Top 5 Reasons to Work with a Resume Writer
Employment was on the rebound in November 2020, but it’s still recovering from the pandemic setback. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total nonfarm employment was steadily increasing since January 2010, but today’s employment numbers haven’t improved beyond where they were 5 years ago. They are 9.8 million jobs less today than there were in February 2020.
That means today’s job market is more competitive than it’s been in recent years. According to research by recruiting software company Lever, applicants are the biggest source of hire, followed by sourced candidates and employee referrals. Only 1 out of 100 candidates is hired.
Wondering how can you make sure your resume gets you an interview? Make one of your 2021 resolutions a resume refresh. Here are five reasons you should consider working with a resume writer to make sure yours is up-to-date.
1. Use Keywords to Get Noticed Online
In today’s search engine-driven world, keywords are key to making sure your resume rises to the top of results. Recruiters use them when they’re searching profiles on LinkedIn. And today’s job banks are more technologically sophisticated than ever. A lack of keywords that match what a hirer is looking for may mean your resume never gets seen.
A resume writer will know which keywords relate to the jobs you’re interested in. Using research of relevant jobs, you can update your resume to feature keywords that reflect your skills and that are also used by hirers to find the best candidates. A resume writer will remove fluff and flowery language to distill your resume into one that’s crafted exactly to match the jobs you’re applying to.
You may think you’re familiar with the keywords that matter most to your industry. But a resume writer will have recent experience working on resumes for industries like yours so you ensure you’re not missing anything. You can also use content from a strong resume to feature on your LinkedIn page, so you increase your visibility online, as well.
2. Adapt a Resume to ATS
Ever heard of an applicant tracking system? Also known as an ATS, these digital software systems track and manage candidates in a single database. They’re sort of like customer relationship management systems. They enable hirers and recruiters to filter applications based on criteria they set.
That criteria may include:
- Years of experience
- Education level
- Former employers
One important consideration with ATS systems is that to ensure all your copy matches up to the proper searches, a resume needs to be formatted correctly. Certain types of formatting may restrict the ability of the ATS system to properly scan a resume.
In addition to making sure you include relevant skills and keywords and thoroughly you’re your relevant experience, you also need to make sure your resume is ATS-friendly. An experienced resume writer will format yours so it works with the most popular ATS software.
3. Feature Accomplishments You’re Missing
If it’s been awhile since you’ve refreshed your resume, there may be critical information missing from it. When you use resume writing services at HiConsulting Services, the process starts with an extensive intake process. We enquire about your long-time goals, most significant accomplishments and noteworthy contributions to each organization you’ve worked for.
This informational process frequently uncovers key details that should be on a resume. Some clients don’t realize that certain information could help them get an interview. A resume writer will identify the best info to feature that means most to recruiters and hirers.
4. Create a Professional, Clean Resume
A single minor spelling error could be enough to turn some hirers off. When employers are evaluating resumes, they’re looking at more than your work experience. Sometimes, attention to detail is just as important because they may view it as a reflection of your job performance.
A resume writer will ensure your resume is free of:
- Spelling and grammar errors
- Repetitiveness and overused words
- Confusing copy
- Use of passive voice and filler words
Many positions require strong communication skills. Your resume gives an employer the opportunity to evaluate your written communication. You’ll want to put your best foot forward. A professional resume writer can help with clean, professional copy.
5. Tailor a Resume to a Specific Job
Your resume should be updated to reflect each job you’re applying for. If you’re looking to move into a new industry or apply for a higher role, it’s especially important that your resume fits that industry or position.
A resume writer will use their experience with the industry or type of role you’re seeking to make professional recommendations on what to include to attract the attention of employers. Your resume should reflect your career history, but it should also position you as a candidate who’s a fit for the position you’re seeking. This is done by careful creation and selection of keywords, featured accomplishments and professional summary.
Refresh Your Resume for 2021
It’s always a good idea to have an updated resume so you’re ready for whatever comes your way. From applying for a higher role in your industry, to finding a job when you’re unemployed, to getting a job in a new industry, a resume is a powerful tool for helping you accomplish your career goals.
HiConsulting Services specializes in resume writing for all levels of professionals. These include:
- Entry-level and college students
- Technical professionals
- Federal professionals
If you’re interested in refreshing your resume, book a free 25-minute resume consultation. We’re happy to help in January 2021 and beyond
Tips for Landing a Job During the COVID Pandemic
The unemployment rate has steadily gone down since the COVID pandemic took hold in March 2020, but it’s still hovering at 6.9% as of November 2020, around 3% higher than November 2019. With more people searching for work, the job market is more competitive. But many businesses are still hiring. Some are even ramping up operations in this new work-and-live-at-home era.
Don’t get discouraged if you’re out of work at the moment. According to the “Wall Street Journal,” since May 2020, employers have added back more than 11 million jobs. Jobs at home mortgage firms, technology companies and financial services companies in particular are increasing.
Use these tips as you navigate a job search as the country deals with coronavirus.
Like we covered in our post, “How to Network When You’re Not Going Out,” networking is more important than ever in today’s uncertain job market. Networking provides the following benefits.
- You may hear about open jobs early, before they’re posted to the public.
- Your contacts who work at companies you’re applying to may put in a recommendation for you.
- You can learn about new opportunities you may not have considered before.
- Your network may connect you with mentors who can help you develop your career.
To network online during the pandemic, use LinkedIn to optimize your professional profile and connect with past coworkers. Join LinkedIn Groups based on your professional interests, and participate in discussions.
If you want to connect with someone on a deeper level, set up a virtual coffee chat. Prepare for your meeting with questions you’d like to ask the person. Take notes or ask for permission to record the meeting so you can follow up on action items or anything that’s inspired you.
There’s no shame in using social media to announce to your contacts that you’re on the job hunt. Be transparent about what kinds of opportunities you’re open to. You can ask your personal contacts for recommendations for leads or for professionals they’d suggest connecting with.
While you’re job-searching, sharpen your skills with virtual trainings. At HiConsulting, we offer several free webinars each month on topics like resume writing, optimizing your LinkedIn profile and preparing for interviews. Check out our schedule here.
You can also check out online courses on sites like Udemy and Coursera. Many are free and offer certificates upon completion, which you can then list on your LinkedIn profile and resume.
According to the World Economic Forum, the most in-demand skills for 2020 include:
- Analytical reasoning and strategic thinking
- Artificial intelligence
- UX design
- Business analysis
- Sales and negotiation
- Scientific computing
- Video production
If any of those apply to the jobs you’re interested in, learn more about those topics to stand out to employers. Soft skills like creativity, persuasion, collaboration and emotional intelligence are also in high demand.
The pandemic has resulted in a major shift in how many businesses operate. COVID forced many companies to accommodate remote workers, which required introducing virtual collaboration tools like Zoom and Workfront to get jobs done.
Remote work has already steadily been increasing over the past 15 years, with regular work-at-home growing 173% since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. That growth rate outpaced the rest of the workforce by 11%. You may have worked your last job at an office, but the jobs you’re looking at now may have moved online. You may want to upgrade your technology and create a home office to prepare.
If you’re not familiar with remote work tools yet or you need to brush up on your technology skills, now’s a great time to do so. Your next interview might be virtual, as well, so having familiarity with virtual work tools is a plus. Check out how to prepare for virtual interviews.
Adapt to Changing Business Landscapes
The pandemic will have a lasting impact on the economy and has already influenced what jobs are in-demand. According to Glassdoor data reported by “The Wall Street Journal,” retail, food service and healthcare had the most U.S. job openings in August 2020. Ecommerce and delivery jobs have, not surprisingly, also seen growth during COVID.
If you’re currently in-between jobs, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your career path and determine what next step will fulfill you. You may want to work with a career coach to determine how to match your skills and experience with your best future career path.
Also, check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to find in-demand jobs that might fit your skillset. The Occupational Outlook Handbook details what each job is like and the skills and education needed to find entry-level work in each field.
There’s Still Opportunity, Even During a Pandemic
The pandemic has upended many career paths in 2020, but there’s still hope for what’s next in the business landscape. With the promising news of a vaccine, expect increased hiring in a variety of industries.
A job search can be an opportune time to embark on a meaningful career path. If you’re searching for what’s next and need assistance with resume writing, LinkedIn profile optimization, job searches, interview preparation or career coaching, contact HiConsulting Services for a free consultation. We’re here to help you navigate your career future.
Meet HiConsulting Services President & Founder, Hillary Kuenn
Hillary Kuenn started HiConsulting Services as a side gig, because she was passionate about helping people in the Phoenix community develop their careers and go after their dreams and goals. With 10+ years of experience working in employee engagement in human resources and career services roles, her career coaching business took off. Since securing LLC status and going full-time in 2017, she’s helped more than 1,000 clients achieve meaningful career goals.
Her work at HiConsulting Services includes professional coaching, resume reviews and editing, LinkedIn profile creation and interview preparation. HiConsulting Services serves clients across the country, ranging from C-Suite executives to career changers and college grads.
Hillary also provides expert human resources, operations, management, sales and staffing consulting to small businesses.
So who are you working with when you enlist HiConsulting Services for career consulting or small business consulting services? Let’s get to know the HiConsulting Services president and founder, from where her love for helping others comes from to how she’s transforming business landscapes in Phoenix and beyond.
Hillary’s Journey to Business Owner
Hillary has always been interested in people and organizations and what makes them tick. As a kid, when people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d respond, “I want to be a thinker.”
She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Industrial Organizational Psychology, honing her expertise on how individuals, groups and business teams work together. Her master’s research proposal was on employee engagement, a business principle she remains focused on today.
Before founding HiConsulting Services, Hillary spent a decade serving clients and sales teams in a variety of industries, including for an animal hospital and veterinary clinic, as Business Development Manager for MultiTable.com and as Director of Strategic Partnership Development for customer experience consultant Satrix Solutions.
With HiConsulting Services, Hillary provides career coaching and small business services while managing a team of executive and technical resume copywriters. She is a frequent speaker, trainer and webinar host, providing instruction on interview preparation, resume services, LinkedIn profiles and more.
Passion for Helping Local Businesses
Hillary serves clients throughout the U.S. and is an active member of the Phoenix business community. She speaks at 10+ Phoenix events each year and hosts free monthly webinars. She has contributed 60+ hours of volunteer service hours every year since 2017.
Hillary’s community volunteer titles include:
- Chief of Staff for Phoenix Startup Week, formerly Sponsorship Team Co-lead (2018-Present)
- Active Member, Monthly Participant, Local First Arizona (2015-Present)
- Board Member of AZ Talent Coop (2019-Present)
- Career Coach / Resume Writer, Monthly Volunteer, Career Connectors (2019-Present)
- Career Coach / Resume Writer, Quarterly Volunteer, com (2018-Present)
- Career Coach, Annual Volunteer, University of Advancing Technology (2017-Present)
- Career Coach, Annual Volunteer, Promineo Tech (2017-Present)
Hillary believes outstanding people create outstanding businesses. As an active volunteer in the community, she supports local businesses and professionals with career and small business guidance that drive growth and innovation.
Hillary’s Interests Outside of Work
When she’s not serving clients or the community in professional roles, Hillary is always on the lookout for ways to have fun in Arizona. One of her favorite places to be is out on the water, boating or fishing at spots like Lake Pleasant or Chevelon Lake. She also loves camping and hiking, experiencing the beautiful outdoors the Grand Canyon State offers.
Hillary’s an animal lover and has two dogs, Floyd, a border collie, and Luna, a white German Shepherd. She and her partner Mike also have an orange cat named Fiction.
Hillary has a taste for adventure and has been riding motorcycles since she was a kid. She frequently rides up to Crown King, Arizona, to watch her favorite football team, the Arizona Cardinals. She even rode her bike in a monsoon storm outside Mayer, Arizona, once.
Hillary also enjoys traveling. From Alaska to Florida, Mexico to Spain and everywhere in-between, Hillary loves exploring new parts of the country and meeting the great people in their communities.
What’s It Like to Use Hillary as a Career Coach or Consultant?
When you work with Hillary for career coaching, resume writing, interview prep, LinkedIn help, small business consulting or any other HiConsulting Services, know that you’re getting a dedicated partner who cares about your success. Hillary makes it her mission to help her clients find rewarding work or improve their businesses.
Hillary learns all about your unique career goals or business needs and creates a plan to help you achieve your desired outcome. She prides herself on excellent communication, transparency and collaboration. She’s with you every step of the way throughout the process to ensure you meet your objectives.
Want to meet Hillary and see if she and HiConsulting Services are a fit for you? Get in touch for a free consultation. Email email@example.com or call (623) 738-4470 to chat with Hillary.
Tips for How to Email a Resume
When you apply to your next job, you might be emailing the hirer directly. Maybe you’ve met them in person, or you were referred to them by someone you know, or the directions for the job you’re applying for ask you to do so.
This personal way to apply presents some opportunities to make a great impression on the hirer and connect with them so you stand out. It also presents some pitfalls, since something like a spelling error or wrong tone of voice could hurt your chances before they even open up your resume.
If you’re sending a resume by email, use these tips for crafting a email that’s professional and moves you along the hiring pipeline.
Use a Professional Email Address
Make sure you create a professional email address from which to send the email. Generally, one that has your first and last name in it is best. If an email address with just your first and last name is unavailable, it’s OK to add a number or two, but try to avoid putting in your full birthday with the year you were born to avoid age bias.
Do not send an email from any address with vulgar or unprofessional language in it. Make sure you have the log-in details for your professional email address so it’s easy to check any communications you receive back.
Read the Directions
The person you’re emailing your resume to may request that it’s sent as an attachment. Or, they might want you to copy and paste a resume and/or a cover letter into the body of the email.
The directions might include specific notes what for to include in the subject line, how to label your resume attachment and how to create a heading, including the exact order you should list your name and contact information in.
Following any directions you’re given for emailing your resume is the first important step to advancing your candidacy. If you send an email without all the elements that are needed, the employer may take that as a bad sign that you won’t follow directions on the job.
Use Attachment Best Practices
If there’s no note to copy and paste the resume content into the email, then send it as an attachment. Typically, a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) and PDF file are the most commonly accepted file formats. You can find tips for saving PDF files here.
Label the file so it’s easily recognizable as your resume. If there aren’t specific directions for how to save the file, use your full name and “Resume” in the label. You might also want to add the name of the company to personal what you’re sending, so something like, “First name_Last name_Resume_Company.”
Follow these same best practices with a cover letter. First see if the employer prefers you paste the cover letter contents into the email or add it as an attachment. If you’re attaching it, save it as a Word doc or PDF and label it accordingly.
If there are no directions about what to include in the subject line or body of the email, and you’re sending your other materials as attachments, tailor the email to the job and company you’re applying to and keep it simple.
For the subject line, start with the position you’re applying for, add your first and last name and the word “Resume.” For example:
[Position] – [your full name] – Resume
In the body of the email, address the hiring manager with a professional salutation if you know their name. For example, “Dear Ms. Smith.” If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, “Dear Hiring Manager” works.
Start the email stating the position you’re applying for. If you were referred to the hiring manager through a personal contact, or you’ve already met the hiring manager, you may add a note explaining the connection. You may also add a note about what makes you qualified, but keep it brief and distinguish it from language that’s in a cover letter.
Then explain what you’re attaching or pasting into the email. Offer to follow up with additional materials if needed. For example:
I’m very interested in applying for the [position] at [company name]. I’m grateful to [referral name] for connecting us. My objective is to leverage the [number of years] of experience as a [job title] to help [company you’re applying for] achieve its goals.
I’ve attached my resume and cover letter. Please let me know if you’d like me to send additional materials or information.
Then, thank the hiring manager for looking over your materials. Add a call to action to advance the conversation.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Close out the email with a professional salutation. “Best” or “Sincerely” work well. After your name, list your contact information.
[Your full name]
[Your phone number]
[Your email address]
[Your LinkedIn profile, if applicable]
Before You Hit Send
Run the contents of your email subject line and the body of the email, as well as your resume and cover letter, through a spelling and grammar check. In addition to using the Word document spelling and grammar feature, you can run everything through a free tool like Grammarly to get more feedback on spelling and grammar issues.
Remember that everything you create for an employer, from an email subject line to an email greeting, may be evaluated as a reflection of how you’d perform on the job. You want to make sure what you send is professional and error-free.
Send yourself a test run first to make sure everything reads well and is formatted correctly. You’ll also want to make sure the attachments open without an issue. You might want to send a test email to someone else to see how everything looks on their email client.
Once you’ve proofread your email, tested it and corrected any errors (test again if you make fixes), send it off.
Want to ensure your resume, cover letter and email are all good to go before sending? Contact HiConsulting Services online or at 623-738-4470. We can help.
10 Ways Your Job Could Literally Be Killing You
What’s your most important asset? Your home? Your car? Your job?
What would all of these mean without your health?
According to the American Institute of Stress, work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths a year. It also results in $190 billion in healthcare costs each year.
Stress at work, like in many other life situations, is bound to happen. But if you constantly feel fatigued, irritable and/or depressed due to your job, your work could be a slow, silent killer.
We spend around 40 hours or more each week (around at least 2,000 hours a year) at work. That’s a huge portion of your time. If you care about your health, it’s also worth considering finding a job that supports your livelihood – literally.
Here are 10 signs it might benefit your health to look for a new job or change how things are going at your current one.
1. You’re Using Substances to Cope with Work Stress
If you find yourself grabbing a beer (or five) or a glass of wine (or a bottle) each night to unwind from work, an alcohol habit can have negative health effects. Long-term alcohol use may lead to heart disease, liver disease or various types of cancer.
Similarly, drug use can lead to a brain disorder and addiction, heart or lung disease, cancer, heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose or hepatitis.
2. You’ve Become Angry with People You Care About
When you don’t enjoy what you do, you may take out those emotions on the ones you love. That can damage both your relationships and your health. Chronic anger is linked with obesity, increased heart attack risk, stroke and higher blood pressure.
3. You Rarely Have Time Off
In today’s constantly-connected society, some employers demand their employees be available 24/7 to respond to emails or text messages. Some employees find it hard to ask for time off because of how demanding the job is. Others take vacations but use most of their “off time” actually working.
A lack of time off to unplug and recharge can pose health risks. A study published in the “European Heart Journal” found that people who worked 3 or more hours longer than a normal workday had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems, including death due to heart disease.
Another study, published in “The Lancet,” found longer working hours are associated with type 2 diabetes.
4. You Have Poor-Quality Sleep
If you find it difficult to fall asleep, or you toss and turn at night due to work stress, that could have long-term health effects. People who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic disease, according to Harvard Medical School. These risks include diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, all which may lead to a shortened life expectancy.
5. You’re Overeating Because Food Offers Comfort from Work
One way some people cope with an unsatisfying job is to find comfort in food. When overeating leads to being overweight or obese, that increases risk for serious health issues.
According to the CDC, being overweight or obese increases risk for all causes of death. It can also increase risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.
6. You’re Sick More Often Than You Were Before the Job
If you find yourself catching a cold more often, that might be due to a compromised immune system due to stress. As “Psychology Today” reports, the brain and the immune system are constantly communicating. When you’re mentally stressed, that also places a burden on the body’s ability to ward off physical threats.
That can lead to more frequent sickness, which can lead to more serious issues like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
7. You’ve Started to Feel Aches & Pains
Stress and pain often go hand-in-hand. They share physiological overlaps that can create a negative cycle where one reinforces the other.
If your body is more often in pain since you started your job, you’re likely experiencing increased stress. A systematic review published in “PLOS One” found people with chronic pain are at an increased risk of death, particularly from cancer.
8. You’re Experiencing Signs of Depression
If you want expert eyes on your cover letter or need help getting started, contact HiConsulting Services for a free consultation. We offer cover letter writing assistance to ensure what you send makes a great impression.
It’s normal to feel sad every once in a while. Long-term, depressive episodes take form in signs like these, with symptoms occurring most of the day, nearly every day.
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or emptiness
- Angry outbursts
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities like hobbies or sex
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of energy and tiredness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Depression can also manifest in physical symptoms, like headaches and back pain. A study published in “Prevention Science” found depression is associated with elevated morbidity and mortality. Depression is also associated with physical impairments of a similar magnitude as those found in chronic diseases, like cancer and diabetes.
9. You’ve Stopped Exercising
If work has made it too busy to exercise, or you’re too stressed to work out, that can negatively impact your health. Besides possibly leading to weight gain that can lead to being overweight or obese and all the health issues associated with it, a lack of exercise is also linked to increase risk of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
No matter how demanding a job is, to protect against risk factors like these, it’s important to schedule fitness activities.
10. You Have No Time for Self-Care
Self-care is a key way to manage stress. Self-care is simply any activity that’s done deliberately to manage physical, mental and emotional health. It could take the form of exercising, meditating or taking a bath.
When you don’t make a conscious effort to manage your health, stress can pile up and lead to physical ailments. Taking time out to soothe yourself with healthy activities can improve your emotional health, as it triggers a relaxation response.
Is Your Job Taking a Toll on Your Health?
If you’ve noticed a decline in your health since you started your current job, it may be due to work stress. Lack of a work-life balance can lead to burnout and poor job performance, which isn’t good for employers or self-employed business owners, either.
Maybe it’s time for something new, or time to strategize how to create harmony between your job and your personal life. For a free career coaching consultation, contact us online or call 623-738-4470.
Do You Need a Cover Letter? Benefits & Tips
You’ve found the perfect job to apply to. You’ve polished your resume. Are you ready to apply?
Well, maybe not quite. Many jobs require a cover letter as part of the application process. A 2019 study by The Ladders found the majority of tech jobs do, with a higher demand for cover letters from medium-sized companies and fast-growing startups.
Even when a job description doesn’t stipulate a cover letter requirement, you may want to send one. Here’s why and how to craft yours to stand out to hirers.
Cover Letter Benefits
A resume is a straightforward, quantitative view of your work experience. A cover letter shows a more personal side of you as a candidate. It explains why a company should hire you and how you match up to the job requirements.
When a job description requires a cover letter, you definitely need to send one. When a cover letter is optional, the benefits of sending one include:
- You can stand out among candidates who don’t send a cover letter, because you’re showing you’re going above and beyond for the job.
- The details you reveal in a cover letter may compel a hiring manager to move you along the hiring process.
- If there are questionable issues in your resume, like an employment gap or short-term employment, you can explain those in a cover letter in a positive light.
Cover letters do take extra time, especially because you should make each one personalized to the job you’re applying for. But when you’re really interested in a job, a cover letter could be the deciding factor that gets you your dream position.
When should you not send a cover letter?
If the job description states not to include a cover letter, then don’t send one. Doing so could be viewed negatively, that you’re not following directions.
If you’re submitting an application online and there’s nowhere to submit a cover letter, take that as a sign the employer doesn’t want one. There’s no need to go out of your way to send one when it’s not desired.
Otherwise, when you have an opportunity to send a cover letter, you should make the effort to send one and show the employer you’re invested in the potential job.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
A cover letter should be a one-page document that matches the design (fonts, colors, etc.) and contact information of your resume.
First, include your contact information and the date you’re writing the letter.
Then, greet the recipient. Address the letter to the hirer’s name, i.e., “Dear Jane Doe,” or “Dear John Smith.” If you don’t have the hirer’s name available, use, “Dear Hiring Manager.”
In your introduction, explain that you’re interested in applying for the specific position at the company’s name. If you were referred by someone, note that person’s name and title at that company. This establishes a personal connection, enhances your credibility and may pique the interest of the person reading the letter.
In the body of the letter, tell a compelling narrative about why you’re a candidate the hirer should be interested in. Explain how your specific experience and achievements make you the perfect fit for what the job requires.
Differentiate your cover letter from your resume. Give insight into your personality and what makes you different compared to others who have the same qualifications. Your cover letter is an opportunity to show how you’d be a cultural fit, so you may want to mention how you connect to the organization’s mission, product or service.
If you want to explain something from your resume, like a gap or potential concern (such as short-term employment, an incomplete degree, irregularities in employment, etc.), you can use your cover letter to do so in a positive light.
If you currently don’t live in the area where the job is, you can also use the letter to explain your interview availability or confirm your willingness to relocate.
To conclude the letter, show gratitude to the hirer for their consideration. Include a call to action to keep the conversation going – for example, something like, “I look forward to speaking with you soon and hope we can connect for an interview.” End the letter with a formal salutation, such as, “Sincerely, [your name].”
Avoid These Cover Letter Mistakes
Sending a bad letter is worse than sending no letter when there’s no cover letter requirement. Keep these pitfalls in mind.
- Sending out the same cover letter for multiple jobs: Each cover letter should be specific to the job you’re applying for. Savvy hiring managers will notice when a cover letter isn’t personalized. Sending one that has the wrong identifying details will eliminate you from the job pool.
- Typos: Hirers might view typos as a reflection of how you’d perform on the job.
- Inaccurate information: An exaggerated claim or dishonest detail may be investigated during the job search process. It could cost you the job and your reputation.
- Negative information: Don’t point out qualifications you’re missing or attempt to explain away any hesitations a hirer may have about your experience. Focus on your strengths and what you can offer.
Just like your resume, a cover letter is an important representation of your professional experience. Ensure it’s a positive, accurate reflection of your qualifications and employment desirability.
Use These Cover Letter Tips
As you craft a unique cover letter, remember these tips. Use these as a checklist before you send any cover letter.
- Keep it to one page.
- Proofread for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, contact information inaccuracies and false claims. Have someone you trust read it, as well, if possible.
- Explain what you can offer, not what you want. Focus on the value you can bring to the job and company.
- Highlight standout achievements when possible, instead of listing daily responsibilities.
- Use consistent design and contact information with your resume.
- Double-check that the cover letter follows any instructions that are given. Some companies may ask you to highlight certain topics in the cover letter.
Cover letters aren’t always required, but when you’re able to send one, they can make you stand out as a job candidate.
If you want expert eyes on your cover letter or need help getting started, contact HiConsulting Services for a free consultation. We offer cover letter writing assistance to ensure what you send makes a great impression.
Informational Interview Guide
Informational interviews are great ways to create professional connections and work toward the next step in your career. Whether you want to move up in your industry or change fields altogether, gathering information from people you respect can help you get closer to achieving your goals.
With more people working from home these days due to the COVID pandemic, now’s an opportunity to reach out for video calls with people you want to learn from. Here’s why you should consider informational interviews and how to have successful ones.
Reasons to Set Up Informational Interviews
What is an informational interview, exactly? It’s an informal conversation where you can learn more about the professional life of the person you’re talking to.
Informational interviews give you a way to connect with someone who has the job title you’re interested in yourself. They can also help you learn more about a new industry you’re considering, so you can figure out if it’s actually something you want to pursue.
Informational interviews provide the following benefits.
- They’re networking opportunities. Showing interest in someone you admire can help you form a valuable relationship. An informational interview could lead to a job referral down the line. Or you might gain a new friend you can glean professional insights from in the future.
- They help you learn more about diverse career paths. How you envision a certain position or field may be totally different than reality. Informational interviews can help you hone in on the career journey you want to take. They can help you save time from applying for jobs you actually wouldn’t be interested in or are a fit for. They can clue you in to the steps to take to land your dream career.
- They provide interview practice. Informational interviews provide conversation practice, which is a helpful skill to have if you find yourself interviewing for a job in the future. They give you an opportunity to practice asking someone else questions, another helpful skill in actual job interviews. They also provide insights that might be beneficial to know for next time you’re in an interview.
You can do informational interviews with higher-ups at your current company. These can provide opportunities to develop a mentor/mentee relationship, if you’re looking for someone to guide you in your current career path.
You can also approach someone using LinkedIn or via a connection through your network. You can comb through your current contacts to identify people who are in positions that interest you. Or, reach out to your personal contacts to see if they know someone who might be willing to talk with you about the industry you’re interested in.
How to Set Up an Informational Interview
Once you’ve identified the person you want to interview, contact them to ask them if they’d be willing to meet with you. Explain:
- Why you’re approaching them: Tell them why you are interested in talking with them and offer gratitude for their consideration.
- What they can expect from the meeting: Set up expectations for how long the interview will be and give the person you’re approaching an idea of the types of questions you’ll ask or the information you’ll be seeking.
Provide flexibility to make the interview convenient to the person you’re approaching. Offer to make the interview work for whatever time or day is best for them. Let them choose the format – in-person, where you’ll meet them, or online in a video conference.
Tips for a Successful Informational Interview
After the meeting is set, make sure you’re prepared for the informational interview so you maximize its effectiveness and appear professional to the person you’re interviewing. Use these tips.
1. Research the person you’re interviewing.
You can do this by connecting on LinkedIn and looking at their career history. Maybe the person you’re interviewing has a website or has been featured in the news recently.
Go into the interview with some background on the person you’re talking with, so you have talking points that move the conversation forward.
2. Write out a list of questions.
Writing out questions beforehand will prepare you to keep the conversation going. Prepare with a top 10 list of questions you’d love answered. These can be questions like:
- How has your career path taken you to where you are today?
- What do you think is essential preparation for the role you’re in?
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts about your job?
- What advice do you have for someone who’d like to be where you are today?
Go into the interview with your questions, but allow for flexibility while you’re talking. You’ll want to actively listen to the person you’re talking to and ask follow-up questions to their points where there’s value. Be willing to go off your script, because you might be inspired with new questions as they talk.
3. Take notes.
You may want to reference the interview later. Taking notes ensures you can go back and look at insights when you need to. It also shows the person you’re talking to that you’re paying attention and value what they have to say.
You might also consider bringing a tape recorder to an in-person interview, or asking permission to record the interview over video. Always ask permission before recording an interview.
4. Thank the interviewee and follow up.
At the end of the informational interview, thank the person who has talked with you for their time. Ask permission to send them follow-up questions if they have them.
If you genuinely enjoyed the conversation and want to maintain a relationship with the person you’ve interviewed, let them know. This can lead to a mentor relationship or a deeper networking connection.
If you’re still interested in the person’s industry or career path after the interview, sending a written note again thanking them for their time can help you stay at top of mind. If a position opens up in the future, or if you find yourself on the job hunt, this final step of gratitude can make a positive difference in establishing a relationship.
Get More Career Tips
Networking is an important part of career success. With informational interviews, you can build meaningful relationships while also learning valuable information that can help you in your career journey.
For guidance on how to prepare for interviews and other individual career services, contact HiConsulting for a free consultation.
5 Essential Remote Work Tools to Make Your Job Easier
Remote work is on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it may be here to stay. According to Gallup, 62% of employed Americans have worked from home during the crisis, which is twice as many since mid-March 2020.
Whether you’re currently employed or you’re on the job hunt, check out these five technology-based tools that can help you stay effective and maintain relevance in your professional world.
1. Video Conferencing: Zoom
You’ve probably never heard the word “zoom” as much as since the pandemic. Zoom is a free video conferencing tool that has desktop and mobile apps. You can schedule meetings right in the app, record your meetings for future reference and control video and audio settings if you want to mute yourself during a meeting.
Look to Zoom to continue to be the go-to tool for professionals and other types of users, including students in schools. The Verge reports the number of daily Zoom meeting participants has grown from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in June 2020.
Use Zoom for work meetings and for connecting with peers and job leads. If you want to have long group meetings, look into paid options.
2. Networking: LinkedIn
Pew Research Center reports 27% of American adults used LinkedIn, a professional social networking site. What may be even more important? How many recruiters use LinkedIn: 90% of them, according to Kinsta.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet, now’s the best time to create one. With economic uncertainty, having a presence on the site ready to share can be good if job loss hits.
A LinkedIn profile also helps you reconnect with past coworkers and start building an online network. You can keep an eye out for job opportunities, join industry groups to establish thought leadership and follow relevant news to keep tabs on your industry.
Build out your LinkedIn profile with recommendations. Learn how to ask for LinkedIn recommendations and how to write them for others.
3. Task Management: Trello
You may already be familiar with Trello if your business has used it for project management. Trello is a digital task tracker that enables teams to gain visibility into who’s working on what part of a project and what tasks are completed and are still in progress.
Even if you’re not required to use it for work, Trello can also be helpful for remote workers who want to stay on track with work and need to organize all that’s on their plate. You can use Trello to add “cards” that have your assignments on them. As you complete work, you can move each card into a completed section.
Creating to-do lists in a task management app like Trello can help you be more productive. A report by “Fast Company” confirmed psychological studies have found to-do lists help with organization and productivity. By breaking down big projects into manageable tasks, you can stay focused and celebrate achievements, which creates momentum to complete more tasks.
If you’re finding that you’re not completing as much work at home as you would at the office, try a task management system like Trello to see how it affects your attention and production.
4. Document Storage: Google Drive
When you’re collaborating remotely, you might have to store large files. Dropbox is one option, but Google Drive may be more advantageous depending on the tools you’re already using.
For those who are already familiar with the Gmail interface, Drive is a natural extension. You can see documents you’ve added, see documents that are shared with you and switch easily between recently accessed docs and folders.
You also get 15GB of free storage with Google Drive, compared to Dropbox’s 2GB of free storage. From Drive, you can create online spreadsheets, documents, slideshows and forms that are all saved in the cloud. That’s pretty convenient compared to saving documents in completely separate apps.
5. Time Management: Smartphone / Smartwatch Timer
Do you find yourself taking breaks every 5 minutes while working from home? That’s not good for productivity.
By working and taking breaks according to your body’s natural energy levels, you can get more work done and maintain focus.
An “Inc.” article reports the body goes through alternating periods of high-frequency brain activity for 90 minutes, followed by lower-frequency brain activity for about 20 minutes. You can match your work schedule to your body’s natural rhythms by using your smartphone or smartwatch timer to block out 90 minutes of work time, followed by a well-deserved 20-minute break.
The idea is to commit to 90 minutes of straight work, no distractions. After that, you can take 20 minutes to do what you want: take a walk, grab a snack, scroll through email, whatever, before you start your next distraction-free work session.
Try it yourself. Knowing you have a nice break after those 90 minutes may make your more effective than ever. You can also experiment with different times and shorter breaks using your smartphone timer to find your sweet spot.
Put Technology to Work to Enhance Your Technical Skills
If your resume’s technical skills section is a little sparse, learning new technology during this period of remote work can help. You’ll become more familiar with technology tools future employers might use, and you can also improve the amount of work you get done and what you accomplish.
For more ideas on how to advance your career and sharpen your professional skills, contact HiConsulting for a free career coaching consultation.
How to Prepare for Virtual Interviews
As work-from-home becomes the new normal, so do virtual interviews. Despite their now-personal settings, it’s still important to keep interviews you do from home professional.
When you’re using video chat to interview for a new position, you’ll want to make a great impression and wow the person who’s interviewing you.
Use this checklist to make sure every video meeting you have goes off without a hitch.
1. Software Testing 1, 2, 3
Before the interview, make sure you:
- Download the software the meeting will use.
- Make sure it’s updated.
- Test it.
Some meetings are not as simple to join by clicking on a link. You’ll need to have an application downloaded ahead of time to launch for the meeting. Do this before you’re meeting so there aren’t any delays.
Then, test the software. Ask a family member or loved one to have a quick meeting with you to make sure it’s working. Align your camera so that it’s at eye-level and captures your whole face.
If you already have the software downloaded but haven’t used the application in a while, you may need to update it so that it works in optimal condition. In some cases, this can take several minutes, so you’ll want to take care of software updates before the meeting, too.
Then, test the software again with a quick meeting.
2. Light It Up
Optimal lighting is key to making a good first impression. According to the Association for Psychological Science, first impressions have been shown to last for months and affect personal judgements and impressions, even when new evidence about the individual is presented. When someone’s talking to you and can’t see you because of poor lighting, or because the lighting is unflattering, that could tarnish the impression you’re making.
In addition to testing the software, you’ll want to test the lighting for an interview. If you’re using natural light, where you’re located will affect how well-lit you are and what shadows may mask you. After you set a meeting time, find the place in your home with the best natural light for that time of day in terms of how it will light you up.
Better yet, invest in a ring light for photoshoot-worthy lighting wherever you are. Ring lights provide illumination in a variety of styles and start at around $60.
If you’re using Zoom for your meeting, check out the “touch up my appearance” feature. It retouches the video display with a soft focus for a more polished-looking appearance. Again, you’ll want to test this out ahead of time to see if it puts your best face forward.
3. Clean Up Clutter
However you love to decorate your home office or personal space is OK for you, but it might not be a hit with the person on the other end of the virtual conference.
In a worst-case scenario, you could end up offending someone because of the decorations or artwork in the background of your meeting.
Make sure the space where you’ll be for your meeting is clean, simple and distraction-free. If there’s no such space in your house that is free of clutter with good lighting, then look into virtual background options through whatever app you’re using.
For example, the Zoom app enables you to add a virtual background to your meeting so there aren’t any questionable distractions.
4. Is This Thing On?
Sound glitches can kill a meeting. That’s why it’s crucial to test the sound before your meeting and make sure you can activate the sound quickly for your actual meeting.
If you live in a noisy area – for example, there’s construction surrounding your house, or a train goes by frequently – you may want to connect an external microphone to your computer and make sure that’s the sound input. You can get them for around $30.
Some apps, like Zoom, give you the ability to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. This probably isn’t a practical feature when you’re being interviewed by someone, but in a group setting where others are doing the majority of the talking, it can be helpful.
You may also want to wear headphones during the interview so that you don’t provide echo feedback to other people who are talking.
Regarding sound, this is also a reminder to have someone watch your kids or pets when you have an important interview. You want to make a great impression, especially in an interview. If there’s screaming or barking during your meeting, the interviewer may come off with the impression that you’ll have that issue when you’re talking to coworkers and clients, too.
5. Treat It Like an In-Person Meeting
“Are you wearing pants?” No joke, you might be asked that someday in a virtual meeting.
Even when a meeting is virtual, you’ll want to look professional. Comb your hair, make sure your shirt is ironed and wear professional bottoms in case someone asks you to stand up. It could happen!
You’ll also want to dedicate your focus to the meeting and eliminate distractions. Turn off notifications. If your cell phone is in the room, put it on silent.
Shut down unnecessary websites so you’re not distracted by things like incoming emails. You also want to avoid accidentally screen-sharing something that’s not meeting-related, so clear off whatever’s on your desktop.
Pay attention to your body language in a meeting, too. Sit up straight and avoid hunching to exude confidence.
From beginning to end, view the virtual meeting as similarly as you would an in-person meeting. Establish rapport, smile and try to make eye contact by looking directly into the camera as you speak, instead of at the screen. You can practice these techniques in a mock test interview beforehand.
Get Interview Coaching from HiConsulting Services
If you’re going on virtual interviews, HiConsulting Services can help. We provide interview coaching and can get you up to speed on how to prepare for virtual interviews.
Contact us for a free consultation online or by calling 623-738-4470.
Your Guide to LinkedIn Recommendations: Why They Matter, How to Write One & How to Get Them
In today’s evolving economy, one career booster you should focus on is LinkedIn recommendations. LinkedIn recommendations are endorsements from people you’ve worked with and who are connected with on LinkedIn. According to Undercover Recruiter, recruiters look at LinkedIn recommendations when looking for and comparing candidates.
Like a Testimonials section on a personal website, or a former manager putting in a good word for you on the phone to a potential employer, LinkedIn recommendations are professional proof you’re worth working with. They may be able to help you get a better job or stand out when you’re applying for new roles. Here’s what you should know about LinkedIn recommendations.
How Do LinkedIn Recommendations Work?
LinkedIn recommendations are a section of a LinkedIn profile toward the bottom of the page. Visitors to a profile can see recommendations a person has received, as well as given.
With each person who is making a recommendation, their title and their relationship to the person in the profile is displayed. So, someone can see if the person recommending you was your manager, worked with you, was your client, etc., along with their current title.
To give a recommendation, you go to the profile of the person you want to recommend and click “Recommend [Name].” You’ll be prompted to explain your relationship to the person you’re recommending and then are given space to write your recommendation.
Sometimes, someone will ask you for a recommendation. You can also ask recommendations from others by going to a profile and clicking “Ask for a recommendation” in the recommendations section. Doing so will prompt you to click your relationship to the person, then to send them a personalized message with your request.
Why Do LinkedIn Recommendations Matter?
LinkedIn recommendations matter for a variety of reasons. These include:
- They factor in to how prominently your profile gets seen in LinkedIn search. Recruiters who are looking for talent like you may find your profile due to algorithmic factors like recommendations.
- They’re a way to vet candidates. When hirers are considering candidates, great recommendations at a high volume may give candidates an edge.
- They can expedite the hiring process. Hiring managers are busy people. When they can see that a LinkedIn profile already has credible recommendations to display, they can use those as ways to follow up if needed. There might not be a need to personally reach out to references when LinkedIn recommendations provide that public proof, which may help candidates get hired more quickly.
- They may provide powerful proof linked to personal ties. LinkedIn recommendations are a visual way for recruiters and hirers to see connections they have in common with candidates. For example, if a hiring manager sees that someone they know and respect recommended you, you may get a leg up in the hiring process.
- They can expand your personal network. One benefit of writing LinkedIn recommendations for others is that your profile can get seen by more people who are checking out the profiles of those you’ve recommended. This can increase the professional connections you make and expand your network.
Whether you’re a contractor looking for new clients or you’re competing for a high-profile full-time position, recommendations can give you the benefit of public endorsements from other professionals or clients in your industry.
How to Get LinkedIn Recommendations
If you don’t yet have LinkedIn recommendations or you want to increase your number to stay competitive, aim to get a good mix of recommendations from both supervisors and peers you respect in your industry. You might also look for recommendations for people you worked with indirectly, like clients of your firm. You want to ask people you’d be proud of having a recommendation from on your profile based on their professionalism and regard in your industry.
You can do the asking online on the person’s LinkedIn profile. You could also reach out to someone in person, via chat or over personal email.
If you have recently been praised by a supervisor, coworker or client, that may be a good time to ask for a LinkedIn recommendation while you’re at top of mind and have just wowed them. Another good opportunity for asking for LinkedIn recommendations is when you’re leaving a position on good terms.
In your ask, include:
- Why you value the person you’re approaching: You need to convey that you respect the time of the person you’re asking and your relationship with them. Introduce an ask with something like, “It has been great working with you over the past year, and I’ve enjoyed the success we’ve had collaborating.” Or, “Thank you so much for your recent praise on our latest project. It was a pleasure to work on that for you.”
- Why you’re asking: Explain the reasoning behind asking for a LinkedIn recommendation so the person will pay attention, take you seriously and deliver. The person you’re asking may not be familiar with how important LinkedIn recommendations are, so explain your approach. Say something like: “I was wondering if you’d be willing to write me a recommendation for LinkedIn. Testimonials from outstanding professionals like yourself add credibility to my profile, and I’d be so appreciative if you would recommend me.”
- Ways to make writing the recommendation easier: You want the recommendation to be honest and genuine from the person, but you can still provide some details that will help them when writing. Set them (and yourself) up for success with an effective LinkedIn recommendation by suggesting any pertinent details to include. For example: “You’ve mentioned my enthusiasm and organization have been the key to success for several team projects we’ve worked on together. I appreciate that and would be grateful if you highlighted that in your recommendation.”
- An offer to return the favor: This is up to you, but if you’d be willing to reciprocate with a LinkedIn recommendation for the person you’re asking one from, mention that. That may help motivate them to write one for you sooner, too.
If you’re unsure where to start with LinkedIn recommendations, think back to past coworkers and managers you’ve gotten along with and worked effectively with. It might help to first approach those you’d like to write a recommendation for. That way, you’re asking for one yourself but are willing to help them out, as well.
If you’re asking people for recommendations but wouldn’t be willing to recommend them yourself, be prepared for how you’d react if they ask for one back. It might be better to save the trouble and only approach people you’ve had a mutually beneficial working relationship with.
How to Write a LinkedIn Recommendation
You may be asked to write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone else. Follow these tips.
- Be selective with those you recommend. Before writing one, be sure that you are enthusiastic about recommending the person. Your name, photo, title and relationship with the person will be displayed on the recommendation you write. Make sure you’re only giving recommendations to those you feel truly deserve them from you, since your reputation is on the line.
- Ask for suggestions. When you want to give a recommendation to someone, ask them if they’d like you to highlight anything. They may suggest something about your personal relationship that wasn’t at the top of your mind but that would make for a better recommendation. Their suggestions can help inspire you and write a more effective recommendation.
- Be specific. Recommendations gain credibility and grab attention with specific examples. You might choose to highlight an experience or add some numbers demonstrating specific contributions to the recommendation you’re offering.
- Be honest and genuine. Write from the heart. Portray the person you’re recommending realistically and positively so your recommendation provides an accurate portrayal to recruiters and hiring managers.
Even though your relationship will be displayed under your name and photo, it can also help to explain your relationship in the recommendation. That way, the reader gets a better understanding of how you are or were connected.
The Muse has a template for how to write a LinkedIn recommendation. The site recommends to:
- Start with an attention-grabbing line.
- Describe your relationship.
- Share a standout trait of the person you’re recommending.
- Add insight into the person’s personality.
- Conclude with a solid recommendation.
Before the person adds your recommendation to their LinkedIn profile, they’ll be able to read it. After you’ve recommended them, ask for their feedback. They may ask that you highlight something different or remove something you recommended. You can edit the recommendation until it’s one you and the person you’re recommending are both happy.
Need Help with LinkedIn? Contact HiConsulting
Recommendations are one important part of LinkedIn profiles. Complete LinkedIn profiles should also have keywords relating to your professional experience and complete job descriptions that include quantitative accomplishments. With 90% of recruiters using LinkedIn, according to Kinsta, a complete profile on the social network can help you stay competitive in your industry and help you get a meaningful job.
If you’d like help optimizing your LinkedIn profile for hirers and recruiters, contact HiConsulting for a free consultation.