While many will profess that the resume is one of the most important documents you will prepare during your life time, which is absolutely correct, the Cover Letter is actually what will prompt a potential employer to read your attached resume, and determine if an interview would be appropriate.
For example, if you are at a cross-roads in your career and have decided to investigate new industries, such as an individual from a commercial banking background, crossing over to human resources, do NOT disclose this fact in your cover letter! Doing so will immediately send a ‘red flag’ to the reader that you do not actually have any experience in the HR field, and/or may not be clearly focused on your desired career direction.
If you do not have ‘practical’ experience in the new arena you wish to join for the balance of your career, focus on your personality profile, and the skills that you do possess that are called for in the job description. Always play up your ‘soft skills’, as it often comes down to the best ‘personality’ fit, not the education or professional background.
Using this example of transferring over to the HR field, I would suggest you learn as much as possible about the HR industry overall. Find out what changes have come into effect, perhaps attend a free or inexpensive luncheon meeting to learn more, and network with potential peers in the industry.
There are also free webinars you can attend to learn about your ‘new’ industry. Remember, ‘research’ is key to your entire job search process.
An alternative is to contact a well-known and respected firm and request an ‘informational’ interview to learn more about your chosen industry. Write out your questions carefully, and be prepared to illustrate your knowledge of the industry through the research you have conducted prior to the meeting.
As stated in previous articles, be sure to close your cover letter stating that ‘you will follow-up’ with the contact person in an appropriate time frame to learn where they are at in the interview/hiring process, and make sure you make the call. This little tip will serve you well throughout your career if you are just starting out.
Take control, own your value and your experience in the trenches; show the firms you apply to that you can ‘add value’ to the role, as well as the firm overall, if given the opportunity.
Trish Alys Johnson
‘s site at corpsecrets.ca
is dedicated to job search, career advice, and sharing my experience and knowledge of the corporate world, after over 25 years’ business experience, and sitting on ‘both sides of the desk’.