Cross Country Career: Cover Letter Construction

Image by Matthew Wiebe
Image by
Matthew Wiebe

Our last discussion concluded with: “The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate;” now it’s time to delve into cover letter construction and considerations for those interested in treading external grounds.

Hiring Manager Hesitation: I need help immediately, not four weeks from now.

How does one counter hiring manager hesitation?

  • Recognize companies typically need help now, not next month is the first step. Your job in the cover letter (and subsequent interviews), reinforce why you are worth the added few weeks.
    • What makes you worth the wait and temporary inconvenience? If your cover letter does not address the concern, you will (most likely) not earn an interview. Perhaps you are exceptionally adept or offer unique knowledge, skills, and/or abilities. If you do, your cover letter is the place to impress.
  • Recognize there is risk involved, for both parties.
    • Hiring and training new employees is an expensive endeavor. Though there always will be risk with any new hire, out of town applicants are at an added disadvantage. What makes you a solid hire not only resides in what you offer, but for how long. For out of town folks with limited work experience or a weak track record, supporting an ability to stay in place (and with one company) is paramount.
    • Hiring managers intuitively question motives. If you are seeking to relocate, motives will be questioned… if there’s a problem, get over it.
    • For the recent graduate, the potential disadvantage can be reversed to become your advantage by highlighting how the new city fits perfectly for your new career and life-long journey. Now would be an ideal time to reflect on what it is about the region that makes the area so attractive… perhaps the mountains, culture, way of life, family, etc.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, the accepted average length is 3/4ths of a page. Consider taking a four paragraph approach:

  • First paragraph: Introduce yourself on a professional level. Briefly highlight the purpose of the letter (refer to job posting) and a primary reason why you are the right candidate. It is fine to mention a solid reason why the new city is of vast interest. Do not exceed four sentences for this or any other paragraphs.
  • Second paragraph: Make a direct connection between your background (experience and/or education) to the position. This is the perfect time for you to introduce your brand or unique value (something most other applicants are unable to offer).
  • Third paragraph: Highlight the company and city, drawing on how the combination is what interests your LONG-TERM goals. This part is critical as the purpose is to get the hiring manager to think: “hey, this applicant is not just looking for a job or a way out of a bad situation, he/she is sincere for the long haul—I gotta give him/her a call.”
  • Final paragraph: Don’t waste your final opportunity to hook the reader. Remind the hiring manager of a primary reason why consideration should be given. Warning: don’t repeat what was written previously. At the conclusion, establish a call to action and ALWAYS thank the individual when applicable.

Relocating is more common than in any other time in our history. By taking the necessary steps to recognize a few hesitations (and desensitizing them), you will increase the chances for a call back.

Even for those not considering relocation, the above bullet points and insight should be incorporated in your cover letter (and resume).

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one, I am always here to help in the process.

For those interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com

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Cross Country Career: To go or stay?

DSC_0341Continuing from our previous cross country top three considerations, it’s time to evaluate emotional specifics and locate/resolve potential psychological/financial dissonance. I know you were expecting cover letter and resume tips this time but going there may be a bit premature.

Truth is: Before investing a great deal of energy in your career relocation decision, establish the groundwork.

We best begin with a balanced mindset by answering the following two questions:

  1. What are the top three reasons you do NOT want to remain in your current area? (Recognizing driving forces pushing you away must be dealt with… you know you want to leave, but why?)
  2. What are the top three elements you will miss after relocating and how will you resolve the emotional / psychological dilemmas? Though you may not want to accept it, there are fragments of your current condition you will miss. This could be anywhere from environmental to family to a favorite place to hang out… and throw in a friend or two. Purpose of this step is to ensure the right decision is made by recognizing and acknowledging what is really going on.

Once the above questions and answers are reflected upon honestly, decision time has come. If you have family or an attached one, I suggest discussing with those in your circle your determination to relocate. Being prepared by acknowledging both sides of the fence and discussing with a loved one or peer helps place considerations into perspective.

Truth is: Packing and rushing out the door rarely ends with success.

Once a final decision has been made and you are determined to pack your bags, take stock at the inventory of assets at hand and projected expenses. In other words, with an unclouded head, take a realistic look at:

  • Budget:
    • Are you financially prepared to live without steady income for several months?
    • Do you have a savings account or money in reserves?
    • How much money will it take to live to your satisfaction on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
    • Are you emotionally prepared to sacrifice leisure items until your feet (and employment) are securely on the ground?
  • Housing:
    • Where will you be staying?
    • Where will your clothing be stored?
    • Have you priced apartments as well as cost of living?
  • Transportation:
    • Do you have a reliable vehicle?
    • What will you need to alter your driver’s license to fit the new state?

The top three considerations cannot go ignored (as they often are); to better prepare in the review/evaluation stage, perform due diligence by taking advantage of Internet research. A great beginning can be found at ONETOnline.org. At this free Internet source, information regarding job duties, responsibilities, and expectations are a click away. Additionally, on this site job postings and salary averages can be detailed.

If you know the city/state of particular interest, check out their city websites and get the “feel” of where you will be living. One area many of my clients neglect to consider is the weather. For example, several unhappy clients from Florida decided to relocate to Minnesota. They moved during the summer months, happy as a lark. Then winter arrived… suddenly the lark decided snow, wind, and plowing white stuff was never consideration. Three weeks into the season, they returned to a snow-less sunny state. For many, Chicago (or Minnesota) could be a deal breaker simply due to the weather.

Okay, you’ve spoken to several peers, family members, and/or friends about the move. You’ve also performed diligence and fully understand the basics of the relocation. Now what?

Remaining patient but progressive is the key to career (and professional) success. Next time we’ll look at one of the most important vehicles available at your fingertips, the cover letter.

The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate. Even for those not considering a move, you will find value in what’s coming up in our next episode. In other words, don’t miss out.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com

Cross Country Career

DSC_0135In a world where career opportunities are no longer limited to a tight neighborhood stretch, we are, by definition, without boundary.

Good news: The Internet allows job candidates to search and consider regions never before imagined.
Bad news: The Internet has taken your job search from a few competitors to literally thousands of candidates who are also claiming they are the right match.

Job Posting Insight: It is not uncommon for one job opening to receive over 500 responses from candidates far and near.

Recognizing all coins have two sides, how does one take advantage of a global market while, at the same time, not get lost in the crowd? Truth be known, there are no one-way or sure-fire ways to take complete advantage of worldwide opportunities, meaning each individual is left to create his or her unique advantage. Actually, this could be your gain… we’ll get to that later.

When considering a career-search, determining the geographic area must be top on the priority list. In other words, don’t take a gunshot tactic and send applications without regard to location; not only is this a waste of your time, it is a waste of time for the hiring manager. Thus, keep professional courtesy high on your list.

First step: When determining country or county, top three things influencing your decision to consider are:

    • Professional background and educational experience:
      • If you have minimal professional experience and education, hiring managers typically will not consider an out of state candidate. Here’s why: there may be plenty of healthy candidates in the area to choose from and with a large pool, hiring managers often select an applicant with the least amount of risk. For entry level or low-level managers, it is more common (though a few out of town folks can prove me wrong) to select from a nearby pool of applicants.
      • If you have a significant amount of experience or education, your value increases instantly and so does your reach. Additionally, the risk factor decreases, meaning the chances of you working out begin to sway in your favor. To the high-skilled advantage, the pool of applicants shrinks as fewer are able to support the many contributions offered, effectually magnifying a second look from the hiring manager.
    • Family: For the individual with a spouse and two kids (just an average family size), moving across the state or country is not only physically demanding, it can also be costly, financially and psychologically (imagine the nagging spouse and kids yelling “are we there yet” every two miles).
      • Advantage: If you are lugging a family around, chances are you are more committed to succeed in the new position (inherently more at risk to lose—who wants to hear the nagging spouse and kids on the rebound? Not me) than others in the area. Bringing this point up during a phone interview could give you an advantage, no, not the stuff about the nagging. Hiring managers recognize applicants willing to sacrifice and relocate for a position are serious about their intentions and more likely to stick around through choppy times.
      • Disadvantage: For the young stand-alone candidate, it is not uncommon for the hiring manager to discount applicant seriousness as the current open position may simply be a medium to relocate and, once in the new city, will look for a more interesting job. To mitigate this perception, if the applicant is able to show a proven job history, kudos to you. If you are a recent college graduate, you can use that for your advantage by creating a sincere interest to take your talents to conquer novel challenges. In many ways, it is easier to support cross-country traveling as a recent graduate than any other candidate.
    • Career interest: Follow your dream… period. If your dream career hot-spot is concentrated in a specific region, go for it… no matter what.
      • Advantage: Contrary to what many people think, phone interviews say much more than words. Hiring managers pick up on tone, pace, context, and patterns, giving clues about the person on the other end of the line. For the person truly interested in the job (and worth further consideration even if miles away), passion can be your trump card. When asked about a responsibility, if the voice speeds up, increases in depth, and “feels,” hiring managers take notice.

    • Disadvantage: If passion for the job is not displayed over the phone, no hiring manager would ever give second consideration to bringing in an applicant from afar. Here’s a few clues indicating noninterest:
      • Long pauses between sentences
      • Lack of questions from the interviewee
      • Monotone responses backed by “yes” or “no” answers
      • Lack of research and knowledge about the company and area

        Career tip
        : Confidence is contagious!

For those considering a move across the country (not the county), these three topics need time for conversation and reflection. But this is just the beginning of the career adventure.

First: the decision
Second: the design

In our next submission, we will take a few minutes to examine effective design methods one can use in cover letters and beyond.

Are your bags packed? If so, hold’em up as we need to chart out a map. Thing is, how can you hit the road without knowing the destination.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs