Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cover Letters to get that Interview- Why they're Important

The job you just applied for received over 100 applications. Sounds daunting, but this mountain of paperwork can be climbed and you can come out on top.
      Step 1. Read the job ad carefully. Inside that ad you're going to find key words. When the employer wrote the ad he described his dream employee.
     Step 2. Make a list of the key words within the add. If the ad says something like;
        Brand new pediatric dental office looking for a front office staff member with dental office experience. This person should be a team player who can ensure the smooth and efficient running of the practice as a whole. The ideal candidate will be friendly, enthusiastic, and have a positive attitude. Also, they should be a quick-learner, flexible, and have excellent organizational and customer service skills. Tasks include welcoming patients, scheduling appointments, presenting fees and discussing dental insurance benefits, processing dental insurance claims, tracking and calling patients with incomplete treatment, and all other front desk tasks. Great opportunity for a highly qualified candidate that possesses strong leadership skills. Salary based on experience. 
     The key words here are; team player, efficient, enthusiastic, positive attitude, flexible, excellent organizational and customer service skills, strong leadership skills. So you'd want to hook the person who reads your cover letter by using these words. This is what they are looking for, so be that person. 
     Step 3. Check out the website if possible. Google their name, email address, or phone number to find it. There might be more key words on their website you can find to use in your letter. 
     Step 4. Make your first sentence or two a hook. That means say something right up front to make them read on. Don't start with "I would like to apply..." They know that already, you gave them your resume. Try, "I'm looking for a position that will appreciate my positive attitude and excellent customer service skills." In that first sentence you've incorporated two key words from their wish list. 
     Step 5. If you can say something personal about their business, add that, too. The above ad if for a pediatric office so any experience you have with kids would be good to mention. If it's a construction office, you can admire something you saw on their website. 
     Keep it short and to the point. All your skills should be listed on your resume, so don't list them all here. A highlight or two that coordinates with what was asked for in the ad is fine, but most employers don't have time to read a book. 
     If you're not that great a writer google cover letters and copy them, BUT don't forget to add your keywords and personalize it to make it stand out from the crowd. Use the bones of those online letters, but you need to make them your own and tailored to the job for which you're applying. Every job you apply for should have a different cover letter that's been modified to reflect the job, key words, and how your skills would match. 

Good luck! Go get 'em! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Job Interviews; View from the Front Desk

I sit at the front desk of a place that is hiring several different kinds of workers;
sales, laborers, drivers, etc. There's actually a few different positions that are or will soon be available.

Plenty of people come in to apply. Few will be hired. Wonder why? Well here are the top reasons they didn't get past the first interview.

1. Dress code; Don't come in wearing shorts, tank tops, and sneakers. Really? Those who maybe coming for laborer jobs might think those jobs are the construction jobs, digging, installing, etc, could show up wearing shorts, old t-shirts, dirty jeans, or whatever...but no. Dressing like you just rolled out of bed doesn't make you look like a good employee, much less someone they'd want to represent their brand. And it's disrespectful. You look like a slob and they'll show you to the door.

2. Be prepared. Make sure you know what goes on an application and keep that info on your phone or a piece of paper in your pocket. Saying you want to take the application home to fill out makes you look unprepared and like you need someone to fill it out for you. Not a good image you want to project on the new employer.

3. Come alone. Bringing your mom, your friend, the other friend who also wants a job makes you look helpless. You really couldn't come by yourself? You need someone to hold your hand? The buddy system is great, but not when applying for a job.

4. Be polite to everyone you meet. You never know who has the boss's ear and that includes the receptionist, cleaning crew or anyone walking by.

5. Come straight. Yes, we know if you've been drinking or on drugs. We see a lot of people and know what to look for so don't think you're fooling anyone. Stay straight to get the job.

Let's review;
         1. Dress nice. Sales jobs; suit and tie. Show them you want to impress.
                                Laborer/construction; Nice polo and khakis. Work boots will be okay but be sure they're clean.
                                Drivers; Nice polo and khakis. Leave the jeans home. They may be okay for work, but not for the interview.
                                Office workers: Wear a suit and show them you're a professional.
        2. Be prepared. A resume is always nice. Don't let your cover letter be too wordy. Get to the point. If you can't remember your references or info on your last few jobs, put it in your phone or on a piece of paper tucked in your pocket. (and turn those phones off during an interview-even the vibration mode can be heard-turn them off)
       3. If you don't have a car and need a ride, make them wait outside. They need to know you're an adult. Walk into the place of business alone.
       4. Always be polite. I've pushed for that well dressed and very polite young man to get hired and he did. The bosses sometimes rely on the staff to size up the perspective employee so know that everyone you meet is part of your interview.
       5. No drugs or alcohol. I know it sounds like commons sense, but a lot of people come in stoned or tipsy. We spot it right away. You are not fooling anyone. Don't reek of cigarettes either. Not everyone likes the aroma of an ashtray. Keep it out of the interview room.

Remember these few tips and you'll be miles above most of the people who applied for a job last week. Good luck!