JOB SEARCH TIP #40: Cover Letter Magic—Connecting Dots.

19 Jul

The most important thing you can do with a cover letter is begin to connect the dots between your skills, interests and experiences and the job that is being offered. It’s easy to do:

  • Make a list of each of the key job requirements. You can get this information directly from the job posting.
  • For each of the key job requirements, connect how your background fits these requirements.

If you have a number of key requirements for which you don’t have a response, that may an indication your success in getting an interview is limited.

But if you can connect the dots between your background and the job requirements you are far more likely to improve your chances of getting called for an interview.

Want to make a difference with your cover letter? Connect the dots.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #39: Different resumes tell different stories—the functional resume. 

19 Jul

I met recently with a person who looking for a job. She’s had three positions in different industries. She’s been successful in each and has enjoyed the work, but is concerned she may have difficulty explaining how her work could interest a prospective employer.

If this sounds like you, prepare a functional resume.

Instead of having your resume present your job experiences in chronological order, think about those skills and experiences that go across jobs. Present your experiences in those functional categories, such as “customer services” or “communications” or “project management”. This can help a prospective employer sort through what you’ve done to see if those areas match their job requirements.

To customize your resume for each job, you can order the functional categories in the order you believe will best present yourself to a specific employer.

Finally, list your where you’ve worked toward the end of the resume.

Remember, when you’re preparing a resume you’re telling part of your story to a prospective employer. Tell is in a way the enhances your standing.

There is additional information about functional resumes at the web site of my church. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #38: Help the “Resume Computer” fall in love with you.

19 Jul

Want the “Resume Computer” to love you? Think keywords.

Most resumes these days are loaded into an applicant tracking system. A common feature of these systems allows employers to search for words for each resume and match them to the job description. Please represent yourself accurately, but do make sure you align keywords in your resume to provide you the best chance for an interview.

As an example, a functional strength of yours is “teamwork”. You see a job description where they use the word “collaboration”. It would better for you to amend your resume to use their word to describe what is likely much the same set of behaviors—so  change “teamwork” to “collaboration” on your resume. .

You can also add the hashtag #collaboration to your resume—this is perfectly appropriate if it still represents you.

Let’s be clear—you should never misrepresent yourself in any way, so if the change is untrue it should not be done. But if you can make the change so the computer algorithm rates you higher then make the change.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #37: Tell them what you’ve learned.

19 Jul

As I reflect on my career, there is a quality that has helped me be successful and navigate the occasionally bumpy waters of my career…

… I’ve never stopped learning.

Employers like to hire people who like to learn. Why?

The speed of change is coming at us quickly, and will only increase. What we learn and master today may be obsolete tomorrow.

Guess what? Employers know this as well, so they’ll work to verify you have the skills that can be of value now, and you can stand out from the competition even more if you can showcase how you have learned new skills.

As you are searching for a job, take time to reflect on what you’ve learned along the way.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #36: Answering the “Weaknesses” Interview Question.

19 Jul

How do you answer the question “what are your weaknesses?”

Please don’t answer “I don’t have any”, because we all have them and that response will not go over well.

Two approaches:

  • talk about a weakness that you are aware of that either wouldn’t be a big problem in the job for which you are applying; or
  • a weakness you have learned how to manage. For example, I’m not very organized, but I’ve developed systems and techniques that help me stay organized.

Make sense?

What it comes to naming your weaknesses, tell your story and tell it well.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #35: “In the Zone”—when does time fly for you?

19 Jul

You hear athletes talk about times when they are “in the zone”, when they’re performing at a high level and time seems to fly.

Research shows that all of us can experience this feeling, and if we are in the right job can experience this in our work.

Think back on you prior work experiences:

  • Have you had times when you felt “in the zone”?
  • If so, what were you doing?
  • With whom were you working?
  • What may have gotten in the way of that feeling?

You will likely be more successful and enjoy your next job more if it gives you an opportunity to be in the zone.

Want a satisfying job? Find your zone.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free. Please pass along:

JOB SEARCH TIP #34: One Job Search Size Does Not Fit All.

17 Jul

I’ve spent too much time complaining about… socks. Why, because too many socks are one-size-fits-all, which if you have a size fourteen shoe like me that means no-size-fits-all.

I’m old enough to remember when having one resume and cover letter was standard fare, which you carefully prepared on your typewriter and copied.

Those days are gone.

You now have the ability to customize all your job search communications. You could apply to ten different jobs and have ten different cover letters and resumes.

Really, why?

When you take the time to customize your messaging to a specific employer, you increase the perception that you have done your homework about the employer and are truly interested in them.

They like people who show interest—they’re funny that way.

To have one “cookie cutter” set of correspondence these days is just plain lazy, and makes you stand out in a way that doesn’t advance your search.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community and a handout. This content is free:


JOB SEARCH TIP #33: Start or join a job search group.

16 Jul

Oprah Winfrey once said: “helping others is the way we help ourselves.”

That is true for folks who are in the job search.

Back in my days as an outplacement consultant we used to hold a Monday morning session for the job seekers. It was helpful in a number of ways:

  • By having it on Monday morning, it got everybody and up and moving, which in and of itself is good,
  • Each person shared what went well the week before and what they were planning on doing that week, which helped with reflection and accountability, and
  • We also had a time in the meeting when job seekers could ask for help, for insights into an employer or help networking

From my experience, the people who came to the weekly meetings, on average, landed more quickly than those who didn’t.

Find and join a group. Often faith communities or colleges have groups.

And if you can’t fine one, start one.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #32: What you learn after you know it all.

16 Jul

The great basketball coach John Wooden once said: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

All of us can still learn, and improving your skills is a great way to use some of your time as you conduct your job search. Here are a few resources:

  • There’s this fun place you may have heard of called… a library! Call or stop by and ask what classes are available,
  • Your local community college,
  • Check out possibilities from schools from which you graduated,
  • There are lots of online courses available. An example is Coursera, and
  • There are paid sites as well, such as MasterClass.

As part of your online strategy, post what you’re learning. This could be a photo of a course completion certificate, or better yet insights you have gained. Prospective employers may value learning about what you’re learning.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community. This content is free:

JOB SEARCH TIP #31: You’ve landed your job. Things aren’t great. Be awesome anyway.

15 Jul

You land the new job. You’re not sure you’ve made the right choice.

Be awesome anyway.

Your new co-workers are, at best, okay.

Be awesome anyway.

The pay and benefits are fine, but you’re not going to get rich.

Be awesome anyway.

This job looks interesting, but you’re not sure there are opportunities for you to grow here.

Be awesome anyway.

It’s a longer commute than you were planning, and that’s stressful.

Be awesome anyway.

There are far more reasons why a new job might not be great, and the temptation would be to mail it in while you look for something better.

If it’s really bad, go ahead and look for another job. But in the meantime give them more than an honest day’s work.


If you do leave, the worst thing they can say about you is “there goes an awesome employee’.

More importantly, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that even in less than ideal conditions you acted with honor and integrity.

And that’s worth a lot.

There are training videos on the web site of my faith community. This content is free: