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Sunday
Apr132014

Your generic cover letter, as experienced by a hiring manager.

 

To Whom It May Concern:

I am applying for your open job with this generic, form-looking cover letter. 

It is in 12-point Times Roman, with perfect one-inch margins around all sides.

I should probably warn you in advance that this letter will paralyze you with boredom, and tell you virtually nothing new about me. In fact, I'm going to reiterate exact phrases from my resume, just in case you missed them over there.

I'm also going to pad this thing generously with a bunch of empty, overused cliches, including "detail oriented," "outside-of-the-box" and "proven track record."

I may even throw in the term "very unique" because what's better than being unique? You got that right, being VERY unique. Which is me. (I'm sure you can already tell this from the letter, right?)

I'm guessing you're going to know in an instant that I am currently wallpapering the universe with this same letter (cut and paste is such a magical thing, don't you think?) But I'm very very busy, so this is the only practical way someone so very unique (and busy) as I can go about this job search thing.

I'm sure you'll understand.

Throughout this letter, I will also use a terse, robotic tone that will give you zero indication of my personality. It's my fun little way of challenging you to figure out on your own if I'm going to fit in around the place once you hire me, which I'm sure you will. 

Oh yes, before I go further, let me tell you what I want in my next job. In fact, let me outline in detail what I want throughout my career, just so you know that I expect frequent accolades, raises and promotions should I join your firm.

You are hanging on the edge of your seat wondering how you can meet my needs, yes?

Finally, I will go off on a strange, irrelevant tangent that leaves you wondering why I even dropped those two sentences into this letter. This is my attempt at standing out. 

Thank you, sir, for your consideration. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Sincerely,

 

Your Next Big Thing

 

Photo: Flickr.com Creative Commons (Jmettraux) 

Friday
Mar142014

Want a six-figure job? Put in six-figure effort.


An extended job search, especially for those who are currently unemployed, can be a soul-crushing, frustrating and incredibly panic-inducing event. In fact, it often is. Many who have trudged through a challenging, lengthy job search look back at that segment of their lives as one of their least favorites, to say the least.

But for some, especially those gunning for the relative few number of high-income, "top of pyramid" roles, some of this distress is completely unrelated to the economy, the jerk HR person who didn't see your worth, or your dumb luck in general.

Sometimes, the soul-crushing lengthy search is happening -- at least in part -- because of your disorganized or haphazard effort.

Here's the thing. Unless you get incredibly lucky,


You cannot land a six-figure job unless you put in six-figure effort.


These jobs aren't just being handed out like food samples at Costco. They're being filled only after careful consideration by a team of executives, who all have to agree they love you ... who all have to agree that you are going to walk through their doors with firepower, focus and tenacity and deliver incredible value and results.

You need to make this clear to them right from the intro. You need to demonstrate six-figure effort.

 

Six-figure effort is not sitting down at your laptop, donut in hand, at 10:30 a.m. to breeze around on Indeed.com for an hour or so.

 It's having a game plan, and a daily / weekly schedule that segments out your time into proactive, networking-based activities that will help propel you toward your goal.


Six-figure effort is not using a generic cover letter for every job for which you apply.
People don't tend to hire candidates they suspect are out there wallpapering the universe with the same cover letter. They hire people that are genuine, clear and show the potential employer -- right from the start, why they want to work there, what (specifically) they appreciate about this organization, and how they can make a specific impact. This is impossible to achieve with a generic cover letter.

Six-figure effort is not using one standard resume while targeting jobs in more than one distinct market sector.
Your resume is a marketing document. Clear and simple. And if you don't know who you're marketing to, how on earth are you going to position yourself as the solution to the very things that target audience cares about the most? If you're a sales manager who also maybe wants to be a sr. design engineer and occasionally applies for teaching jobs? Three resumes. Each showcasing your specific talents in that sector. Make yourself make sense to your audience.

Six-figure effort is not phoning it in to a "headhunter" and expecting that she's going to tirelessly shop you around town until she finds THE ONE for you (that's called an agent, by the way, not a headhunter).
It's taking radical responsibility for your career growth and success. Enlisting the support of a respected recruiter that specializes in your field can certainly enhance your overall effort, but you must never, ever assume that you can lob the assignment over the fence at a headhunter and let her take it from there.

Six-figure effort is not having absolutely no job search tracking system.
When you're out there meeting people, networking, applying for various roles and interviewing, you absolutely must have a system in place to keep track of the status of each opportunity and conversation, so that you may follow up and strategize accordingly. A simple Excel spreadsheet will do you wonders.

Six-figure effort is not refusing to participate on LinkedIn, or other social media platforms.
I don't care if you're 68 years old and feel that social media is nothing but a ridiculous waste of time. This is where our world is today. Social media is how recruiters find talent, how professionals make introductions and how we all do research on the people and organizations we're courting. Having a digital footprint is vital today, in terms of demonstrating to decision makers that you're an intelligent, engaged and CURRENT professional.

Six-figure effort is not wearing "any old thing" to the big interview.
 
It's carefully selecting something you feel great in, and you believe aligns well with the personality of the company. It's about shining your shoes, pressing your shirt and looking like a human who is completely put together, inside and out. This doesn't have to be a budget-busting affair. It simply requires planning, thought and maybe an ironing board.

Do you want a six-figure job? Heck, do you want a great five-figure job? 

Put in the effort. Identify where you're cutting corners. Get real with yourself on what's working in your search, and what's not. Set the donut down (unless it's custard filled - totally gobble that one down). It's time to become strategic, crafty and bold in your job search.

Your life is worth a noble effort. Isn't it time to show yourself what you're truly made of?

photo: Flickr.com Creative Commons (AMagill)
Tuesday
Mar112014

How to Avoid Outing Yourself on LinkedIn (+ It's Launch Day!)


If you're working like mad to move your career forward, shift paths or get out of a job that, well, just doesn't do it for you, you'll want to learn everything you can about LinkedIn. It's your power tool, and could be your direct ticket to the next big thing.
But if you're currently employed, and would die if your co-workers or boss found out that you're sniffing around elsewhere, you really need to be careful as you use LinkedIn as part of your overall search strategy -- especially if you have colleagues, supervisors or clients among your LinkedIn connections.
 

Top 3 things to do / not do if you're trying to stay under the radar:

  1. If you join Groups related to job search, hide the logo. This is a must. And it's easy to do. If you're new to a Group, you will have an option to show or hide the logo as you go through the signup process. If you've already joined one, and want to hide the logo now, go into the Group => Click on the italic "i" near the top of the screen => Go into Settings => Uncheck "Display Group Logo".
     
  2. Don't ask 10 people for recommendations all at once, especially not colleagues. People revving up for a job search often decide to chase after a few new recommendations. Which is great, but if you're conducting a search on the sly, use care in who you approach, and how many people you approach at once. As a recruiter, if I see someone has 10 new recommendations within the space of a week, guess what I think? Yep. Blaring billboard for "job seeker."
     
  3. As you make edits, turn off your activity broadcasts as you work. This is, perhaps, the Mack Daddy of things you need to get right. If you plan to update your LinkedIn profile as means to put your best foot forward with job search, don't edit a single thing until you turn off your activity broadcasts. Otherwise, every little change you make will be announced to your connections, and they may wonder what you're up to.

    Instead, make all the updates with the broadcast feature turned "off" and then flip it back on when you're done. You'll find that in Privacy & Settings => Privacy Controls => Turn on / off your activity broadcasts. UNcheck the box as you work.
LinkedIn will absolutely be a vital tool for you, through job search and beyond. You just want to be mindful of perceptions if you're trying to pull off a search in secret. 


Need more LinkedIn guidance?


Our Ridiculously Awesome LinkedIn Kit launched today. In the kit, you'll learn how to set up your profile the right way, and how to leverage the heck out of this incredible resource for research, professional branding, and as a brilliant tool that'll help you endear yourselves to the exact people who could make a huge difference to your career. Sound like something you need? You'll find it right over HERE.