A Message For Those Who Hire


Hi there! Up front let me state I’m an Employment Counsellor and I acknowledge I’m working with and supporting people who are after job interviews with the goal of getting hired.

You and I want the same thing; good people working on behalf of you and your organization to best serve your customers and clients; increasing your profits and minimizing your expenditures.

I know some of you are still doing your own recruiting and hiring while professional Recruiters and Headhunters are coming onboard to help source talent for other organizations. Time is money and you’re not in the charity business; you want a good pool of qualified people from whom to select the right candidates to join your workforce. So it’s not about what you can do for an applicant but rather what can they do for you. What you find annoying and don’t have time for are the applications from people who clearly don’t meet your stated qualifications, and even more frustrating are those who misrepresent or downright lie about their qualifications and their abilities.

You value enthusiasm, punctuality, integrity and you must have people who genuinely get along with others and who are willing to take direction with a positive attitude.

How am I doing at stating what you’re after? Anything you’d like to add? Feel free to comment when you’ve finished reading so others fully understand what it is you want. I suppose it’s fair to say that if an applicant can prove how they are going to add value to your company, they’ve got a good shot at joining you through the selection process.

To land the best candidates, allow me to share some of the things which will help me and others like me, get you the best people.

  1. Demonstrate the integrity you expect in others. This means, be true to your word and don’t say you’ll get in touch after an interview if you really don’t plan to. If you say you’re making a decision next week, fine; live up to that.
  2. Online applications have limited value. There’s an irony here in that online applications will keep job seekers away from your business. Think about who has the time to sit down and fill out your 86 question online application. You’re not always getting the go-getters; you might be getting someone in their fuzzy slippers and housecoat with hours of free time to sit and do your applications. And don’t you value meeting people to assess them in person anyhow?
  3. Scrap distance to your workplace as a cause for concern. Yes you need people to show up when scheduled. Leave getting to your place when required up to the applicant; that’s their responsibility. Don’t assume people who live 4 blocks away will have better attendance and punctuality than the people who live in the next town or city.
  4. Age biased? You and I know the pros and cons of both the young and the old. With that being said, what’s young? What’s old? Don’t whitewash all the applicants in either group or you’ll miss some real gems. Young people want and need the value of learning on the job, and while you’re not a charity as I stated above, you can train and shape this person. At the other end of the spectrum, not every mature person has health issues and demands to be paid a premium. You’d be surprised at the tremendous value you’ll receive from someone with life and work experience who wants nothing more than to contribute what they’ve got for another 5 or 6 years.
  5. Ditch the “welfare bias”. You might not be aware of this but many in receipt of social assistance are highly motivated, skilled and incredibly educated. Whatever image you have in your mind as portrayed in social media is probably wrong. There are people with Masters, Degrees, Diplomas and Doctorates receiving welfare. Some of the finest people I know; some of the best workers I know, at one time received support from the social assistance system. Continue with your unfounded bias and you’re missing out.
  6. Interview integrity. This is an opportunity for both the applicant and your organization. So how about conversing with applicants respectfully. If you’re going to ask them off-the-wall questions about what animal they’d like to be, how would you feel if they asked you in return an equally odd question such as whether you’d like to wear a toupee or a shave your head completely at 45? In the limited time you have to assess this person, treat them with dignity in the interview. Make the most of your questions and respect their time too.
  7. You get what you deserve. Please don’t be one of the organizations that lets new hires go two days before their probation is up as a way to save paying benefits. Do this with regularity and we’ll send you employees that can in our opinion only hold down jobs over a short-term or perhaps none at all. If you want the best, be the best yourself.

Absolutely love to hear from those who interview and hire; business owners and those in Human Resources. There are many poor employers out there with poor hiring practices. Thankfully, there are far more excellent employers out there who recruit, hire and train with integrity and accountability. If people are the most important part of an organization, we collectively need to see them as such at the very first contact.

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Rejected? Passed Over? Wondering Why?


One of the most frustrating things about looking for work is being turned down for a job where you believe you really wanted. Let’s face it, most of us apply for a mixture of jobs we really want and some we’ll take if offered, but don’t really excite us. So when we think we’re perfect for some job and we don’t get it, it may be a serious let down. Why didn’t we get chosen?

To answer this question, imagine yourself out shopping for furniture; you’re on the hunt for a chair to complete the look in your living room. If you’re like most people, it’s probable you’ll look at several options before deciding on one. Some you’ll reject at first glance.  You may have an idea what you’re looking for – you want a contemporary look, it has to recline and you want something with a dash of colour but it has to be tasteful too.

In the furniture store, Sales staff will likely ask you what you’re looking for, getting some information so they can steer you to chairs most likely to meet your needs. As you narrow things down, they might even tell you that a certain chair you’ve expressed interest in can be upholstered to your liking, and they’ll show you swatches of fabric from which to choose. It can all be so overwhelming with so many choices. You might even visit multiple stores, repeating the process until you land on that one best fit. No doubt you’ve considered style, function, cost, availability, durability, visual appeal, pattern and comfort. You’ve also thought about how it will fit with the existing furniture you own.

Having completed your transaction, you soon have your chair at home. Now you see for the first time how it really fits, whether it goes as well as you pictured it in the store. You hang on to the receipt because if need be, you’ve got 30 days to return it for a refund should something cause you to return it.

Ah, the job search? Remember that? What’s this chair shopping have to do with being rejected or passed over for the job you really wanted? Okay, let’s get to that.

In the analogy of buying a chair, you’re the employer and the Sales staff are like Recruiters. All those various chairs you looked at are the job applicants. Some chairs were so wrong you knew at first glance. You ruled out over-sized leather ones, hard-backed rockers, swivels,  non-recliners, etc. These are like the resumes received from people who don’t even come close to having the qualifications the employer is looking for.

The Sales staff are indeed like Recruiters, Temporary Agencies etc. as they ask questions to find what you’re looking for. They want to be the one to deliver the right chair just as the Recruiter or Temporary Agency wants to the be the source you choose for hiring that perfect employee.

You as the employer doing the hiring? You’re picky aren’t you? Oh yes! You could have chosen any number of chairs that met your basic need of functioning as a chair, but you wanted more. You needed something to add to the room, to match the colour-scheme you were going for, or to be that one piece that popped. So too will employers take their time to make sure that the chemistry of the teams they have at the time of hiring won’t be disturbed, or perhaps yes, they do want someone to come in and shake things up a bit.

When you’re rejected or passed over, it’s vitally important that you pause and think about WHY. Too many people don’t do this; they move on to other jobs they are applying to and miss learning from the experience. Now it could be that you can’t learn of the team chemistry where you’d like to work, but you can try. Researching, reaching out to company contacts – even asking flat-out in a job interview. You want to find out as best you can if the fit will be a good one for both them and you. I bet you’ve taken jobs where you or someone else clearly didn’t fit in. Did it go well? Did it last? Could be an employer does both themselves AND YOU a favour by not hiring you!

Now while a chair can be upholstered with different colours to fit varying tastes, people don’t always have the same ability to adapt. While in the short-term you might pull off being something you aren’t at heart, eventually your true nature shines through, and so you might not make it past some probation period; like the chair that gets returned after 20 days because it just didn’t fit after the home test.

So this is why you didn’t get that job where you were sure you met all their qualifications. Perhaps on paper you were a possible, but other candidates ended up being a better fit. They did a better job matching up with the employer’s needs either on their resumes or in the interview process. It doesn’t mean you’re not the right chair for someone else – right candidate for someone else (sorry). Could you do the job? Perhaps. Were you the best fit? This time around, no. Don’t take it personally if you’re not selected. That’s like a chair doubting it’s ability to work as a chair.

 

Writing A Cover Letter


No the cover letter is not dead; nor has it fallen out of practice. Yes you will come across job postings that ask that you only include a résumé, but don’t take these directives as justification for not writing one as your usual practice when applying for a job. Put in the effort required and include a cover letter as the rule.

The first thing to look for in a job posting is whether there is a job number to quote in your cover letter. Typically an ad will instruct you to put this in the subject line of an email when applying, and likewise it’s good practice to put this at the beginning of your cover letter and underlined for prominence. This courtesy just ensures your application gets to the right hiring people for the job in question as it may be just one of many they will interview for.

The question now comes up as to whom the letter should be addressed. ‘To whom it may concern’ might be your standard opening, but I strongly discourage this generic opening. We have social media, company websites and of course the phone; do some digging and get the name, proper spelling and job title of the person you want your cover letter and resume to end up with. Sure some employers go out of their way to hide this information from job seekers, but do your best. If this information can be tracked down with a phone call or a visit to their website, applicants who address their letter to the person in question stand out from the pack right off the top.

Now, how to begin? Well, let’s put ourselves in the place of the reader of your mail. “Who is writing me and what do they want?” Two obvious questions. Your name at the top and bottom of the letter will explain the who, so your opening line should get right to your motive for contacting them. You do after all, want the résumé and cover letter you submit to lead to a job interview, correct? Right; so ask for one.

It is with genuine enthusiasm that I request an interview for the position of _______.

Oddly enough some people think this is too aggressive. Well, it’s not; it’s assertive yes, and it respects the time of the people who read the cover letter, right from the Receptionist, Human Resources staff and the specific Hiring Supervisor. Everyone who reads your opening knows what you’re after. Please don’t dance around what you want and dither about just hinting at what you want. Too often I see people write things like,

Please find my attached resume. I believe I have the qualifications you are looking for and I would appreciate the chance to meet and discuss how we can benefit each other

There’s just so many things wrong in a paragraph like the one above. The language is passive and weak, and if you can’t just come out and tell them what you’re after, that’s an issue. After all, you do want an interview don’t you? Of course you do!

So what’s wrong with that opening? Okay, first off, why are you asking them to find your résumé? Did you hide it? Do you have the qualifications or don’t you? If you do, then saying, “I have the qualifications you are looking for” is the right thing to say instead of inserting the word, ‘believe’ which literally means you’re not sure you have the qualifications needed, but you think you do. While we’re at it, substitute the word, ‘opportunity’ for the word, ‘chance’. This is an opportunity – for both you and the company. ‘Chance’ sounds risky, and you don’t want to sound like a risk at all. Finally, while it’s true that both you and the company will mutually benefit each other if/when hired, in your opening greeting, you should concentrate on what you’ll do for the company and not speak about what you’ll get out of things.

Okay so you’ve asked for the interview right up front. Now move to their needs and how your combination of skills, education, experience and attitude fit their needs. Research you’ve done will clue you in about what to speak to. Without some digging, you’re just guessing.

Your cover letter should include words from the posting but not just be a rehashing of what’s in the resume itself. Consider speaking to your motivation here, possibly stating why you’re entering the workforce, returning to your field of choice, you’ve just relocated to the area, etc. but whatever you speak to, don’t place yourself as a charity case; it’s not about what they can do for you but rather how your background qualifies you uniquely. Sell and market yourself to their needs.

When you do close off your cover letter, reiterate your request for an interview.

As stated in the opening, I am requesting an in-person interview to best demonstrate my strong candidacy for this opportunity.

Anyone skimming your cover letter can’t miss your intention. Assuming they know why you’re writing and that’s it’s obvious or a given would be a mistake. If you haven’t the courage to simply state what it is you want, how will you perform if they actually hire you?

When you close off, stand out. Drop the, ‘sincerely’ and ‘yours truly’.

With enthusiasm,

Enthusiasm after all is the number one trait employers want.

Is It Time To Add A Photo To A Resume?


With the widespread use of websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook where people are freely posting photographs of themselves, is it time to start including a headshot on resumes?

It’s common practice for many organizations to search job candidates names after having received their applications. While they may be intending to learn more about what people are saying about a candidate, and pick up more information than what is only included on a résumé, there’s no doubt that they are going to also see one or multiple photographs if they are part of the persons profiles.

This opens up the dialogue and discussion of preferences, biases, subjective opinions on what an organization might find, ‘the right fit’ with their corporate reputation etc. Once again, the ‘beautiful people’ of the world would probably have an advantage over those who are not; and in this case, we’re only talking outward physical attraction, as interviewer and applicant will not have met at this stage.

There are many organizations these days working to become more diverse and inclusive of many cultures and races too. In their efforts to add more minority groups, people who are physically challenged etc., a photo could strengthen an applicants chances of receiving an interview. This is a touchy subject; one that many would rather not be on the leading edge of discussing for fear of coming out wrong on the side of public opinion.

Some would argue that organizations are actually trying to move in the complete opposite direction than identifying an applicant by race, colour, gender, name, height, religion etc. In fact, there are some who upon receiving a résumé, will remove an applicants name and other identifying information before handing it on to those making decisions on whom to interview. By removing these features, the thought is that the most qualified on paper get through on merit alone, and personal biases are taken out of the equation.

Of course once the people come in for an interview, their age, skin colour, accent, mobility, height, gender all become immediately apparent. So any bias or preferences do come into play, the only difference is that the interviewers know they have before them a person whom impressed them solely on qualifications alone. In other words, all that’s really happened is the possibility of declining to interview someone based on subjective prejudices and / or preferences has just moved to another level; the physical introductions. It doesn’t entirely remove them completely from the hiring process.

Photographs one could argue, like any other piece of information provided, can be valuable. Looking at Facebook and LinkedIn, there’s a fundamental difference in the two platforms. On LinkedIn, members are more thoughtful about what they choose to include as their image. Great thought and care is taken to ensuring the headshot (for that is often what the best photographs are) is clear, the clothing worn is in sync with the image the person is striving to achieve. People will also put care into their grooming; hair brushed and neat, posture good and typically a nice smile looking into the camera and out to ones audience.

Facebook on the other hand might show multiple photographs; everything from headshots to bikinis, from birthday parties to backyard barbeques, wine tasting events to micro brewery tours. There could be pictures of someone with their babies, glimpses of their home and the condition of its cleanliness. While we’re at it there could be shots of tattoos, rants about an unfair speeding ticket or face painted in the colours of their favourite sports team. You might not have wanted or expected that a potential employer would look up such things, but if it’s there, it’s there for public viewing.

The point is the photographs and pictures of potential employees are there for the looking in many cases. Including one on a résumé could be helpful or hurt ones chances. It’s not a level playing field, and when it comes down to it, we know it never has been, nor is it likely to be. I applied for a job many years ago in the men’s clothing department in a shop in the town of Fenelon Falls Ontario. Having shopped there often, I observed all the employees were female. When the owner of the store called me to invite me in for an interview, she asked for Kelly. “Speaking” I said, and this caught her off guard. “Oh!”, she said, “I’m sorry, we only hire women and I thought Kelly was a female.” Leaving the discrimination aside for the time being, this wouldn’t have happened had they a picture to see that indeed, I am Kelly – a male!

On the other hand, when I applied to work in Toronto, the employer there was looking for a workforce that looked like the population of people it served. They were actually short on white men at the time, which goes against what you hear often in the media today. A photograph might have enhanced my chances of landing that interview, which I got by the way and was hired based on merit, not only skin colour and gender.

So what’s your opinion? Include or omit photographs? I imagine the less courageous among employers will take to commenting for fear of controversy. On the other hand, this is an excellent opportunity for organizations to state their stand on the subject. So stand up and be counted.

Think What Your Email Address Says About You


When applying for jobs, many people take great care to hide their age on their resumes, and for good reason. They’ll go out of their way to omit jobs pre-2000, decline to add the year they graduated from high school, College or even University if it’s going to make it easier for an employer to figure out how old they are by doing some simple addition. All that effort is lost however if their email addresses contain the year they were born.

I see this time and time again in my position as an Employment Counsellor. Just yesterday, I spoke at the tail-end of a workshop on interview skills about this. When I asked what her email address was, she told me her first and last name plus the number 60. “Are you 57 years old by any chance?” I asked her. To this she looked at me somewhat surprised and confirmed I was correct. “How did you guess that?” she asked. “You told me yourself by including your birth year in your email”, I replied, and then the light of realization switched on.

The thing is a lot of people include their age in their emails. They’ll either put the year of their birth or their actual age. Having several times watched people attempt to create their email using their name only, I know that computers will often suggest various email addresses which are available, and they almost always include a number. Don’t allow a computer to randomly suggest an email address for you that you’re then going to let represent you! That kind of random generation might be okay for your phone number, but not your email.

Unfortunately giving your age away isn’t the only problem I find in emails. There’s the inappropriate sexy ones, the childish ones, the nonsense ones, and downright insulting ones. None of these I’ll give examples of, so just use your imagination. It never ceases to make me wonder how serious a person is about their job search when they preface telling me what their email is with the statement, “I know it’s not very professional; I should change it probably, but I’ve had it for a long time.”

Okay so enough with making the case for what not to have, here’s suggestions for what it could or should be.

My first suggestion is to begin with either the word, “contact” or “call” followed by your first name and last. In my case it would be, contactkellymitchell@ or callkellymitchell@. If your full name is too long or is already taken, try a period between your first and last name, or your first initial and last name such as callkelly.mitchell@ or contactk.mitchell@

As the person at the receiving end silently reads your email address at the top of the résumé, they cannot help read the words, “contact” or “call”, and aren’t these the very actions you want them to take? You want to be called or contacted by the employer with the offer of an interview. Your suggesting the action to them just by reading your email address alone. Not too many have caught on to this strategy yet so get yours while the getting is good.

Another strategy I suggest is reserved exclusively for those people who are committed to looking for one career. So take me for example. I want to brand myself on those I meet as Kelly Mitchell Employment Counsellor. So my email address is employmentcounsellorkelly@gmail.com Yes it’s a little long, but easily remembered. The email address includes my job title and my name; the two are now linked together creating the lasting connection.

If a PSW, you could opt for PSWjillwhyte@ or j.whyteyourpsw@ Get the idea? The only drawback with this email address comes if you should then start applying for jobs that are similar in nature but use different titles. A Personal Support Worker might apply for jobs as a Health Care Aide, Personal Care Provider etc. and the like, and while having PSW in the email wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate, there are cases where you might want to switch things up entirely and look outside your typical field and your email wouldn’t work. So a PSW now applying for a job as an Office Receptionist might hurt rather than help her chances by using PSW as part of an email address.

The first suggestion I made, using the words, “contact” or “call” don’t present this problem. You could use these indefinitely and for a variety of employment applications across any sectors. So my overall suggestion is when applying for employment, turn exclusively to using an email that either prompts action on the part of the receiver or brands yourself with your occupation.

Continue to use your existing emails for friends and family; your social address. Create and use a professional email reserved only for employment applications, running your business, or professional networking. By keeping the two mutually exclusive and not using your job hunting email for anything but looking for work, you’ll also avoid cluttering up your inbox with spam and junk mail. This means you’ll likely never miss seeing some important reply from an employer and mistaking it for your horoscope, dating website or those large sums of money just waiting for you to claim from some lawyer representing a person in another country!

 

No Job Interviews? Here’s Your Problem


So the assumption here is that you’re applying for jobs and you’re not getting anywhere; no interviews. Without being invited to the job interview, you’re not getting offers, and so you feel increasingly frustrated and discouraged. It would seem to make no sense at all to just keep on plugging away doing the same thing and expecting different results. To see a change in things – the result being you land interviews and do well enough to get offered a job – you’re going to need a change in how you go about things.

If you don’t like the idea of doing things differently from what you’re doing now, stop reading. So we’re clear here, a change in things means putting in the work to get the outcome you’re after. Hence, if you’re not ready to put in that effort, again, stop reading here.

To begin with, you need an independent and objective look at how you’re going about applying for jobs. If you’re mass producing a single resume and submitting it to all the jobs you apply to, the good news is we’ve quickly discovered one major thing you need to change. That was how you applied for jobs back in the 90’s when there were more jobs and fewer people to compete with for them. Today you need a résumé that differs each and every time you submit it. No more photocopying; no more mass printings.

As I’ve said time and time again, employers are generous enough to give away most if not all the job requirements in the job postings you’ll find these days. Any résumé they receive and check must therefore clearly communicate that the applicant has the qualifications, experience and soft skills they are looking for. It’s no mystery; a targeted resume (one that is made specifically for the single job you are applying to and never duplicated for another) will advance your chances.

Now are you writing a cover letter? This is something you’ll get differing perspectives on from Employment Coaches, Recruiters, Company Executives and Employment Counsellors. Some will say you should include them while others say the cover letter is dead. Unless the employer specifically asks you NOT to include one, my vote goes with including one. Why? The cover letter sets up the résumé, shows your ability to communicate effectively, tells the reader both why you are interested in the job with the organization, what you’ll bring, how enthusiastic you are about the opportunity and why you’re uniquely qualified.

Whether or not you go with the cover letter, please make sure you get your résumé and / or cover letter proofread by someone who has the skills to pick out improper spelling and poor grammar. Also, even if the grammar and spelling are correct, it might not be communicating what you really want to say. Unfortunately then, it could be doing you more harm than good; especially when applying for employment in positions where you’d be creating correspondence yourself, such as an Office Administrative professional.

Once you have applied for employment, what else – if anything – are you doing to stand out from the other applicants you’re up against? If your answer is nothing; that you wait by the phone for them to call if they are interested in you, well then you’ve just identified another area you need to up your game. Following through with employers indicates a sincere personal motivation to land that interview. After the interview, further follow-up is advised to again separate yourself from those who do nothing. In other words, how bad do you want it?

Recently, someone I know applied for a job and then took the steps of actually job shadowing someone in the role with a different organization so they could gain first-hand experience themselves. While this is a great idea, they failed to communicate this to the employer they were actually hoping to work for. So this initiative went unknown, as did their sincere interest in landing the job. In short, they just looked like every other applicant; applying and then sitting at home waiting.

Look, there are a lot of people who will claim to be resume experts, cover letter writers extraordinaire and so it’s difficult for the average person to know the real professionals from the pretenders. Just because someone works with a reputable organization doesn’t make them immediately credible. Some pros charge for their investment of time working on your behalf while others offer their services free of charge as their paid via the organizations they work for. You don’t always get what you pay for as I’ve seen some $500 resumes that had spelling errors and layout issues that won’t pass software designed to edit them out of the process.

Do your homework. More important than anyone you might enlist to help you out is the effort you yourself are ready to invest. If you’re happy to pay someone to do your résumé and you don’t have an interest in sitting down with them to give advice yourself and learn from the process, don’t be surprised if you still don’t get the results you want. Should you actually get an interview, with no time invested in learning how to best interview, you’ll likely fall short of actually getting the offer.

Applying for employment today takes time and effort, but the payoff is the job you want. Make the effort; put in the work.

Cover Letters: Passive vs. Assertive


I often have the opportunity in my line of work to look over and review cover letters written by job applicants. One of the most common trends I notice is the tendency to use passive language; words that often communicate a different message than the one you intend.

Let me give you a few examples; phrases you might be using yourself and may wish to avoid using in the future.

“I would like to express my interest in applying for the position of…” This sentence, or some version of it is often one I read that starts off a cover letter. So how does it appear to you? Any problem with it? As I read it, I always think to myself, “Well, if you would like to express your interest why don’t you?” In other words, re-word it to read, “I am expressing my interest…” By removing the words, ‘would like to’, the sentence shifts from a passive indication of what the writer would like to do, to an assertive statement of what they are doing; in this case expressing interest in the job.

Another example is, “I believe I have the qualifications you need.” Once again the sentence is not as strong as it needs to be. If you drop the first two words of the sentence – ‘I believe’, the sentence suddenly becomes more assertive. “I have the qualifications you need.” This isn’t in doubt anymore; I have what you stated you need. The first statement leaves room to question whether the writer has the qualifications or not; sure they believe they have the qualifications but they might be mistaken.

Let me provide one more example at this point and it’s a classic. “Please find my attached resume.” Really? Applying for this job is extremely important to you and you are asking the employer to go find it? Did you hide it somewhere? Why make it sound like you’re playing hide and seek? “I have attached my résumé” is actually the case, and therefore why not just indicate so? This is one of the most annoying phrases apparently when I’ve listened to employers tell me what they find irritating in the cover letters they receive.

Now the biggest concern for job applicants when writing assertively is the fear of coming across as aggressive. Take the phrase, “I would like to apply for the position of…”. Somehow it seems aggressive to some people to just drop the, “would like to’ and replace them with, ‘am applying’.

This feeling of being aggressive is even more pronounced in another common cover letter-writing  tendency. Let me set it up first by asking you one question. Do you apply for jobs for which you meet the stated qualifications? I assume you do. While every so often it’s good to stretch yourself and apply for positions where you meet most but not all the employers stated needs, more often than not I imagine you also apply for jobs where you tick all the boxes of what is being asked for. So why then is it seemingly difficult to actually state this in the cover letter and let the employer know that you meet all their stated needs?

Consider writing the phrase, “Having read your stated needs in the job posting, I am confident in stating I have all the qualifications you need. In short, I am the candidate you’re looking for.” Wow! Could you write that? Does it sound like you? Many applicants I work with get a little gun-shy about using this phrase because to them it sounds like boasting. Or, it sounds like they are better than other job applicants. My rebuttal is, “Well aren’t you?”

Now it’s not boasting if you are truly qualified. You can see on the job posting exactly what the employer has stated they need from those applying. If indeed you check all their needs, and if you really want the position, then shouldn’t you believe you are in fact the candidate they are looking for? Of course you should! So why be hesitant to say so?

It probably harkens back to what mom or your primary school teachers said over and over, “Don’t think too highly of yourself. Nobody likes someone who boasts about themselves.” But this isn’t boasting. This is self-marketing; stating that you do indeed have what they are looking for. And quite frankly, should you ever apply for a job where you believe you aren’t the best candidate? Wouldn’t that be a waste of your time? Sure it would. So if you really do believe you have the right combination of skills, experience, education and the right personality to match, I say be assertive and communicate so in your writing.

This need not transform you into some pompous, arrogant know-it-all who will rub the employer the wrong way. I’m not suggesting you change your character and pretend to be someone you’re not either. That’s disingenuous and will always turn out poorly. Writing with assertiveness however just accentuates your position.

Here’s my last point; please ask for the interview. That after all is the thrust of the whole cover letter isn’t it? “I am requesting an interview to best show my strong  interest and suitability for the position of…”.

Re-read a cover letter of your own slowly and see if you can strengthen your presentation by using some of these tips.