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Old 07-13-2018, 08:12 PM   #41
Yamer
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For me, the cover letter was more to see if the person could be a fit with the team. In my career, we usually had some pretty tight knit teams, and if someone wasn't a fit, it wasn't good.
If the cover letter looked good, and they had some of the qualifications we were looking for, we'd bring them in. Then after the first interview, if we liked them, they met the rest of the team. The team fit was the most important to us providing they could do or learn the job.
We had guys who were damn smart, and either had huge ego's or were really awkward around people, especially the customer. They were more than qualified, but we'd have to spend time coaching them on how to work with people. If they couldn't, we would have to let them go.

So, in my opinion, the cover letter is to reveal more of your personality than a resume can.
This is where the problem comes in: you have 1 page, minus header, address/date inserts, and attention lines to convince an often nameless person you have never met before that someone they have never met before is a fit for the team.

I'm with Finger Cookin on this one, and probably because I have now written hundreds of the damn things, that there is absolutely no way of knowing from one application to another how effective the cover letter is and what the employer actually wants to see it contain. I'm just at a loss of what a cover letter could do that a fully detailed resume can't.

I would think if I've outlined that I meet the qualifications, exemplify my experience and training, and even took a bit of time to individually address the majority of the 'requirements/needs' in the posting then there is a solid foundation. Let's have an interview so we can read each other and see if there's a fit with the intangibles.

This is moot when the posting clarifies what they want to see in a cover letter, of course.

And none of this is to undermine or toss-out the advice given in this thread. I'm reading every word. Just...frustrating!
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Old 07-13-2018, 08:27 PM   #42
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I do a lot of hiring. I'm in the legal field. Things that bug me:

1. CVs longer than one page
2. Resumes that are needlessly long (ie 3 pages long instead of one page and a bit)

If you have interests, or have done something interesting in your life (ie travelled the world by bicycle, lived in a foreign country) put it on your resume, it'll make you stand out as interesting and get you the job over the boring person.

I cull the resumes I receive pretty quickly.

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Old 07-14-2018, 08:49 AM   #43
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I can relate... i spent exactly 2 years un/under-employed.

The position I'm in now was application #118 (out of 138).

A few things that helped me (and admittedly I spent months in frustration saying almost verbatim what you've shared):

- Make a modular cover letter. I would have a standard opening section, then 2 or 3 paragraphs of examples geared towards the particular position (pulled from 10 well-written examples i kept on file) followed by a personalized concluding paragraph (figure about 50% similar to other applications). This way I could have a well-tailored cover letter without taking 3 hours to prepare it.

- In my opinion, your Cover letter should describe the benefits your employer will receive from you, rather than just what you are capable of. An example from one of my Covers:
Quote:
Youíll be confident walking into a meeting with the Board of Directors or a key shareholder knowing that the numberís Iíve prepared will be accurate, key risks will be identified, and a compelling narrative highlighting upside opportunity will have been developed;
- I began sending a paper copy of my resume and cover letter directly to the hiring manager. With a bit of googling/linkedin scanning you can often find the name of the hiring manager. My response rate was 3x better with paper resumes rather than just the online systems.

- I read Cal Newport's book So Good they Can't Ignore You. Figure out what you are better at than anybody else (or at least in the best 5% globally) and then develop a way to demonstrate it credibly. I got certified as an Excel Expert by Microsoft and then created a youtube channel providing tutorials to other people preparing for the exam. I'm sure it helped in my interview when the hiring manager asked if i could perform a particular skill and I responding that yes i can, and that I actually have a video online where i teach that same skill to others. But whether it is youtube, blogs or otherwise - find a way to share your expertise.

- I took the Alberta Government's resume writing class and found it surprisingly beneficial. Not as much for the resume tips, but there was a lot of focus on understanding how online screening systems work. They pointed out www.jobscan.co which i found was a great resource on 'gaming' the online system a bit.

Anyways, i know there are few things more frustrating than looking for work in this environment. I had many dark days. Best of luck to you.
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:27 AM   #44
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Haha old school black hat SEO technique. It'll get you banned from google, but I'd be surprised if HR screening software catches up with it, unless everyone started using this technique.
Iíve heard most of the automated programs pick this up now and itís not recommended.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:31 AM   #45
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If you have interests, or have done something interesting in your life (ie travelled the world by bicycle, lived in a foreign country) put it on your resume, it'll make you stand out as interesting and get you the job over the boring person.
Sighhhh.
So much conflicting advice.

I've been told repeatedly to get any personal interests or anything unrelated to my career OFF my resume because nobody wants to hear about my personal life at this stage and it just takes up space.

Then again before I took it off, 3 hiring managers made note of my appreciation of Formula 1.

However, after it was pounded into me to remove personal stuff I took it out and only left my volunteer activities.
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:08 AM   #46
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Sighhhh.
So much conflicting advice.

I've been told repeatedly to get any personal interests or anything unrelated to my career OFF my resume because nobody wants to hear about my personal life at this stage and it just takes up space.

Then again before I took it off, 3 hiring managers made note of my appreciation of Formula 1.

However, after it was pounded into me to remove personal stuff I took it out and only left my volunteer activities.
I stand by my advice. When education or experience is level, people will hire interesting people who have done interesting things or people who have the same interests as them.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:12 AM   #47
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I stand by my advice. When education or experience is level, people will hire interesting people who have done interesting things or people who have the same interests as them.
Agreed. When I hire, I want a cover letter explaining how the candidate is best fit for the position, and I want to know a bit about them on a personal side. Life experiences are a great indicator to the type of character they are, and I do value this when I review applications.

On the cover letter side, I want a fully customized cover letter. If I see too much boilerplate, I throw it in the trash. That usually just tells me you haven't put enough thought and research into the position at hand. And it's no biggie either, I'll come across a cover letter that I'm seeking. It always happens.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:13 AM   #48
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I stand by my advice. When education or experience is level, people will hire interesting people who have done interesting things or people who have the same interests as them.
Sure. But i wouldnít have it on my resume. Thatís something that comes up in an interview. If I see things like that on a resume I assume they donít have more skills or other things that are job applicable to put on the resume.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:47 AM   #49
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Sure. But i wouldnít have it on my resume. Thatís something that comes up in an interview. If I see things like that on a resume I assume they donít have more skills or other things that are job applicable to put on the resume.
You would assume that? Why wouldn't it be in addition to the skills on one's resume?
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:52 AM   #50
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You would assume that? Why wouldn't it be in addition to the skills on one's resume?
I just think your resume is for professional skills experience and education.

I guess if you were a new grad or something where your skills are limited then maybe. But 5+ year professional I wouldn't want to see it.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:55 AM   #51
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I just think your resume is for professional skills experience and education.

I guess if you were a new grad or something where your skills are limited then maybe. But 5+ year professional I wouldn't want to see it.
I guess it depends on the industry. In my line of work (creative-based), I would value seeing information like that.
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Old 07-15-2018, 10:58 AM   #52
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I guess it depends on the industry. In my line of work (creative-based), I would value seeing information like that.
Yah that's definitely true.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:03 PM   #53
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I'm glad the thread has been well received, and really thankful for all the advice. It's been encouraging hearing the same frustrations from people in a similar situation, although it's too bad any of us has to worry about something so essential.

Absorbing some of the advice in here, I think I am going to take a completely new approach to my cover letter themes and totally revamp my master template.

Here's a few more questions for those here doing the hiring:

1. How appealing is it to brag in your cover letter? For instance, I graduated at the top of my class at U of C (nerd!). Should I include "with distinction", or even go as far as stating that achievement outright?

2. To what extent, or how relevant, is it to be personal or casual? People have mentioned including personal interests or passions. Perhaps something near the end in passing (eg. I'm a hockey history and culture enthusiast)?

And do you appreciate a cover letter with a casual tone, or is professionalism priority? A little of both?
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:36 PM   #54
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Once over the "resume pile", I found that the biggest sticking point preventing moving to the next step is the dreaded "what's your salary range?" question. I have tried to avoid it buy saying that I am not chasing the money, etc., but can rarely get away without giving a number that I am never sure is too high or too low.
It's been a long time since I had an interview, but when the question came up, my answer was.... considering my experience, 90% (can't remember if that was the exact number, maybe 80, but whatever) of the salary range for that position. What is the salary range of the position?
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:01 PM   #55
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I'm glad the thread has been well received, and really thankful for all the advice. It's been encouraging hearing the same frustrations from people in a similar situation, although it's too bad any of us has to worry about something so essential.

Absorbing some of the advice in here, I think I am going to take a completely new approach to my cover letter themes and totally revamp my master template.

Here's a few more questions for those here doing the hiring:

1. How appealing is it to brag in your cover letter? For instance, I graduated at the top of my class at U of C (nerd!). Should I include "with distinction", or even go as far as stating that achievement outright?

2. To what extent, or how relevant, is to be personal or casual? People have mentioned including personal interests or passions. Perhaps something near the end in passing (eg. I'm a hockey history and culture enthusiast)?

And do you appreciate a cover letter with a casual tone, or is professionalism priority? A little of both?
1. I don't think your cover letter is a good place to be humble, but there is a way to frame things. For example, saying you graduated at the top of the class is amazing... but provide context: "I was one of seven students in a class of 3,000 to achieve XXX distinction." I don't think this is bragging (or even what you wrote). This is simply what happened. I would want to know how you got there and what you did with that achievement after.

2. This depends on the organization and role. If you're applying to a stodgy energy firm as a marketing analyst or whatever, better to play it safe. Be creative if it's an ad agency. I think in either capacity your cover letter should tell a story of who you are, what you've done and what you want to achieve.

I do feel tone should reflect your personality accurately although that could potentially work against you... from my standpoint, I wouldn't want to work at a place that doesn't like my personality. But if you're after any job, then adapt your tone to the external tone of the company.

Personal interests and passions should align with the job description: "Since childhood, I've been doodling on everything from post-its, random scraps of paper to WACOM tablets as an adult. My passion for illustration, art and graphic design is <insert additional reasons for passion here>."

I've seen a lot of communications-related cover letters and resumes. Most of the time, the number one thing I look for is an ability to write. Number two is the existence of a portfolio. I acknowledge other places/people may be different, so YMMV.
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:36 PM   #56
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I think cover letters are extremely important if your experience is not in the field. It needs to explain why you are trying to switch fields and assure me that you are not just looking for a paycheck while continuing to search for something in your primary field. Without that, I delete your resume pretty quickly as I don't want to train someone who doesn't want to be there.

I think the same applies to a location. If you are looking to move note that in the cover letter.

I would add the same note if you are over qualified as well. Basically, anything that will jump out to me as a problem should be addressed in the cover letter or the resume may be ignored as too much hassle.

On an unrelated note, and it could be just me, I find it odd when people state that they have their grade 11. If you said nothing I wouldn't think/care about it, especially if you have a work history.
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:49 PM   #57
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- In my opinion, your Cover letter should describe the benefits your employer will receive from you, rather than just what you are capable of. An example from one of my Covers:

Quote:
Youíll be confident walking into a meeting with the Board of Directors or a key shareholder knowing that the numberís Iíve prepared will be accurate, key risks will be identified, and a compelling narrative highlighting upside opportunity will have been developed;
Drop the apostrophe.

Additionally, using contractions in business writing is typically discouraged.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:14 PM   #58
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1. I don't think your cover letter is a good place to be humble, but there is a way to frame things. For example, saying you graduated at the top of the class is amazing... but provide context: "I was one of seven students in a class of 3,000 to achieve XXX distinction." I don't think this is bragging (or even what you wrote). This is simply what happened. I would want to know how you got there and what you did with that achievement after.

2. This depends on the organization and role. If you're applying to a stodgy energy firm as a marketing analyst or whatever, better to play it safe. Be creative if it's an ad agency. I think in either capacity your cover letter should tell a story of who you are, what you've done and what you want to achieve.

I do feel tone should reflect your personality accurately although that could potentially work against you... from my standpoint, I wouldn't want to work at a place that doesn't like my personality. But if you're after any job, then adapt your tone to the external tone of the company.

Personal interests and passions should align with the job description: "Since childhood, I've been doodling on everything from post-its, random scraps of paper to WACOM tablets as an adult. My passion for illustration, art and graphic design is <insert additional reasons for passion here>."

I've seen a lot of communications-related cover letters and resumes. Most of the time, the number one thing I look for is an ability to write. Number two is the existence of a portfolio. I acknowledge other places/people may be different, so YMMV.
Awesome. Appreciate the feedback.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I'm not only a recent grad, but also have only a few years experience. Items such as a portfolio, fleshed-out CV, etc. are non-existent. Ditto work examples (though I have a few published academic papers).

Of course I'm not applying for anything other than entry-level, junior, or coordinator/advisor positions. Apart from occasionally being a year off in experience, I never apply to anything for which I am not qualified.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:09 PM   #59
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Awesome. Appreciate the feedback.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I'm not only a recent grad, but also have only a few years experience. Items such as a portfolio, fleshed-out CV, etc. are non-existent. Ditto work examples (though I have a few published academic papers).

Of course I'm not applying for anything other than entry-level, junior, or coordinator/advisor positions. Apart from occasionally being a year off in experience, I never apply to anything for which I am not qualified.
And that's fair... junior positions will take lack of experience into account (usually, but there are plenty of companies out there with unrealistic expectations).

But going and taking out www.yamer.com (it's taken, I checked lol), going on Theme Forest, installing a CV template on WordPress, then putting an expanded resume (maybe with links to your academic papers) with a few well-written posts will tell a manager a billion things, such as:
  • You're making an effort and you might also do the same for my company
  • You know how to operate a CMS and have some basic understanding on how a website functions
  • You know how to write
  • Presumably, that you're not a crazy person (might want to leave out the infowars links)
As for work examples, though I don't have a great idea of what you did, there's got to be something you can show.

Maybe things like copy you helped write, events you helped manage/coordinate, etc... hell, if all you did was get coffee I would potentially call that out on my cover letter: "Over the last X months as a communications assistant at Craptastic Company, I estimate I picked up 1,983 rounds of coffee for my department. While my love of a dark roast double-double still remains strong, I feel I am capable of so much more. Here's why: <list reasons, throw to yamer.com>"

Anyways, I've been there. It's not easy. I'm not trying to make it sound like it is. Feel free to reach out via PM if you want to chat.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:07 PM   #60
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Good luck in your job search! Being unemployed is awful... I struggled for many years before finding my current position and depression set in pretty badly. My best advice would be to try and do something toward finding a job every day, even if it's just something small. I also sought out help through the programs at Work BC, and it helped with respect to finding people that could relate to being unemployed, but they weren't very helpful when it came time to give advice about finding a professional science position. For instance, a one page resume isn't going to work when you need to list all of your publications.

And a random addition to the thread for anyone (hope I'm not overstepping, please delete my post if I am):

We are currently looking for a meteorologist in St. John's. PM me with questions
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