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The Cover Letter – Your Greatest Selling Tool

Written by Jo Williams: Corporate Support Consultant – empire group

 

In this highly competitive candidate market a well-written cover letter can be your greatest tool in getting noticed. Applying for jobs can sometimes seem like an arduous and administrative heavy process, but spending the extra time on a cover letter shows potential employers and recruiters that you value the opportunity and are serious about their job.

A cover letter should be concise with no more than 2-3 paragraphs. Keep in mind this is your opportunity to let the employer know why they should hire you. It should be professional yet conversational and to the point.

It is critical to personalise your cover letter to the role rather than sending out a generic cover letter. If possible, you should address it personally to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Address any criteria mentioned in the job ad and discuss the qualifications and experience that make you suitable for the role. Without being over-the-top or boastful, explain why you want the role so much. Explain what interests you about their industry and their organisation in particular.

Keep it professional! Do not mention any personal challenges or family commitments that have taken you away from your career. This can open you up to discrimination and unless they will affect your ability to carry out your role, they are not relevant.

Finish with a closing paragraph expressing your desire to meet them for an interview. Ensure this sounds genuine and polite, never pushy. It’s a nice idea to include your phone number.

Last but not least – check all spelling and grammar! Print it out, read and re-read it and get a second opinion if necessary. Poor written communication skills can be a major red flag for employers. Good luck!

DEVELOPING RAPPORT IN INTERVIEWS

DEVELOPING RAPPORT IN INTERVIEWS

Establishing rapport is one of the most essential elements to a good job interview. You know it when you feel it – you come away from an interview feeling like you made a connection with the interviewer and that the interview went well.   Rapport doesn’t have to be an accident – you can do your best to create it.  Here’s how:

Do your research

Read as much as you can about the organisation and the person who is interviewing you to see if there is a common connection there.  There are many connections such as the type of work, common connections, matter types, and personal interests, or you might have a friend working in the organisation.

Dress the part

Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the role.  If necessary look at Google Images for pictures of your interviewer to look at their style of dress.  Look  at images of others who work in the organisation.

Use a firm handshake when introduced

Male or female, always extend your right hand on introduction, and make eye contact and smile.

Use people’s names

Repeat the person’s name on introduction, for example saying ‘Nice to meet you, Frank’.  Not only will it help you remember the name but it develops a personal connection. Of course if the interviewer is an older person resist using the first name until you are invited to do so.

Make Eye Contact

Always look into people’s eyes when speaking and if more than one person make sure you direct your attention to both of them.  Your answer to any question should be directed predominantly to the person who asked it, but every now and then look at the other person to include them and make the answer conversational.

Body language

Your body language is very important in developing rapport.  Use ‘open’ body language – avoid crossing your arms, and keep a relaxed but upright posture.  Subtly mirror the interviewer’s body language where possible.

Be sincere

Notwithstanding all of the above, it is, of course, necessary to be sincere.  Rehearsed rapport will not create rapport, but may inhibit it.

RETENTION MADE EASY – HIRE WELL TO START WITH

RETENTION MADE EASY – HIRE WELL TO START WITH

I am often asked by partners or business unit managers how to improve retention rates, or to turn it around the other way, how to reduce turnover. It is easy to forget that functional turnover is not the end of the world – the voluntary resignation, or managing out, of underperforming staff is ultimately good for the business. It is, however, costly and one of the best ways to avoid functional turnover is to hire the right people to start with.

We think about this issue a lot here at empire careers because that is our ultimate aim – to find you the right person for the job. So here are my top tips for making sure you hire the right person.

Don’t be in a rush to fill the role

In saying that, of course there is always a need to act quickly when you need to fill a role and we will respond to that. But please don’t recruit someone just because they have a pulse and have a bit of experience that is relevant.

Know your minimum requirements

Sit down and objectively write down what you are looking for in terms of expertise and skills.  Develop a ‘score’ card so that you can score the candidates you interview against those criteria. You might like to weight some things higher than others as well – for example, you might be seeking someone with, or with potential to develop, specialist accreditation, or another qualification. This will help you compare apples with apples.

Beware of your own biases

We all have bias – both positive and negative, and you need to be aware of them in the interview process.  Do you unconsciously favour someone for example that went to your alma mater? Do you subconsciously worry that a young woman sporting an engagement or wedding ring will abandon you to have babies? Do you dismiss applicants with foreign sounding names without interviewing them? Bringing out your own unconscious biases and being aware of them is a good way to minimise them.

Don’t hire someone too qualified

In the excitement of finding a candidate who has the right experience you’re looking for, but at a more senior level, you forget that you may not be able to offer them the challenge they need with the work you have, particularly if you already have three other people at that level in the firm. They may leave because the job did not meet their expectations or there is no career path for them.

Values based recruitment

What are the firm values? Does the candidate exhibit those same values? Use your behaviour based interviewing techniques to find out their values to make sure they align with yours.

Consider Executive Search

Often the right person for your role is happy and well paid somewhere else and not actively looking for a new job. Consider looking via a targeted search rather than advertising and you will be surprised who you might find!

Do you have any tried and true methods for hiring the right person the first time?