Until midnight (ET) July 4, 2017, I am pleased to offer 50% off my full-service unlimited Job Search Planning Career Counseling Package. The service includes:
- A 2-hour Skype consultation to create a job search plan, which includes:
- a discussion on building your own brand
- a review of your needs/wants
- researching tips
- networking (including real world and LinkedIn
- a critique and editing of your cover letter and resume
- and interviewing
- Mock interviews prior to actual interviews
- Unlimited phone and e-mail follow-up until you get your next job!
This offer ends midnight July 4, 2017, at midnight (ET) and is limited to 10 job seekers.
After you have paid, please email your resume and, if you have one, a sample cover letter, to Bruce Hurwitz at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will call you within 24 hours to setup your Skype interview.
To pay visit: http://www.hsstaffing.com/4th-special.html
I have changed my mind on how to write an effective cover letter. But only in form, not substance.
What has remained the same is that a cover letter has to address only the concerns of the employer – you have to tell them what they want to hear, not what you want to tell them. It has to be so short that it can be read in 10 seconds. And, when responding to an ad, answer any questions asked – usually about salary.
So what has changed?
In the past I have recommended a first sentence that goes like this:
I wish to apply for the controller position which I saw advertised in today’s Post.
That sentence shows that you get straight to the point, tell them for which position you are applying, where you heard about it, and when. No self-praise or resume summary which is the mistake most people make.
Then I suggested a second sentence that goes like this:
Having saved my employers an average of $1 million a year, every year, by uncovering waste and improving procurement activities, I am not only confident that I can fulfill the requirements of the job but exceed them.
In other words, this is why you should hire me. No self-praise; just facts. The message: I have done it for others and I can do it for you. You won’t be taking a risk if you hire me.
I now believe that this is a mistake. The concept is perfect, but the order is wrong. In giving the advice which, by the way, has worked for many job applicants, I committed a rookie journalistic mistake: I buried the lead. So my new first paragraph would go like this:
Having saved my employers an average of $1 million a year, every year, by uncovering waste and improving procurement activities, I am not only confident that I can fulfill the requirements of the controller position which I saw advertised in today’s Post, but exceed them.
Now you are shooting with both barrels right up front. The purpose of the cover letter is to get the recipient to look at your resume. With this cover letter, they will look at your resume.
Then, if and only if they ask, tell them what your salary requirements are. If you don’t it means one of two things: Either you are playing games (Whoever says a number first loses.) or you are sloppy (There was only one question in a one inch ad and you forgot to answer it! What’s going to happen when you have a project which requires you to answer 20 questions? If you can’t handle one, how are you going to handle 20?). That said, you can answer in one of three ways: I was last earning X, not including benefits. I am currently earning X, not including benefits. My salary requirements are X, not including benefits. (The last is if you have been unemployed for a long time, or if your are concerned that you were earning too much in your last job, and is based on your actual budget.) By adding “not including benefits” you are making it clear that you are open to negotiations.
Finally end this way:
Attached please find a copy of my resume for your review.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
And that’s it. Five paragraphs (including “Sincerely”). Ten seconds to read. And it differentiates you from your competition.
Most job applicants use the cover letter to sing their own praises. “A consummate professional with….” “Are you looking for someone who never disappoints?” No employer cares what you think about yourself. Employers only care about what you can do for them. So by focusing on what you have actually accomplished, you differentiate yourself.
Sadly, you are also going to differentiate yourself in another way. The fact is, including recent college graduates, very few people can write a decent letter. You will show that you can write and employers will be pleasantly surprised, maybe even relieved!
So keep it short. Keep it focused on the employer’s needs. And have a resume that follows the same logic. Even if it takes two or three pages, make certain your resume answers employers’ questions before they ask them! It’s not hard to do.
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!
Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).
In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.
An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.
First, let me make this clear. I am not an attorney and nothing in this post should be interpreted as offering legal advice.
Second, this post is meant for foreign nationals wanting to move to the US. Be aware, there is no shortage of charlatans who will try and con you out of your money. Remember: No one can guarantee you a job. If someone promises to get you a job if you pay them, even if it is only an “administrative fee,” they are lying.
The purpose of this post is to help foreign nationals outside the United States to understand what it takes to get and keep a job in this country and to announce the launch of a new service which I am offering to these individuals.
Of course, the simplest way to get a job here is to enter as a student. Get as many internships as possible. Do a great job. Have an employer who hired you for an internship sponsor you.
Alternatively, work for a company in your home country with offices in the US. Like everything else, you will have a lot of competition. The key to getting a transfer to the US, once you have proven yourself, is differentiation. Your employer will want to know that you will be able to “handle” the US. That’s the service that I now offer: I will make you different from your competition in the ways that matter: communication and culture.
In addition to being a student or a transferee, foreigners can get work visas either as Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers or Permanent Workers, for which there are only 140,000 visas. To say that this is a complicated labyrinth is to engage in understatement. That is why it is so important to utilize your local US Consulate and, possibly, to have an immigration attorney.
Regardless of which visa you have, when you arrive you will have to have an employer. It’s the only way to get the proper visa. Countless people contact employers constantly asking for sponsorships. They are denied because they don’t know how to ask. They are not prepared. My clients will be prepared.
Let me reiterate, my concern is not with the legalities of immigration. For that there are immigration attorneys and, obviously, the US Consulate. What I am concerned about is that the immigration be successful. What could be worse than moving all the way to the US only to be fired because “it is not a good fit?”
Just because you get the visa does not mean you are guaranteed employment for life. Things don’t always work out. You may have all the professional skills and credentials, but because of a strange culture and language, things may not work out. In other words, what is missing are the personal skills. I want to make certain that does not happen to you.
These are the problems that I want to eliminate for my International Career Counseling clients:
- Knowledge of conversational English. Professionally, your English may be perfect, but your everyday English may be wanting. You can describe your latest professional project perfectly, but you can’t order breakfast at a local diner. You will learn to converse in English.
- But it is not enough to know the words, pronunciation and articulation are just as important. If no one can understand you, you might as well be speaking your native language. If necessary, I will introduce you to a speech therapist who will teach you to speak clearly. (It can be done using a Skype-like system.)
- You may know the history of the United States better than most Americans, but you may not understand the culture. What is acceptable in your country may not be acceptable here. This is especially true of workplace behavior. One mistake, even an innocent mistake, could result in your employer being sued and you losing your job. You will learn what not to do in the workplace and, for that matter, on the street.
- Looking for a job in the US, from building your brand to networking to cover letters to resumes to interviewing, will be different for you. You need to understand the process before you start the search for a sponsor (assuming you are not coming to the US as a student or a transferee from a local company). You will learn the process.
- Once you get the job, and start work, there is plenty that can still go wrong. You may be uncomfortable speaking with your boss or colleagues about certain topics. You’ll have me to consult with for the first year that you are in the US.
So remember, just because you have that prized piece of paper – the visa – in your hands, guarantees you nothing more than the opportunity to be successful in the United States. Your success will be dependent on your ability to communicate in English and to understand American culture. That’s where I come in.
Ironically, after proofreading this post, I stepped away from my desk. Someone called and left me a message. I could barely understand him. It sounded like he said he was from Kenya and that I had gotten a job for one of his friends. He asked me to call him back. First problem, I did not understand his name. Second problem, he did not leave a number. Third problem, when I phoned the number that appeared on my telephone I.D., I received a message that voice mail had yet to be set up. This is exactly what I mean by “personal skills.” This man may be very accomplished in his field, but because he does not understand how things are done in the US, and probably no one has told him about his communication problems, he may not find employment. Learn from his mistakes; don’t repeat them!
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter, career counselor and business advisor. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. Visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about the latest questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies.
I admit it. As far as I am concerned, with all do respect to Mr. Hershey, Cadbury chocolate is my favorite. But what I especially like about them today is that, at least according to the post I found on my LinkedIn feed, and assuming this is authentic, they actually respond to some job applicants whom they reject.
Here’s what the letter states:
Dear Mr. Jones:
We regret to inform you that your application for the position of Global Quality Manager has been unsuccessful. We don’t normally respond to unsuccessful applicants but in your case we’ve made an exception in order to return the £5 note you attached to the references section of your application under the line “Elizabeth *wink wink.*”
Some notes regarding your application:
- Listing “Super secret spy work I can’t legally talk about” as your previous work experience won’t fool anyone.
- In future you might want to refrain from using sentences like “C’mon, let me be a part of this great gig you’ve got going on.”
- eBay feedback isn’t a relevant reference.
- Your attached sketch of an “everlasting chocolate bar” was unwarranted, absurd and quite frankly it scared us a little.
We wish you all the best in your future endeavours,
I do not know if this letter is for real. (Given the spelling of “endevours,” it might be!) But for the sake of argument, let’s say it is.
What we have here is someone who thinks that being smart, being a wise guy, will differentiate him from his competition, get him noticed and get a response.
Well he was right. Except that he was noticed for being a fool and he only got a response because of the five quid bribe.
Yes, in your cover letter and resume you want to differentiate yourself. Sadly, today it is easy to do by just writing a well-written letter. As I have written previously, all you have to do, all you should do, is to keep it short, sweet and to the point. No self-praise and, most certainly, no nonsense. The same is true for resumes. After all, no one hires a fool!
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting. To take advantage of his December Career Counseling Special click here.
If there has been one question I have received more than any other during the past few weeks it’s, How do I change careers? My answer: You don’t. Someone else has to do it for you! Why? Because changing careers requires networking. You need help.
Here are my five steps to career change.
First, don’t quit your day job. As difficult as it is to get a new job while unemployed, it is exponentially more difficult to change careers if not presently employed. It’s possible, just more difficult.
Second, research. Find out everything you can about your chosen new career. That way, when you start networking, the people in your chosen career will be impressed with your knowledge.
Third, look at the LinkedIn profiles of the people who have careers similar to the one you want. Pay special attention to their education. If they have a degree or certification that you will require, get it. When choosing the school or program you plan to attend, base the decision not so much on the quality of their classes but on the quality of their job placement services. Then, once you graduate, use them to find internships and, ultimately, jobs.
Fourth, join groups where you will be able to meet persons in your chosen career. Look for mentors. By “mentor” I mean someone who will help guide you in your new career for free. If they charge, they are consultants and you’ll pay a fortune for limited, if any, results. You want someone who will take you under their wings, so to speak, offer constructive criticism and introduce you to the right people.
And fifth, volunteer. It does not matter what the cause is, as long as you truly believe in it. What is most important is that you serve on a committee, or in a role, where your new skills will be utilized and, most importantly, seen by people in your new career or industry. That way they will be able to help you navigate their networks or, ideally, maybe even offer you a job, once they have personally seen the quality of your work.
In conclusion, career changing is not for the shy or the lazy. It takes help and it takes work.
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting.
Philosophy: Employers will spend 5 seconds scanning a resume to see if a candidate is qualified for a position. They’ll check location, tenure, and specific qualifications (skills, licenses, degrees, etc.). If you pass the five second test, so to speak, then they will start reading. In order to “stop” them from scanning, and to get them to read, you need to begin the resume with “Selected Accomplishments,” 5-6 bullet points highlighting verifiable achievements that tell the employer that you can do the job because you’ve done the job! NEVER include an “Objective” (your objective is to get the job you’re apply for, so why have an “Objective?”), or a “Professional Summary.” No employer cares how great you think you are! By listing media citations, speaking engagements, and awards/honors, you’ll tell the employer that others think you are great. That is what has value.
City, State of Residence
Phone Number – E-mail Address
- 5-6 bullet points that emphasize what you have achieved for others
Name of Employer, Location of Employer, Dates of Employment (Most Recent First), Title, Two-three line summary describing the employer, what they do, the size of the company, etc.
- Bullet points highlighting the key responsibilities
Degrees from accredited schools.
Continuing Professional Education
List any courses taken from non-accredited schools/programs or accredited schools where degrees were not awarded.
Licenses and Certifications
Skills and Languages
Awards and Honors
The length of the resume should be at least one page for every 10 years of employment but content is more important than length. A lousy one-page resume will not be read, while a brilliant 10-page resume will.
Don’t forget to take advantage of my year-end career counseling special. Come January, it will be gone!