Three Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

March 11th, 2016

While your resume may take center stage during the review process, a strong cover letter can mean the difference between landing the job and missing the mark. Your cover letter can add supporting detail to your claims and accomplishments, and it can help you explain some of the omissions or credentials that don’t shine as brightly as you might like. Most important, your cover letter helps your reviewers put a human face on the facts and details listed in your resume. So as you draft and edit your document, don’t miss an opportunity to stand out, and watch out for these common mistakes.

Length issues

Don’t push your cover letter past the limits of about one page of printed text or 400 words in an email. If you go on too long, your readers might tune out before they reach the end, which is bad. But worse, they might read all the way to the end and then forget half of what they read two minutes later. Keep your message tight and concise. At the same time, a message that’s too short represents a missed opportunity. Use the entire page to make your case and share your background.

Wooden sentences

As you complete your cover letter, try to share your information in the form of a story. Make yourself the protagonist, or your reader. Talk about a problem your employers need to solve and how you can help. Talk about the moment you first developed a passion for this work. Talk about your recent career history and the ambitions that drove you to apply to this company. But tell a story; don’t just list a set of random facts or sentences that all start with “I”.

Studies show that message are far more effective and memorable if they’re structured as a narrative, or a series of events that flow into each other. Use this approach as you present who you are, what you can do, and what you want.

Weak beginnings and endings

The most important sections of your letter will be your opening paragraph and your final closing statement, so give these sections more attention than the rest. Keep them interesting, respectful, and fluid. Imagine your letter falling into a puddle and the middle section becoming unreadable; if this happens, will the beginning and ending still be able to stand alone? The answer should be yes. Use your first and last statements to show enthusiasm and readiness for the job.

For more on how to create a cover letter that stands out and grabs the spotlight, contact the staffing, career development, and job search professionals at PSU.

Search our open jobs today

How Does Change Impact Your Workforce?

February 19th, 2016

When you lose a valuable employee and hire a replacement, how do your teams typically react? If your company is like most, the answer probably depends on the person’s position and level of influence, but it may also depend on the general fabric of your workplace culture. When it comes to the unrest associated with turnover, there’s a trade-off at work: If your teams are tightly knit and your workplace feels like family, turnover can bring a higher level of upheaval. But if your employees tend to come and go with little impact—as if moving through a revolving door, unknown and unnoticed– there’s a chance your culture can use some work. Here are a few things to consider as you try to keep change from derailing your productivity.

Give plenty of warning.

When a valued employee gives notice and you know that the departure of this person might lead to a general unraveling, let affected employees know right away. Be as discreet as you need to, but don’t waste any time putting a plan in place that can sidestep potential bottle necks and avoid the confusion that’s likely to take place in this person’s absence.

Train pro-actively

If the new employee will be taking over for someone with complex responsibilities and years of accumulated organizational knowledge, think ahead. How can you get this person up and running as soon as possible? Keep your expectations reasonable, prioritize the things they’ll need to learn, and leverage the departing employee’s help as much as possible before her final day. Ask her to create the clearest possible description of her daily responsibilities and use any available overlapping time to pair her with the new employee for shadowing and mentoring.

Enlist the help of your teams

The new employee may not be able to shoulder the entire load of the new position on the very first day, but with a little teamwork, the group can still make it through the transition with minimal errors and oversights. Encourage peer groups to work together to support and inform the new employee when the need arises.

Put everything in writing

Smoother transitions and rapid learning curves take place when new employees don’t have to remember every detail. Present the incoming person with as much written material about the job as possible, including access to binders or websites (or both) where he can turn for information about company policies and job responsibilities.

Foster a healthy and productive workplace culture.

If your employees are burned out, over-worked, hyper competitive, solitary, or just plain self-involved, expect rocky transitions—and lots of them. Unhappy teams mean high turnover, and those turnovers won’t go well if your teams aren’t dialed in to those around them. Encourage collaboration, shared goals, communication, and general friendliness and you’ll have an easier time bridging the gap between one tenure and the next.

For more on how to build a positive and productive workplace culture, reach out to the Shelby staffing experts at PSU.

Contact us today

©Year Personnel Services Unlimited, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Site Credits.