Saturday, October 13, 2012

How To Create A Tough Times Cover Letter

During tough times it's important to write a solid, information-packed, professional cover letter that will grab the hiring manager's attention. That means including details that will show him or her what you've done, what you can do, and what you will do if you are hired for the position advertised. 

Focus on Experience and Skills
It's not enough to mention your degree in engineering or accounting or sales and marketing, important as it may be. An employer will want to see your job-related leadership strengths and communication skills as well as experience in a particular field. In other words, can you get along with co-workers, take action in an emergency, settle a dispute if one arises, offer creative ideas during a planning meeting? 

Make sure your cover letter shows, not merely tells. For example, don't say I'm good at bringing peace to a difficult situation or I offered some new ideas on how to run the accounting department. These are too general. Provide a list of specific accomplishments you're proud of. Example:
  • Resolved an argument between two employees when one threatened to walk off the job
  • Suggested a new method of accounting (name the program, if applicable) that management embraced
  • Demonstrated a piece of software (state what it is, if applicable) that cut support staff hours by one-third
State What You Can Do For the Company
Once the hiring manager knows what you've done previously, he or she will be eager to find out what you can do for his or her company in the future. In other words, how will your previous experience lend itself to the new position? Here is your chance to be specific once again.

Suppose you are applying for a job as an administrative assistant for a university. Address the requirements you read in the advertisement for the job opening. Then show how you can fill them.

Example: You can count on me to:
  • Ensure that all computer labs are up and running following the purchase of software for particular courses, and classes assigned to correct computer labs.
  • Maintain computer labs and classrooms with computer equipment.
  • Train and supervise employees, write a grant, and ensure reports are submitted in a timely manner
  • Balance department budgets, and follow protocol regarding purchasing supplies
  • Schedule board meetings and make travel arrangements
  • Assist students, faculty and staff and community members with computer tutoring and troubleshooting, etc.
Regardless of the economy and the sometimes bleak outlook when it comes to searching and finding a job, people are hired everyday all over the country. You can be one of them if you make sure your cover letter meets the professional standard, communicates clearly who you are, what you can do, and basically shows what you know—without pretending or patronizing.

Be your honest self, tell the truth, write in a positive and optimistic tone, and trust that the job you are best suited for is out there waiting for you.

Jimmy Sweeney

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Answer Bad Interview Questions With Good Answers

If you’ve prepared for the interview you more than likely spent all of your time preparing to answer “positive questions” – demonstrating how good you are and what you can offer this position. You are not prepared to talk about your failures or times when you were challenged by difficult situations. So what do you do when you encounter a “curve ball?”
You deal with it in a positive manner. 

Here is an example of a question that could be asked by an interviewer who is seeking negative information and how to deal with it. 

Question – “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone at work and how you resolved it.” 

Answer – “I usually get along very well with everyone.” 

Wrong Answer – The most important reason that this is a “poor answer” is that it doesn’t answer the question: “Tell me about a time when….” The interviewer is seeking an example of a time when you had a dealt with a difficult situation or person and how you handled yourself. (communication/relating to others) 

Here is a good example of how to answer the question in a more confident and informative manner:
There was an incident that happened with a person who was not pulling his weight on the team and it was affecting morale. All the team members were getting disgruntled but nobody was doing anything about it. His name was “Todd” and he was an older worker who had been with the company for many years. 

I took it upon myself to have a talk with Todd when the opportunity presented itself. It didn’t start out smoothly – he was defensive at first and resented my speaking to him about his work behavior. He started telling me I should mind my own business. I stayed very calm and spoke in a moderate voice. I was careful to let him know that I wasn’t judging him but rather was concerned about the team and the ability for everyone to get along. He began to calm down and started telling me about the challenges he was facing. 

He confided in me that he had some family problems at home that were affecting his energy level and patience. I listened attentively while he told me about his problems. 

Once he became aware that his behavior was affecting other’s work he made a special effort to be more open and receptive. The team spirit improved greatly after that – as well as the productivity. 

My boss made a point to tell me how much she appreciated my intervention before she had to step in to take disciplinary action. Todd also thanked me for speaking to him. 

This answer deals with the question in a positive, assertive manner. Taking the initiative is a good trait to demonstrate with your stories – “I took it upon myself….” 

You can see that there is a good deal of positive information that can be emphasized in an answer – even if it is an example of a time when things were negative. 

You have shown the interviewer how you resolve an issue with another person. 

Turning negatives into positives is an important skill to learn. When you are asked a “bad” or negative question, take a minute to turn the answer around refocusing the answer to include some positive qualities.

By Carole Martin

Monday, October 8, 2012

Action Is Essential To Career Success

Are you working on your career goals regularly or just thinking about them? Are you moving forward a little bit every day or waiting for the right time to begin? 

Goals don't get realized on their own. They get completed and achieved when you are working on them. Work on your goals and you will reach them. Work on something else and your goals will take a back seat. 

Nothing great happens in your career without your active participation. When you are taking action in your career, you are carrying out your goals with purpose and power. You are "in the zone" and believe that anything is possible. You feel great. You have faith that your actions will lead to goal completion. And you are right. 

So, How Do You Take Action In Your Career? Follow These 5 Steps Below.
  1. Map Out Your Action Steps You can't reach your destination unless you know where you are going. Mapping out what you are going to do-and then doing it-is your recipe for success. Think about it this way. If you were to complete one action step every day, you will have taken thirty steps at the end of the month and 365 steps by the end of the year. Small steps add up to big ones because goals are reached one (mapped) step at a time.

  2. Manage Your Time Effectively You are probably extremely busy, and you are certainly not alone in this. But do not use being busy as an excuse to not work on your career. It's essential to work on your goals despite what is happening around you. And, if you do not make time, it will not magically occur on its own. Are your goals important to you? If the answer is yes, then make time to accomplish them.

  3. Select Your Priorities There will always be something on your list of things to do. So, try to let go of what you should do, or could do. Instead, focus on what you want to do and accomplish. You want to reach your goals. This is your objective. Select the action steps that will get you there, and work on these. This is how you will reach the finish line.

  4. Use Your Calendar A calendar is an essential tool for helping you reach your goals. If you don't feel like taking an action step in your career, your calendar will help you get motivated or stay on track. If you don't remember what your next action step is, your calendar will remind you what to work on. If your action steps are not in your calendar, they will not get done, because you will forget what you need to do.

  5. Move Forward No Matter What You will have good days and bad days-everyone does. Nevertheless, try to move yourself forward and take action even if you do not feel like it on a particular day. Take one step every day whether you believe it will make a difference or not. Movement will help make your goals a reality.
So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

By Deborah Brown-Volkman