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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Cover Letter

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “Do I need to have a Cover Letter?” Our answer is “If it’s a good one, yes.”. The Cover Letter’s purpose is to accompany your Resume. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your accomplishments and showcase your soft skills and passions. The Cover Letter format allows more flexibility and creativity then a Resume.

On the flipside, a Cover Letter that is rushed, contains errors or is disjointed can work against you. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages, can help you determine if it is necessary to include with your next job application.

Advantages of Cover Letters:

It can be an attention grabber. The Cover Letter will enhance your application package. It should entice the reader to pick up your Resume or reinforce their decision that you are a good fit. The information in your Resume and Cover Letter should complement each other. Use it to highlight your achievements.

You can showcase your personality. This is a place to show and create interest about yourself.  The goal of the Cover Letter is to make the person reading it want to meet you. Demonstrate your talents and skills in a way that shows your unique style and ideas.

It gives you a chance to show your interest in a position. It is important to pick some unique reason which attracted you to the specific role. You can give specific instances where past role gives you an advantage for the new position.

Disadvantages of Cover Letters:

It has the wrong focus. If it highlights unrelated skills to the position this can be a bad first impression. Make sure it emphasizes how the company would benefit from selecting you. Read the job description to assess skills needed for the role, while focusing on how the skills you possess align to them.

It takes time to customize. If you are using a generic Cover Letter this can be counterproductive by communicating that you aren’t putting forth the effort. Spend the time understanding each roles requirements and how to position your skills and experience.

Our conclusion is that it is best to incorporate a well written, thoughtful and customized Cover Letter. Having a template at the ready, makes it easier to modify, thus saving plenty of time.

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Best Tactics to ask for a Raise

The thought of asking for a raise is intimidating to most, but it does not have to be. Those of us that work for a company with a structured pay scale or annual performance evaluations linked to compensation reviews may feel reduced stress. If you are looking for an off cycle raise or for some reason don’t have this structure, asking for a raise might be the only way to get it. The process can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be.

Before you have the conversation with the higher-ups, make sure to do your homework. The preparation you do before the conversation will be evident.

Below are ways you should prepare:

  1. Know why you want a raise. Ensure that you give reasons that are based on performance, merit, market conditions and cost of living (inflation as an example).
  2. Determine how much you are willing to accept, make sure to go in asking for more than that number as a starting point. Note that the average raise is about 3% internally.
  3. Timing is everything! It is best to ask for something when people are in a good mood or after you recently got praise or completed a tough project.
  4. Set the occasion by considering all variables and people needed in the discussion. Don’t have this conversation out of the blue, schedule a meeting in a location that is conducive to this kind of discussion.

Now that the time is set to speak with the powers at be, it is time for you to take action. Go into the meeting with all your ducks in a row.

Here is how to do it:

  1. List your accomplishments- This can be by showing the actions you have taken and results they yielded. It could be expanded responsibilities or the completion of a project successfully. A good strategy is to frame these successes in 6 months, the year and lifetime with company increments to demonstrate your long-term results.
  2. Know your worth- Compare your salary with industry averages. Have the data to back up your value. If you are currently at the higher end of the scale, a small raise would be more in line with the industry standards.
  3. Be confident- If you did all the preparation, go in knowing why you deserve that compensation increase.

 

Requesting a pay raise can be stressful and uncomfortable, but you have nothing to lose. If done tactfully, this discussion should not change your standing with your employer.

Good luck and make sure to get the compensation that you deserve.

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Strategies for Quantifying your Achievements

The strongest resumes are those that demonstrate the impact of a candidate’s achievements. When an employer reviews a resume that showcases metrics, they are noting specific results executed by the candidate. Often, we have many accomplishments throughout our careers that we may have difficulty recalling or quantifying.

The key to quantification is tracking and documenting our achievements on a regular basis. For example, if a sales Manager has a goal of selling $100K in Q1 but exceeds his or her sales goal by 20%, this is an achievement that can be included on a candidates resume as it presents specific metrics. Most importantly, it shows that the candidate exceeded their goal. If the Sales Manager tracks performance quarterly, it will be easy to include on his or her resume.

Showcasing metrics can also demonstrate to employers the type of outcomes you can achieve for their company. If your resume includes metrics that show you exceeded goals year over year, this is an indicator of your future job performance.

Strategies for quantifying your achievements:

Keep track of your goals on a quarterly basis: At the beginning of each quarter, write down 3 goals that you set out to achieve. At the end of the quarter, note your progress by including metrics. For example: If a Social Media Manager wants to engage 1,000 new followers by the end of Q3, the employee would note how many followers were gained at the end of the quarter.

Assess percentage increases: Analyze the value of the achievement. If an employee exceeds their goal by 1% in Q1 versus 10% in Q3, include the metric that would make you a key competitor amongst your peers.

Highlight the goals you exceeded and assess their value: If you have several achievements that include metrics, select the achievements that are related to the job you are targeting.

Examples of achievements you can quantify:

  1. Cost savings initiatives
  2. Social media engagement (followers, likes)
  3. Budgeting (Range of budgets you have worked with)
  4. Sales Goals
  5. Financial Analysis
  6. Staffing or quantity of employees hired
  7. Project management deadlines or number of projects you work on
  8. Time Savings or Increased Output

 

In many cases it is not clear what the metrics are associated with your work. That is where you can use the above list to get creative. Quantifying your achievements and including metrics on your resume is another way to market yourself in the industry.

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Find Fulfillment in Your Career

What contributes to finding fulfillment in your career?

Finding fulfillment in life is the ultimate goal. As adults, most of us spend the majority of our time working, so it makes sense that one would want to get fulfillment from their job. Most of us strive to have careers that bring financial security and personal engagement. When one finds value in their career it makes the workplace a more enjoyable place to be.

Below are 3 examples where fulfillment can be found from a job.

Mission– Decide what you want to stand for and keep that in mind when conducting business. By putting your personal mission at the forefront of your mind, you will act in accordance with who you are and what you want in your profession. This will keep your personal integrity intact and in turn help you feel fulfilled by not compromising your values. When you have a clearer understanding of your values, it makes it easy to see if the organization shares them.

Learning– Use your job to level up. Find the aspects of your profession that challenge you and lean into them. This is where you will grow and learn. When you are exposed to challenges, figure out a solution to overcome it to gain that new skill. This feeling of accomplishment is a key to finding fulfillment. It is good practice to reflect on whether or not your organization is providing you with these development opportunities.

Connecting– Building positive relationships at work is also a measure correlated with finding fulfillment. By being comfortable with the people you work with, you are more likely to approach these colleagues to collaborate, ask questions or as a knowledge resource. This might look like taking on a mentee (passing on your knowledge), making friends with coworkers (especially if you share interests) and building your network (could help you land your next position or a promotion).

Leverage these three examples to find fulfillment at work and use them in your current role. If the position you have is not checking all of these boxes, this role may not be for you long term. These key aspects will help you identify the right fit for you and will guide you in identifying your dream position.

Reach out to us if you need guidance on your journey.

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It’s a Job Seekers Market: Build Your Career Strategy

It’s a candidate’s market: What does it mean and how to take advantage.

 

The labor market has gone through a major transition since the start of 2020. Since the third quarter of 2021, we have entered a candidate driven market. What does this term mean? A candidate driven job market is one in which the job seekers have the upper hand and the number of open positions are outweighing the number of job seekers. It is an ideal time to work on your career strategy.

In a candidate favoring market the individual has greater bargaining power.  With talent being in high demand, it allows the job seekers to be less flexible in terms of salary, work-life-balance and benefits.

This shift is giving candidates an advantage to:

  • Highlight your transferable skills to make the change to a different career.
  • Negotiate salary, with in many cases having multiple competing offers in hand.
  • Secure a role that is the at the next level. Many employees that previously found it difficult to secure that higher title may no longer face that barrier.
  • Working from home has diminished the role that geography plays in our search. This allows for candidates to source jobs that they would have not had previous access to.

 

Now with less bargaining chips, companies are dealing with this power shift by changing the ways in which they attract talent. The hiring process is being streamlined with  virtual interviewing and sped up in fear the talent will jump ship for another offer. All indicators show that securing a new role will be more lucrative and that internal mobility  will also be on the rise.

In this candidate-driven market, job seekers should take advantage of the position they are in. Apply, negotiate and make the move you have been working towards. Five Star Resume can assist by getting your documents, career strategy and tools in tip top shape.

Let us help you take your career to the next level.

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New Year: Take Your Career to the Next Level

Let’s ring in the New Year and take a moment to assess our career! Each year, we have resolutions that we make or break. With 2022 approaching, let’s review where we are now and what’s next.

Check out these 5 resolutions below that you won’t want to break:

  • Self-reflect- Think about where you are now and where you want to be. Are you seeking a promotion, career change, or interested in refreshing your skills? Make a list of your accomplishments and assess the next steps.

 

  • Create a timeline for success- Create a list of your actions and define designated due dates on your calendar. This will help you stay accountable throughout the year. Check out apps such as Vervo and Strides to help keep you on track!

 

  • Network- Attending virtual or live career fairs is a keyway to expand your contact list of professionals who you can collaborate with. LinkedIn, Meetup, and social media groups are also ways to meet professionals with common goals. Expanding your network can also keep you abreast of opportunities that may interest you.

 

  • Take a class- Aim to sharpen your skills and learn something new. Is there a technology or software you want to become proficient in? Or perhaps you need to update a license or certification. Taking a class will help you to stay competitive in the industry.

 

  • Update your Resume, LinkedIn & Cover Letter-Finally, add your goals, accomplishments, and skills to your professional documents. This will showcase your personal brand and highlight key achievements from the previous year. Get ready to market yourself or go after that promotion. You deserve it!

 

If you need help with developing your Career Plan, building your Resume, Coaching or in any other area, let the Five Star team help. Our experience working directly in HR and talent selection across major organizations can be a valuable asset.

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Skill Series: The Importance of Adaptability

Are you flexible? Willing to learn? Accepting of change? Eager to try new things? Great news, if you answered yes to these questions, you most likely are adaptable. Adaptability, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the ability to change or be changed to fit or work better in some situation or for some purpose. Being adaptable is one of the most desirable leadership skills.

Why is it important to be adaptable?

 

The ability to handle changes and setbacks while maintaining your composure is a soft skill that can benefit you in every facet of life, especially in the workplace. Adaptability shows your ability to be resourceful, think critically, prioritize tasks and step up as a leader.

Adaptability is especially important in the post COVID-19 world. With today’s uncertainty and the many changes in our daily lives, adaptability is given a boost in importance. By demonstrating adaptability, you can make seamless transitions, show alternative solutions, learn new skills easily, while remaining positive.

In my personal life, by living and working on the road while traveling cross country, this is the most critical skill I had developed. Things more often than not go differently than planned. The ability to “roll with the punches” as well as maintain goals and composure while the world around you is constantly changing is a skill that I value above all others.

By being adaptable you get the task at hand done, no matter the situation. Instead of squandering away your energy trying to change your circumstance, you will change yourself, making you able thrive in any situation.

As always it is important that we assess ourselves and find opportunities to develop these skills. If you need help building this or any other skill, reach out to us.

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Goal Setting and its Importance!

“The moment you put a deadline on your dream it becomes a goal!” Stephen Kellogg

We all know goal setting is important but sometimes, we overlook the importance of setting goals that are mapped out.

Have you ever set a goal and months later recognize that it was not achieved? Or do you recall a time when you achieved a goal and felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment?  When identifying the differences in what helps us achieve our goals, it often is found that a planning phase can make it or break it! Employees who set and achieve their goals are likely to gain a promotion or increase in compensation. Personal goals also help us stay energized and motivated. All around, goal setting is important for everyday growth.

Below are 5 goal setting principals that can help you plan & achieve!

  1. Set a specific goal that is clear and concise: Setting clear goals will provide you with direction. Goals should also be concrete rather than generalized. For example, one of my colleagues had a goal of “increasing social media engagement.” After revisiting her goal, she developed a more concrete goal of “Increasing social media engagement by 10% at the end of Q3.”

 

  1. Find a way to measure your goal: Measuring goals will help keep track of your progress. For example, if you are a Hiring Manager, you may want to measure how many interviews you are conducting weekly.

 

  1. Create steps that include actions: Create a checklist with actions or a simple to do list. Checklists are an easy way to organize and map out your plan.

 

  1. Review your resources: As part of the measuring process, continue to track your progress to see how close you are to achieving your goal. Do you need to spend additional time on your tasks and projects to achieve your goal? Are there additional resources you need? What type of results have you produced so far?

 

  1. Set a deadline: Setting a deadline will hold you accountable for achieving your goals in a timely manner. Provide yourself with a date of completion such as “12/31/21.” There is no greater feeling than reaching your goal prior to your deadline!

Completing these 5 steps will help direct your actions towards goal-related activities.

What type of goals do you want to achieve?

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Pay cut for Work From Home (WFH). Is it worth it?

When it comes to salary, we each seek to receive compensation that is comparable to the amount of experience we have. Often, we aim high, negotiate, and try to achieve our worth. However, in some cases, can less really mean “more”? During the pandemic, millions of employees have strived to work from home, even if it means taking a pay cut. Google recently approved 85% of employee requests to work from home while cutting their yearly salary.

In a survey conducted by the Business Journal, Americans voted that they would take up to a 7% pay cut to WFH, part time. Other studies conducted by Pollfish demonstrated that some employees would shave off up to 25% of their salaries!

Top reasons why employees have taken a pay cut to work from home:

  • Health and SafetyDue to the pandemic, employees may want to have less exposure in the office and throughout their commutes. Working remotely creates a sense of ease for many.
  • Cost Savings when it come to commuting expense. We also save on lunch, and that extra cup of coffee we all tend to need.
  • Tax breaksRemote work may allow us to write off internet, Wi-Fi, and phone services, leading to a better tax return.
  • Work life balanceSaving commuting time allows employees the flexibility to complete personal tasks without diminished productivity.

When considering a pay cut to work remotely, review the dollar amount in cost savings and compare it to the percentage of your pay-cut. Perhaps this can be negotiated to meet both the needs of you and your employer.

Despite the concern that employers had in reference to productivity with WFH, surveys are showing that employees are more productive. According to Flexjobs’ annual survey, 65% of employees were more productive in their home offices that in a traditional workspace. With technology such as Zoom, WebEx, and Google meet, face to face interaction and teamwork are becoming just as prevalent in the virtual world. Employers are also saving money! Does this seem like a win-win situation??

Our stance is that employers should not force existing employees to take a pay cut if they are the main driver for the shift in work dynamic. This blog is aimed at persons considering changing jobs or asking for the shift in their current work dynamic.

Are you willing to take a pay-cut to work from home and can “less actually mean more???

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All the best from the Five Star team!

Interviewing Skills: Asking Questions

Candidates often stumble at the end of an interview when employers ask “Do you have any questions?  Part of preparing for an interview is remembering that thought provoking questions will benefit both the candidate and the employer. An employer’s response to the questions can allow candidates to understand if the company is the right fit. On the other hand, a candidate’s questions will demonstrate their interest in the company.

Keep in mind that how an employer responds to these questions can be a key component of your decision-making process.  Make it common practice to take notes and reflect on the answers given, before making a decision.

Below are 5 questions that may come in handy at the end of an interview:

 

  1. How would you describe a typical day for a candidate in this position? Understanding a “day in the life” will help you determine if this opportunity is aligns to your career goals. Make sure that the description excites you and would motivate you to come to work.

 

  1. What are the attributes that someone needs to have success in this position? Think about the required qualifications and how they match up with your skills. Do you have what it takes to be successful in this role?

 

  1. What are some of the challenges that someone in this position may face? Determine if you are up for the challenge and if you can overcome these obstacles.

 

  1. How would you describe the company culture? This inquiry will deepen your understanding of the work environment and how people interact with one another. Does this atmosphere sound ideal for you?

 

  1. Can you describe the path for growth for someone in this position? Career pathing can help engage and retain employees. Employees who have a clear roadmap will have the tools to succeed as well as longevity.

 

Remember, interviewing an employer is just as important as a candidate being interviewed! As candidates, we want to show that we are committed to learning about the company. We also want to demonstrate the importance of finding the right fit. Candidates who ask questions are more likely to move to the next round.

What questions will you ask on your next interview? Share your top 5 with us!

For more insights to help propel your career, follow us on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/five-star-resume. You can also get more information on our site at www.fivestarresume.com.