Friday, January 8, 2010

The Importance of a Cover Letter

I’m currently working on a variety of career resources; one of which is a guide on developing cover letters. Here I will share what I’ve learned while developing the cover letter resource.

One commonly asked question is “why do I need a cover letter?” or “isn’t my resume enough?” I’ve found that a cover letter is a great way to help get you your dream job to increase your engagement at work and can be a great value add in addition to your resume. Your cover letter should be used as a way to show your personality to potential employers.

In the first paragraph of your letter start with a catchy phrase and avoid using something generic such as “I’m submitting my cover letter and resume for consideration for the ____ position. [1]” Use this paragraph to speak about why you want the job, how you heard about it, and why you want to work for the company. In the second paragraph list your skills, knowledge, accomplishments, and abilities. Be sure not to repeat what is already written in your resume. In your final paragraph, thank the person reviewing the cover letter, mention a time you’re available for an interview, and provide your contact information.

In terms of style and formatting, keep your cover letter consistent with your resume. If you’ve used a specific header in your resume, use the same one in your cover letter. Also, try to keep the font size and colour consistent with what you’ve used in your resume. Print your cover letter on white or a slightly off-white paper[2].
A cover letter is an important piece of the job search. Be sure to devote a respectable amount of time to writing your cover letter as you would to developing your resume. The cover letter is often the first thing an employer or hiring manager will review so it’s important to put your best foot forward with your cover letter.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: The Power of Inclusion

Title: The Power of Inclusion: Unlock the Potential and Productivity of Your Workforce
Authors: Michael C. Hyter and Judith Turnock
Rating: 3.5 stars
Available: To purchase online and at various book stores.

With constantly advancing technology and increasing globalization, employee performance is what distinguishes top performing businesses from the rest. Hyter and Turnock highlight the aristocratic approach that many organizations take when deciding which employees are worthy of investing in, exclusively providing select employees with opportunities for advancement. They go on to explain how most management teams hire employees with characteristics similar to themselves, and solely focus training and development on those who they have deemed “high potential” employees. In a business world that is said to promote “equal opportunity” these common practices undoubtedly perpetuate inequality.

The authors make a business case for an inclusive model of human resource management. They detail how the people who are most successful in the workplace achieve their level of success because of the attention and amount of investment management has provided for them, not because they had more potential than any other employee. Subsequent chapters go on to explain how businesses can create an inclusive culture, concentrating development opportunities not just on the select few, but giving those same benefits to everyone; this will help them unlock the potential and productivity of their workforce.

What stood out most for me was the section in the concluding chapter that highlighted assessment and evaluation guidelines to measure progress and results (p 230). The criteria include:

  • Increased breadth of recruitment

  • Increased internal sourcing and advancement

  • Increased diversity across the board

  • Reduced turnover

  • Improved employee satisfaction

  • Improved customer satisfaction

  • Increased market share

I also liked the index that highlighted important terms and topics, and the case studies weaved throughout the book which provided relevant information on real experiences.

What I disliked about this book was that it seemed to focus on medium to large sized businesses. Also the turnaround time for measureable impact of the strategies proposed is fairly long. I think it would have been helpful for the authors included smaller, achievable goals throughout refurbishing process.

Lessons Learned
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket; equal opportunity includes providing every employee with training and development opportunities equally.