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April 25, 2014

Do You Know How to Write A WOW Cover Letter?


The Cover Letter Debate

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not you need a cover letter for your job search.  If you are applying to many jobs online, a common word of job search advice is that chances are you will not be required to have one.  However, if you are applying only online you are doing yourself an injustice.  You are missing out on making connections that could take you to the next level in your career. 

Cover Letters Are Making A Comeback
So what do I need to make a cover letter and when would I even use it, you may be asking?  Here are a few cover letter tips to get you started in finding your new career.
  •        Use a cover letter when networking for employment with employers and recruiters via email
  •          Use elements of your cover letter to help you draft a more personal message to a connection you find through Facebook graph search/ LinkedIn
  •          Use elements to craft social media profiles.
  •          Include your cover letter for resume applications that require a letter of interest.

So Here is How to Write A Cover Letter

Do Your Research. Ensure your cover letter is addressed to the right person. By all means necessary, try not to have “To Whom it May Concern” as your lead into the cover letter.  Find out who it is going to and address the cover letter specifically to the intended reader.
The Rising Action.  Once you have done your detective work to find out who the cover letter is going to, you want to start the body of your cover letter with some power. In the first sentence, introduce yourself and how you came to know about the position and person deciding the hiring. For the remainder of the first paragraph you are trying to persuade the reader to believe you are the solution to their talent problem. The employers business exists to solve a problem. Get the reader’s attention right away by acknowledging your awareness of the problem. Again this requires research. Know the industry, know the employers mission, and know how your talents fit with in the company's ability to make a profit solving the problem.
The Climax. Next you want to connect the employers need with a demonstration of your skill, talent, and passion in making their mission a success.  You can use three brief accomplishments that show some proof that you are the solution to their talent need. Or, an even better way to demonstrate your fit is to sample brief quotes from past employers. You can ask your references for a quote or sample them from letters of reference. Just make sure whoever you use is included in your reference page and include their name, title and Company following the quote.

The Conclusion. Keep it clean and concise. Thank them for their time. Draw their attention to your enclosed or attached resume, and welcome them to meet with you in an interview by contacting you at the provided email and phone number.

Need to Know How to Find A Job Other Than With Online Job Boards?
You have come to the right place J Stay tuned for the upcoming job search advice series in May on mobile job hunting!

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April 14, 2014

Need to Fix those Fatal Interview Flaws?

5 Ways to Sabotage Your Interview Part II:  Tools That Can Help!

               Knowledge is power.  Part of professional development is knowing what you need to work on and using your resources to make adjustments.  The previous post 5 Ways to Sabotage Your Interview: Part I talked about common mistakes that could cost you the interview. Here are some tips and techie job search tools to fix those 5 sabotaging mistakes!

5.      Initiating Salary Talk:
You want to know what your skills and abilities are REALISTICALLY worth in the market; and you definitely want to make sure that you have done everything in your power to find out what the actual salary of the job is.   Develop a good salary range…the highest you are worth, based on the market and salary ranges for your type of skill; and the lowest you will accept, based on your financial responsibilities, in case the job is something you really want or need for professional development. The key to NOT wasting your time is making sure you are actually applying to jobs that you are a good fit for compensation and skill wise.  Use tools like Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com Salary Finder, Payscale.com, Salary.com to do your research.

4.      Not Presenting Your Accomplishments Clearly:
The goal here is to know your most valuable skills and what things have you done using those skills that you are most proud of or have really been a star at. Take inventory of those skills that are related to the duties and responsibilities of the job you are interviewing for.  Then rehearse a brief narrative of how you would explain what happened..  A good ole paper and pen/pencil, your noggin, and the job description. Click here for an article to some good accomplishment writing techniques.

3.      Not Doing Your Research:
Doing your research for an interview is not always easy.  If you have been searching for a long time or have put out many applications and you get a last minute call for an interview, you may not have time to prepare.  However, if nothing else do enough research to know what the company is all about and develop questions to ask the employer at the end. Search the company’s corporate web site, use glassdoor.com, LinkedIn, Facebook Graph Search any and everything that is available to you to show you are knowledgeable about the company and are interested in more than just a paycheck.  http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviews/qt/interviewtipcompany.htm

2.      Bad Mouthing Past Employers:
Just DON’T Do It!  Being aware that it happens and how it happens is enough to help most people refrain from slipping into this interview faux paux.  However, another way to prevent this from happening if you really did not like your previous employer and fear your feelings may come out is to rehearse those tough questions. 

Have a friend or an employment counselor sit with you and go over your toughest interview questions in a few mock interviews.  This gives you the chance to explore your reactions and come up with professional ways to respond.  Rehearse those professional answers and keep them ready for use in the interview. 
Here is a really cool interview app that lets you do your own mock interviews and play back your answers for review. 

1.      Not Dressing For Success:
Again you don’t have to be fashion forward for an interview. Your appearance needs to be clean, neat, appropriate for the setting, and professional.  Don’t know if you outfit is a go or a no go?  Check out this infographic I collected on my Pinterest Interview board. … Follow me on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/KCCEmpowers/  for access to my hand selected pins to help you in your job search and career management!

Thanks for reading!

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April 11, 2014

Don't RUIN Your Chance at Getting The Job!

Part I
In a time where there is high competition for every job posted, making sure your résumé is on point is a top priority for all job seekers.  After investing in internet guidance on format, structure, wording and content; or even hiring a professional to construct a winning résumé for you, you would expect to blow the employer out of the water and get an offer right away!  Unfortunately, that is not how it usually works. 

Yes, your résumé is VERY important.  It is the key to opening the door to an employer’s interest, but it is up to you to win them over in the interview process. Here is a helpful article on old vs new résumé techniques to get you noticed.  In my years as an employment advisor in a rough economy I have seen individuals who have amazing resumes and impressive skill and background get interview after interview and still not one job offer after months of job searching. 

That can do something terrible to your self-esteem and desire to keep pushing hard at the job search grind. What I have found when they have come for help at that point is that their interview skills are what have been holding them back! Practice makes perfect but you should also be aware of 5 things that are complete turn offs to recruiters and HR Managers, making your chances of getting that job pretty slim. 

After speaking with highly respected recruiters and HR Managers; here they are the top...


5.      Initiating Salary Talk
What It Does To Your Chances:
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance—While you may mean to make yourself as transparent as possible to the employer, initiating salary talk is a tricky situation that may cost you the job. If you are inexperienced at salary negotiation or unsure of what the actual salary for the position is, let the employer bring it up or you can bring it up in the second interview….not upfront on the first interview.

What Recruiters Say:
It's a dangerous game.  Talking figures can be counter-productive until you know that they DO like you. My professional advice to candidates is to not make demands that could put your success in securing the job at risk.

4.      Not Presenting Your Accomplishments Clearly:
What It Does To Your Chances:
How much prep do you do before each interview? The reality is, the more you’re prepared, the better you’ll usually do. If you're not preparing examples from your past work that clearly demonstrate why you'd excel at the job, this might be why your interviews aren't panning out.  You are competing with other highly qualified individuals at the interview stage and need to be able to show the employer your value.  What have you done to improve and or benefit your past employers and how does that translate to how you will benefit the one interviewing you?

If you aren't able to show your value….your first impression is not a very strong one.

What Recruiters Say:
“ Whether the interview is in person or online, it’s important to put both your skills and personality on display. Remember to research before the interview and calm your nerves, so you can be confident about why you’re the perfect person for the position.

3.      Not Doing Your Research
What It Does To Your Chances:  
True or False:  Answering “I am not sure” or winging a response to the interview question “What do you know about our mission” makes you look unprepared and un-interested in the job.  I agree with this article about winging it in a job interview 

What Recruiters Say:
“ The biggest mistake we can make during an interview is to not ask questions. The interview is not only for an employer to decide if they want to invest in you, it is also an opportunity for the candidate to learn as much as they can about the job, company and culture of the company so they can make a decision on whether or not they want to commit to this new employer. In a time where good talent is hard to find candidates need to know their worth and ask questions to help them with their job choices.

      2.  Bad Mouthing Past Employers
What It Does To Your Chances:
Unfortunately I have known people who have intentionally badmouth a past employer in an interview to make themselves look like the victim….How do you think that went for them?  

           What Recruiters Say:
“ Candidates sabotage their opportunity for a new job when they express negativity towards their past managers. They usually begin the dialogue with, I don't like to speak negatively about my past manager, however... A better approach would be to state the job was no longer what they were interested in or they outgrew the position and they felt the time to move on had come. While we may still be able to read between the lines the approach has a more positive tone.

1.      Not Dressing For Success:
What It Does To Your Chances:
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this is the start of my list because it is a VERY COMMON mistake that people make. I have seen it all and I am sure you have noticed other interviewees too: Wearing too much jewelry, make-up, clothing is too tight/revealing or too baggy, hair is messy, shoes are dirty, clothing is wrinkled, etc, You don’t have to be fashion savvy but you do need to invest in at least one outfit to wear to a job interview.

What Recruiters Say:
 Candidates have less than thirty seconds to give a great first impression. A poor impression will result in less chance of getting that job. Attention to detail in your person and grooming gives an impression of your quality of work as well.

Are you or someone you know making any of these mistakes?  Check out Part II for Tips and Techie Job Search Tools to Fix Them!

P.S. A special thanks to Ms. Bertha Diaz, Ms. Christina Baker, and our other guest Recruiters and HR Managers for your great insight on this topic :)
You guys are Awesome!

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Is Your Résumé Dusty?

You already know your resume is important. Updating your resume with current, useful information is essential, whether you are seeking a job or creating a personal brand. However, the rules for writing resume change frequently. This can be stressful and confusing when you sit down to write one, and it is easy to get overwhelmed. We’ve created a list of 6 old and new resume trends to show you the difference and help you write your new resume today.


OLD: Using a personal email address:  specialskittles75@hotmail.com.....Totally not appropriate for a professional document…Yet I see it every day.  Use your first name, last name, or a combination of these. Upgrade your email provider if you use AOL or Hotmail. These email providers were popular years ago, but are no longer viewed as current.  Gmail is current and will not give any hints to your age unless you add your birth year as the example shows above (not recommended).

NEW: Add your social media links to your contact information. If your resume gets to the hiring manager, it is very likely that they will look you up anyway. This article from Grantham University highlights this new reality, and how you can actually use it to your advantage http://blog.grantham.edu/blog/bid/132065/Should-You-Include-Social-Media-Links-on-Your-Resume . Make sure that you put your best foot forward to show that you have nothing to hide.  If you have a well completed LinkedIn profile or a professional Facebook page add the shortened version of your URL to the contact information.


OLD: Objective statements are out. The days of telling an employer what you want from them is gone. Employers are only interested in what you, out of ALLLL the other candidates, can bring to the table.

NEW : Use a well-crafted Professional Summary.  This is helpful because you will highlight how having you on their team makes the employer look good.  Use this area to display the value and benefit you bring to their mission.


OLD: Providing an indiscriminate list of your previous jobs is distracting. The summer job when you scooped ice cream in college is not helpful information if you seek a position in accounting.  If you are targeting a certain position/field and some of your jobs are fairly irrelevant this will not paint a clear picture of a cohesive career story for the employer.  In general you want to keep your work history down to the past 10 years unless you need a specific job history to show your skills. 

NEW : Create a cohesive career story. It takes some crafting but you tie your work history together.  Research the position you want and the company. What key terms, attributes, and skills are required or seem to show up repeatedly?  If you have the skills valued by a company you want to work for, identify how you used these skills in your previous jobs. Be sure to emphasize those particular skills and eliminate any unnecessary information in describing the job.  

OLD: Listing your duties and daily tasks in your job description.  You do need just a tiny bit sometimes to describe the type of work you did….however, that is not what will impress the employer.  They are looking for the facts.  What have you done not what do you do.

NEW: The employer is absolutely interested in examples of your work and a showcase of your ability more than any listing of duties.  Show them the facts: your accomplishments. Use numbers. It can be hard to think of what you have done as an accomplishment, but hang in there. You can do it.  You are not going to stand out among your competitors if you don’t use well-written accomplishments. This recent article in US World News Report highlights the importance of measurable achievements on your resume: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/01/02/resume-writing-tips-for-the-new-year

OLD: References Upon Request is outdated. Your references are EXPECTED…always have them ready and do not include this phrase on your resume

NEW : Have at least 3-5 professional references on a separate but cohesive document to go along with your resume.  If you really want to get fancy (note: this is fairly impressive when done correctly) include short quotes from the reference with their contact information.

OLD: Addressing your cover letter using “To Whom it May Concern.”  This has fallen out of use and relying on it can give the impression that you are a bit lazy.  There are so many ways to find out who the HR manager of the organization is that not doing the research shows an obvious lack of effort and interest to the employer. 

NEW:  Address your cover letter to the right person.  Use your networking skills, Google them, Facebook Graph search them, look them up on LinkedIn….Do your research!

          Blow the dust off of your old resume. Revitalize your personal brand and professional image with the new. Do it today! For professional help in making your resume stand out, visit our website: www.kellumcareerconsulting.com

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April 2, 2014

It's Time For A Change

Welcome to the new economy.

Just one generation ago, workers looked forward to coffee breaks and slices of office gossip between monotonous tasks. Boredom was tolerated in exchange for comfort and job security. Employers rewarded loyalty by depositing money into retirement accounts. We’ve all noticed this is no longer reality.

Gone are the days of working for one employer for life. 

Retirement accounts have dwindled. Loyalty is no longer expected or rewarded. According to employment experts, the job market is now a free agent economy (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0446678791/ref=rdr_ext_tmb). Many businesses, as well as state and federal agencies, strive to outsource tasks in order to avoid paying full-time salaries and benefits. Enter freelance work.

A way to gain new skills and earn money outside of the context of traditional employment.

One key difference between the old economy and the new one is this: we now have the power to create our own career trajectory through freelance work.

It is possible to make money through freelancing, but this work is not performed merely to make money. Your gigs are opportunities to gain experience which will empower you to take control of the direction of your career.

Imagine for a moment that you want a position as a social media manager. You currently have a 9-5 job as an administrative assistant.  Your job pays the bills but does not provide opportunities to build a resume for the job you want. The experience required to achieve your goal can be gained through freelance work in social media. In other words, your 9-5 job will never define you again.

Freelance workers are self-employed selling their skills to others.

We are able to choose how and to whom we will sell our skills and at what price.  The relationship is now freelancer-client rather than employer-employee. Without the structure of the previous employment relationship, challenges arise organically: time management issues, the need for constant self-discipline, and working just to get more work. The benefits of freelance work include: flexibility in schedule and work location, higher job satisfaction and income opportunities.

Do you have marketable skills that others will pay for?

In order to help you decide what you have to offer as a freelancer, here is a list compiled by Forbes of top ten most marketable skills along with their estimated rate of pay: http://www.forbes.com/pictures/lmj45mggg/business-project-management/. A marketable skill that transcends into both your traditional job and freelance career will build a strong personal brand.

The free agent economy is reality.

We live in an exciting time, but it is also challenging. Navigating the challenges of the new economy requires us to think outside of the box when it comes to achieving our career goals. You don’t have to survive in the new economy. You can thrive as a freelancer.
Have a Fabulous Day!

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