Cover letters are really hard. They are a way to sell the employer what you can offer the company. It should be short and should mention the job you are appling for and what skills you have that makes you think you can do the job. Its almost like a personal statement but try not to be too forward or cocky. Just address what they say they are looking for. It is hard to explain.
Very nice stationary is always a good idea too
I've always looked at it as, the resume tells a prospective employer what you've done. The cover letter tells them who you are. So my advice is to use it to highlight personality traits and skills that aren't spelled out in the resume.
I guess I always find cover letters hard as they seem so "look at me, I'm great!". Not something I find easy. Perhaps there is a way to do it without seeming obsequious. As you said, Lucy, concentrate on personality traits and skills not covered in resume.
:lol I know what you mean. I find myself behaving like that, too.
Speaking of interviews, I had an experience at work last week.
My boss walked by my desk and asked me, "Are you doing anything right now?" In a moment of utter stupidity, I replied, "No, why?"
He handed me a resume and said, "The candidate's in the conference room. Interview him and tell me if you'd hire him. My current interview is running over right now."
I've worked in HR, but I'd never actually conducted an interview before. Now that I've conducted one, I'm telling you, Giz, the interviewer could just be winging it, too, because god knows I did. :lol
The kid was fresh out of school and even with obvious padding, he couldn't fill out 3/4 of the first page of the resume. It was like being on an awkward blind date.
Some (inane) questions I asked:
"So...how was the drive over here?"
"What do you expect out of this job?"
"What do you like to do in your spare time? Bass fishing? What's the biggest fish you've ever caught?"
"Where do you see yourself in five years?" (:ohno Like catching yourself saying something your parents would say after swearing you never would.)
"I see your last job was with [home repair megastore]. Travel is involved with the position you're applying for. Did you ever travel in your work for [megastore]?"
Originally Posted by PhoneGrrrl
Speaking as someone who used to be on the recruiting committee at a law firm, all that matters in the cover letter is that there are no typos and that there is something unique in the letter. The most impressive ones are the ones that show you've researched the firm or company and that point out something about you that makes you uniquely suited to them. Poking around on the web is always a good idea. For instance, if you can say, I am especially interested in working for you because I have experience in x and want to continue x which your company or firm is well known for, you are in good shape.
I've worked on picking committees for jobs and done interviewing.
Sometimes it's hard to tell what the company is looking for, because it can be so hard for them to define. Cover letters, are only important if they are bad. The really bad ones get laughed at. So, have someone proof read it for you. Point out something from your resume that you feel would be helpful for the job, but be careful what you decide to point out.
Interviews all depend on who is interviewing you. The job I have now, the guy spent the first 30 minutes explaining to me why I didn't want the job and asking very negitive questions. I just kept on the positive track. I've been doing interviews (group ones) where the person looked and sounded great, until they got too relaxed and let some real dumb stuff fly out near the end. If you have a chatty friendly interviewer, don't assume the person loves you. Be friendly and polite, but don't say too much. It's better to stick to your script "I'm good for this position because I have experence in A, B and C. " If you are put in a position of having to answer something like "what did you dislike about your last job" or "what type of work enviroment do you dislike", make sure that your answer doesn't include something that would be happening in the job you are trying to interview for. Years ago, I was helping interview a reciptionist for a county mental health clinic. One woman was a stand out, bright, cheerful, great typing skills, great phone skills, looked wonderful. When asked about what she disliked about her last job, her answer was "crazy people on the phone who want things done now." :ohno I'm not even sure she realised what she said and where she was when she said it. She talked herself out of the job with that one answer, because she was interviewing for a job that she would be the first person on the phone with real crazy people.
Oh and don't bring up religion during the interview (like the one man who handed me the handout from his church urging me to attend) or ask the interviewer out on a date (that happended to one of our HR people)
Originally Posted by MaxxFisher
I prefer stationery, but that's just me. :winkgrin
I'm not sure about "padding the resume" however. I guess it's all relative. When I'd look over resumes at the law firm - one typo was bad enough to not call them back. Besides law firms need to be especially correct. (like many professional careers)
I can tell you one thing, however. Always a use a cover letter. I've been told twice that the note is the thing that got me over the hump, set me apart and got me hired. Also - send it in the mail ASAP! I've actually written one while in the parking lot after an interview and sending the letter then. It does work!
Just a tad off-topic: You can only float so long before you are discovered. And that sucks. (I know you are not a phoney, what with the fish tank and all. :teeth
Best of luck, keep us posted!
Phat32 and nclmp, thanks for the stories, they made me laugh. The padding I was referring to was mostly claiming I have Mac experience when I don't. Some good stuff is starting to happen though. On Tuesday I got hired to teach 3 cooking classes (not til spring), and if that goes well, they might want me for more. I'm excited about that because it should be Fun! I love cooking, teaching, and being a know-it-all, so it's tailor made. Today I got a call to do on-going tutoring twice a week (worth about $75 per week), so that will help. And finally, I found out the on-line course I wanted to take (that I could mention being enrolled in, in my cover letter, as it is the other area which I'm not so strong on for the job I want) isn't offered til next year, But (!) it is available for a fifth of the price elsewhere, so long as I volunteer locally! Woo-hoo. My husband thinks I'm being a grifter for "talking my way into the course" (which is only open to employees and volunteers), which maybe I am, but I will be doing the volunteering, so some good will come of it.
I kind of suspect I won't get the job, as there's probably someone who has their wish-list of skills, but the courses are So Cheap and may come in handy in the future if a job along these lines comes up again. (I also think I'd be good at the job as I have skills people formally qualified don't have. Their skill sets in this field tend to be an inch wide and a mile deep, whereas I'm very wide - mentally ! physically am narrow - but knowledge doesn't go too deep on minutaie like subjects. I think my breadth would be very useful at times).
If I don't get this job, I think with the teaching cooking, the tutoring and a cleaning client, I could make the money I need (which is not as much as I want, but will do), and not have to work more than 8 hours a week. Still lots of time for naps!
Sort of a collage of jobs then, eh? That's not a bad thing at all, and a lot of them seem quite fun/interesting. And they leave room for naps, which I know are of great import (sigh. I love naps). I think taking the course is a good idea, even if you don't get the school job because, as you say, it can be useful in regards to future employment opportunities. Good luck with everything, giz!
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