The Art of the Job Search – Letters of Recommendation and References

ImageYour main marketing pieces during your job search, including your resume, cover letter and maybe even a portfolio or website, are pieces you produce. You have control over the information presented. So what do you do when an employer asks for letters of recommendation or a reference list to contact? How do you manage your LinkedIn Recommendations to reflect what you want potential employers to see? You may not write the recommendations, but you do have a level of control of the information presented, based on who you ask for a recommendation and how you ask.

Who You Ask

Check over your list of professional contacts and determine which would present the most relevant and influential information in their letter, based on the position to which you are applying. If you have a former colleague or manager who can vouch for your knowledge in a particular industry or type of job, be sure to ask if they would be willing to provide a reference.

How You Ask

Through your research as a job seeker interested in a particular job or company, you are the expert in what the potential employer is looking for in their candidates. When approaching your contacts about writing a letter of recommendation or acting as a reference, you can provide them with some coaching through that knowledge. This will make each reference call or letter more relevant and impressive to your potential employer.

If the potential employer wants letters of recommendation, you can ask each contact to base their letters on one of your core strengths. For instance, one letter could focus on your ability to multitask, one on your ability to manage deadlines, and one on your leadership abilities. Have each letter demonstrate how your skills would be a benefit to the potential employer. 

Your Social Media Recommendations

Social media is now a huge factor in most recruiting processes. Through social media sites such as LinkedIn, potential employers can see a limitless number of recommendations from colleagues, clients, and others who appreciate the work you’ve done in past positions. You can manage who posts a recommendation for you by asking them directly. LinkedIn also requires that you approve any recommendations before they display on your page, providing further control of your digital image.

Photo credit: degreesoftransition.com

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The Art of the Cover Letter – Standing Out from the Crowd

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Graduation season is upon us, and millions of high school and college graduates will soon join the job search and, ultimately, the U.S. workforce. Here are some tips for writing a compelling cover letter to help you stand out from the expanding crowd of job hunters.

1. Always include a cover letter along with your resume. Your cover letter serves as your introduction and provides you with the opportunity to express your enthusiasm toward applying your skills with the company where you are applying.

2. Research the business as much as possible before writing your cover letter. The more you know about a company or organization, the more your enthusiasm for joining their team will come through.

3. Customize each letter for each position. While you can reuse some basic information (skills that transfer across various positions), the message of your cover letter should be targeted to each specific employer.

4. Find out the name of the person who will read your letter. Be more person by not addressing your letter “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”

5. Focus on how hiring you will benefit the company throughout your cover letter to the end. This goes hand in hand with research, demonstrating how you can help them reach the goals or missions of the business. Distinguish yourself from the crowd by highlighting your skills and experiences that other applicants may not possess.

6. Keep your cover letter to one page, and your paragraphs short. Your letter will be easy to read and to the point. Please also be sure to proofread, as nothing will turn a potential employer off more than a cover letter full of typos.

7.  Anytime you apply online, make your cover letter text the body of your email and your resume the attachment. When sending your cover letter in this format, you can leave out your address, the company address, and the date.  When sending your cover letter in an email, you just need a professional greeting and salutation

The Art of the Resume – How to Promote Your Resume

ImageAs a job seeker in today’s highly competitive market, any resource that allows you to broadcast your brand and your marketing pieces, such as your resume, can give you the edge. Posting your resume on job boards such as Job.com is an excellent first step in making your resume available to employers and recruiters in the “hidden job market” – those not currently advertising their open positions.

Another great step if you are serious about finding a position is using a resume distribution service. These services send your resume directly to their lists of employers in your industry or geographic location. All you need to do is provide a resume and the optional cover letter that serve as your introduction to employers. Your resume can be seen by employers who may be hiring now, or in the near future, with little or no research required from you.

Job.com’s Resume Distribution service is one of many tools available to any registered job seeker who has posted a resume. For a small fee, your resume can be sent to a segment of our extensive list of recruiters, depending on your location and desired industry. You will immediately be provided the number of recruiters who will receive your emails in the very first step. There are also a number of additional options in the check out process, including ordering a firm list to see exactly who will receive your resume.

If you are ready to broadcast your resume to the recruiters in your field, check out the Resume Distribution Service today!

The Art of the Resume – What to Include (and What to Leave Out)

ImageToday’s resume must meet the qualifications of, at minimum, two different audiences. The goal is to get the resume into the hands of a hiring manager or recruiter – someone who must be interested in the content of your resume to consider you for their position. Before the resume ever makes it into that person’s hands, however, it is becoming more and more likely that it must first pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software is being used by many employers to filter through resumes and pass along only the most relevant to the hiring manager. How do you make sure your resume passes both tests? These checklists are good places to start.

What To Include:

  • Proper formatting – Include defined sections (such as “Education”) and bullet point lists so your resume is easy to read.
  • Correct spelling and grammar – Constantly proofread your resume after every edit, and get a fresh set of eyes to look over your resume as well to catch anything you might miss.
  • Uniform font type and size – The entire resume should be the same font, and headings or section titles should stand out in larger text than the bullet point lists. Your contact information should be the largest, easiest text to find.
  • Keywords – Pass the ATS test with keywords that match the description for the job to which you are applying. Include the industry-specific keywords you know the employer will be looking for from their ideal candidate. For instance, an HVAC professional might include their NATE or RSES certifications.
  • Contact information – Include your most recent phone number(s), a professional sounding email address, and your physical address. If you have a digital media page that showcases your qualifications or professional accomplishments, such as a LinkedIn page or website, include the link.
  • Professional Pitch – Where everyone used to include an objective in their resume, you can provide a quick pitch to “wow” potential employers to read your entire resume.
  • Education and Work Experience – Include the relevant training, certifications or degrees, and the relevant work experience you received that can be applied to the position. Your experience can be listed as a series of accomplishments, rather than just your job responsibilities in each position. For instance, an office manager may have “developed a digital filing system” for their office, as opposed to listing that they “moved all physical records to a digital format.”

What to Leave Off:

  • Third-Party Voice or Unnecessarily Big Words – Your resume should read in the same conversational and approachable tone you would use in an interview.
  • Polarizing Interests or Hobbies – Remember the person reading your resume may not share your enthusiasm or viewpoints on certain topics. If it doesn’t pertain to the job for which you are applying, don’t include it on your resume.
  • Irrelevant Experience – Only include the education or experience that can be used to the benefit of your potential employer in your bullet point lists.
  • Contact Information from Your Current Employer – Never include your work email or phone number as the means to reach you.
  • Lies – If you lack a specific certification or work experience, focus instead on the skills you do possess.