure your information goes in the right pile and is easily accessible.

Example: Marketing Manager – John Smith

How should you address the email?

We’ve all seen (or even sent) emails that start with “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Sir Or Madame.” Please don’t. People do not talk like this in real life. Do a deep LinkedIn or internet dive to find the hiring manager’s name OR if you really don’t know who it will be ultimately going to, stick with someone professional yet personable, like “Dear Hiring Team,” or “Hi JSG Marketing Team.”

Let them know how you heard about the position

If it was a referral, you definitely want to name drop in the email! If you found it online, list the specific site (Indeed, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder). You wouldn’t believe how much recruiters and hiring managers appreciate knowing where their best candidates came from!

Include a strong closer

Assuming you have a strong closing statement in your cover letter, you should use the same style and tone for your email. Keep it short, impactful, and confident. Something like “I look forward to learning more about this opportunity and the Marketing Team at JSG.”

Remember to list your contact information

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Yes, your contact info is often included on your job application, but you MUST reiterate it in your email signature. Include your full name, email address, and phone number in your email.

Show your excitement

If you are really excited about this opportunity, don’t be afraid to let them know! Hiring managers appreciate a little bit of genuine enthusiasm. Throw it in with how you heard about the job, “When I came across this opportunity on CareerBuilder, I was extremely excited because it seems to be a great match with my skill set.” Or include it in your closing statement, “I can’t wait to learn more about this opportunity and what I can do to make an immediate impact on your team.”

If you stick to these guidelines when emailing your next job application, I can almost guarantee you’ll hear back from the hiring manager!

3 Things You MUST Do Before Applying for A Job

applying for a job

So, you’re sick and tired of your current job and decide to start searching for other opportunities. You hop online and start scrolling through dozens of job openings. After a few hours of searching (and a couple cups of coffee later), you find your absolute dream job. But WAIT – before you even think about submitting your application, there are a few things you need to review to ensure you’re not impulsively hitting the ‘send’ button.

Check Review Sites

Before you get your heart set on that dream job you think you’ve found, it’s a good idea to jump on your computer or phone and check online reviews on the employer. You can go to sites like Glassdoor or Vault and get tons of information on prospective employers before you even apply.

These sites have a wealth of knowledge, including employee reviews, reviews on the interviewing process, salary information, and much more. These review sites can give you an idea what the culture is like of the organization, how tough the interviewing process is, and what current and former employers think of the organization.

This may help you gain some valuable insight on some tough questions that may be asked during an interview, spark some inspiration for questions to ask during an interview, or depending on the reviews, persuade you not to apply for the job altogether.

Check Out The Employer’s Website

Another source to check out is the company’s website. I know this seems obvious, but it’s shocking how many candidates fail to do a deep dive on a potential employer’s website before applying for a job.

Most employers have tons of information on their website that will help you tailor your resume and cover letter for the position. You can find things like the company’s mission and vision statements, news and events, and insights into the company culture.

Almost every employer has an ‘About’ page with all the information you need to write a masterpiece of a resume to impress the hiring manager, and ultimately, help yourself standout in the sea of applicants.

Do A Social Media Audit

Before you apply for ANY job, take a peek at the employer’s social media accounts. This will give you a better understanding of what the company culture is like. You will likely find things like press releases, new product launches, company events, and much more. Social media is a great outlet to find the latest news about the organization you are interested in. And sometimes, you may even learn more about a company from their social media than from their website.

You can also do a little digging on the hiring manager on LinkedIn. Head over to LinkedIn and search the employer in the search bar at the top of the page. Then, filter the search results by ‘People.’ This will allow you to see current employees of the organization and find the people you’ll likely be working with. Also, this will provide insight on the makeup of the team and help you decide if you really want to apply for the position or not.

Audit Your Own Social Media, Too

While you’re at it, this is a great opportunity to do a little research on your own social media. Before you hit the job market, it’s a good idea to run a social media audit on yourself. Go to your profiles and double-check what you’ve published and what you’re tagged in. If you wouldn’t want an employer to see it, it’s best to delete it from your profile. And at the very least, you can change your profiles privacy settings so others cannot see your content without your permission.

To kick your online cleansing up a notch, do a quick Google search on yourself. Google your first and last name and the city you live in. You’ll be surprised what will appear! There may be an old embarrassing MySpace account or another social media profile that you almost forgot about. Again, if you find something that you don’t want prospective employers to see, it’s best to delete or hide it.

You best believe employers will do a quick search on you before they call you in for an interview!

5 things you must do before applying for jobs

5 Things You Must Do Before You Start Applying For Jobs

5 things you must do before applying for jobs

So, you’re ready to put yourself out there. You’ve decided that you are fed up with your current employment situation and you start looking for greener pastures. But WAIT – before you get too deep into your job search, there are a few things you should do first to ensure a painless and successful process that will end with you landing your dream job.

Decide What You REALLY Want

Before you start applying for jobs, it’s helpful to understand what your future goals are. What do you want out of your next position… an opportunity for growth? Something challenging that pushes your limits? Whatever it is that you want, narrowing it down before you submit applications will help guide you to apply for the right positions.

Update Your Resume

I know, I know, updating your resume is the worst! But it is so much easier to do this before you start searching for jobs. That way, when an exciting opportunity comes along, you can make a couple final tweaks to fit that specific position and submit it within a matter of hours. Pro tip: if your qualifications allow you to apply within a couple different specialty areas, create multiple resume templates.

Create a Cover Letter Template

Cover letters should always be customized to the position you are applying for, no exception. However, it’s helpful to develop a template with a general outline that you can follow every time you need to craft a cover letter. And remember, even if the job description says a cover letter is optional, submit one anyway! It may just be the one thing that sets you apart from your competition. (For more cover letter tips, check out “How To Write A Killer Cover Letter.”)

Put Together a Portfolio

This may or may not be relevant for all careers. If your previous positions or volunteer work has been at all visual, you’ll want to include a portfolio. Examples of your most impressive work can be a huge benefit when it comes to outshining your competition. To go the extra mile, create a free website on Wix or WordPress and include links to any press releases, social media examples, or writing samples. The more accessible you can make it in the digital age, the better!

Sign Up For Job Alerts

Visit your favorite job search sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and JSG’s Talent Network and subscribe to receive relevant job updates. That way, you’ll be the first to know when a job in your field pops up and you can submit your application right away.

The Most Obvious Job Search Tip That (Almost) No One Follows

The Most Obvious Job Search Tip That (Almost) No One Follows

The Most Obvious Job Search Tip That (Almost) No One Follows

When you were in elementary school, did your teachers ever have you do the “following directions” test? Here’s an example of a few. They were tricky and designed to make kids who were over eager and didn’t follow instructions look and feel foolish in order to teach them to take their time and not rush through assignments. Well if you took one of those tests and it actually taught you something, you probably didn’t apply to my Marketing Specialist job.

In the last paragraph of my job ad, I requested that candidates send their resume AND A COVER LETTER to me directly and I included my email address. Out of the 16 applications I have received, I have only received one cover letter. Presumably, most candidates probably skimmed the ad to make sure it was a decent fit, hit the apply button, and off zoomed their resume. If this sounds like something you’ve done before – you are making a huge mistake for a few reasons:

  1. You are showing that you’re not detail-oriented and that you rush through things

Just like the kids in the “following directions” test, you’ve made a fool of yourself. Sure, you have a bullet point on your resume that says you are “detail-oriented,” but you just completely disproved that.

  1. You’re missing an opportunity to sell yourself

Whether the job ad is asking for a cover letter, references, a portfolio, a writing sample, you’re missing out if you don’t include it. When a recruiter or hiring manager can only judge you based on what you provide, why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward? Additional documents are the perfect opportunity to expand on your strengths, explain any weaknesses, and showcase your personality.

  1. You’re not customizing your application to the job

Your resume and other application documents should be tailored to every. single. job. you apply for! So if you’re not customizing your resume and cover letter to each job, you could potentially be handing the job to your competitor. Comb through the job description and tweak your resume to reflect the same verbiage used in the ad. Prioritize your skills under each position based on what is most important to this particular job.

  1. You don’t know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for

When I asked for a cover letter, it wasn’t because I want to torture any potential employees (I promise!). For my Marketing Specialist, I was specifically looking for someone who was detail-oriented and had great writing skills. So while cover letters may seem outdated on the surface, keep in mind that the hiring manager may be looking for more than further explanation of your skills.

So next time you go to apply for a job, be sure to thoroughly read the job description and follow all of the application steps. It may seem like a lot of work, but that’s why they say job searching is a full time job!