In my last post (click here to see it) I talked about first impressions, resumes, working on “you,” and having the attitude 2012 is better than 2011 as you are going through (or considering) a job search. The President talked about jobs in the State of the Union address this week, each candidate for this or that position talks about jobs – if you sit back and think about it, the more jobs we have out there the better off the economy is overall .
Here’s another challenge for 2012: do you have friends or associates from current or former jobs? Of course you do! How long has it been since you have talked to them? If it has been a while, why not try to reconnect to him / her? As much as you may have wondered what they have been doing since the last time you have talked to them, I’m sure they have wondered the same about you. Heck, they might even know of a job opening or, if they don’t, they will probably remember speaking to you the next time a recruiter or colleague contacts them looking for someone with your skill set. It might be a little embarrassing as neither of you have done a great job of staying in touch, and John or Jane Doe might not get in touch with you because they know they haven’t done a good job of it, too.
Back just a few years ago, everything revolved around the postal service and you really needed a great cover letter that transformed your 30 second infomercial of all of your great qualities (and why a hiring manager should grab you right this minute), but most things have shifted to email or web submissions. You still need a good cover letter, but it might be the introduction of an email or something that is copied and pasted to a web submission form. You may have had your friends and family make constructive changes or suggestions to your resume, but few people have their cover letter reviewed by another set of eyeballs. A cover letter tells the story of “this is me” in a few sentences, with all of the concise reasons of why you should be hired immediately by whoever is reading your material. I see a lot of errors, especially with spelling and grammar, on cover letters that should be downright embarrassing to have your name on it.
You should have several cover letters for different situations and / or industries as there is not a “one size fits all.” Work on several examples, and be prepared to mix and match as the circumstances dictate.
One important note: please don’t use some “cute” font in your cover letter, email correspondence, or resume as it turns off most people; the people at your children’s school may use ComicSans, Kidprint, or a Script font, but people in business do not (I hate Kidprint). Standard Arial or tried and true Times New Roman fonts work well, and seeing as how I received my first pair of glasses last month the non-standard fonts really give me a workout.
Networking is a key thing (see point above about friends and associates). For example, if you hear of a job opportunity from a recruiter that is not for you, how about passing it on to a friend? They may be fantastic for the job, and by passing it on to a friend you have helped out two people (your friend and the recruiter). What’s in it for you, you might ask? Maybe nothing, other than helping a friend out: but what’s wrong with helping out someone? Who knows, I’ll bet the next time a great job comes around your friend will think of you and try to help you out. Also, don’t forget the recruiter – he / she will probably want to know more about you and will give you a call after learning about how great of a person and asset you are for their client.
Here’s hoping 2012 is better than 2011!