Cover Letters Make a Difference
Does writing a cover letter really make a difference? Absolutely. Your cover letter is your first chance to make a good impression. It allows you to introduce yourself, lets you display your personality and writing skills, and tells the reader why you feel you are qualified for the position that is open. It is also an opportunity to share something about yourself not easily conveyed in your resume.
- Personalize each letter you send.
- Be creative. It is your chance to demonstrate a little of your personality.
- Do not put all the information that is in your resume in your letter. It is a brief summary, not a dissertation
- Explain why you believe you are uniquely qualified for the job.
- Include skills that you possess that are not included in the resume and explain how they would be assets in your new job.
- Mention awards or honors that you have received.
- Explain why you are applying for the position, particularly if you are moving from another job.
- Let the recruiter know how and when best to reach you.
- Proofread your cover letter. Grammar and spelling errors can do as much damage (if not more) to your chance for receiving an interview invitation, as, well-written cover letter can help.
Prepare for the Interview
If your cover letter (and resume) work as they should, you will receive an interview invitation. It is important to be sure you are well prepared.
- Begin by asking the person arranging the interview the name(s) of the persons with whom you will be meeting.
- Ask if there is parking or where they would recommend you park
- Conduct a drive by before your interview so you know where you are going and how long it will take you to get there.
- Research the company. Have they been in the news lately? Review their website, learn the company’s philosophy, history, culture and read about the people with whom you will be meeting. Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile; see if you have any mutual connections.
- Arrive early (not too early, but 10 to 15 minutes early is ideal), anticipate traffic and hiccups that sometimes happen when commuting.
- During the interview, be sure to ask questions about the firm, particularly anything you want to know that you did not discover when researching the company. For example:
- How long have you been working here?
- Why did you join the company?
- Why do you enjoy working here?
- What are the goals of this position?
- Where do you think the right candidate will be five years from now?
- What types of duties and responsibilities should I expect in the position?
- What sort of travel does this position require?
- What is the anticipated start date?
What to Wear for a Job Interview
Knowing what to wear for a job interview can sometimes be half the battle of the interview itself. The old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” certainly holds true. We would recommend playing it safe. Research the culture of the firm to get a sense of their expectations. We suggest you:
- Wear a suit (ideally a dark one). It projects that you respect the company and the profession. If you are interviewing in a non-professional field, mirror what their management team wears.
- Present yourself neatly. Make sure your clothes are clean and neatly ironed. Nothing gives away the lack of attention to detail more than wrinkled, dirty or ill-fitting clothing.
- Practice good grooming and hygiene – be sure you have clean hair, fingernails, fresh breath, deodorant, etc. Neatly style/comb your hair. Men, if you have facial hair, be sure to give it a trim/comb through ahead of the interview, so that you look as neat as possible.
- Use perfume and aftershave sparingly, so that it is not overpowering.
- Keep makeup and jewelry subtle, particularly piercings (less is more).
- Accessorize smartly, and keep things simple. For example, if you are carrying a bag, a smart briefcase or handbag is a better option than a backpack. Shoes should be clean (polished) and in good shape. Keep heels at a sensible height.
- Turn your phone off, or at least turn the sound off and put it away.
- Follow up the interview with a personal thank you note to all of the individuals with whom you met.
Once you have landed the job, your appearance still matters. Be sure to ask your new employer what their expectations are about wardrobe. They will certainly be able to offer you additional guidance. The way you present yourself plays a role in how you are perceived, and could be a factor in the advancement of your professional career.
Please contact Eileen Fullaway at 401-831-0200 for additional information about career opportunities at Piccerelli, Gilstein & Company, LLP.