Fresh Career Advice That Actually Works

Posts tagged ‘hiring process’

How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1)    Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;
2)    Give a specific reason for writing him/her;
3)    Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;
4)    Make it clear you want a meeting;
5)    Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);
6)    Don’t attach your CV;
7)    In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.

 

How to Write an Effective Speculative Letter?

Some employers list job openings on their company websites (and not anywhere else). They’re usually on “careers” pages or “join our team” or simply “current openings”. Sometimes there’s no mention at all of any vacancies. You’ve probably heard that in these cases writing a speculative letter to the company is a good way of eliminating competition.

Unfortunately there’s a very low response rate to speculative letters. In all likelihood it wouldn’t be this way, if it weren’t for the standard mistakes people often make. When we take a look at a regular speculative letter, then the main problem is that it isn’t targeted.

It’s usually addressed to „Dear Sir/Madam“ or worse „To whom it may concern“. This is the best way to ensure it goes straight to the HR department (if you’re lucky) and not to the actual decision maker. Because the letter isn’t tailor-made, the person writing it doesn’t offer a solution to a specific problem. It’s clear that he/she doesn’t know anything about the company, which definitely isn’t impressive. It also hasn’t got a “call to action” (request to do something”) in the end of the letter.

7 Tips on Using a Targeted Approach:

1) Address the letter to a named person who has the power to hire you;

2) Give a specific reason for writing him/her;

3) Research the company, so you can offer your advice to improve a situation or add value to the company;

4) Make it clear you want a meeting;

5) Ask them to keep your details on file for a suitable position in the future (as an alternative, if they really aren’t hiring at the moment);

6) Don’t attach your CV;

7) In the very end of the letter include a “call to action” – make a business proposition and ask them to call you at 555-5555.

You may think that if you have a generic speculative letter, you can send it to a large number of prospective employers. The idea is to cast your net wide enough, that you must catch something. That’s a common misconception. It’s much more effective to send out 3 targeted letters and get 3 responses than 100 universal letters and still get 3 responses.

Start Communicating with Your Prospective Employer

Applying for a job is like selling yourself and your experience to the company. Generally if you want to sell something (especially over the Internet), it takes multiple contacts before someone’s ready to buy. There’s a reason for that. People believe that the more knowledge, trust and proof they have the better (and righter) their decision will be. The job application is the first and for many the last contact with a potential employer.

Here Are Just a Couple of Ways to  Increase the Number of Contacts:

1)    Before sending your application think of a relevant question to ask and call or email the contact person named in the job ad. First of all he/she might be involved in the hiring process. Secondly it may also give you a better understanding of the job and what to emphasize in your application. Remember to always send a thank you letter after someone has helped you.

2)    Be a human not a robot. Add a personal touch to your job application. Do a little research to find out the recruiter’s personal/professional interests. Write in the cover letter something along the lines of: “I am really interested in working with you because we share a love of…”.

3)    If you’re invited for an interview, pay close attention to the details. It’s important because after the interview you should definitely write a follow-up letter. Include: “I appreciate that you took time to have a thorough conversation with me and introduce the potential position”. Also mention something the recruiter told you that was interesting and made you think. Offer your thoughts and solutions (depending on the situation).

Utilizing this knowledge will definitely make you stand out. You’re now a person they kind of already know and who’s pleasant to communicate with. All of the above mentioned techniques humanize you and actually make the employer look for a reason to hire you.

Resume Writing Tips from a Recruiter

Have you ever asked the question, what happens to your resume, when it reaches the recruiter? Well it simply goes on top of a thick stack of other CVs and then more CVs will be placed on top of yours. In bigger companies it may be also electronically scanned (for relevant keywords) before anyone looks at it.

There are dozens if not hundreds of applicants to every vacancy. It’s not an easy task to choose the best candidate for the job. The person who has to read all the CVs and concentrate on each one of them feels that it’s just a lot of hard work. So how does this process work?

The very first round is about first impressions. Your resume has to create interest and be relevant to the job you’re applying for. The hiring manager isn’t very selective when he’s having hundreds of sheets of papers to evaluate. Usually with every passing round the competition gets harder and each CV gets more attention and will be reviewed in detail. If your resume isn’t pleasant to look at, it’ll go straight to the trash bin along with fifty other CVs. Now only about half of the resumes remain.

If your CV captured the recruiter’s attention, the focus goes more on the structure, correct language and grammar. Without a logical structure, infested with spelling mistakes and typos, the resume has no hope.

The most important part is the top half of the resume. There you can summarize the whole CV by highlighting your strengths, unique qualities, achievements etc. The recruiter has to see right away that you’re a suitable candidate. It’s crucial to give a short overview of the resume.

Is your CV just a heap of boring facts or is it a colorful description of an impressive person? Your resume has to be distinguishing. If it’s bland and vague, it won’t get to the next round. Your resume should paint an imaginary picture of you as someone who could excel at the position offered.

Lots of people are good in theory and on paper, but the ones with practical skills are always preferred. If there’s any chance to prove your abilities and skills the job needs, definitely do it. Give the recruiter examples from real life experiences or provide links to online material.

Don’t try to be too qualified. It’s not good. The employer wants the job to be a challenge for you. Overqualified candidates are cast aside. Potential employers may feel that they’re using the position as a stepping stone. If you really want a job where you significantly exceed the requirements, it’s better to leave some details out or diminish their importance.

The first step of the hiring process is a game about who wins the CV-round and is invited to the job interview. There’s no doubt that the best way to play it is with your heart and soul.