Your resume gives prospective employers a first glance of you as a candidate. However, it is through the cover letter that you can truly communicate your personality and goals to the employer—it’s how they really get to know you. A well-written cover letter also shows the employer that you can think clearly, communicate well and present yourself professionally to others. These abilities are crucial for any job you’re looking for.
Here are some tips for cover letters that sell:
- Always send a cover letter, even if the job listing didn’t ask for one—it’s proper business etiquette to accompany a resume with a cover letter
- Research the company—know more about the employer’s needs
- Be concise—get to the point as quickly as possible; the whole letter should only be a couple of paragraphs. The opening paragraph should clearly state the position for which you are applying
- Keep it professional, but friendly—cover letters give you a chance to reveal your personality and prove that you’re a good fit for the position.
- Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person—try to find out who the correct person is, if it is not included in the job posting
- Focus on what you can do for the employer, not what the employer can do for you
- Try to be original and creative—give an example of your most challenging project or excerpts from a performance review, etc.
- The final paragraph should present a call for action. Express your strong interest in an interview and state that you will follow up soon to confirm that your resume was received
- Cover letters should be free of errors, so thoroughly proofread them before sending! Please spell the hiring manager’s name correctly!
Preparing for the interview
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the interview. This is your chance to “wow” the employer and prove that you are the best candidate for the job. Give yourself a leading advantage by following these steps:
Know the company!
- Review the company website if available
- Look at the annual report
- Look at recent news and press releases
- Use the company’s site to research those who will be interviewing you
- Look up the company’s history
- Know the company philosophy
- Make sure to read the mission statement and be able to summarize it
- Think of how the position you’re applying for relates to the company mission
- Get some vital statistics and independent perspectives on the prospective employer
- Know the company’s customers, as well as its competitors
- Practice answers to standard questions
- Prepare questions to ask
- Practice presenting your personal qualifications and skills
- Know what you have to contribute to a company—your skills, experience, personality, etc.
- Prepare examples
- Always dress professionally
- Plan ahead! Get clear directions
What the interviewer really wants to know
- Do you have the skills to do the job?
- Hard skills— based on previous experience
- Soft skills—ability to work with others, team player etc.
- Do you fit in with the company?
- Do you understand the company and its purpose?
- How do you stack up against the other competition?
- Your performance is always being compared to the others applying
- Do you have the right mindset for the job and company?
- Are you motivated and want to be challenged?
- Do you really want the job?
The BIG Day: The Day of the Interview
- Be on time
- Be positive
- Bring two clean copies of your resume
- Bring a list of references
- Demonstrate self-confidence and make eye contact
- Remember to listen
- Reflect before answering a difficult question
- Ask relevant questions
- Avoid questions regarding salary and benefits
- Leave the interviewer with a good impression—think of some skills that you would like to be remembered by
- Ask if there’s any more information that they might need, such as references etc.
- State how interested you are in the job—remind them of what you could contribute to the job and company
- Ask about the next step process—when a decision will be made
- End with a thank you and a firm handshake
- Follow up with a thank you note
- First Impression
Hiring managers don’t have time to spend hours reviewing resumes. Their strategy is to pick out resumes that look the best at first glance, and then review them later in more detail. This being the case, most hiring managers will typically spend no more than 30 seconds giving your resume a first look. The first impression is your opportunity to stand out from the pile.
- Is the resume original—not based on a pre-made template?
- Is the resume attractive to the eye?
- Does the resume design look professional?
- Do you have a qualifications summary, so the reader immediately knows your value proposition?
- Is the length and overall appearance appropriate given your career level and objective?
- Does the resume provide a visually pleasing, polished presentation?
- Is the font appropriate?
- Are margins even on all sides, and is there a good balance between text and white space?
- Are font size and spacing consistent throughout the document?
- If the resume is longer than a page, does the second page contain a heading? Is the page break formatted correctly?
- Resume Sections
- Is your resume clearly labeled, using bullets, border lines and bolding to separate sections?
- Are area sections placed in the best order to highlight the applicant’s strongest credentials?
- Is the work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first)?
- Career Goal
- Is the career objective included toward the top of the resume in a headline, objective or qualifications summary?
- Is the resume targeting a specific job you’re applying for?
- Does the resume include a solid list of career accomplishments?
- Are your accomplishments separated from responsibilities?
- Is appropriate additional information included, such as awards and affiliations?
- Do you have information listed that is not relevant to the target job, e.g. marital status, age and nationality? If so, that information should be removed.
- Writing Style
- Is the resume written in an implied first-person voice, omitting personal pronouns such as “I”, “me” and “my”?
- Does the content flow logically and is it easy to understand?
- Is the resume as perfect as possible, with no careless typos or spelling, grammar or syntax errors?
Here are some ways to get your resume noticed, even if you’re not living locally:
- Specify your relocation availability to the employer, e.g. when you plan to move and how quickly you can relocate
- Use your cover letter to explain your relocation situation
- Be available for interviews—plan to be available at the job location for at least a week to attend face-to-face interviews
- You can include this information, with specific dates, in your cover letter
- You can also suggest an initial phone interview and then arrange to meet in person if there is mutual interest
- Don’t use a local address that isn’t yours—it may cause confusion. It’s better to be honest about where you’re living and then use your cover letter to explain your interest in relocating
Relocating to the USA?
You will need to obtain a visa to find work. Please visit the website below to identify which visa is most appropriate for you!
“Ford’s recruiting process is efficient and effective. We have been working with them for 5+ years and each time we call, we are given immediate attention and made to feel like we are important and a priority. Candidates are well-prepared for interviews and understand the company before they even step in the door. We really appreciate the effort Ford makes to not only find candidates for us in a timely manner but also find us the best possible candidate to meet our needs.”