Hi, I'm Margie Newman. I blog about public relations, social media, careers, productivity and geek stuff.

Cover letters: your secret to job-hunting success

After my recent post about resume mistakes, several of you asked about how I feel about cover letters. Like any nerd, I love a cover letter; as long as it is written as God intended: a 500 word love-note to your future employer.

Poorly written cover letters regurgitate your resume, are not in the least bit tailored and scream “I’M ONLY DOING THIS BECAUSE IT IS REQUIRED…AND I’M BORED.” So, that’s it. The first impression you’ve chosen to give this guy you want to work for is: I’m lazy.

On the other hand, carefully crafted, effective cover letters communicate confidence, intelligence and energy. And you have all of those things! They radiate positive vibes. Most importantly, a great cover letter provokes curiosity: these folks just have to meet the gal who wrote this thing!

When thoughtful and sincere, a cover letter can say more about you than any mere resume can. Like, “I really want–and am the best candidate for–this job.” That is especially important for those of you seeking a career change, or to communicate skills not depicted in your eclectic collection of job titles.

A word of warning: as helpful as a strong cover letter can be to your job search, a poorly written cover letter can do even more harm. According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, at its core, a cover letter should:

  • Explain your experiences in a story-like format
  • Allow you to go in-depth about important experiences/skills and relate them to job requirements
  • Show the employer that you are tailoring the job application
  • Serve as a sample of your written communication skills

Don’t spend 48 hours on your resume and ignore the cover letter. The tool that serves as the Golden Ticket for others, might just be your downfall. Look, you don’t have to take my word for it, I asked the Twitter: Read More…

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Fun Feature: your LinkedIn profile can generate a classic resume

Did you know your LinkedIn profile can be converted into “resume” format and downloaded as a PDF with one click of the mouse? I didn’t until today. It’s right at the bottom of your profile introduction, see:

The PDF option generates a classic resume layout based solely on the information you’ve provided on your LinkedIn profile. This includes your contact info, summary, experience, skills, honors and awards, interests and education. It even organizes your LinkedIn recommendations. Here’s a sample: Read More…

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3 resume mistakes to avoid

I read a lot of resumes. For the most part, they attempt to detail the career path of smart, well-educated young professionals on the hunt for their next great challenge. Yet, most of these resumes scream mediocrity and naiveté. Maybe it’s because most folks learn how to craft a thoughtful resume in college; maybe it’s because they are trying so hard to be a team player.

Whatever the reason, Young and Talented People of Earth, please stop making these three resume mistakes:

  1. Leading with your education and grade point average: Oh, I know this stings; you’ve worked so hard to earn that masters degree. But as much as you love your alma mater, your major/minor, GPA and campus activities offer an employer zero indication as to how qualified you are for an actual job. We want to see your real life work experience. If you’re leading with four paragraphs about education, we’re assuming it is because you don’t have much relevant employment to talk about. There are of course, exceptions to this rule: if you are a Ph.D. applying for a fabulously wonky research position at a well-respected think tank, you have our permission to lead with education. If not, you should move education down by “Special Skills” and “References Available Upon Request.”
  2. Cutting and pasting your title and job description: I don’t know anyone whose day-to-day responsibilities mirror her job description. You do so much more; am I right? Why so many of you choose not to communicate your gig beyond your title is beyond me. It’s also the first sign of someone whose self-esteem is keeping them from achieving greatness in the workplace. Take the time to thoughtfully craft the description of your contributions, successes and skills. Read More…
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Stop being so afraid of “job hopping”

One reason I’m always pushing folks to lunch with strangers, network and participate in relevant professional PR association events is that you really never know when a person you’ve met will call you and offer up your dream job. Unfortunately, when presented with this option, many of you will turn down the opportunity because you are scared that “changing jobs” after a year or two at your current gig will reflect poorly on your work ethic.

Really? You’re saying “no” to a communications gig custom-made for you because of what others may think? Are you sure you’re in the right profession?

Seriously! You are a PR professional. It’s your job to message this career move on paper, in pixels and in person, not just let it lie out there and hope folks see and value it for what it really is. If you’re moving up with each move, you have nothing to hide! And your future employer has the right to know how you roll; she may truly need a “lifer” and clearly, that ain’t you. It ain’t me either. For PR job-hoppers likes us, transparency and consistency of message are critical.

You can do this. I simply cannot rest thinking there are folks turning down career-advancing jobs out of fear/shame when in fact, job hopping may actually make you a better, more productive employee.

Here are three strategies to consider when messaging your (many) gigs and revamping your resume:

  1. If you were recruited, say so. My favorite message/resume trick is to brag on the fact that you were recruited into the position. This aptly addresses the inevitable question “Why did you leave?” right off the bat. Plus, it’s human nature to want a person more when you know he/she is wanted by others.
  2. Paint a picture of the ladder you’re climbing. We’ve been over this before: communicate beyond your title and job description. Really outline the increasingly impressive responsibilities, employees and deliverables you have been assigned with each new gig. The goal is to assure that the first-time reader of your resume can easily interpret this “Changing of the Jobs” as The Steady Rise of Your Career. {Insert trumpet call.}
  3. Show confidence in your value and success. It’s important that you and your resume convey 100 percent confidence in your career history and path. If you are going to justify “job hopping,” you’ll not only need to  prove you are movin’ on up each time, you’ll also need to show you leave each employer (and/or client) better than you found it. Stop being so humble. Your resume (and talking points) must communicate that you will bring value to an employer–no matter how long you work in her office. Read More…
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Lately: a roundup

The past few weeks ushered in milestones, lessons learned, odd requests and fun events. July was busy and productive! Here are the highlights:

My niece was born!

Check it out, folks! The world’s cutest baby, Beverly Emmeline, was born on July 19 and I get to paint her toenails pink VERY soon! Congrats Pavis and Dave; I can’t hardly wait to teach her show tunes and jazz hands:

Photo Credit: Dave Cone or Jon Fletcher; not sure which one of those guys took this, but I’m sure Pavis will let me know when she reads this.

My MacBook died.

I was minding my own business, watching an old episode of Bones on Netflix when my beloved MacBook just up and died. And with it, took every photo, document, file and Christmas card list I’ve ever had. Even our honeymoon pictures. The fault is all mine; Dave has often encouraged me to run a copy of my data on an external drive, but I never did. Lesson learned: back that asset up, people. Read More…

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Your resume screams mediocrity. Yes, it does.

Virtual Resume & Letter

Yep. Another post about how you folks are too humble. Well, you are. Look, I’m not asking you to declare you are God’s gift to public relations. I’d just like you to admit you’re great at what you do and then give me an example or two.

Unless, of course, you’re not great at what you do, which is what the majority of your resumes tell me. They scream mediocrity. And you ain’t mediocre, so why is the paper version of you communicating that?

Each week, I receive a handful of resumes from strangers who find me through friends and the Internet. They ask me to read over them and give feedback, and I do. But I can’t help but think, “Is this really all you think you do? Because if you thought your boss thought that, you’d slap her. Is the fact that you didn’t include any successes on your resume mean that you didn’t have any?” I think not. But how would I know?

So I send back my edits and suggestions, but what I really want to say is this:

If you aren’t prepared to explain why you are fabulous, don’t bother asking a hiring manager to become your biggest fan.

Read More…

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