4 Steps to Getting Hired

4 Steps to Getting Hired

4 Steps to Getting Hired

Start by Creating a Winning Cover Letter

The success factors for scoring your dream job are broken down into four elements:

  1. Winning resume and cover letter
  2. The follow-up phone call
  3. The interview
  4. The thank you letter

Hardly any job search experts focus on writing solid cover letters, focusing instead on resumes. It’s true that a resume can certainly make an impact, but if the reader has to go through dozens of resumes, he or she will see a lot of similar experiences, skills and accomplishments on your competitors’ resumes. So what sets you apart from the rest? A good cover letter.

Be sure your cover letter is custom-tailored to the position at hand, your accomplishments, objectives and skills, and give a strong case as to why you believe you are a great fit for this position. Do your homework on the company, and be prepared to mention how you will be able to help them achieve their goals, issues and concerns.

You can get some of this information from their corporate Web site and typing industry keywords into online search engines. You might get lucky and find out some common concerns, issues, and problems in your potential employers’ industry. The more research you do, the better you will be able to state these items in your cover letter. Some attention-getting items include education, accomplishments, career highlights, and company terminology that apply to the prospective company.

4 Steps to Getting Hired

Following Up With a Phone Call

Call the prospective employer after you send out your resume. The phone should be just as effective a tool for you as it is for companies that use it for interviewing. Remember to keep a record of all the positions you applied for, who you talked to, and what the next step in that process is. These notes should be reiterated in your follow-up cover letter correspondence. It will show your initiative and commitment to your job search.

Always answer your phone in a polite and courteous manner. Never answer your phone while eating, or while dogs or children are making noise in the background. Likewise, your answering machine or voicemail is a direct reflection of you. Keep your greeting short and to the point in order to project a professional image when a prospective employer calls you.

A greeting with loud music or a lot of people talking at the same time is not going to score you any points with the caller. If someone else is answering your phone, instruct them to give only specific information that you want to share with the caller. They should know you are job hunting and need them to act in a professional manner as well.


You’ve made it through the first two steps in the job search process. Congratulations! But don’t get too excited, you still have a long way to go.  

Here’s a to-do list to help you ace the interview:

  1. Unless you have a closet full of suits, jackets, shirts, and skirts (for women) or ties (for men), you need to go shopping. First impressions will go a long way.
  2. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Same goes for women’s shoes.
  3. Your clothes must be pressed or dry cleaned if necessary. Clothes that appear wrinkled, dirty, or smelly will have a negative effect on the interviewer.
  4. Make sure you are well groomed. Pay particular attention to your hair and face.
  5. Do not use any perfume or cologne. You never know if the interviewer is allergic to certain scents. Deodorant is necessary.

Now that you have the grooming part down, you need a strategy for what you will say and how you will say it.

A good start is a firm handshake, and then you might start off with small talk.

Example: I have heard great things about your company, I understand that ABC Company has 46% market share of widgets being made in North America.

Another Example: I read the article you wrote in healthcare weekly magazine about ways to minimize emergency room wait times and personal care to patients at your hospital. It was very enlightening.

If you plan on small talk, choose a topic suited to the prospective employer’s industry to show the interviewer that you keep up with industry trends and news. All it takes is a visit to the Web to learn about the company and the interviewer. Remember, always maintain eye contact.     

In your face-to-face interview, don’t come off too cocky or overconfident by giving an impression that you’re too good for the job or that the interviewer should feel privileged that you came in to interview with them. This sends a negative message to the interview.

During the interview, pay close attention and have your list of researched questions ready to ask at the appropriate time. Just remember that as you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the company to make sure it will be a good fit for you.

Writing a Thank you Letter

Once the interview is over, the next step in the process is to write a thank-you letter. Choose your words wisely. Be sure to mention a few key interests, your experience, and the value you will bring to the company. Finish the letter by thanking the interviewer for his or her time, and express interest in the company and position. Write and send the thank-you letter as soon as you get home from the first interview. 

A hand-written letter shows a personalized touch. If you don’t have good handwriting, a typed letter will do. You can mail or hand-deliver your thank-you letter to the interviewer’s office to his/her assistant. It is also becoming increasingly acceptable to send the letter via e-mail.

If the interviewer’s hiring decision came down to you and another candidate with identical backgrounds and experience, and you were the one that sent a thank-you letter, I would bet money you would get the job.

You are your own advertising billboard, so go out there and advertise your skills and abilities.





12 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid 

Make a good first impression that gets you in the door, and avoid these mistakes at all costs.

1. Comparisons and clichés: Avoid overused clichés because such expressions distract from your letter’s purpose. You want to showcase your most impressive skills and accomplishments.

2. Unrelated or unrealistic career goals: Tailor your cover letter to the specific position for which you are applying. Hiring managers are only interested in what you can do for the company, not what you hope to accomplish for yourself. Your letter should convey a genuine interest in the position and how you will fulfill your duties. Example: “I am very interested in this executive assistant position, and I am confident in my ability to make a long-term contribution to your staff.”

3. General form letters: This is mass mailing in which you send a general form letter to a large number of employers. This is not recommended because this approach does not allow you to personalize each application. Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the position you are seeking and demonstrate both your commitment to a specific industry and particular employer. Mass mailings might indicate to a hiring manager that you are not truly interested in joining his or her organization.

4. Wasting space: Cover letters are generally just a few paragraphs long, and every word of every sentence should be directly related to your purpose for writing. In other words, if you are applying for a position as an engineer, include only the skills and experience that apply to that field. Any other irrelevant information weakens your application.

5. Incorrect or erroneous company information: Verify the accuracy of any company information that you mention in your cover letter. If you haven’t researched the company, don’t exaggerate. Saying something like: “I know about your company” or “I am familiar with your products” signal to an employer that you haven’t done your homework. Be specific when citing information about a company such as product or service offerings, locations, news and events, etc.

6. Personal photos: This is the no-no you most want to avoid. Adding a photo to your cover letter or even resume is a sure way of eliminating you from consideration for the position advertised. One of the reasons is you might remind the interviewer of someone he or she does not like, or had a bad experience with. You don’t want to eliminate yourself right off the bat without being given a chance.

7. Mentioning shortcomings: This is a big mistake because you’re emphasizing your flaws rather than your strengths. For example, avoid statements like, “Although I don’t have related experience, I remain very interested in the store manager position,” or “I’m not qualified for this position, but I always wanted to work in the dry cleaning field.” Instead, emphasize your strengths, including valuable skills, related experience, and company knowledge.

8. “Amusing” anecdotes: If you want serious consideration from a prospective employer, your cover letter should present a serious, professional tone. Let’s imagine you’re in an interview setting. Since you do not know your interviewer, you would not joke with him or her until you have determined what demeanor is appropriate. Likewise, when writing to a potential employer you never met, you should remain professional.

9. Misrepresentation: At any point of a job search, NEVER ever misrepresent yourself. Erroneous claims in a cover letter or resume could be grounds for dismissal as soon as the inaccuracy is discovered. Stick to the facts. You are selling your skills and accomplishments in your cover letter. If you achieve something, say so, and put it in the best possible light. Don’t hold back or be modest.

10. Personal information: Do not include your age, weight, height, marital status, race, religion, or any other personal information unless you feel that it directly pertains to the position that you’re seeking. If you are applying for an athletic sports team, height and weight may be important to include. Similarly, you should list your personal interests and hobbies only if they are directly relevant to the type of job you are seeking.

11. Demanding statements: Your cover letter should demonstrate what you can do for an employer, not what he or she can do for you. Instead of saying, “I am looking for an opportunity in which I will be adequately challenged and compensated,” say, “I am confident that I could make a significant contribution to your organization, specifically by expanding your customer base in the Midwest region and implementing incentive programs for new accounts.”

12. Typographical Errors and Signature: It is very easy to make mistakes in your letters, especially when you are writing many in succession. But it is also very easy for a hiring manager to reject any cover letter that contains errors, even those that seem minor at first glance. Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for when proofreading your letter. Provide pertinent information in your cover letter. If you forget to communicate something to your addressee, you can easily retype the letter in Microsoft Word, Including a supplementary note, either typed or handwritten, will be viewed as unprofessional or, worse yet, lazy


How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets Read

How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets Read

How to Write a Cover Letter That Gets Read

Many people underestimate the power of a good Cover Letter. Many hiring managers and recruiters won’t even consider you unless you submit one with your resume. Here’s a good way to get started. 


The cover letter is an important part of your job search campaign. Truth be told, many employers will not even look at your resume if you do not have a cover letter attached. You can also strike out if your cover letter is poorly written or hard to understand.


If your cover letter is not read, chances are your resume won’t get read either. It’s hard to get an interview when no one reads your resume. Therefore, give the same careful consideration and attention to the preparation of cover letters as you gave to your resume.


There are two types of cover letters you might use in your job search:


Letter of Application or Response to an Advertisement: This type of letter is used when you are responding to a specific advertised job opening. You should show how your skills and qualifications fit the requirements of the position.


Letter of Inquiry: This type of letter is used when you are contacting an individual or organization to ask about possible openings. You should focus on broader occupational or organizational requirements to demonstrate how your qualifications match the work environment or how your skills can help the company meet its needs. 


Whichever type of cover letter you send, it will say a lot about you as a professional and as a prospective employee. Your cover letter should be a clear demonstration of your written communication skills and relevant industry experience, as well as your ability to convince and persuade the reader that you would be an asset to the organization. 


This means you’ll have to prepare a new letter for each company. Research the particular needs and requirements of the organization and position for which you are applying. 


You must compose a letter that communicates your value in a concise and professional manner. The cover letter guidelines and sample paragraphs that follow should help you achieve these goals.


General Guidelines and Suggestions for Preparing Cover Letters


  1. Write clearly and simply. Keep it simple and avoid jargon. Keep it short and sweet by saying what you have to say directly. Don’t go over one page if possible.
  1. Keep it brief. A one-page letter comprising three to four paragraphs should suffice. Your cover letter should never be more than one page long.


  1. 3. Show what you can do for the reader, not what you want the reader to do for you. Keep the focus on your qualifications as they relate to the position you are seeking.
  1. Make mention of one or two specific accomplishments or strengths. Demonstrate your expertise or proficiency and make the reader want to know more about you, then refer the reader to your resume for more information. It’s important to not only mention what you have done in the past, but will you will be able to do in the future for them.
  1. Make sure your letters and emails are easy to read. Keep to the point but demonstrate that you have sound business-writing principles in your communications. You want the messaging to come across in an active voice.
  1. Compose high quality, error-free copy. Be sure to proofread your cover letter carefully. Use the same font and pitch used in your resume, and make your letter look as much like your resume as possible. Don’t forget to spell-check your cover letter. This is an important step, because even the slight error or misspelling can take you out of consideration for the job.
  1. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person and include their title, if known. If you don’t have a name but do know the company, call the main switchboard or human resources department and ask for the name of the human resources manager, the name of the person handling the opening, or the person in charge of the department where the position will be located. 


If you can’t find a name, go to the “careers” section of the company’s website or Linked In, you should be able to get the name of the human resources or recruiting person. It’s not advisable to use a generic salutation like “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” It’s too informal for the reader.


  1. Use high-quality stationary and envelopes. Use the same paper as your resume and purchase matching envelopes.
  1. Be honest. You should be able to back up what you say with evidence and specific examples from your experience.
  1. Be positive in your tone, attitude, choice of words and expectations. Convey your self-confidence, enthusiasm, and professionalism.
  1. Be sure to sign your letter using your full name as typed. Use a high-quality pen with black or blue ink, and be sure your signature is legible.
  2. Close by stating what action you will be taking as a follow-up to your letter. This takes the burden off the reader and also gives you more control over the process.
  1. Tell your story. What peaked your interest about this company? Was there something that you remembered about this company that made you remember it? Did you buy a product from this company that was memorable that inspired you or changed your life?

Tell a story about your experiences with the company, people or products either as a consumer or in a business related setting. Try to keep it short and sweet.


  1. Don’t have a lot of experience? In cases where new graduates with little or no experience apply, they focus on their educational background, achievements or academic accolades. It’s better to focus on your work experience if any instead of the educational experience. Even if it’s minimal, start with your work experience first.
  1. Use some impressive numbers. Hiring managers love to see statistics, data, metrics that help their company improve market position. Offer some stats to illustrate your knowledge, and the impact you could make if hired. It shows them that you have a firm understanding about their company and the industry as a whole.
  1. Use a testimonial. You can use a quote or testimonial from a former employer, client, or even co-worker. For example: “Ken is a top-notch analyst that goes above and beyond when it comes to developing reports and organizing teams”. A brief paragraph toward the end of your cover letter should do.

17. Stand out from the crowd. When you’re writing, you should think about how to connect with the hiring manager. A good way to do this is to throw out conventional thinking, and be bold and exciting. Hiring managers remember cover letters that were thought provoking and adding some interesting tidbits about the candidate.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at


8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

This will outline eight steps to help give you an advantage over the many other job seekers by making the most of your career-fair efforts.

There are a variety of job fairs out there, and some of them are more worth your time than others. Some job fairs are specific to industry. Your alma mater might offer a job fair. There are also industry trade shows that have job boards or recruiting days, along with the opportunity to talk about jobs with exhibitors.

Large company’s also put on job fairs of their own to recruit candidates as well. They do this at one or more of their locations that can accommodate large groups of people. You can find and research job fairs through local newspapers, cable TV stations, the internet, business publications, and college recruiting offices. Career job fairs should only be a small part of your overall job search strategy.

  1. Register for a Job Fair. Pre-registering for the event is recommended, because most job fairs allow you to register online. You might be asked to submit a resume or summary resume. Pre-registration allows employers to prescreen applicants and make note of those they want to meet at the fair. Pre-registration does not guarantee that you will get noticed or that employers will even look at the registrations. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to pre-register since it’s easy to do and can reap big benefits.
  1. Research attending companies. I cannot overemphasize the importance of going to the web and researching the companies with which you plan to visit while you’re at the job fair. There will be hundreds, or in the case of larger job fairs, thousands of applicants who will be going to the same booth you plan to visit. Ask yourself, why will they consider you for their position instead of the many others who have shown up and told them what a great candidate they are? When you go to a job fair, be ready to interview. Often the people at the booth are recruiters or human resource professionals. The interview begins as soon as you walk up to the booth. The recruiter will size you up by noting your attire, your demeanor, your handshake, and how you conduct yourself during this conversation.
  1. Bring resumes. Bring lots of resumes to the fair, at least two for each company in which you have an interest. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, bring enough of each version of your resume. Make a good impression on recruiters by handing them a hard copy of your resume, collecting their business cards and promising to e-mail them a soft copy later in the day. Recruiters appreciate having a soft copy so they can reformat it when they present it to their clients or for internal use. Be productive at job fairs because they only last a day or two. Goal: Schedule an in-person interview with at least one exhibitor that you have an interest in.
  1. Wear appropriate conference attire. Conservative business attire is essential because image and first impressions are critical. Find out what is the expected attire for the conference and dress accordingly. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A business suit always works best. Make sure the suit is clean and pressed.
  1. Devise an overall strategy. You need to devise a strategy or plan of attack for the fair. You’ve already done the first step by researching the companies you are interested in. The next step is to survey the layout of the fair and determine an order of interviewing. Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. But remember to stay flexible as your top choices may be the top choices for many.
  1. Hone your one-minute pitch. You won’t have much time to interview, so make every minute productive. You don’t want to be screened out early. Develop a one-minute “marketing” power discussion highlighting the key benefits that you can offer the organization. Also remember the four keys to all interviews: Make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, show enthusiasm and smile. You should also be prepared to answer interview questions just as you would any employment interview. Conclude the discussion by asking, “What do I need to do to obtain a second in-person interview with your firm?”
  1. Network While at the Job Fair. Career fairs are all about networking. You’re obviously building a network with the recruiters, but you can also network with your fellow job-seekers. Your peers can help by sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles. There might also be professional organizations or employment agencies on hand at the fair, which are also good sources for networking.

Follow up. You would be surprised at how few job seekers actually take the time to follow up on their career fair interviews. Some experts suggest calling the recruiter the evening of the fair and leaving a voicemail message thanking them for their time. The more traditional approach is to write a thank-you note and mail it the next day. Thank the recruiter for their time, restate your interest in the position, reiterate your interest for a second interview and promise to follow up later with a phone call. Make sure you call! Enclose another copy of your resume with the thank-you letter.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at