How to Write Your Winning Cover Letter

How to Write Your Winning Cover Letter

First off, why bother writing a cover letter when the resume is most needed by companies? Because having a good cover letter will make you stand out in a sea of just resumes.

Cover letters are often misunderstood to be just an essay version of your resume, but it is far from it. Your cover letter is your opportunity to make a first impression based on your personality to the hiring manager. Here are 7 things to know when writing your winning cover letter.

1. Address to a person who works in the company

The first mistake made by a lot of candidates is addressing their cover letter to an unknown person, namely “To Whom It May Concern.”

In an age where most of the peoples’ lives are online, this just comes off as lazy and sloppy. Look through the job post and find out who is the contact person or the hiring manager. If it cannot be found, do a Google search or search on LinkedIn to find out who the VP of the department is and address it to them.

2. Write like you speak

Avoid super formalities such as “With the aforementioned experience, I hereby declare my interest….”

The person reading is also human and they would prefer if you talk like one. Silicon Valley investor, Paul Graham wrote an essay on this and it’s referred to as the “spoken language.”

Remember that this letter is to serve as starting a dialogue and not a one-off speech.

3. Write confidently

Do not undersell yourself by saying things such as “I know you have other qualified candidates than me….”

And avoid highlighting your weaknesses. Instead, highlight your strengths only and hyper focus on relevant points found on your resume.

Use the cover letter to introduce yourself in the best light and to talk about things that would be beneficial to the hiring manager.

4. Watch your spelling

Are you concerned about your spelling? Are your apostrophes not always spot on?

If so, ask a friend to spell check your cover letter for you or refer to this infographic for the common spelling mistakes.

5. Articulate your fit

Now we get the crux of the matter – why you are what they are looking for.

Companies don’t just hire people to fill up a role, they hire people to make their lives easier. Exhibit your knowledge and enthusiasm for the company. In other words, show them you have read their site, used their product and offer your solutions.

Further, emphasize your fit by adding examples to your strengths and relevant experiences.

6. Remove the redundancies

Avoid clichés like “I’m a fast learner… I think outside the box… ” and other redundancies.

Words like “I think… I feel… Really/Very….” are redundant and can give off a very wrong impression.

For a more detailed resource, read this.

7. Follow the 3 C’s of Writing

In three words, you will understand what makes good writing – that is Clear, Concise and Compelling.

David Silverman highlighted on the Harvard Business Review of a cover letter that he received that it was just 5 sentences and titled it the best cover letter he ever received.

Writing a cover letter is not difficult nor is it easy. There’s a fine balance to play between being needy for a job or being confident you are the right fit for the role, but having one thoughtfully written cover letter alone – is enough to separate you from the pack and stand out.

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Author Bio: This post was written by Ben Sim from iPrice group.

How to Get Hired by a Startup (If You Are A Fresh Grad)

How to Get Hired by a Startup (If You Are A Fresh Grad)

You read all the news about startups being sold for billions of dollars and you also read about up and coming startups getting rounds upon rounds of investor funding.

Now, you may be curious as to what it’s like to work for a startup. The pictures they post online seem to be so liberating – young people in shorts and flip flops with laptops changing the world.

The following is how I managed to secure a job with a startup even before my official graduation.

1. Learn how to write a stellar resume.

All the “rules” given by career experts that you probably heard of are all true.

A rule such as tailoring the resume to just one company at a time and writing a custom cover letter to go with it.

Being on the end of screening applications – I can tell you that just doing the above rules will make you stand out from the crowd.

A video I would recommend for you learn how to write a resume would be this. I used it and it worked for me.

If you find it challenging to write your resume, you can engage with us at Inforati. Check out our services here.

2. Make sure your job search profile and LinkedIn profile are strategically updated.

With the resume you have crafted, it’s time to upload that into the job portals.

Use the same details you used in your resume to update your job profile and LinkedIn.

Some job portals will provide a PDF version of your profile to employers when you apply for jobs (this happens when you don’t attach a resume of your own in your profile).

This can be a terrible first impression.

Not only are the PDF’s not formatted, the details may also be arranged in a non-strategic fashion.

For example, if your main strength in your resume was the fact that you went to a prestigious school, it would be better if that were highlighted first in your application.

If the “wow” factor you have is that you interned at a prestigious company, but your grades weren’t so good, it’s best to have that internship listed first instead.

So be sure to upload your resume and not rely on the automated PDFs.

3. If you are called for the interview, read up on the subject matter and read carefully on the job description.

I applied for a job in content marketing. I had an idea of what it is about from reading books on Seth Godin but I can’t really explain it well.

So I went on to trusty Google and found out. I read a few guides (spend a few hours on this) and had a better grasp of what it is.

After that, I read the job description.

What I can tell you now looking back is that most job seekers don’t know that the job description was thought out very carefully and strategically by the heads of the department before publishing it.

The point is to take each word seriously. Although they listed 10 things, all 10 things are important. They are not there for filler sake. They are there to communicate to the right candidate that this job is for them.

Go through each of them and try to understand the best that you can.

Prepare questions if you have any, based on these descriptions.

4. When at the interview, use this one thing to differentiate yourself.

Now, you are probably thinking what you have to offer to a thriving startup.

The truth about startups is that they are looking for top tier talent (like everybody else).

But often times, top tier talent is hard to come by and hard to persuade to join the bandwagon unless they have the right incentives in place.

The next best thing they can hope for is a person who may not have the skills but has the drive and the capacity to get there — a do-er that has the right attitude to make the company succeed.

This is the one thing you should use to differentiate yourself from the others who don’t have this insight.

This is where your hours of research from before comes in.

Show them through your actions that you are serious about the job. That you took the time to understand the subject and understand what they were looking for.

I once asked a friend of mine who interviews people and he said the one thing he looks for is the eagerness to learn.

Remember that to be a star player, you need to be 3 things:

  1. A hard worker
  2. Proactive (have initiative)
  3. Smart (creative – able to give Eureka ideas over and over again)

At this stage in your career, show that you have the first two as the last one comes with experience.

At the end of the interview, don’t ever (I mean EVER) say “No” when they ask you if you have any questions.

Fire away and ask as many relevant questions as possible.

Doing all the steps above gives them a great impression of what you can do for them and in return, significantly increase your success rate of getting hired.

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This post was written by Ben Sim from iPrice group.

 

Nine Common Interview Questions and How to Tackle Them

Nine Common Interview Questions and How to Tackle Them

Let’s be honest.

For the most of us, interviews are scary. Especially the questions that require you to prove yourself.

The following are the most common interview questions and how to tackle them with style.

 

1. “Tell me about yourself”

In 30 seconds, tell them who you are, what you’re passionate about and what kind of role you’re seeking.

Only discuss information about you that matches the post you are being considered for.

Example:

“I’m a passionate risk taker who wants to make a dent in the universe. I hope to achieve that through this company, and I do (state your role).”

 

2. “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Don’t try to pick a strength and downplay it to a weakness i.e. “I’m a perfectionist. I need to get it right all the time”

Instead, be sincere.

Pick something that you need to improve on, identify how you’re getting over it and if that paved the way for some other skill to be developed.

Specify an event that happens regularly in your line of work and how it relates to you overcoming your weakness.

Example:

“I feel I am not as creative as I should be, but whenever I run out of ideas, I go to sites like Inc for some inspiration. I also check out Quora to look at the questions posed by users to get more ideas.”

 

3. “Why should we hire you?”

This is where the principle of persuasion comes in.

What the question really means is “tell me why you are the one”

There are two ways to play this question:

  • You tell them your strengths in their language (this tip is gold for any business transaction)

For example:

“You should hire me because I know what it’s like to have a wrong member in the team. What you want is somebody who is excited about the work that’s happening here, the willingness to learn and not afraid to fail……”

  • You make a power move and throw the question back at them

For example:

“I would love to answer your question but I would like to know what was it about my application that made you consider me in the first place?”

This move may offend some and impress some.

 

4. “What’s your impression of me?”

Here – the question is designed to understand how objective you can be and be smart about it.

Take a moment and notice what the interviewer is doing and how he or she conducts him or herself.

Be constructive and not judgmental.

 

5. “What will you do if you don’t get this job?”

Remain unfazed.

Show them you have a plan B and that you will continue to pursue other opportunities for growth.

 

6. “How long do you intend to stay?”

Use this short and sweet answer:

“I intend to stay as long as I’m engaged and productive with my job, team members, and company.”

 

7. “What can you offer as a fresh grad?”

Energy, tech-savviness, optimism and creativity.

Tell your success stories in school and quantity them – money earned, the number of people touched, etc.

 

8. “Why did you leave your last job?”

Don’t be fooled into trash-talking your former employer.

Instead, tell them that you were ready for a change. That you believed that the right thing to do was to leave the job to allow someone else was in it for the long haul to step in and to allow yourself some time to figure out your next move.

 

9. “Do you have any questions for me?”

Don’t say there are no questions and refrain from asking about the salary.

Your job at this point is to give them the best first impression you can give and wow them.

If you make them want you badly enough, they will offer you the higher end of the salary to avoid losing you.

Ask instead “Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?”

“What is expected of me in my first 90 days?”

“What is the main metric I will be measured by?”

Questions like these show the interviewer that you are not just another desperate job seeker looking for a paycheck.

Instead, you will appear to them as someone who has a clear direction, the right mindset and the right attitude in adding value to others.

 

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This post was written by Ben Sim from iPrice group.

5 Questions to Ask a Company Before Joining As an Employee

5 Questions to Ask a Company Before Joining As an Employee

Early signs that you must know in order to avoid potential disappointment. Speak your piece or hold your peace forever.

Whether you are a fresh graduate or a seasoned job seeker, the journey of getting employed is a complicated art by itself. It is an art that demands you to have a pair of sharp eyes for nuance and subtlety in judging every situation critically. Since the job interview is a two-way street, you must remember that the entire interview process is not solely about you.

At the end of the day, it lies on whether the company and its workplace can suit your talents as well as meeting your expectations. Hence, you just need to make sure that you have asked these 5 critical questions to a company before joining to work in it.

How’s the job and what is it like?

Obviously, you have read about your job and its scope before applying for it. However, you still want to ask and learn from the person that has been working with the company. More often than not, such question definitely enables you to be very familiar with your future job and its constraints. As it turns out, this question becomes increasingly crucial when you are applying from a startup which still undergoes a volatile phase of undetermined goals and variables. In fact, it is normal in a startup culture that the nature of your job can change dramatically from day to day.

For a start, it will be great when you can ask about the current situation that the company faces at the present. Such question will reveal about the company’s expectation of you and your ability in solving its problems. Not only that, you also get the opportunity in understanding the exact nature of your job scope. Basically, you must know whether you are hired to deal with a unique problem, reduce the workload or oversee some execution processes.

Getting to know about your future colleagues

Sooner or later, you have to be prepared to work together with your future colleagues. While that will be an upcoming challenge for you to discover, another greater challenge at hand will be knowing how to ask the right kind of question to your interviewer especially when it comes to your future colleagues. Most importantly, you should ask about working schedule in that company. These things include the timing of team meeting so that you can expect how you and your future colleagues work together.

Generally, the word “team player” should be a valuable trait in every employee. Yet, it will not be an issue when you are expected to work alone without any extended supervision from your superior. Another useful question is to ask questions regarding the ability of its employees to devote their time to their hobbies and other passions. In addition, this is another question that allows you to find out whether the company is healthy when it comes to supporting your interests.

Familiarizing with the company culture

Culture runs deeper than any attitude or behavior in a company. As such, the company culture can either uplift or ruin its workforce. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with its culture even before joining in. If your interviewer asks about how your friends or ex-colleagues think about you, you can ask about the same thing to the company. Not only that, you can ask about the latest hire in the company so that you can decide whether the company exhibits high turnover rate.

Problems in hiring the right kind of people for the job

Without the shadow of doubt, your future company is definitely interested in your ability and attitude in performing your task. Despite your seemingly impressive CV and power-grooming method, even the company is not sure whether you are the best fit for the job. Ask about what the problems that the company faces in getting the ideal person for the job. From there, the answers will help you to adapt to your job without much trouble.

Things that I can do to surprise you

Last but not least, this final question can prove to be unconventional but it is able to deliver results that will surprise yourself. In a simpler term, it is all about asking how you can be a valuable team member in the company. As a matter of fact, this question also will offer you an idea to contribute creatively!

In conclusion, these 5 questions are vital for you to get to know about your future company before joining in. Not just that, the best thing of all is that you do not have to pitch yourself too hard in the process.

 

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This article is written based on insights from recruiting team and staffs at iPrice Group.

 

THE ONE WORD Employers Want In A Fresh Grad

THE ONE WORD Employers Want In A Fresh Grad

For the longest time since I got a job offer within a month of graduating and got employed in a job I wanted within 2 months, I was always intrigued on what employers look for in a candidate.

Like you, I have read many articles that popped up on my Facebook feed outlining what employers look for: Proactivity, attitude, communication skills, leadership, etc.

These things are cool and all, but as a graduate, how can I work on these things?

Some posts show you the step by step methods like go to networking events and join Toastmasters.

But how many people actually take action on this?

If I have heard it a thousand times, the one thousandth and oneth time usually wouldn’t make a difference.

With that all out of the way, what is the ONE WORD that employers want?

It is the word – Intrapreneur.

What on earth is that?

According to Investopedia, an intrapreneur is “an inside entrepreneur, or an entrepreneur within a large firm, who uses entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities.”

To make this simpler, picture yourself being an entrepreneur.

You run your own company. You are the decision maker. Your attitude and outlook towards life say that you are 100% responsible for everything that happens to you. You take risks, but calculated ones. If it backfires, you find a way to bounce back otherwise you have to bite the bullet.

There is a huge reason why you see 23-year-olds who go out and build successful companies get the Vice President seat at a start-up when they are only 27.

If they were to take the traditional route, it would take a lot longer.

Most people would think that the amount of time you spend with a company determines your value to the company.

But the few think that the value you bring to the company determines the amount of time needed to get to the C-Suite.

Being an intrapreneur simply means being an entrepreneurial employee.

Employers run businesses and businesses are founded and ran under the vision of people with entrepreneurial tendencies.

Once you start thinking like an entrepreneur, all the skills that are commonly listed by employers will fall into place like clockwork. It’s only a matter of time.

Taking initiative, being self-taught and having an abundance mindset play a part in being a superstar intrapreneur.

So what are you waiting for?

Go forth and unleash your entrepreneurial vision in your life and reap the rewards the next time you go for that dream job.

THINK INTRAPRENEUR.

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