Monday 28 May 2012

Improve your CV with these 5 Tips - Quickly!

At Muovo, we see hundreds of CVs everyday while reviewing candidates. Only a few however, manage to stand out from the rest, while literally capturing and retaining our interest. Writing your CV is indeed a very crucial step toward pursuing your career. Take the necessary time then to ensure that your resume not only highlights your qualifications, but more importantly, communicates well your goals.
The following are some tips that will help to jazz up your CV, giving it perhaps, a more professional tinge. This post is courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap.
1. Replace your Objective with a Professional Summary
I’m not a fan of objectives on resumes.  As a hiring manager, I’ve eliminated candidates based on their objective much more often than I have considered them.  If the objective does not absolutely address the specific company and role you’re seeking, I’d remove it.  Replace it with a strong, exciting and compelling Professional Summary.  This is your opportunity to promote yourself in way that will generate interest for the reader and make them want to read further.
2. Choose the correct format: Chronological or Functional
Select the resume format that’s right for your specific background.  If you have a traditional work and education history, chances are a chronological format will work for you.  This is the most common format, and the type of resume that is most recognizable.  A functional resume will work well for someone who has frequent career changes, is returning to the work force after a long hiatus or has an unstable work history.
3. Use keywords
The vast majority of large corporations (and many smaller ones) utilize Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to facilitate locating qualified candidates in their large databases of applications.  This ATS software relies heavily on keyword searches that will identity candidates that have the desired skills or words in their resume.  Your keywords can either be spread throughout your resume or presented in list fashion, and should be specific skills, industry-specific terms or buzzwords.  A great place to find keywords is the job description itself.
4. Remove Hobbies/Interests/References Upon Request
Every bit of space on your resume is valuable.  Don’t use valuable space for anything that’s not absolutely related to the job to which you’re applying.  In most cases, your hobbies and your interests are not relevant and will not be transferrable skills to a job.  It is presumed that you will provide references if asked, and in most cases they’ll be requested on the job application itself.
5. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
This sounds like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how often I review resumes at job fairs, and see typos, incorrect punctuation, and grammatical errors.  Ask others to review your resume.  Oftentimes you’re so focused on creating a great resume that you might miss simple mistakes.  Read your resume out loud as a way of proofreading, and use the spell check and grammar check features of your word procession software.  Submitting a resume that contains errors will almost certainly have a negative impact on your candidacy.

Saturday 26 May 2012

4 Candidates that Employers Don't Want to Hire

Employers and recruiters worldwide share a number of preferences when it comes to hiring the right candidate. The blog post below, courtesy of The Recruiters Lounge and eGrabber ResumeFinder, enlists four types of candidates that recruiters are often unwilling to take on. Job seekers who display such characteristics may have good academic and professional background, and envious skills sets—but, without the right attitude, all is worthless.

If you feel you can identify yourself with one of the candidate types’ characteristics displayed below, because of which you may be losing opportunities, Muovo is ready to help you. We will assist you in overcoming your fears and dilemmas, while turning those bad habits into ways that can put you at an advantage over your competitors.

The four candidate types’ characteristics are as follows:

1. Acting Overeager
This not when the candidates respond to the initial hiring inquiry or when they follow-up with a thank you after an email—it is how they do so. Some candidates make the mistake of overzealously driving home how much they like the company or the interviewer, making them appear desperate.
We all want what we cannot have and tend to shy away from what we can have way too easily. Therefore, one or two sentences regarding the above should do it. If you overdo it, you might risk sounding overly needy and thus risk losing the job.

2. Coming Across As Disinterested
There is a polar opposite of over eagerness and this is a complete lack of interest. Not writing a thank you note, for one, gives the impression that you do not care about the time spent by the recruiter to interview you.

Many job seekers try to bust out high school hard to get tactics. In a job search, however, a blasé attitude makes you come across as high maintenance. This also makes the interviewer concerned as to how many companies you may be interviewing with.

3. Showing You Can’t Listen
Many job seekers arrive at an interview overly prepared for the meeting to the point where their ambitiousness to hit certain talking points totally bypasses what the interviewer has to say and or otherwise wants to hear.

Interviewing success comes from practice and listening. If you go into an interview with a script, you are going to come out with a disappointment. Interviewing is about concepts and communication, not memorization.

4. Lacking Industry Knowledge
he moment a job seeker shrugs his or her shoulders is the same minute they begin to lose the interviewer’s interest. Despite the broad possible you may have down, if you’re unable to answer the more specific industry related inquiries, you become a candidate who goes into the ‘maybe’ pile only to get the offer if another candidate(s) who does know the industry passes on the position.

Muovo suggests that if you are going to take the time to interview, you might as well take the time to research the industry. You will not get an interview by just sheer luck (or if you do, this will surely not happen every time you go for an interview).

As the Roman philosopher rightly says,Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Wednesday 23 May 2012

How to use Social Media Effectively in your Job Search

Social media is really just about human beings. Sharing ideas, cooperating, debating, forming new acquaintances and thereby broadening our social network, and so on.

At present, there are basically six kinds of social media:

  1. Social network (like Facebook, Bebo, and MySpace),
  2. Blogs (for example, online journals, or WordPress blogs),
  3. Wikis (like Wikipedia – an online free encyclopedia),
  4. Podcasts (audio and video files that are available by subscription, through services like Apple and iTunes),
  5. Forums, and
  6. Content Communities (communities which organise and share particular kinds of content. The most popular tend to form around photos (flickr), bookmarked links ( and videos (Youtube)).

Muovo would like to share some facts and information with regard to the advent of social networking, and its role in the recruiting process.

Indeed, a 2007 survey conducted by ExecuNet found that 77% of potential employers use search engines to learn more about candidates for jobs and of those, 35% have eliminated a candidate from consideration based on the information uncovered online.

So what can you do?

  1. Do a Google search online for yourself.  In fact it is worth entering  your own name into search engines from time to time to ensure you remain informed about the personal and professional information that exists on the Internet.

  2. Provocative images, antisocial activities and potentially confidential information from a previous employer are all things that could affect your chances of securing your next role.

  3. Make sure your screen names or online IDs don’t have negative or overly frivolous connotations. “ditzygirl23” isn’t going to endear you to any serious employer!

  4. Carefully consider groups you join on networking sites. These generally link you to other people with similar hobbies and interests so being a member of “How stoned are you?” is likely to put off an employer looking for a mature and dependable candidate.

  5. Ensure that you don’t mention anything negative about past and current employment situations . Negative posts online about your boss, supervisor or colleagues will do you more harm than good!

  6. Check your online privacy settings!  Make sure that only friends can view those fun photos and videos online.  You certainly don’t want any potential employers being able to view anything that might be negatively construed. 

  7. Honesty counts when crafting your CV. If the academic achievements, company information and Awards  differ from any information an employer might find online, your credibility will go straight out of the window.

  8. Check the information you are allowing a company to use when you agree to social networking site’s privacy policies. You are often giving the site permission to collect information about you from their site as well as permission to use the information they gather from other sites. 

  9. Carefully choose the social media sites you are using to post blogs, Twitter and any viral marketing activity you may be conducting.  Ensure your key messages align with your professionalism and integrity at all times.

Social Media is a powerful tool and if used wisely will assist you in maximising your reach to the job market.

Nearly all employers use it to find information about you, as their potential employee, before the first meeting has even taken place.

The first impressions that are being formed from your online profile can seep their way through and affect negatively your interview. So, be on your guard!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Sunday 20 May 2012

I got the promotion. How do I face its challenges?

Muovo prides itself in having placed several candidates. By ‘placing’, we mean finding the right job for a candidate, one which he or she accepts, finding the right candidate to meet the requirements (sometimes not all reachable) of the client, and finally arranging meetings between the two who eventually reach a mutual agreement.

As you might have noticed, it’s not an easy task, but, like any other employee who loves his or her job—it is highly rewarding. The following article, first published in Business Spotlight, deals with the overwhelming, yet exciting time when you finally get that promotion.

Before we start, we must say, Well done! Getting a promotion means that you have worked hard, and deserve the new title. However, and as you rightly know, a promotion brings with it a number of challenges. This is why you should find out the best way to handle these new challenges.

‘The first thing is, don’t panic’, advises career coach and author Jenny Ungless. ‘The fact of the matter is that you’ve been promoted because someone thinks you are capable’, Ungless told the Financial Times.
Look at the big picture, says executive coach Geraldine Gallacher. ‘It’s so tempting to end up drowning in the detail’, Gallacher explains. ‘You can get distracted by the newness of everything and forget to breathe, so it is vital to create space by looking above and beyond your immediate situation and remind yourself of your goals.’
As soon as possible, find out what your boss’s priorities are and what she or he expects from you, says Jenny Ungless. ‘Have a meeting to clarify what your line manager wants and what you’ll be measured on. For the first couple of weeks you have permission to ask stupid questions, so gather information and get as clear a picture as possible.’

'For the first few weeks, you can ask stupid questions', says Ungless.
Your boss may expect you to make changes, but don’t try to do too much at once, Gallacher advises. ‘When a company or a department is in a mess when you arrive, it’s vital to act fast but beware of making radical changes without really checking out your facts — which means you need to listen, although it may be “speed listening”.’
To be successful, you need the support of your team, Ungless says. ‘Talk to people and get their input. But make decisions, too. You want to be seen as not afraid to make decisions. People respect those who put themselves on the line.’
And do try to have a positive attitude, says business psychologist Jean Roberts. ‘I always tell people to recite the mantra: if you believe it will work, you’ll see opportunities; otherwise, you’ll see obstacles.’

Friday 18 May 2012

Dressing for Success

Want to create a good impression? Dress your best when going for an interview!
At Muovo, we see a number of candidates everyday, where, although most of our interviews are informal and hence require no ‘dress code’ as such – there are, of course, certain boundaries not to be crossed.

For instance, I remember once a young, beautiful foreign girl, came into the office for an interview. Apart from smelling like she had just come from a marathon, she was wearing a short tennis miniskirt and high platform sneakers! (no, not heels). Although this was an informal interview, still, I would not want to meet my friend in such a way, let alone a stranger who could possibly (and hopefully) recommend me some good jobs.

On the other hand, candidates who come dressed properly, no need for suits and ties if it is just an informal meeting, already emit a positive impression without even saying a word. Appearances are not everything (we know that!), but first impressions do count.

So, does it really make a difference how you dress for an interview?
 Yes, it does.

If you are unsure about how to dress properly for an interview, it is best to err on the side of conservatism. It is much better to be overdressed than underdressed (or undressed). If you really in despair, check with the person who scheduled the interview and ask him or her if the organisation has any dress codes you should be aware of. Alison Doyle, in Guide, quotes Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics, who says that 55% of another person's perception of you is based, in essence, on your appearance. Zoller’s Dressing for Success information gives some tips on how to look your best, without necessarily spending a lot of money. Here is a quick look at the basics:

Women's Interview Attire

  • ·         Solid color, conservative suit
  • ·         Coordinated blouse
  • ·         Moderate shoes
  • ·         Limited jewellery
  • ·         Neat, professional hairstyle
  • ·         Tan or light hosiery
  • ·         Sparse make-up & perfume
  • ·         Manicured nails
  • ·         Portfolio or briefcase

Men's Interview Attire

  • ·         Solid color, conservative suit
  • ·         White long sleeve shirt
  • ·         Conservative tie
  • ·         Dark socks, professional shoes
  • ·         Very limited jewelry
  • ·         Neat, professional hairstyle
  • ·         Go easy on the aftershave
  • ·         Neatly trimmed nails
  • ·         Portfolio or briefcase

  • Source

  • Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Why Should I Hire You?

How to answer one of the most important interview questions!

Being an intermediary between the candidate and the employer, Muovo knows well enough what employers are seeking in the recruiting process. The following article, first published by, deals with the unnerving, yet much loved question by employers (whether implicitly or explicitly) – ‘Why should I hire you?’ Although it does seem like a cold slap on the face, breaking it down to three rather straightforward phases will facilitate your answer, without having you undergoing any mental and/or physical breakdowns!

Get ready to learn these three steps!

First, the employer needs to know if you have a grasp on the skills required to do the job. This is usually (and understandably) the employer’s greatest concern. She wants to know if you will still be able to perform your duties at an astonishingly high rate six months after hiring you.

How you answer: Do a rundown of the most crucial requirements for the position, explaining how you meet them and more. Doing your homework on the job is critical in answering this phase of the question.


‘Let me start off by saying that I have a complete understanding of the major requirements of this position and can guarantee you that I meet them as well as offer additional skills and experience. You need someone who can implement and write your monthly newsletter. I wrote my former company’s newsletter and was successful in increasing readership, drawing in more customers, and making the company look very good for six prosperous years.’

Continue to list more of the requirements that you fulfil.

Second, the employer wants to know if you will be committed to the job. If he/she hires you for the position, will you work hard, or will you slack off after your three-month trial period? Will you be motivated? Are you dedicated, or do you simply want a job, any job?

How you answer: This is where you can answer another question where you might be asked, ‘Why do you want to work here?’ This second part of the three-part question is where you extol the company’s overall mission, praise it for the outstanding products it develops/services it provides, and show your admiration for its fine reputation in the industry.


‘My desire to work at Miranda, Inc. and make it better is fueled by the fact that you and your staff believe in producing software that is designed by the best engineers. I want to contribute to the success of this company with my ability to take a concept and see it through delivery. I am motivated (use this word) to live up to the outstanding reputation Miranda, Inc. has developed and sustains in the social media industry.’

Third, the employer wants to know if you will be a good fit. Will you play well with others and be easy to manage? Surprisingly this turns out to be a large issue even if you are a top performer. If you take one of the hardest-to-get-along-with athletes in Boston Red Sox history—none other than Manny Ramirez—and compare his performance to his attitude, you will probably agree that it just wasn’t worth keeping the bum around.

How you answer: You are a team player (ouch on that cliché) and even more important a person who has adapted to all situations and changes. Your record of getting along with colleagues and supervisors can’t be touched, not even by the best.


‘If you ask my former supervisors and colleagues how I worked with them, they’d tell you I was one of the hardest workers in a very team-oriented environment. I always pulled my weight (another cliché), especially when times got rough. I don’t mean to sound like I was perfect, but I have always adapted to the demands of any company.’
Knowing the three major areas of concern of the employer, makes it easy to answer one of the most daunting questions asked at an interview. Take your time before phrasing your answer, though. Don’t rush into it, because it’s really a three-part question that deserves at least two minutes to answer. If you can’t answer this question, you shouldn’t be applying for the job…plain and simple.

Monday 14 May 2012

What Is Creativity? Why Do We Need It?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.  
                                                                    Steve Jobs, Wired, February, 1995

One can easily say that the last decade enjoyed the burgeoning of several ‘creative thinkers’. Creativity however does not stand apart from imagination, free thinking, or empathy. In its broadest sense, empathy refers to the need to understand people. In the words of the American existential psychologist Rollo May (1909-1994),

Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being…creativity requires passion and commitment. Out of the creative act is born symbols and myths. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness-ecstasy.
Creativity requires you, as an ambitious employee, to generate fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing market. These are part of the intellectual capital that gives a company its competitive edge.

Creativity requires whole-brain thinking; right-brain imagination, artistry and intuition, plus left-brain logic and planning.

Just as an example, HP (or Hewlett Packard), which is an American multinational information technology corporation, fosters an environment for creativity and innovation; indeed, its work ethos applies to each and every one of us, following what it calls the ‘Rules of the garage’:

            Believe you can change the world.

            Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.

            Know when to work alone and when to work together.

            Share – tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.

            No politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)

            The customer defines a job well done.
            Radical ideas are not bad ideas.

            Invent different ways of working.

            Make a contribution every day.

            Believe that together we can do anything.


                                                                                    —1999 HP Annual Report

Muovo strives to find creative individuals in every aspect of the recruiting process. Starting from your CV, up to the interviewing phase, being creative is essential if you are to stand out of the crowd and let employers know your true value. As employers have different tastes, like all other individuals do, you are free to use your creativity in writing the content and creating the layout in ways that you feel best suit your personality. We will be talking more about this in future posts, so keep an eye on our blog!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Thursday 10 May 2012

Would You Like To Take A Year Off?

The Gap Year is slowly morphing into an independent travel in Malta and perhaps more so in England, tracing its roots to the hippy trails to India in the 1960s and 1970s just before the baby boom propelled their children to go on with gap years in the 1990s. 

How did it get popular? 

The popularity of the gap year in England is essentially attributable to Prince William and Prince Harry. Both members of the Royal British family, the two brothers had embarked upon experiences abroad. Working on farms, teaching English in a mountain village, assisting in the building of new walkways and clinics, travelling to southern Africa, and volunteering, were few of the several things they did during their year ‘off’. 


What do the Maltese think?

Unlike the British, of whom around 141,000 students defer their entry from university each year to take on their gap year, Maltese students are reluctant to ‘waste’ a year and tend to commence a degree just after they have finished their A-levels. What do Maltese think about the gap year?

A gap year is a very good experience in terms of change of environment’, says Glenn Micallef, a technical demonstrator at the University of Malta. He adds on, ‘It helps you get a break from the study life (exam, assignments, school, and so on) and throws you into the “wild”, so to speak. You will experience work life on completely different level. This will help you ultimately to adopt a more practical perspective of your work experiences and of life in general. However, one might find that a gap year could be much more attractive than study in terms of ‘adventure’ and the income, and therefore, one might change his or her plans to continue with his or her studies’. When asked whether he had took a gap year or wanted to at any time of his life, Glenn said, ‘I don't know it can be said to be a gap year... but my qualifying year for the masters, I had very little lessons and I started working almost full time. It was a good experience since I changed my everyday environment and also makes you realize how much is your skill set acquired during studies, valid to the industry (i.e. this was the year were I was convinced that I really needed my Master)'.

After completing her degree in English with the University of Malta, Giulia Bugeja pursued a gap year, perhaps incidentally. In her own words,

'I had never planned on taking a gap year, but when I finally completed my university studies, I was faced with the dilemma of what to do next. Should I further my studies? Master’s? PhD? Being a student was all I had ever known, but with the University application deadline soon approaching, I had to make a decision - fast! Taking a year off from studying was for me a way to gain some time until I decided what came next in life. Consequently, I found a job and haven't gone back to studying yet. Still unsure of what life holds, I don't know if I'm still on my gap year(s) or if my gap year wasn't really one to begin with. Only time will tell!'

Martina Muscat, who is completing her final year in B.Pharm (Hons) with the University of Malta, confessed that,

I will actually not continue my studies. But if I had to say enrol in a Master’s course, I would personally prefer to take a gap year or two so as to start working and gain some experience in the field, whilst getting back on one's feet financially. This would also help to choose clearly the area in which to further one's studies. The detriment to this is that one may actually lose the interest to continue studying since he/she would settle into the working life and may find it difficult to go back to university.’

Other interviewees however claimed that taking a year off would merely abet laziness among the students, who might find it increasingly difficult to ‘settle down again’ and to get down to some real hard work once the gap year has ended.

Roberta Cacciottolo, who has just finished her B.Ed (Primary) with the University of Malta, argued that, ‘I would never consider taking a gap year between 3rd and 4th year as I believe that I would then never continue my studies. Also, in order to stop completely for one year you need to have money’.

She moves on by saying that, ‘On the other hand, taking a year break between a degree and masters is okay. In fact, I think that in this case a gap year would be necessary as a person needs to take a break before embarking on another big project. During this time, the person can think better on how and where to further his or her studies’.

To build upon a metaphor mentioned by one of the interviewees, the Maltese seem to be ‘enclosed within a box’, which, because of its safeness and the security it emanates, one may find himself or herself agitated on the prospect of looking out of the ‘box’ and explore the world outside. Unfortunately, insecurities among the students re the gap year would be inevitable.

Muovo's views

‘Muovo does not look down on candidates who decide to take a gap year before starting full time employment or continuing their studies. On the contrary, recruiters and employers may view this as a positive thing – candidates who take a year off to travel could gain other necessary attributes such as independence & open mindedness. Moreover, employers may prefer to employ candidates who already took a gap year since this may prevent the situation of an employee leaving to chase their dream of travelling, saving the employer lots of wasted time and money!’

What do you think?

Is a gap year a valid way to learn, grow and ‘broaden your mind’, or is it more of an excuse to avoid work and school? Have you or someone you known taken a gap year? We would like to hear from you!

Nikita Pisani at Muovo

Wednesday 9 May 2012

When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters

While some organisations will definitely interest you, others will appear stressful and tedious, perhaps not your cup of tea. On finding a new job, it is ideal to do some research on the company beforehand—it is essential to consider how the institution really operates before taking up or refusing a job opportunity. The following article, originally written and published by Bill Barnett in the HBR Blog, relates the importance of culture that you need to take into consideration prior to accepting (or rejecting) a new job.

Think Twice

With the pressure (or excitement?) of finding a new job, says Barnett, it is all too easy to pursue a job opportunity or to accept an offer with only a hazy view of how the institution really operates. The path to an institution you'll like is to investigate the culture you're thinking of joining before you accept the position.
Sean (name has been changed) is a master at this. He pursued a job offer at a Fortune 500 company to be the first Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). He was well qualified, presented himself well, and got the offer. He'd been competing with capable people. He was proud that he had "won the contest."
The next step was a return visit, after which he had decided to accept the offer. Sean had already learned a lot about the company's businesses and some things about the organization. His priority now was culture and how the new position might fit: "I asked people, 'What are you excited about? What are you proud of? Who are your close friends in the company? How does the group function together?'" Sean learned things like who the heroes were, what made them successful, and what his biggest challenges and opportunities would be in the job. The different people he met with were learning from his questions. It was almost like he already worked there, and they were jointly determining how to make the new role successful.
Surprisingly, Sean turned down the offer. The new role was a misfit in the company's culture.
As he learned more about the company, Sean questioned how he'd be viewed as the first CAO in a company where everyone else focused on bottom-line results. It was a highly performance-driven environment with lots of business units. Corporate staffs were secondary.
"I asked how they'd keep score on me, how they'd really know I was making a difference," he said. "We never got to satisfactory answers to that question. They weren't hiding anything. This CAO position was a new one, and they didn't really know."
Sean was concerned that this new position wouldn't fit in the company's culture, that he wouldn't really be accepted, and that it wouldn't be a springboard to the line job that he really wanted after two or three years as CAO. He might have made it work, but why take the risk?
It's not uncommon for job seekers to enter organizations without understanding the culture and come away disappointed. When considering a new job, be sure to investigate the institution's culture.

Three Guiding Questions:

1. What should I learn? Understand the organization's purpose—not just what they say they're doing, but also how their purpose leads to decisions and what makes them proud. Learn how the organization operates. For example, consider the importance of performance, how the organization gets things done, the level of teamwork, the quality of the people, how people communicate, and any ethical issues.

Except for ethical issues, there's no absolute standard of what's best in organizational culture. Different purposes and different organizational features can be more or less appealing to different people. When you understand how the potential employer operates, you'll need to consider how well that matches your goals. Your target organizational culture is an important part of your aspirations.
2. How should I learn? Read everything you can find about the institution, but read with a critical eye. Institutions have formal vision statements, and they often mention cultural topics in other public reports, but these documents are written with a purpose in mind. Independent writers take an independent perspective. They can be more critical, but they can miss details and get things wrong.
Discuss culture with people in the organization. You'll talk to people in the interviewing process, of course. But you may learn different things if you meet others there who aren't involved in your recruiting process. Also talk to people outside the organization who know it — customers, suppliers, partners, and ex-employees. Their different experiences with the institution will affect their views, so ask about situations where they've seen the culture in action.
3. When should I learn? It's hard to learn about culture at an early stage in your search. But your impressions can guide you to target some institutions and avoid others.
Culture may come up in job interviews, although it may be complicated to do much investigation when you're trying to sell yourself. People sometimes worry that discussing culture might make people uncomfortable and put a job offer at risk. The culture topic is certainly not off-base, and it is necessary to know for future growth in the company. Hiring managers should expect it. Whether it's in interviews or after you have an offer, you'll do best if your questions show you're learning rapidly about the organization, taking the employer's perspective, and beginning to figure out how to succeed there. Culture questions can cast you in a positive light. Sean's line of questioning confirmed the CEO's judgment to hire him, even if Sean didn't like the answers.
What's your view of how culture affects the job search? Has culture played a part in how you choose your future employer?


Monday 7 May 2012

The Covering Letter and Your Job Application

A cover (or covering) letter is a document you send to an employer, which includes your resume. This is generally used either as a summary of your qualifications, skills, and experience, or to provide additional information pertinent to the job application.

Although it is sometimes pushed aside, cover letters are an essential part of the recruitment process. It is important, then, that your cover letter succeeds in making you stand out of the crowd.

The following article entitled 'Top 10 tips for management consulting cover letters that will land an interview', first published by Management Consulted, provides some useful hints with regard to the essence of the cover letters and your job application.

Covering Letter Tips

The cover letter is a required component of any job application – but often the biggest headache for applicants. In this post, I discuss the top 10 tips for consulting cover letters (from content to structure to syntax) that will avoid embarrassing mistakes and strengthen your candidacy.

For the complete guide to consulting cover letters, click here!

1) Your opening paragraph should include:

  • The position you’re applying for
  • Qualities that make you a good fit (eg, leadership experience, analytical thinking skills)
  • Optional: very brief highlights on work experience

2) Your body paragraphs (no more than 2) should include:

  • Work highlights if not in the opening paragraph
  • A section to describe one experience in detail (work, student group, etc). Focus on the impact you had and the skills you learned that would make you a good consultant. This should be your “star” experience and the one you want every reader to remember
  • A section or paragraph on your interest in the job, your career goals, the research you’ve done to learn more about the firm

3) The closing paragraph should be brief and restate why you’d make a good consultant. Include your contact information here as well. For example:

Please do not hesitate to contact me with further questions. I can be reached at (123) 456-7890 or via email at [email protected].

4) Avoid an elaborate discussion of your educational background. A sentence about your school and major should suffice. It’s OK to expand this section if you have a very high GPA, nationally-recognized scholarships and fellowships, and so on.

5) It’s OK to drop names of current firm employees – but integrate them well.

Here’s a poor example:

I had a conversation with Sarah Foster, a current case team leader at Bain, at the on-campus presentation. I learned a lot from her about consulting and gained a deeper appreciation for the company.

Why is this a poor example? It doesn’t make a point. The interaction was generic, and it feels like a setup to name-drop.

Here’s a good example:

Bain is not only a prestigious firm, but one that really invests in the development of its consultants. My conversations with Sarah Foster, a current case team leader, reinforced my belief that this separates Bain from the other firms, and is my central reason for applying.

Why is this a good example? The name-dropping occurs in the context of a broader point – that Bain focuses on the development of its people.

6) Use anecdotes in consulting cover letters. Instead of saying “my past experiences have allowed me to become a strong leader of teams”, say this:

My projects at Oracle – where I led groups of up to 5 analysts on implementation projects – have made me a strong team leader and partner for my colleagues.

7) Include current contact information at the top. Don’t assume it’s unnecessary because the information is on your resume.

8) Never use more than one page and use PDF format when possible. In the words of Consultant99 (a kind commenter):

Resumes and CLs should be submitted in PDF whenever allowed. Every resume screen finds us holding a half-dozen resumes where the font isn’t found, the margins are messed-up, it’s set for A4 rather than 8.5 x 11, or any of a million other problems that wreck havoc on your careful formatting. Worst of all, “track changes” might be turned on! Putting it in PDF avoids all these problems.
9) If it doesn’t fit with size 12 font and 1″ margins, it’s too long. This is not an iron-clad rule but a guiding principle. Cover letters with size 10 font, 0.5″ margins, and minute paragraph spacing hurt the reader’s eyes and hurt your candidacy.

10) Make sure the consulting cover letter is addressed to the right firm and person. Back to my initial thought – the risk is greater of messing up than standing out, and this is mistake number one. Label and save each cover letter by firm, and double-check to ensure the firm name, address, and position applied for (eg, Associate vs Senior Consultant) is correct.

The last thing you want to happen is for an Accenture recruiter or consultant open your cover letter and see that it’s addressed toDeloitte HR. At best, you’re incompetent. At worst, your application may not see the light of day.



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