timingreenville

Finding Hope In A Mysterious World

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Cover Yourself With a Cover Letter

 

 

I talk to a lot of people about how to job search and usually spend a great deal of time discussing résumés. But only rarely do we end up talking about cover letters. When we discuss using them in class, the comment is often, “Do I have to use a cover letter? I hear that no one ever reads them.”

I hate that phrase, “Do I have to…?” That reminds me of a kid trying to get out of a chore or a school project. When I hear it from an adult, it makes me think that you are looking for the easiest way, “What can I do that will require the least amount of effort?” And that is not the mindset I think is best when we are speaking of your career and your livelihood. “What can I do to be more effective, even if it means more effort?”

“What is a cover letter for? When should I use one?” The cover letter allows you to introduce yourself. There are two main times when I would recommend sending it: when you are answering a job ad and when you send your résumé before the position is announced.

I like to send a cover letter when I send in my résumé. It insures that the recipient knows which position I am applying for and lets me point out why I will be a good candidate. I can use it to match my skills with the skills they have in the job ad.

I will also use a cover letter if I decide to broadcast my résumé to several companies that I am targeting. Let’s say that I have recently graduated from college. I can get a list of companies that fit what I am seeking in an employer, then send my résumé and a cover letter stating why I want that type of position and why I feel qualified.

Some tips for your cover letter:

  1. Keep it to one page
  2. Address it to a person by name. If you are unable to find a name, after considerable effort, address it to Hiring Manager.
  3. Don’t send it to just Human Resources.
  4. Make it a professional format.
  5. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Spelling and grammar are at least as important here as in your résumé.
  6. Match your paper with your résumé.
  7. Double check the person’s name and company. There is nothing like sending a cover letter to Michelin telling how much you would love to work for them, but sending it to GE.
  8. Don’t just repeat your résumé; bring out what is important for THIS position or company.

Just sending out a bunch of unsolicited cover letters and résumés is not job searching. You have to complement it with networking and following up. A résumé works better if the recipient is expecting or knows the person who delivers it. Your main job is making a connection that will cause your résumé to better received.

Pairing a cover letter with your résumé makes your inquiry look more professional. It is also a good place to address other important information: why are you relocating, why are you changing careers, that volunteer experience that applies here, why this company’s environmentalism matches your love for the environment.

With the more intense competition for jobs today, I must make use of any tool to help me make myself the most attractive applicant I can be.

For examples of cover letters and more information, go to quintcareers.com. This is a great source of information for job seekers. Please post how you are using cover letters in your search and any tips you may have.

The E-Myth Revisited Reviewed

I recently read the book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. He points out how some of our assumptions, expectations, and common advice can get in the way of making your business successful.

I believe that much of what makes a small business successful is how we need to treat our careers in order to make them everything they can be and we want them to become. One of the biggest things that we overlook when we start either a business or a career is to have a plan to get to our goal. We think that by learning the skills that the job requires, we will be successful. This just gets us a job. For some of us, that will be enough because we are only looking for a paycheck, but many of us are hoping to move up and expand. We need to take ownership of what it will take, and plan accordingly, to get to the level that we hope to achieve.

One of his earlier passages states:

Every year, over a million people in this country (United States) start a business of some sort. Statistics tell us that by the end of the first year at least 40 percent of them will be out of business.

Within 5 years, more than 80 percent of them—800,000—will have failed.

And the rest of the bad news is…

I don’t believe that the closure of a business is always failure. Sometimes it evolves into something else: a new business, a job offer, selling the company. There are many reasons a person may start a business and just because it ceases to continue does not mean that it didn’t accomplish its purpose.

One of the main points of The E-Myth Revisited is that our purpose as the owner of the business is to be devoted to working on the business, not just the work. I believe an artist or tradesman can focus on the work, but they will never be able to grow or become sustainable as a company. Gerber uses a case model to illustrate how an owner should take care in identifying what he or she wants and determine how to do it.

He describes getting your first employees and how the dynamics change. This is a good book for anyone who is thinking about starting their own business, no matter what size of company you envision.

Construction’s Long-Sought Return to Greenville

Greenville, SC has been fortunate to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. The county’s rate was 6.7 in December and 7.1 for the area. This is largely due to the variety of jobs and companies and the vast amount of effort to bring companies into the area. Manufacturing has been one sector that has remained strong in the last few years. And our area is heavily influenced by the manufacturing plants and companies in the area.

One sector that has been stubbornly slow to return to “normal” levels has been construction. Since 2008, it has been in a “crashed” market. The jobs we loss have been very slow to return.

In 2012, Greenville was one area in the state that had an upswing in the housing market. Real estate sales in Greater Greenville were up 14.3%. This upswing was even more pronounced in December, even with the fiscal cliff hanging over us.

The upswing in real estate sales should be a forerunner to a surge in new construction. The Greenville economy has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the hammers and saws to start echoing among our hills again. Seeing muddy boots and increased activity in the building supply stores will be a very welcomed sight.

How much construction returns and to what degree it re-energizes the local economy is anyone’s guess. But the region will be very glad to welcome it to return to more of a 2007 level than the recent absence we have experienced.

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