Cover Letter Tips: Call to Action

By: Stephanie Rozboril

Call to ActionWhen writing a cover letter it is important to conclude by letting the employer or recruiter know what they can expect next. You have given a review of why you are interested and your qualifications, but you need to summarize by effectively communicating your expectations for what’s to come. There are two ways to handle this:

Taking ownership– Put yourself in control by making statements like “I will make contact after the position close date to discuss the opportunity to interview” Pros: Shows you are serious about the job, and that it is something you are willing to continue to pursue past sending the cover letter, resume, and possible application. Cons: May seem to forward to the recruiter or hiring manager, especially if you are not a suitable candidate.

Placing follow-up in reviewer’s hands– Let the one in charge of hiring make the choice with a statement like “ I look forward to hearing from you”, or “Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in discussing my skills and qualifications further”. Pros: Allows the recruiter or hiring manager the control to make the decision whether or not to make contact, after deciding if your resume and cover letter are strong enough to make you a candidate. Cons: Could send the message that you are not as interested in the job, also places more responsibility on the company to make follow up calls when they may several positions accepting candidates at the same time.

Either way you decide to end the letter, make sure that whatever you say you stick to. Don’t say you will call and then don’t… this could ruin your chances, especially if they were anticipating a call.

For sample cover letters for many disciplines visit our Career Services Website at http://careers.erau.edu/land-offer/references-letters/index.html.

For example closing statements: http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/5-phrases-close-cover-letter-land-interview/

Stephanie Rozboril is new to the career services office and serves as the engineering program manager and also supports our homeland security, space physics, computer science, and computational mathematics students. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2012, where she worked in the Alumni Relations Office supporting future and current graduates. Stephanie enjoys working with students to help them achieve their professional goals and become successful in today’s competitive job market.

 

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Cover Letter Tip: How to find a name to address letter

By: Lauren Burmester & Stephanie Rozboril

Cover Letter2If you have found a position you are ready to apply for and are working on your cover letter you may have hit that all important line which requires you have someone to address this to. If your sudden scramble stems from the fact that you have no clue, don’t worry, there are several ways to handle this problem and get this letter on its way.

  1. EagleHire: If you found the job in EagleHire chances are the contact information is already included with the job posting
  2. Company Website: Take a look at the company’s website and see if there is an employee directory or a list of executives or managers available
  3. Internet Search: Conduct an internet search by using the name of the company and key words such as: recruiter, hiring manager, human resources, etc. Consider searching for the company on LinkedIn to locate the hiring manager’s name.
  4. Cold Call: Call the company’s Human Resources Department and simply ask for the contact information for the recruiter in charge of the job you are applying to
  5. Career Services Office: Contact your Career Services Advisor to see if they are familiar with the recruitment department for that company
  6. Generic Greeting: If all else fails use a generic greeting such as: Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Human Resources Director, or Dear Sir/Madam. These terms cover all the possibilities far better than “To whom it may concern” which is impersonal.

Taking initiative and finding a name to address your letter to shows the hiring manager that you are very interested in the position and you have put in the time and effort to make it right. This makes for a strong impression, before the letter is even read!

Sample cover letters are available on the Career Services website

Lauren Burmester is the Aviation Program Manager in Career Services.  She has been an employee with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2006 working in Advising and Admissions.  She completed both her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Studies with concentrations in Aviation Safety, Space Studies, and Business Administration, as well as a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with a specialization in Safety Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating with distinction.  Lauren’s passion for the Aviation and Aerospace industry is instrumental in assisting students achieve their personal and professional goals.

Stephanie Rozboril is new to the career services office and serves as the engineering program manager and also supports our homeland security, space physics, computer science, and computational mathematics students. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2012, where she worked in the Alumni Relations Office supporting future and current graduates. Stephanie enjoys working with students to help them achieve their professional goals and become successful in today’s competitive job market.

 

Tailor your Resume for YOU

resumetipspicBy Emily Ferraro

Embarking on a job search can often lead one through a lot of stress, uncertainty, and even sometimes doubt.  It’s important to remind yourself that you are just as important to an employer as they are to you. After all, there are two components to this process: the employer and YOU. More often than not, students are so eager to get a position that they forget what makes them unique and important compared to other applicants. Tailoring your resume isn’t just for the employer; it’s the first step in realizing your potential with a company. Of course, you need to appeal to an employer to get the job, but you must first appeal to yourself. Start by preparing your resume and cover letter with these tips in mind and be prepared to know your worth!

1. Ask yourself, “Why is it important to tailor my resume?”-

  • Imagine you are an employer receiving hundreds of applications for only one position. When you come across one that has a clear objective/statement that includes the position and company within your goals, you know right away that this resume is just for you. Scanning through the resume, you see that the resume highlights experiences and skills needed for the position in mind because they translate to the position description. Overall, you like to see that an applicant has taken the time to make his or her resume “made to order,” and this is the first step in impressing you.  This is the scenario you want to create when an employer finds your resume. It shows that you comprehend the position and the company’s vision while showing your ability to communicate your skills – a lot like a preview of what’s to come in an interview.
  • Staying true to the position description and highlighting your transferable skills help you understand the position. This is important because you should comprehend as much as you can about what this position requires and what you can bring to the role. It also prevents you from including fibs or extra material that doesn’t pertain. The rule is always quality over quantity. Looking impressive means that you present the real skills, show your true potential, and understand why you are important.

2. Use these methods when tailoring-

  • Most common tactic used when tailoring documents is incorporating keywords or buzzwords. I challenge you to think deeper, don’t just copy paste the words from the position but think about how you can present those key words in the bullet points of your past experiences.
  • Use transferable skills and action verbs! Employers scanning your resume want to see two things: 1. “What did you do?” 2. “How did you do it?” – sweet and simple. Jazz it up with action verbs to set up the skillset you are trying to demonstrate.
  • Get rid of redundancy. Like I mentioned before, quality reigns over quantity. Try not to list everything you have done on your resume and instead incorporate what is most pertinent to this position.

-Tip: Keep a master resume that includes all of your experiences, projects and involvement. Then pick and choose what you want to keep/omit based on what the requirements and skills are for the position. Save the new one as the resume for the specific position in which you are applying by including the company name in the file name (ex: Last name_NASAresume).

  •  Always prove your bullets with supporting examples. A lawyer making their case would never walk into a courtroom without supporting evidence to back their claim. . Think of your bullet points as the supporting evidence; always state your skill but provide a specific example of how you developed that skill. (For example, “Developed research skills by gathering data received from satellite, analyzing for patterns, and formulating the information into organized spreadsheet documents.”)

But you’re not quite done there. Just as important as it is to have a tailored resume, your cover letter will give you an additional edge, and having accomplished your resume means you’re on the right track towards creating a strong cover letter.

  • Even when an employer states that a cover letter is not necessary, I would always recommend writing one. This is the first place to show your ability to go above and beyond what is required of you.
  • When an employer looks over the submitted applications, the candidates with cover letters have put their applications into another category that shows their drive, ability to communicate transferable skills, and an extra ambitious attitude for the position.

Here are some additional tips for tailoring a cover letter:

  • Pick 2-3 specific experiences from your resume that you wish to elaborate on.
  • Organize your paragraphs to show your key skills. In one paragraph, highlight a needed skillset from the position and support it with evidence from your resume. In the next paragraph, highlight a different skillset also needed for the position and demonstrate how you have accomplished those skills.
  • Use the models and examples on our website for more insight on what a cover letter should possess for your specific degree program.

Emily Ferraro is new to the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and serves as the Program Manager for undergraduate Aerospace Engineering students. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies as well as her Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in College Student Affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Emily enjoys working with students to help them achieve their personal and professional career goals and specializes in topics such as personal branding and resume writing.

 

Organize, Optimize and Customize to Personalize Your Cover Letter

By Kristy Amburgeycover-letters

A cover letter is a beneficial tool that you should utilize as often as possible during your job or internship search.  In order to create an effective but personal document, you want to organize, optimize and customize your cover letter.

Organize

A good cover letter is an organized document where content flows from one point to the next in a concise manner.  It is recommended that you format your cover letter as you would a one-page business letter and that you use a three paragraph format.  Each paragraph will explain specific information in an organized and flowing fashion.

As a good rule of thumb, the first paragraph will introduce you to your audience, provide details about the job you are pursuing and then show why you are interested in the company and job.  The second paragraph will tell the employer exactly how you will help them achieve results.  Using your previous experiences and accomplishments, you want to establish three to four achievements that relate directly to the job you are pursuing, and you will use the job description and your knowledge of the company/job type to select the related accomplishments.  The third paragraph will close the letter and provide your contact information.

Even if you use different formats like an extra paragraph or a bulleted summary, you need to ensure that the organization of the document makes logical sense.  Keep the document succinct yet able to market your skills and accomplishments as related to the job.

Optimize

In order to get results from your cover letter, it should efficiently and effectively show an employer why you are the right candidate for the job, optimizing your most applicable and marketable skills.  The letter should be useful to a potential employer and provide actual details that matter to the reader.

In order to optimize your cover letter, you need to be accurate, provide information that is usable and make the document perfect.  That means that everything from the degree information to your outcomes achieved must be verifiably correct.  It also means that you need to provide the reader, your target audience, details that are relevant and not just list historical information that may or may not matter.  Finally, you need to make the cover letter perfect, meaning that the document should be error free, that everything is spelled correctly, that you are using proper grammar and that you have made it convenient for the person to find key information about you.

Take your time to optimize your cover letter to its fullest extent, giving the employer what they need to make a decision in your favor.

Customize

A cover letter should be customized for each and every job you pursue.  From the personalized salutation to the job description-identified content, you need to do your research and create a document just for that one job.  A generic document that you send en-mass is not an effective use of your time, and employers will find it hard to see value in this type of document since it is not really showing them beneficial information.

To customize a cover letter, thoroughly review the job description and understand the company culture.  Integrate key concepts that you find, matching your background, into the document.  To really customize the letter, take these steps.

  • After reading the description, highlight the key words, phrases or elements  on which you feel an employer would place the most value
  • Then, go back through your highlighted content and match these words to your background
  • Next, select three to four of those elements to integrate into the second paragraph of your cover letter as evidence-based stories, where you showcase your achievements as related to the employer’s needs

Your research and knowledge of the company can also show up in the first paragraph to help you produce a solid opening section.

By creating a document for a specific company and job, you are better able to help the employer see what you can offer them and how you might fit into their organization.  Customizing also shows an employer that you took the time to understand their needs and create something just for them.

Organize.  Optimize.  Customize.  Consider each of these actions as you compose cover letters.  It should be your goal to relate your experiences and accomplishments to the companies’ needs, making it easy for readers to see what you can do for them.  Ensure that each letter you submit achieves this goal.

Visit the Career Services website for additional cover letter information and samples.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Your Guide to a Job Search

by Kristy Amburgey

Jobs

Your job search begins as soon as you select a degree program to pursue, a new career path or an expanded role within your current realm of expertise.  Your job search should encompass a variety of activities, including research and preparation, self-evaluation, networking, etc. until you actually have a job in hand.  Even then, you should continue to grow your professional knowledge and connections to further your career until you reach your ultimate goal.

Identify Career Paths and Options

Any job search begins with an understanding of what you hope to do professionally in your life.   As you make decisions about your future, consider various career paths and options that match your personal and professional goals and personality.  Opportunities can range from positions directly related to your courses of study or not related to your degree but that use the skills you learned in college.   You can have one career path in mind, or you might be open to several different options.

Research Jobs and Companies of Interest

After you have determined the job type you want to pursue, you now want to find out the various job titles that encompass your career path, and you need to identify the companies that offer these roles.  In addition, you want to learn about the companies’ expectations, what the job requires of candidates (at a minimum) and what the job would entail, matching it to your preferences.  Be sure to get a realistic picture of who the company typically hires for your desired role and how both your background and your personality fit that job.  Make informed career decisions based on accurate research you have conducted.

Create a Targeted Company List

Any job search should be focused (avoid the “I will take anything” approach).  One way you can focus your search and help yourself down the road is to develop a targeted company list.  The list can be as long or as short as you want, but it should be focused on the companies that offer the job or an iteration of the job you want.  Your company list should evolve as you continue through school, find new companies and gain new interests; routinely monitor your list.  Don’t be afraid to go outside of your targeted companies to find opportunities, but you should do your due diligence on the company before applying to jobs.

 Prepare Job Search Documentation

Using your resume, cover letter and other documentation, your goal is to prove you can not only do the job but positively impact the company’s bottom line.  Focus your resume and cover letter on one job type at a time, customizing the resume using the job description as you apply for positions.  Ensure that each part of your resume is focused on showcasing your accomplishments by listing outcomes and results of your experiences (from work to academic to project).  Quantify your accomplishments as often as possible using dollar amounts, numbers and percentages.  Avoid using terminology (i.e. fluff) that gives employers no real useful information upon which to make a decision about you as a candidate.  As always, proper grammar, accurate information, consistency, clean formatting and ease of reading are all important factors in your job search documents.

Consider Additional Skills, Trainings and/or Certifications

Going back to the career path research you completed, you should have an understanding of what a company expects from their candidates.  If you are not sure, check out a variety of job descriptions or ask your professors or people in your network.  If you are missing a requirement, take the time to complete it before graduating, if possible.  If you must wait to obtain additional skills or trainings, have a timeline for when you hope to accomplish them.

Gain Relevant Experience and Skills

Relevant experience can come in a variety of forms, including co-op/internship positions, projects, research, job/summer jobs/part-time positions, on-campus clubs or organizations, volunteer work, conferences and professional organizations, to name a few.  Through any experience, you should work to further develop your leadership, communication, initiative, analysis and other skills that apply to any job type (also called transferable skills).

Maintain a List of Achievements and Accomplishments

In order to accurately communicate your accomplishments, you need to keep track of them.  Maintain a list of things you achieved in any academic, work, group or other experience.

Network

In reality, networking is an action that you began early in your life.  Now it is time to build your network into a more formal support system for your job search and professional growth.  You can build relationships in any number of ways, but you want to place yourself in situations where you can make a positive impression on a future employer or future advocate.  Brainstorm about ways you can connect with others; do not fall into the trap of assuming you know no one.  Your network may fall outside of the job type you are pursuing, but keep an open mind about building relationships with people from all professional backgrounds.

Apply for Positions

Approximately six months to one year before graduation, begin to apply for positions, especially for entry-level candidates.  Some career types are more likely to hire as needed, so you may need to wait closer until you are degree complete to pursue a job.   As you apply for positions, you must gain insight into how the company selects candidates to interview, always following directions.  Many companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), where the system scans your resume for key words before being viewed by a hiring manager.  In these cases, you must reverse engineer or integrate key words from the job description and your knowledge of the company into your resume and cover letter.  Another important reminder is to keep track of the positions for which you applied.

Interview

Interviewing skills need to be developed and practiced.  Prepare for an interview situation by researching the company, understanding the position, having stories to relay during the interview and giving evidence of how you can help solve the company’s problems.  Practice your interview skills by reviewing and answering sample questions, either with a partner or by planning out your answers.  Ensure you have questions to ask the employer and always put your most professional self forward, from your dress to how you present yourself.

Follow-up

After an interview, networking event or other activity where a person helps you, follow up.  A thank you note or email is appropriate, and a phone call or other act of kindness can be nice as well.  Avoid contacting a person too often as they will soon lose their desire to help you, or you may even lose out on the job after an interview if you are too persistent.

Understand the Salary Process

Once you are offered a job, you will also be extended a salary and benefits package.  Typically, you want to avoid talking about salary until you have been offered the job; only if a company requests the information should you provide an expected salary, preferably as a range.  Once you have been extended the job with salary, you can decide to accept, negotiate or decline the offer.  Understand that factors such as your negotiation strategies, your worth, the cost of living, the company’s salary standards and more impact your offer.  Ensure you understand what you bring to the negotiation table if you decide to ask for more money or benefits and always thoroughly research the typical salary ranges for your industry, for the company and for your job type.

And Network More

Networking should be an ongoing activity in any professional career.  Never stop meeting new people and growing current relationships.  Most employers prefer to hire someone who has been recommended to them, so make sure you continue to place yourself in a position to be the recommended candidate.

A job search is a personal journey, but there are some common steps that you should take to put yourself in the best situation for job search success.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter for the Virtual Hiring Event

by Kristy Amburgey

VirtualHiring-final-trans400pxThe Career Services Office is hosting the Virtual Hiring Event (VHE) for ERAU candidates seeking full-time employment. The VHE will be Monday, February 11 – Thursday, February 21 in the EagleHire Network with preview days on Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10. Job seekers will have the ability to view and apply to full-time job postings from companies who are seeking candidates.

In order to best prepare for the Virtual Hiring Event, you need to have an up-to-date resume and cover letter ready to use.  Some companies will have you submit your resume via EagleHire Network, so you need to have a “ready” resume in the system.  Other companies will direct you to their websites for application.  Either way, you need to ensure that your resume and job search documentation is suitable for the application process.

To prepare both your resume and cover letter, here are several key tips to understand and use.

  • Customize your documents for each and every position you pursue; using the job description and your company research, integrate key information into your resume and cover letter to prove that you have what it takes to do the job for that specific company
  • Focus the documents on what you can offer the employers and not necessarily on you
  • Relate your experiences and accomplishments to the employer’s needs; ensure that an employer can answer this question using the information you provide – “can this person positively impact my department and my company?”
  • Showcase your achievements; provide outcomes and results of your experiences instead of just listing general skills that most anyone could have
  • Avoid submitting generic documents that are addressed and customized to no one or nothing in particular; take the time to submit a resume and cover letter that was meant specifically for that job and that company
  • Ensure that a reader can understand what you want by reviewing your documents; an employer does not want to guess what job you want or why you are applying even after reading both documents
  • Prioritize and organize your documents; ensure that the important and relevant information is towards the top of the resume and is read from left to right; organize your cover letter so that you have three to four paragraphs
  • Know that an employer spends no more than 30 seconds reviewing each document if at all; most readers only glance at a resume to obtain a first impression; keep both documents easy to read and make it easy for them to find relevant information quickly
  • Rely on several people to review your resume for grammar, clarify and formatting; use spellcheck as well but follow it up with a review by someone who knows resumes
  • Review all information to ensure it is 100% accurate and verifiable

For resumes, here are some additional points.

  • Follow all general resume rules such as having some white space on the page, being consistent with all formatting, using font size no smaller than 10, spelling out abbreviations, avoiding using the personal pronoun “I”, etc.
  • Remove resume errors to prevent your resume from being dumped into the trash; remember that every recruiter will have their own set of standards and pet peeves, so do your best to understand the company you are pursuing and revise your resume to their standards
  • Understand Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS); many employers use this type of application system to preview and then select resumes for further review; once your resume is submitted, the ATS program will evaluate your resume based on programmed algorithms that match your document to predetermined words/order of words, including qualifications, skills, key words from the description and more; understanding the mechanics of ATS will help you know why customizing your resume is so imperative; also avoid using tables, graphs, images, etc. in your resume as most of these inserts won’t translate into an ATS program
  • Treat the resume as a marketing document that appeals to your target audience and not as a historical summary of everything you have ever done

For cover letters, here are some additional points.

  • Use a traditional one-page, business letter format
  • Address your cover letter to a specific person; do an internet search (LinkedIn, for example) to find the correct name if it is not listed in the EagleHire Network
  • Keep the cover letter concise but detailed; for example, when relating your background to the employer’s needs, give three to four accomplishments composed using a few sentences for each

As you select jobs to apply to via the Virtual Hiring Event, take the time to customize your resume and cover letter, if needed, for each position.  Leave the employers wanting to talk to you further; create documents that show employers how you are going to help them and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

Cover Letters Uncovered

by Valerie Kielmovitch

Bad Cover LetterYes!  You finally find the job posting for you and are ready to apply, but then you see it…submit a cover letter with your resume.  Your resume is top notch as you have been working on it for months, but you have never written a cover letter before and are uncertain of how to begin.  Let us uncover several top tips for generating a great cover letter.

One popular myth to uncover is that you can write one generic cover letter for all positions to which you are applying.  This is not the case, however, as it is important to tailor your cover letter to each specific position.  Find key words in the job description to include in your document, match them to your particular experiences and attributes, and integrate them into your cover letter.

Cover letters should go beyond the information that is included in your resume and really speak about your soft skills (i.e. communication, presentation abilities, etc.) that you have not included in your resume.  To expand on your related soft skills and accomplishments, you should include examples of accomplishments and achievements that will establish you as the ideal candidate for the position.

Another cover letter tip is that the format of a cover letter is important.  This document is considered a business letter, and everything is left justified on the page without any indentation.  You should also set up your cover letter in a 3-4 paragraph structure, which is described below.

You will begin your cover letter with your address, followed by the date and then the company contact information to include the contact’s title and address.  If you do not know a contact at the company, do some research on LinkedIn or Google to find a contact; if that is not possible, then address the letter to ‘Dear Human Resources Manager’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ as it is more personable than the generic ‘To Whom it May Concern.’

The first paragraph should explain the position you are interested in and how you heard about it.  In addition, you can include information you know about the company or why you are interested in their organization.

The next paragraph(s) is/are where you discuss your skills, abilities, experiences, and education, all supported by concrete examples.  In this section you should concentrate on 2-3 traits and how you acquired and applied those.  Focus on how you can positively impact the company and what you can contribute.

The final paragraph is where you invite the employer to read over your resume to learn more information about your qualifications.  At this point you will want to make a call to action. This could include requesting a meeting/personal interview or stating that you will follow up with the employer in a certain amount of time. Make sure you thank the employer for their time and consideration of your application and include your contact information (both phone number and email address).

End the letter with a professional closing (i.e. Sincerely, Cordially) followed by four lines then your typed name.  If you print the letter, make sure you sign your name in black ink.  Including the word Enclosure will also signify that your resume is included as well.

Formatting aside, here’s another tip to uncover.  Writing an effective cover letter takes time and patience so make sure you begin early and give yourself plenty of time.

A final tip is to ask others to proofread the cover letter as you do not want any grammatical or spelling errors in the document.  Also ask the person to review the cover letter for clarity and use of strong, positive language.

Cover letters can communicate so much more than just what is written on the resume, so it is imperative that you uncover the best cover letter tips and use them to your advantage.  To find samples and more resources, please visit the Career Services website.

Valerie Kielmovitch has been working as a Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for nearly two years.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina.  Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.

 

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