Get the job!

There are so many cover letter samples out there; most of them really well organized and ideal to use. But the main question I receive is how to personalize the letter. I really enjoy finding skills and the perfect wording to personalize a cover letter for job seekers – yes BRAGGING!

I created a cover letter sample by using an actual job posting I recently found in the Kansas City area. I hope this helps answer some questions you may have, but as always please reach out to me if you have any questions at all. Have some additional tips? Please share them!

I still have a couple free career packages to give away. What is that about you ask? Please see my other post titled Free advice.

 

2017 Sample job posting and cover letter PDF

 

 

 

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Find your next career – Free advice

Are you thinking of a job change, needing to find your first job or looking to change careers? Would you like FREE career consulting? Then please read on!

A career doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Your next job search could end up with a career you keep until you retire or it could be a step toward your next career choice! Each employment opportunity is a chance to gain experience.

Even if you leave an office job, working primarily indoors to  begin an outdoor landscaping career, you have skills that transfer. Maybe you gained advanced customer service skills at your past job(s) or can assist with scheduling, or maybe you discovered time management skills to help you create a more efficient process to complete your new projects!

Some of my previous posts focus on resumes, discovering your strengths and weaknesses, practicing interview questions and more, so please check those out. Even with all of that information it can still be difficult to change careers or find a job in a competitive market. You may decide to start your own business, but if you need or want to find work immediately or gain more experience, I’d like to help!

I’ve just added an exciting package deal to my list of services. I am still offering free basic resume edits! And now I’d like to provide four (4) people job hunting assistance by providing a FREE career package to each of them (thru April 30th)! Why? Because I want you to succeed and I find it fun, simple as that!

What does this mean exactly? I’d like to provide some basic edits to your current resume, discuss what type of job you are searching for and help you find a few possible options you can apply for! Let’s work together and find your next career, whether you are looking for a long or short term position.

Interested? Send me an email at successencourager@gmail.com with:

  • Why you would like to be provided this free service
  • The type of job you are looking for
  • Your current resume
  • A brief description of your past job experience
  • Up to three locations you would like to work in (city, state, etc)
  • Please note – I can only offer this to people located and searching in the United States (my skills are limited to knowledge of US job searches for now, but that may expand in the future!)

I will provide this service to four people for FREE! If you choose to purchase services in the future or share my blog with others, then wonderful, but if not, I will still enjoy this opportunity to provide my professional services! Questions? Just ask!

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any other services please see the price list or contact me and I’m always happy to answer general career questions free of charge!

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Flexible and fun – Business Idea Prompt (BIP)

I’m particularly excited about BIPs like the one highlighted today, Garage Sale Professional, that require very little start-up costs, are flexible and can be full or part time, and do not require extensive skills or experience to succeed.

I hope you enjoy this BIP and you are inspired to explore your own possibilities!

Please see the Business Idea page for detailed information about my Business Idea Prompt (BIP) posts!

Business Idea Prompt (BIP) – Garage Sale Professional

Details – Purchase and sell bargain items as a ‘yard/garage sale professional’. Items to sell can be found by attending auctions, sales, and consignment or thrift stores then reselling the items for a profit, but instead of just a one time summer event, it can be done every weekend or a few times a month. Most people have unwanted items in their home right now that could easily kick off the selling process and grow as quickly or slowly as you wish! Typically, all sorts of bargains can be found easily and with a bit of cleanup or repair the item can be sold to make a profit. Some entrepreneurs have similar online stores on eBay and amazon and make a profit every single day.

I have a neighbor that holds a ‘yard/garage’ sale almost every weekend in the spring, summer and fall with items she buys at a bargain price and then turns around and sells them for a profit. She and her husband visit discount shops and auctions within a few hours of their home in the winter and early spring or as often as she can to buy and stock up on items. The couple cleans the items or repairs, if needed, and sometimes they find a unique new use; she has made old pans into pretty planting pots, etc. This business is not only a way to earn extra income, but also a fun way to enjoy the hunt of a good deal and the weekend travels. There is no listing fee to pay and she can negotiate a price at any given moment in person. If you are a crafty person, include some of your handmade items for sale!

Experience/Skills Needed – You will need transportation or a way to purchase discounted and bargain items and clean them or basic skills to repair items (if needed). Be a bargain finder, deal maker, professional and friendly with sellers and customers. Decide if you accept only cash or offer a credit card payment option (using your tablet or smartphone, etc.), be available to travel around to find bargains, knowledge of items that will re-sale and are in demand. And you may need access to a storage area, basement or garage for all the items you purchase and may need to fix or clean. General record keeping skills are beneficial; keep an electronic or paper notebook record of each item and the cost and what you sold it for, so you can see your profit in ‘writing’ and what items are the best profit makers.

Marketing – Posts signs in your own yard all season and post them in the surrounding neighborhood(s) right before a sale, place sale ads in local papers or online and encourage all customers to come back often since new items are always added. Give each customer a flyer of sell dates or a business card with general hours, address, etc. Share your sale dates on social media and with family and friends. Leave business cards and sale date flyers at local businesses, hardware stores, libraries, post offices and on other community boards. You may want to include a website on the cards and flyers; an electronic newsletter or web page with updates for customers to subscribe to. Place a magnet decal on your vehicle with contact information. Wear shirts and/or hats with website or other helpful advertising information. Be open to taking requests from customers such as; “if you see this particular item, please buy it”. If you purchase a group of items and they will ship well, list them on an auction or online selling site as additional income opportunity.

Research – The only research that may be needed is to find an average price for most items. Of course this can be based on your cost and the profit you need/want to make, but a general guideline could be useful to ensure the sell. If you purchase an antique, looking up the value and average retail price would be helpful (if possible do this before you purchase the item via tablet or cell phone).

Bonus idea – This BIP could easily grow into a larger business. Expanding this to online auctions sites or Etsy (or similar) could be niche markets if you find a particular item selling well and if it would be easy to find more and easy to ship, etc.

There are a few expansion options with this BIP and small start up costs! Please share any tips, ideas, and success stories!

As with any business please check local and state guidelines to see what licenses, name registering, and other requirements may be needed before starting your business.

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Side jobs – finding your perfect fit

Side jobs, part-time work, freelancing and start-ups are popular ways to earn extra money these days. They don’t just supplement income while working full-time; it’s becoming more and more common to use one or more of these opportunities as full-time income. This can either work out to be a career of juggling different jobs for ever or to gain experience for a certain career you wish to move in to. Some people love the variety it allows while others want to move on to something more stable and focused.

Whether, working a variety of side jobs, freelancing or part-time opportunities all allow a form of working for yourself and gaining experience. This can allow for future advancement at a particular job, focus on your own business start-up or allow you to explore different jobs until you gain experience and find something you want to do permanently. As you can see this flexible career lifestyle can offer a lot of paths to explore.

There are so many opportunities to make extra money or start a variety career lifestyle. You can read about many on any given day through a simple internet search. Some are very focused and require specific training; fitness coach, teaching Spanish, legal consultant, etc. But others are a bit more adaptable; personal shopper, event planner, freelance writer (with so many different topics out there to write about), pet sitter, etc.

I’m not saying the more adaptable options are easier or take less to do, I’m simply saying the skills to do them may already be known. A pet sitter might be a good choice for someone who has always been around animals, etc. While being a legal consultant requires more formal training and/or experience.

Before trying to force yourself into one or several of the available opportunities ask yourself what experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and what you could charge for.

Of course time is a huge factor. Do you have certain hours you are available due to a full time job, family responsibilities, classes, etc. Once that is determined you start to explore opportunities available during those hours; you may not be able to mow after a certain hour, but you could write a blog post or post a webinar about a topic you are experienced in no matter what time it is.

Here are a few questions and comments to consider when determining what side job (part-time, etc.) opportunity may be right for you and your current lifestyle –

  • What do you enjoy? Explore this, write it down, focus on how to make it a business or service to offer. Do you like photography? If you do and have a digital camera, can you offer your services as a second photographer at a wedding, corporate events, local bands that can’t afford someone that photographs full time, senior photos or high school sporting events, etc.? Be creative and be observant; what niche can your talent and passion fill? Don’t completely re-invent the wheel, just focus on a particular aspect that you can make better.
  • Do you want/need work outside the home or work from home? Answering this question allows you to explore jobs like mowing, pet walking, wedding/event planner and/or officiant, personal shopper or driver, etc. outside the home or writing, virtual assistant, web designer or content writer, online tutor, survey taker, jewelry or craft maker (selling online), etc. for working at home.
  • Do you enjoy helping people solve a problem, working with the public and communicate effectively? Do you enjoy working alone, creating more so than working face to face? Do you have internet and online work capabilities? Obviously, this answer gives much insight into what opportunities you will enjoy more than others.
  • What services are in demand in your area that will pay you to provide that service need? If you live in a neighborhood with large yards there may be an opportunity for mowing or landscaping that obviously is not in demand at an apartment complex. But if your passion is gardening and you want to work in that field but live in an area that doesn’t seem to have a need, be creative. Can you offer your services of plant watering, container gardening, cooking classes for container gardeners, etc.?
  • How much will it cost for you to offer this side job or start a business and how much should you charge? If it’s a part time job and they provide all that you need, how much does it pay? You will want to make sure it’s worth your time either by earning extra money or it provides an opportunity for you to gain experience.
  • How will you get work? You can search for part time work online through career sites or asking in person at area businesses. If you have skills to offer through side jobs or self employment, there are man sites out there to post your services on for free, you can search that particular talent/skill and see what third parties offer help finding that type of work , you can create flyers and hang them in busy places such as libraries, laundry services, public post boards, get business cards made and hand them out at any given opportunity, make yard signs and ask friends to display them in their yards for you, make or order decals for your vehicle with a web page and/or phone number as well as hats and tee shirts or other apparel, you can also advertise via social media sites and word of mouth.

There are other questions to ask yourself, but once you have focused and answered the few above you can start to search for opportunities to make money! Don’t over think it though, be adventurous and start exploring!

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them. Do you have any questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading, I hope this has inspired you to explore your options and to be creative.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses not only helps you answer one of the most popular interview questions, but helps you understand yourself, build confidence, and recognize the skills you excel in and areas that offer an opportunity for growth as well. Even if you are not preparing for an interview you can benefit from recognizing your strengths and weaknesses.

To clarify – Strengths are not only traits you feel you are good at…you have to feel comfortable and confident doing them. Just as weaknesses are not faults! Defining a weakness is not a bad thing, it’s not negative, and it certainly does not define you. Being aware of a weakness, or two or five, is opportunity for growth or help realizing what field or hobby you don’t want to explore. A weakness is simply a skill you lack experience or knowledge in or can be something you do not feel comfortable doing. You can strengthen a weakness if you choose to; practice, research, read about it, explore projects at work or through volunteering that allow you to gain experience or knowledge. You can also become more comfortable by practicing or reaching out to a mentor and learning more about that particular weakness.

It may sound simple, but recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and knowing yourself is a must for interviewing as well as building self-confidence. Of course you know you better than anyone. Right? Actually, it’s not always that easy…is it? I recall during some of my first interviews years ago being asked to describe my strengths and weaknesses and saying ‘ummm and well….’ a lot. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves we have talents, skills, experience and a lot to offer, whether to an employer or just as a reminder to one’s self.

So, how does one recognize these important traits? Ask yourself questions, use keywords to describe each, and write out your pitch. Remember, there are certain words to include and others to avoid.

What is a pitch? It is also called the ‘elevator pitch’ – typically a two to three minute explanation of why you are the right person for the position, project, or describing yourself, etc.  I have used a pitch for book ideas and article submissions as well as interviews.

Your pitch is a collection of information in a ‘short version’ quick response. When asked to describe your strengths and weaknesses your pitch is a perfect response. To create your pitch consider the following questions. Please note – I’ve focused on interviewing, but this can easily be used for those seeking this for personal recognition.

  • Summarize your work history, volunteer efforts, or other experiences that have helped you gain skills along with an achievement. What have you been accomplishing the past year, five years, ten years? Have you stayed in the same field; sales, non profit, education, retail, construction, etc.? Have you had your own business?  For example you may say something like, “For the past five years I have worked in the non-profit field and coordinated several fund raising events including the largest event of an organization.” You can sum up your work field, history and an accomplishment quickly.
  • Recognize your strengths. What are you good at and and what do you enjoy? Maybe you have a knack for researching and solving problems or being a team leader or support within a team, you can sell anything, you can organize files, plan an event without breaking a sweat, bake a cake using unique ingredients, speak to a group, teach others, etc. For a simple example you can add a sentence to your pitch that goes something like this, “I led a team and together we developed a solution to lower costs on shipping while training the shipping department how to use this new system, making work even more productive.” Again, use examples to show your strengths (show don’t tell), backed by actions and facts.
  • Recognize your weaknesses. What would you like to strengthen? What skills do you not feel 100% confident in completing? What else would you like to learn? You may be the number one sales person or the assistant everyone else comes to with certain questions, but is there a skill you admire in others that you feel you aren’t quite as strong in? Could you learn more about a particular computer program, work ahead of deadlines, do you need to know when to delegate or how to set realistic deadlines and prioritize projects, do you want to dive deeper into a presentation program, or stop using post it notes for all your important reminders? For example you could add this to your pitch, “I can take on too many projects since I enjoy multitasking, but I have to set limits on myself to ensure each project is completed well and by the deadline.”
  • Where are you going? End your pitch with your expectations, future goals, or five year plan (or year or ten year plan). For example, “I plan to gain knowledge in my particular field of interest (insert it here), while providing my skills in an education based environment.”

Practice saying your pitch out loud until you can repeat it confidently and without it sounding rehearsed. Accept your strengths and be proud of them. Recognize your weaknesses and find an excitement inside you that wants to strengthen them!

As you accept a job and when you leave a position/job ask your supervisor and coworkers to describe your strengths and weaknesses. This will help with your future interviews and with accepting what you excel at and areas you can learn in! Update your pitch as often as needed!

Tips to share? Contact me or comment here. Questions, please ask!

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To be trustworthy or not to be trustworthy

Of course it’s important to be trustworthy. BUT don’t use that term on a resume.

There are many personality traits we all value and obviously have, but you must choose your words wisely when writing your resume. Including the obvious can actually hinder your chances of a thorough review of your resume. Especially, more recently with numerous resumes being received for open positions employers can be more and more selective when handpicking their top choices. One way they narrow down the count is by ignoring ‘the obvious’. You have a short window (usually just a quick scan by the employer, of your resume in 30 seconds or less) to stand out and find yourself on the interview call list.

Don’t use that limited time frame with obvious generic words, instead define why you are unique…brag about actual accomplishments, be specific…use examples of how you are trustworthy (show don’t tell), instead of telling a prospective employer you are.  Let your resume reflect your actions…your accomplishments…by sharing results. For example instead of ‘team-player’ you could write a short blurb about how you led a team and solved a problem, finished a project before the due date, coordinated a committee, etc.

Below are a few words and phrases to avoid on your resume:

  • Go-to person
  • Results driven
  • Team player
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Dynamic
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-starter
  • Detail-oriented
  • Highly qualified
  • Trustworthy
  • Results focused
  • Energetic
  • Think outside of the box
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successful
  • People Person
  • Familiar with
  • Reliable
  • Problem Solver

Keywords/phrases to include on your resume:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Completed
  • Developed
  • Analyzed
  • Justified
  • Counseled
  • Facilitated
  • Implemented
  • Trained
  • Mentored
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved
  • Volunteered
  • Increased/Decreased
  • Negotiated
  • Generated
  • Revenue/Profits
  • Under budget

Do you have any tips, past experience, keywords to use or avoid? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!!!

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How to gain work experience

I’ve been asked to share some options to gain experience and skills if you don’t have a lot of work history or educational degree seeking. If you are new to the work force, in between jobs, changing careers or simply looking for a job for whatever reason, gaining more experience is always a positive step!

My first option to share is volunteering. Volunteering allows you to learn new skills, explore different job types, make connections, add to your reference list – volunteer leaders/directors, etc. make great references! Volunteering can help you find the job you want in and out of the non-profit world. A lot of business owners, directors, bosses, managers, etc. volunteer their time and it can be a great way to make connections for future work opportunities.

There are many volunteer opportunities for practically every type of skill level, time availability and personality. You can volunteer hands on or even without leaving your home! Volunteer opportunities include; writing, organizing spaces or files, donation outreach, computer programming/web design, teaching, spending time with the elderly or those in care centers or hospitals, cleaning, developing mailing lists and/or mailings, research, event planning and setup, deliveries and personal drivers, fundraisers, thrift store or gift shop clerk, court appointed advocate, hospice care, handyman/woman, art projects coordination, animal care, project sewers, music lessons or playing, knitters, personal shopper, and so many more opportunities!

If you have more time and passion about a particular organization you can also look into being a board or committee member.

I volunteered for a non profit that was close to my heart for over five years, when the coordinator retired, they called me to offer me the job. I was shocked and excited. I accepted the offer and had almost three years in that position! During that time I made some great contacts and learned skills and gained experience that has helped me with obtain my current position.

You can search particular organizations for their volunteer opportunities or use such sites as volunteermatch.org to find your perfect match!

Another option is starting your own business and gain experience with the skills you already have; lawn-mowing, cleaning, administrative/office, handyman/woman, sewing, tutoring, travel guide, computer repair, freelance writer or web designer, cook, baker, or any other skill you enjoy. Advertise throughout your neighborhood, post your skills on social media, make business cards and leave them at libraries, laundromats, put a sign in your own yard and/or ask friends if you can advertise on their property, etc. Don’t let the thought overwhelm you. Most business can be started slowly with word of mouth advertising and/or free posts, etc. Depending on the business you may already have all of the tools / supplies you need or purchase at a low cost/investment. And each customer becomes a possible reference, repeat customer, and marketer for your business! Freelance work opportunities have allowed me to gain some valuable professional and personal work experience!

Online courses, community education classes, workshops, conference, etc. are also worth exploring. Some offer low cost or even free computer course, refresher classes, web design, accounting, etc. Some public libraries and public education institutes offer free basic courses. I have taken free online courses in the past to refresh some skills I had not used at a current position, but required at a new position I was applying for.

The experience you gain is resume worthy!

Do you have any other tips? Please share them!

Questions? Please ask them!

Thanks for reading!!!