Resoures Center

You'll find advice on resume/cv writing, job interview, and other tips like career advice and workplace rules. All written by our team of seasoned career advice authors.
  • Are Cover Letters Necessary? How Important are Cover Letters?

    If you’re wondering whether you need to send a cover letter, or how important cover letters are to employers, then keep reading. After working for years as a recruiter, I’m going to reveal: When are cover letters necessary, and when are they not needed Why you may be wasting hours sending cover letters that employers don’t read Tips to make sure your cover letter gets read and gets you job interviews Let’s get started… ## How Important are Cover Letters? Many people on LinkedIn and other sites will tell you that you should include a cover letter every time because it “can’t hurt,” but that’s not true… Here’s how it CAN hurt you… Writing a great cover letter takes a LOT of time and mental energy. So if it’s not making a difference, or not even getting read, then it is hurting you in terms of wasted time and energy (I’d argue that writing a cover letter is the toughest and most time-consuming part of the process for many job seekers). ![does-a-resume-need-a-cover-letter.jpg]( Writing a resume is tough, sure. But once you get it, you’re done. You spend 5-15 minutes tailoring it for each specific job you apply for, but that’s it. Cover letters take a lot of time EVERY time (at least when done right). That’s why it’s important to look at how important a cover letter is, and which situations it’s necessary and truly beneficial in. ## Three Situations Where Cover Letters Are Necessary: There are a couple of specific scenarios where cover letters are necessary, and you should send one. This article by Harvard Business Review says it best: ![cover-letter-kraked-768x215.png]( In those cases, according to Harvard Business Review, you can boost your chances of getting the interview by writing a short letter to point out similarities between your resume and the job requirements (e.g. why you’d do well in their job)… rather than leaving the analysis entirely up to the hiring manager. But this is only worth doing if you meet one or more of the criteria above, or a few other situations I’ll explain below… ## Two more cases where it’s important to send a cover letter First, you should send a cover letter if an employer specifically says it’s required on their website or job application form (however, having an optional field to include it is not the same as asking for it or saying it’s required). And second, you should send a letter if you have a large gap in employment or something unusual in your background that you feel the need to explain, and you don’t feel your resume explains it well enough on its own. (Although I do like addressing gaps in employment directly on your resume employment history section when possible. For example, if you took a year off to raise a kid, you could say: “2018-2019: One-year break from work to raise first child.” So do try to explain this type of thing on your resume if you can!) ## When You Don’t Need a Cover Letter If you don’t fall into any of the situations we looked at above, then a cover letter is not needed. For example, if you’re just applying for jobs online via job boards, via LinkedIn, on company websites via their “careers” page, etc., then I’d skip it! Send your resume and let it speak for itself. (And if you don’t have a great resume yet, you can get help here.) In my opinion, the extra time and effort just isn’t worth it when you’re applying online with no prior relationship, no referral, and no special knowledge of the hiring manager or job requirements that you can use to make your case for why they should interview you. This is one reason I love LinkedIn EasyApply as a part of an online job search – because a cover letter is not required or even expected. **Of course, the final judgment call is yours!** If you’re applying to your dream employer and you don’t mind spending an hour writing up a great cover letter, then go ahead! It can’t hurt in a one-off scenario like this. But the main point I’m trying to make here is: **You should be selective about when to send a cover letter, rather than feeling obligated to send it by default.** ## Recap: How Important is a Cover Letter? The answer to how important a cover letter is depends on the hiring process and situation. If you read the information above, you now know when a cover letter is necessary/recommended, and when you probably shouldn’t bother. And you’ve seen that cover letters do matter in some cases, but that doesn’t mean that you always need to send a cover letter. And as mentioned earlier, the main benefit of this approach is time savings… **When you look at how much time and effort goes into writing each of these letters, it can add up to hours or days of wasted time if you’re sending cover letters without analyzing whether it’s necessary for the situation.** ## Tips for Writing a Good Cover Letter Now that we’ve answered whether a cover letter is necessary, and when it’s important, here are some tips and resources to help you in situations where you decide a cover letter is needed: First, I’d always recommend keeping it brief, easy to read (no huge paragraphs or blocks of text without spacing), and personal. It should feel like you’re talking directly to them! That means start with “Dear Bethany”, (for example), not with, “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter”. (Recruiters almost never care about a cover letter anyway. It should be for the hiring manager). Also, make sure you’re saying the word “you” at least as often as you say the word “I”. Talk about their needs and their company, not just about yourself. The purpose of your cover letter is to point out similarities between your background and the employer’s job requirements. You want to demonstrate why you’re likely to succeed in their specific role, to sell them on interviewing you! And you cannot do this without researching their job and understanding/discussing their job. So this letter isn’t just about you, it’s about them just as much. If you follow the steps above, you’ll save time in your job search and maximize the number of interviews you get for the effort you put into your job applications!
  • Popular Jobs That Require No Experience With Salaries

    Finding the right job takes time and patience, especially when you have little to no work experience. But when you know how to represent your skills and experiences in an appealing way, you’re sure to achieve success. Learn how to find a job when you’re limited on work experience, see the most popular jobs that require little to no experience and popular skills and qualifications to include on a resume. ## How to find a job with no work experience Follow these steps to find a job when you have no work experience: **1. First, assess your participation in extracurricular activities** If you’ve ever volunteered for charity, participated in sports or joined a club, you’ve likely developed skills that you may not realize. Many of these pursuits require teamwork, leadership, excellent communication or time management—which translate into strong skills you can highlight on a resume. **2. Second, customize your resume and job application** Approach every job that you apply to with care and attention to detail. Avoid sending the same cover letter and resume to dozens of companies. Think about how your past experiences support the specific job you’re applying to, then customize your resume to enhance the best skills suited for the job. **3. Then, network with industry pros** Reach out to people you may know who work in the career field you’d like to pursue and ask them if they know of any openings. They might be able to connect you with others involved in the hiring process. **4. Next, email companies you’re interested in** Just because a company doesn’t have any current openings doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Contact the companies you’re interested in working for to see if they’d be willing to look at your resume or keep it on file if a position opens up. **5. Finally, apply with confidence** Above all, remember that your personality is one of your biggest assets. Sometimes people get hired based on their can-do attitude and overall positivity. Hiring managers look for people who display leadership qualities, know how to communicate well and get along with others. ## Popular jobs that require little to no experience Here are some top jobs that require little to no experience: **Medical Biller** **National Average Salary**: $33,530 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: A career in medical billing doesn’t require any form of licensure, though there are educational courses available to help you become certified. This helps hiring managers feel more confident in your abilities. Their responsibilities include properly coding medical procedures and billing insurance agencies. **Repair Technician** **National Average Salary**: $34,819 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: People with hands-on skills often make great Repair Technicians. They work in a variety of environments to restore materials, appliances, equipment or vehicles to their original working order. **Flight Attendant** **National Average Salary**: $34,819 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Flight Attendants serve the people who fly on various airlines by providing safety instructions, meals, comfort items and support when they get distressed. They also take part in preflight meetings with pilots, direct evacuations and inspect emergency equipment before takeoff. **Mail Carrier** **National Average Salary**: $39,458 per year **Roles and Responsibilities**: Mail Carriers collect and deliver mail to homes and businesses. They travel by foot or mail truck, depending on the areas they cover. Beyond delivery, they often need to get signatures from customers and answer their questions. **Personal Trainer** **National Average Salary**: $44,720 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Personal Trainers teach their clients how to properly exercise and guide them with personalized workout plans. They track their physical progress and talk about diet and lifestyle to achieve success. If needed, they provide emergency first aid. **Firefighter** **National Average Salary**: $44,993 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Firefighters put their lives at risk to keep people safe from threatening fires. They extinguish fires and rescue people from emergencies, performing medical care when needed. **Air Traffic Controller (ATC)** **National Average Salary**: $46,570 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Air Traffic Controllers work to ensure the safety of aircraft moving through the sky. They monitor flight routes, communicate with pilots and follow emergency procedures in stressful situations. **Truck Driver** **National Average Salary**: $59,098 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Truck Drivers haul goods from one place to another and typically involve traveling long distances. They are responsible for loading and unloading materials, driving safely, logging hours, performing truck inspections and completing related paperwork. **Landscape Architect** **National Average Salary**: $66,027 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Landscape Architects meet with clients to design and implement appealing outdoor spaces for a variety of landscaped areas including homes, businesses, playgrounds and schools. **Real Estate Agent** **National Average Salary**: $86,314 per year **Role and Responsibilities**: Real Estate Agents work with clients who need help finding, buying or selling residential or commercial properties. Also, they work under a brokerage to make and negotiate offers, create contracts, publish real estate listings and more. ## Tips for listing skills on a resume When applying for jobs, remember that your soft (interpersonal) and hard (technical) skills may be stronger than those of other applicants who’ve applied. Be upfront about your skill level and educational experience on your resume. What you include in these key sections of your resume may resonate with people who have specific things they are looking for in a candidate. Include any relevant skills you have, even if they don’t seem that exciting. ## Popular skills to list on a resume Some popular skills that come in handy for a variety of jobs include: - Communication - Leadership - Problem-solving - Organization - Resilience - Data analytics - Time management - Public speaking When you include these skills, you’re demonstrating you have what it takes to succeed in any job. ## Popular qualifications to list on a resume Some of the qualifications you have may include the following: - Education and academic achievements - Classes, training and certifications - Academic or personal projects - Awards and accomplishments - Volunteer work and activities When writing a professional resume, it’s important to remember that you can sometimes be your biggest critic. If you need help identifying your strengths and skill set, contact a trusted friend or family member who can provide you with you valuable insight.
  • Top 11 tips for acing your video interview in 2021

    As the COVID-19 pandemic has led many companies to close their offices and storefronts, many employers and job seekers will soon be experiencing online job interviews for the first time. Video interviews aren’t unheard of—they are often used for remote job interviews—but they are likely to become more common in the coming months. This will be jarring for many people, even if they have had lots of experience with in-person interviews. It can be difficult to get used to the experience of staring at a screen instead of a human, and many find that the rhythm of a video conversation can be stilted and strange compared to a face-to-face meeting. Further, you don’t have just your own appearance to worry about; you also need to make sure your equipment is working and your interview space is presentable. Fortunately, this is nothing that can’t be overcome with a little practice and preparation. With these eleven steps you will be well on your way to acing your next video interview. ## Test your hardware The last thing you want to discover on the day of the interview is that your microphone doesn’t work. Be sure to test out your microphone and camera long before the interview so that you will have time to replace them if necessary. It’s also a good idea to use headphones, as relying on your computer’s built-in speakers may result in poor sound quality and loud feedback. Most modern laptops come with webcams and microphones built in, but if yours does not, you may need to buy or rent external equipment. An external camera and microphone will likely be better quality than the built-in kind, so this may be a blessing in disguise. Of course, if this expense is not acceptable, you can work with what you have. Today’s phones and tablets have far better video and audio quality than they once did, so your iPhone should be good enough for an interview in a pinch. ## Get your software ready You should know what software is being used for your interview before the interview begins, whether it’s Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, or some other platform. If you are not familiar with the software, make sure that you have it installed and that all permissions have been granted. You don’t want to spend the first several minutes of the interview making sure the program can access your microphone. You should also double-check your account settings. Make sure your username is your real name, or at least something acceptably professional. Your picture should also be an appropriate image, ideally a professional headshot that clearly shows your smiling face. ## Establish a nice background You wouldn’t host a business meeting in your kitchen or bedroom, so you shouldn’t attend a video interview there either. Even if your interviewer is impressed by your answers, the fact that they can see your cluttered countertops or laundry in the background will be very distracting. Find a room with a neutral background that allows your interviewer to focus on you, not your furniture and appliances. Of course, you may not have the option to move to a different room. If that is the case, do your best to make sure the background is neat and tidy, and that there is nothing embarrassing in view. If the camera can’t face a wall, angle the camera so it is looking at your bookshelf (full of industry-related books, of course) or at some tasteful art. This may require placing a desk in the middle of your room so that your camera is facing away from the bed, but you can always rearrange the room back to normal when you’re finished. ## Think about framing and lighting When you FaceTime with your family, you probably don’t think too hard about where the camera is. As long as your face is visible, the camera is doing its job. This is not the case in video interviews. You shouldn’t do the interview while walking around the house, camera swinging around in your outstretched hand, nor should you have your laptop on your lap, camera pointing up your nose. Take the time to place the camera in such a way that you are facing it directly and your features are easy to see. The best way to frame yourself is to have the camera right at eye-level. This may require placing your laptop on a stack of books, or securing your phone to a tripod. An improvised stand will do fine, as long as it’s stable enough that it won’t tumble to the ground mid-interview! Another important aspect of looking good on camera is lighting. Diffuse, natural light is generally the most flattering, so if you can, take the interview facing a window. If this is not possible, make sure that the room’s primary light source is in front of you, not behind you. Lights in front of you will illuminate your face, whereas lights behind you will make your face dark and difficult to see. If the lamps in your room aren’t ideally placed, move them for the interview. Placing a couple lamps behind the laptop or on either side of the webcam will give you the complimentary studio lighting you need. ## Allow no distractions It is important to be sure that your interview environment is distraction-free. The interview should not take place in a coffee shop or in a high-traffic area of your house. Any interruption could derail the interview and distract you from the task at hand. Further, interruptions may appear unprofessional, and you are trying to make a good first impression. Find a quiet room in your house. Close the window to block as much traffic noise as possible. Make sure that everyone who you live with knows that you’re doing an interview, and post a sign on the (closed) door that reminds them not to disturb you. If your roommate has a particularly yappy dog, ask them to take it for a walk for the duration of the interview. Close any apps that you are not using, and set all devices to Do Not Disturb mode so that you don’t get any irritating notifications. Anything you can do to ensure silence is worth doing! ## Dress the part If your interview comes during a stretch of unemployment, you might have fallen out of the habit of dressing for the day, but when the interview comes it’s time to take off your PJs and put on some office-appropriate clothes. Just because the interview takes place in your home doesn’t mean you can dress casually. The old rule of dressing for a job interview still applies: wear clothes one level better than you would have to wear for the job’s day-to-day. Make sure your hair is neat. A tie, a nice blouse, or a blazer can all do wonders for your presentability, and don’t forget the pants—the camera might not show them at first, but you never know if you’ll have to stand up during the interview to grab something you forgot. ## Be conscious of your body language For the most part, your body language should be the same on camera as it is in person. Keep your back straight, smile when appropriate, and try to appear friendly and at-ease. Don’t fidget or make any unnecessary noises—drumming your fingers on the table, even quietly, could be picked up by a laptop mic. If you are in a computer chair, don’t be tempted to swivel back and forth when you’re thinking. One important thing to remember when on video is to look at the camera when speaking, rather than the monitor. When you look directly at the camera lens, you will appear to your interviewer to be making eye contact. Don’t be tempted to look in the feed at your own face while talking. You can look at the screen when your interviewer is talking, as you want to be able to see their body language and demeanor, but when you are speaking, look at the lens. ## Master the mute button Any sudden noises will be picked up by your microphone. If you have to cough or sneeze, quickly mute your mic so that your interviewer doesn’t get an earful in their headphones. If you are not the one speaking, you can also use the mute button to block unavoidable outside noise, like a truck backing up or a plane overhead (though if you are speaking at the time of the interruption, it may be better to acknowledge the noise and wait until your interviewers are able to hear you again to keep speaking). You should also make sure to mute your microphone if you have to type something, as the click-clacking of keys will be very loud on the other end, but it is better not to type at all—keep your keyboard note-taking to a minimum. ## Have your notes and resume ready As with an in-person interview, you should have your resume and any relevant documents with you when the interview begins. This way, if a question requires you to refer back to a certain item on your resume or a specific portfolio item, you will be able to reach for it without rooting around in your backpack. One advantage a video interview has over an in-person interview is that you can keep notes nearby relatively inconspicuously. The interviewer can’t see what you are reading, so it is acceptable to have a few more papers on your desk at home than you would typically bring to a face-to-face meeting. This does not mean that you can simply read from a script; it’s just an opportunity to remind yourself of a few key points. The best way to read from notes without drawing attention is to use sticky notes. By placing sticky notes around your monitor or webcam, you can flick your eyes a few inches to the side to read a note instead of down at your lap. If you do this subtly, the interviewer won’t even notice that you have notes at all. If there is a specific point you want to make, or a particular anecdote that you want to remember, place a sticky note in front of you so you don’t forget. ## Practice Preparing questions and practicing is integral to any successful interview, but there are nuances to a video interview not present in face-to-face meetings. You will be on camera, and it is important to know what you look and sound like on video to ensure that you are making the best possible impression. Fortunately, the presence of the camera also means you can record yourself and review your performance. When you’re practicing your answers to expected interview questions before the interview, record yourself on your webcam, ideally in the same location and clothes that you will use for the real interview. This way, you will be able to watch the recording and preview the acoustics of the room, see how your interview clothes look on camera, and ensure that the lighting and sound quality is good. Keep an eye out for any nervous fidgeting, and make sure you’re making adequate eye contact. ## Remember that the standard interview rules still apply You may not need to practice your handshake, but otherwise the standard rules of a face-to-face interview apply to the video interview as well. Remember to be polite, punctual, and prepared. Research the company beforehand, and be sure that you understand the role that you are applying for. You should have answers ready for any common interview questions, and be ready to give an elevator pitch for your skills and abilities. The interview may seem less formal because it is not in an office, but it will require just as much preparation as a regular interview (if not more).
  • How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Entry Level Resume Mistakes

    After all the hard work you put into crafting, shaping, and editing your entry level resume, don't let one preventable mistake stand in the way of your success. At the entry level, most applicants have held few — if any — professional positions. They've also never applied for a job using a formal resume and multi-stage interview process. So if you're like most entry level candidates, this experience will be a first for you. Here are 10 common resume mistakes that inexperienced job seekers often make. If you can catch some of these and correct them before you submit, you'll put yourself ahead of the pack. **Skipping non-work experience** Don't omit a skill, talent, or relevant experience just because you gained that skill outside of the classroom or outside the halls of a professional full-time job. List and describe all strengths suited for the job, even the ones you acquired through internships, clubs, summer jobs, or any other aspect of your life. Just make sure that you only include information that is applicable to the job. **Skipping customization** If you submit 10 resumes a day, then you're likely to use a template document that you customize slightly for each position you pursue. There's nothing wrong with this move (it can be a real time saver), but don't fumble the customization process. Spend a few minutes making sure each individual submission is perfectly tailored to the needs and interests of your recipient. **No specifics** Add numbers to your accomplishments. If you raised revenues for your past employer, offer a dollar amount or a percentage. If you led a team, state how many people were on that team. If you held a leadership role, state the time period in years or months. Hiring managers don't expect to see this in an entry level resume, so they will be impressed by you. **Skipping keywords** Be sure to add at least two or three keywords that your reviewers are likely to use as search terms. This will help your resume find its way out of a database and into the hands of a human reader. **Focus on accomplishments, not basic duties** Don't spend too much time describing your basic responsibilities in previous roles; emphasize how you went above and beyond. Hiring managers can probably guess what you did at various jobs, so offering basic information won't entice them to call you. **Too short or too long** Your sweet spot is this: exactly one page. If your entry level resume falls under one page, you may be missing opportunities to shine. If it goes on longer than one page, your details may not be noticed or remembered. **Using personal pronouns** Drop the subject from your sentences and phrases whenever the subject is yourself. It's okay (and necessary) to bend this standard grammar rule in a resume document. **A vague objective statement** Keep the opening lines of your resume summary statement clear, concise, and concrete. Focus on what you can do and what you have to offer, not just what you want. Sell yourself. Also, try to avoid overused phrases such as "team player" and "go-getter." **Rambling and clutter** Every line of your document should relate directly to the task at hand. Take out all information that isn't relevant to this particular job. Keep the job description handy as you edit your entry level resume. It will help you cut out unnecessary information. **Skipping personal details** Never share your age, ethnicity, gender, marital status, or other vital statistics on your resume. But DO provide at least two or three of your personal passions and hobbies outside of the workplace. Clubs and organizations are great additions. Let your employers get a sense of your interests so they can decide how well you align with their culture.