Is your cover letter ready to be sent out? Before you say yes, read this... A little while back, we had an open position we were trying to fill. I was amazed—or should I say appalled—at the blanket responses we received from job seekers. Potential candidates sent us cover letters describing experience they possessed that was completely irrelevant to our opening; it was the same as someone having a degree in veterinary medicine but seeking employment as an IT director. Did these job seekers really think going on and on for paragraphs about irrelevant experience was going to make me want to read their resume—or even more so—interview them? I think I understand the dilemma here: Truly active job seekers are sending out countless cover letters as quickly as humanly possible—probably exasperated by the sheer volume of applications they feel pressured to submit. It’s not a shot-in-the-dark game, people. Or a game of numbers. I truly don’t believe it’s a situation where you have to submit 200 applications to receive two call-backs. What it comes down to is a matter of focus and relevancy. Can you make the correlation between your experience and career background and what the employer truly needs? I’ll give you a perfect example. We occasionally will have openings for certified or professional resume writers. We place an ad for the opening online with some very specific requirements and ask that the candidate respond with valid and convincing reasons why he or she would be the best fit. Some candidates go on and on—almost endlessly—about having authored books, written articles for medical journals, or their technical writing experience. None of which has anything in common with resume writing—other than the word “writing.” This is frustrating to hiring managers as they are wading through hundreds of job applications. It almost seems like a waste of time. I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they tell me what I need to know?” I specify in the ad that I need to know about criteria A, B, and C—and whether you possess those skills. Ninety-nine percent of job seekers fail to address their experience in these areas. Why? I am not sure if it’s laziness or a result of being overwhelmed—but what I can tell you is you’re only hurting yourself and your chances for an interview. I know when you’re submitting as many applications as you can you may feel hurried, rushed, or like you don’t have the time to make a customized submittal. Truth be told, you’re wasting more time if you don’t. Take the time to specifically address each requirement in your cover letter, and provide the hiring manager with the absolute most relevant experience you have that matches the requirements of the position. You may be surprised at the results.
Everyone has heard of New Year's resolutions. You know, those promises we make to ourselves about things we'll do better in the year ahead. Sometimes these resolutions work, while other times we end up with gym memberships we never use! But have you ever heard of a career resolution? It's actually the same thing as a New Year's resolution, only career-focused.
However, with something as important as a career, you don't want to break these resolutions. That's why it's important to keep these goals manageable.
Here are four simple career resolutions that are easy to stick to and achieve.
Be Self-Aware Of Where You Stand In Your CareerBigstock
Being honest and self-aware of where you are in your career is the most important step in making strong career resolutions. If your career is going nowhere and you're unhappy, then it may be time to consider a career change, which will take you down a different path entirely.
But if you're happy and in good standing with your career, it's a lot easier to set goals for the year and build out a long-term career plan.
Find A Way To Grow Your CareerBigstock
Career growth is a very broad spectrum that means something different to everyone. It could be something as simple as improving on a weakness or building on a strength. It could also be learning a new skill or taking on additional responsibilities at work.
On a larger level, it could be seeking a promotion or moving into a leadership role.
Whatever the goal is, make sure it includes growing professionally. The worst thing you can do is stay the same! If you're not growing your career, you're dying—and becoming a lot less valuable to your employer. There are always ways to upskill!
Better Serve Your Professional Network
With current colleagues, former colleagues, and other professional acquaintances, you've probably built a solid professional network through the years. A strong professional network can come in handy if you lose your job or are looking to make a career change. However, you shouldn't just rely on your network when you're in need!
It's important to find ways to offer value to your network. This could include checking in with members of your network from time to time. Exchange messages on LinkedIn to see how they're doing or share relevant content of interest. If you can help someone in your network going through a career challenge, you should!
Maintaining a strong professional network is like an investment. If you want it to pay off, you have to put some time into it and be consistent.
Take Care Of Yourself
Working on your career is hard work! It's okay to be selfish sometimes. Whether you're working to grow your career or looking for a new job, it's important to find balance.
Your family and health always come first, so make sure your career goals don't interfere with that. If you want to set aside time during the week to work on your career that's fine, but don't miss important family events or milestones.
Don't let your career goals get in the way of your health goals. Go to the gym, take a walk, or go for a jog. Balance is key to maintaining healthy career and life goals. Sometimes you just need to adjust that balance as you go.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.