We've all, in some way, made the mistake of not giving our cover letters the attention they deserve. Some of us tend to regurgitate the information in our resume onto the cover letter. While it's okay - and sometimes even necessary - to include some of the things listed on your resume in your cover letter, creating a carbon copy of your resume with some added fluff words won't get you anywhere. Here are some reasons why you need to spend more time on your cover letter:
Do you waste time on your job search? If you make these mistakes, then you do. Related: 5 Things You Should Be Doing If You’re Unemployed As a professional recruiter and career coach, I receive hundreds of resumes each week from eager job-seekers. I have noticed that some candidates are unintentionally decreasing their odds of getting an interview by not using the time they devote to their job search in the most productive manner. By sharing these top three time-wasters, hopefully my “insider” view will help you find your new role that much quicker.
1. Applying for positions you are clearly not qualified for.Bottom line: If you are not a fit, then be legit. I call it the "hail mary" of the recruiting world when a job-seeker submits a resume for a particular role despite being vastly underqualified or overqualified. It's essentially spamming a recruiter or hiring manager and viewing it as a productive step toward finding a job. It isn't. If the position calls for 2-4 years of experience and you have 20-plus, the hiring manager won’t consider you. Overqualified and underqualified candidates are viewed essentially the same: as “non-fits.” Recruiters receive literally thousands of resumes per job posting, and this information overload creates a strong dislike for people who waste time. If you are not a fit for a specific role or have to stretch your experience too far, then please don’t apply for that particular position. Your “random submission” creates the impression that you are desperate for a job… any job. Spend time on the roles for which you are really suited. The one caveat to this is: If you know someone at the company and have an “in,” perhaps you can find out whether they are willing to give you a chance despite not having the ideal candidate profile.
2. Including all relevant information for a specific job in a cover letter, but not on your actual resume.Treat your resume as your one true marketing document, and tweak and tweak some more for every job that you apply for. Given the volume of resumes that recruiters receive, cover letters are skimmed at best, or at worst, never opened. In addition, since recruiters generally do not forward cover letters to hiring managers, your resume needs to stand on its own. To the best of your ability, make your resume "bleed" the job description for which you are applying. Make sure you add specific phrases from the job description so recruiters can quickly see that your experience is a match. Not too long ago, a study was done that showed the average recruiter reviews a resume for just six seconds, so make them count. Long paragraphs won’t be read, so use boldface to highlight important information.
3. Applying to jobs only through websites or online postings.Given the volume of resumes corporate recruiters receive, it has been my experience that the contact/interview rate is much lower when you submit your resume through a web portal for a specific company or job board, versus doing some due diligence and finding an “in,” and getting your resume walked into HR or handed to the hiring manager. If you a see a blind posting and the company name is not indicated, you have little choice but to send your resume, hope they receive it, and keep your fingers crossed that they will contact you. But if the company is identified, check LinkedIn and take the extra time to do some networking to see if you have any connections that can help get your resume to the top of the pile. Job hunting is stressful enough, so take the necessary proactive steps to increase your chances of getting that interview. Focus on the jobs that are a true fit. Spend the time you used to dedicate to applying for those “long shots” on networking and tailoring your resume to reflect the requirements for each job that’s a real possibility. This will definitely help to increase the odds in your favor. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Author: Elisa Sheftic
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Each organization has its own hiring process and, for many, that includes completing a job application in addition to submitting a resume. Many job seekers don't believe that completing a job application isn't a waste of time. Filling one out can be frustrating and time consuming since no two applications seem to be alike, but it is definitely worth the extra effort if you really want the job. Related: 5 Biggest Job Application Mistakes Employers use application forms to obtain information that may or may not be included on your resume. Some of the more common components of an application are:
Work History With Specific Dates Of EmploymentYou may also be asked for the reason that you left your previous employers and contact information for your former managers. If you’re currently working, you should indicate on the application form whether it is acceptable to contact your current manager. If it’s not, hold on to that information and provide it to the recruiter after you receive an offer.
Salary History And/Or Future Salary ExpectationsEmployers want to know how much you’re currently earning (or you’ve earned in the past) so that they can ensure the position is in line with your salary requirements. For example, if I have a position that can pay up to $50,000 per year, but you’re currently making $75,000, you may not be interested in taking a $25,000 pay cut.
Ability To Work In The United StatesAgain, this type of information isn’t often included on a resume, but it’s important to the hiring process. If you require a visa to work in this country, that’s something that the human resources staff needs to know up front. For some visas, there is a very small window when employers can apply, so this may make it difficult to hire you without this information.
Other Barriers To EmploymentAn employer may require information about your ability to work certain hours, non-compete, or other restrictive covenants that may be in effect, criminal convictions and other relevant information to the hiring process. Although job applications can be cumbersome, most employers wouldn’t ask you to go through this extra step unless they believe the additional information is necessary to making a successful hire. You should take the same care with the application as you did with your resume. Make sure that it is free of errors and complete to the best of your ability. If you find that you’re being asked to complete a lot of applications, keep an electronic file with the answers to the most commonly asked questions. This will allow you to quickly locate the information and possibly cut and paste it to save time and effort. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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Office jobs can sometimes prove to be monotonous and mundane – meaning the lure of switching off and “wasting time” can often prove to be overwhelmingly tempting. “What? Me? Wasting time?” I hear you cry. Yes, you. According to pretty accurate statistics (I think so, anyway), only 10 percent of office workers say they waste than less than 30 minutes in a working day. And let’s face it, they’re probably fibbing. In fact, the same study claims that 24 percent of people “waste” one hour of working time a day with 11 percent claiming to disregard “a few hours”. That’s not to say that “wasting time” is necessarily counterproductive (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). More research into office habits argues that 70 percent believe that office workers are now more productive than they were five years ago thanks to greater technological distractions – if that makes any sense. So, what are these mythical time-wasting distractions than can potentially make you even more productive? Here are seven major time wasters at work:
1. Social MediaIf you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram account in 2013 then, seriously, what are you doing? You may as well not exist! Anyone who’s anybody has a presence on social media these days and keeping up-to-date with who’s doing what with whom and where is critical to keeping our voyeuristic tendencies at bay.
2. E-mailsIf you work in an office there’s a good chance that you spend a lot of time on e-mail. And that usually means sifting through lots of junk and spam messages that we probably wouldn’t bother with in our spare time. Then there’s your personal e-mail account where distractions lie aplenty. From those social media notifications to online shopping offers to car insurance renewal deals.
3. Office Chit ChatUnless you absolutely detest the people you work with – and I suppose that isn’t out of the question – having a good talk now and again with your colleagues can often prove to be quite the time consumer. Especially, if you’re like me, and can’t stop talking about last night’s football game.
4. Coffee Or Cigarette BreaksIf you work in an office and don’t drink coffee - or smoke – then you’re missing out on some valuable time wasting and I strongly advise you to take up one of the two. Or both. Or at least pretend to (the most sensible option for you health aficionados).
5. Viral VideosThere’s not a day that goes by in our office without a viral video doing the rounds. I’m sure you know the sort – an outrageous overhead kick, a flying monkey or someone just falling flat on their face. The problem with viral videos is that once you watch one, you tend to view another. And another. And another. Damn those related links.
6. Mobile PhoneI bet you can’t go anywhere without your phone, can you? No, of course you can’t. We’re ashamedly addicted to our pocket-sized devices and the urge to check upon whether we’ve received a text, Tweet or Snapchat is often too overpowering for us to avoid. The disappointment only arrives when you stare blankly at your phone to realise it’s lunch time and you haven’t received a jot (oh, just me?).
7. Reading Pointless Web ArticlesAdmit it – how often do you click on a random web article during office hours that you wouldn’t normally think twice about looking at? Pretty often, I’d say. You are reading this after all. Not to say this particular article is “pointless”. Quite the opposite. I think this article may just help you to be a little bit more productive! Do you find any particular thing wasting your time at work? Share it in our new CAREEREALISM Career Advice Forum. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles:
- Top 3 Ways To Waste Time On Your Job Search
- 11 Ways To Enjoy Summer When You’re Working A Full-Time Job
- 9 Worst Productivity Sinks
By virtue of technology, we are increasingly becoming a more efficient society and civilization. In our hands, we carry tools that can book our travel, look up a restaurant, review conference agendas, and a bazillion other functions. Sure, it has helped us be more efficient in a lot of different ways, but with the increased demands that many companies are putting on their employees, it's becoming even more imperative to work smarter and faster. The whole LEAN concept has taken root not just in manufacturing sectors, but many other businesses are adopting this model for increasing efficiency.