Monday, October 26, 2009

Resume Cover Letters

Since I am 21 years of age, fresh out of college, with businesses that I can run from anywhere, anytime, this is just about the only time in my life when I will have the ability and flexibility to move out to a mountain resort and work.  A friend of mine and I were talking about this when she told me about this amazing College Program that Vail Resorts has to offer.  I checked it out and found it to be so enticing that I couldn’t afford to pass up the opportunity to apply for the potential to gain experience working at a world-class ski resort like Vail.

Clearly being interested in their College Program, I applied. Knowing there are probably tons of people that apply to this program, I didn’t want my application to be generic. It also helps that I am the type of person that always strives to stand out, and to me, a cover letter is a great way to do so.

Now that we have established why we are talking about cover letters, lets briefly define what a resume cover letter is for all intents and purposes.  A resume cover letter is a pretty self-explanatory thing, so to spare you the misery, we’ll say it is simply a one page attachment to your resume.  In a nutshell, this document serves the purpose of expressing your interest in the position and introduces you and your qualifications to your potential employer.

The reason I like cover letters is because they allow you to manage your potential employer’s first impression of you as a job candidate and act as yet another way for you to distinguish yourself.  This is the reason why resume cover letters are so important. Especially with the current state of the job market, the need to for you to distinguish yourself to potential employers is more paramount then ever.  Besides, if you don’t use one, people like me will…so be mindful of that!

Since your resume cover letter is invariably the first thing that potential employers will look at, here are some questions you should ask yourself when crafting yours:

  • What do you want them to know about you at first glance?
  • What would you like to highlight about yourself? 
  • Do you possess any specific qualities or skills that the job you are applying for demands?  *Be sure to read the job qualifications and have them handy as you design yours
  • What makes you different then most?

Obviously, a resume cover letter is called a cover letter for a reason.  Here are some things you can include in the letter:

·     State which position you are applying for

·     Show why you are a strong candidate for the position

·     Explain how your skills and education relate to the job

·     Highlight some accomplishments

·     Thank the person for considering your resume

As promised, GREAT resources on resume cover letters:

Cover letters: types and samples

Click here for a great, FREE resource on Resume Cover Letter Tips.

Great article on the importance of resume cover letters from the Chronicle of Higher Education called What You Don't Know About Cover Letters

My intention is to motivate you to create a resume cover letter of your own and help you along the process.  What you find here and on around are guidelines and “best tips” that you should learn and customize to your style.  I tend to “Jeff-a-size” things a little more than most.  You will find a copy of my resume cover letter I made for Vail below to see what I mean.

It is also ok to be bold.  Some people feel more comfortable being bolder than others.  I have always liked to be different and so I add in the logo of the company that I am applying to in the cover letter.  For the resume cover letter I wrote for Vail, I was bolder than most writing, “I’m just the guy you’re looking for.”  It suits my personality though, as I like to have fun with everything I do.

Remember; use a resume cover page to distinguish yourself and highlight why you are a good fit for the position! And also remember to follow up!  Tune into to Success Advice Podcast # 1 on follow up for some great follow up tips and also check out tips for Successful Interviewing.  Good luck with your application process and job hunt!

Tune into Success Advice Podcast # 6 on Resume Cover Letters for an extra tip!

Questions?  Comments?  Blog with me!

P.S. - I start at Vail Resorts next Monday, November 2nd if you were wondering!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Successful Interviewing Tips

Congratulations, you have made it to the interview phase of the job hunt!  Your potential employer has found your resume and application impressive enough to schedule a time to meet with you.  This is your chance to close the deal!

The most important thing to realize when applying and interviewing for jobs is that you are selling yourself, your skills, your abilities, and your experience, both academic and professional.

Let’s break down what having an interview means.  It means you have passed stage one.  Your potential employer has reviewed your application and resume and found that you meet or exceed the job qualifications and SEEM to be a good fit on PAPER.  Good work!  You have effectively sold yourself on paper.  Tune into Success Advice Podcast # 6 - Resume Cover Letters to learn why they are so important to use and how to use them.

Now you are on stage two.  Here you are being tested on your ability to represent everything you put on paper and sell yourself in person through effective communication skills.  It is one thing to put things on your resume, and an entirely different one to be able to talk about yourself confidently and express why you are the best fit for a job.

You will be put on the spot to display why you are the best candidate through sharing your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, qualities, and experiences so be prepared to talk yourself up and sell yourself.  Interviewers can ask a variety of questions and you can never be too prepared.  It is best to have stories of times when you exhibited qualities that the position/company demands. 

I did some research to find interviewing questions and proves to be a great resource.  Click here for a list of 100 possible interviewing questions at

It is good to practice what you might respond to any given question but try to avoid sounding rehearsed!

Remember, your job is to make a good first impression whether in person or over the phone.  If in the interview is face-to-face, make sure you dress to impress, and as a rule of thumb always dress at least one step higher than the position you are applying for.  For Professional Image advice, check out the first Performance & Success Advice Blog Post.  If the interview is over the phone, make sure that you introduce yourself, get the person’s name who is interviewing you, speak slowly and clearly, and be sure not to interrupt the interviewer!


*TIP 1* - Prior to the interview, do some research on the company, the position you are applying for, and if you know who the interviewer is, on them as well.  They will almost always ask you what you know about the company and the position you are applying for.  Do this to show the interviewer you are prepared and interested in both the position and the company.

*TIP 2* - Also prior to the interview, prepare a list of questions you have about the job.  Remember, not only is the potential employer interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them to see if the company, culture, and job are a fit for you!  Do this to show the interviewer that you are resourceful and that you know what you want.

*TIP 3* - Make sure that you have either the business card of the interviewer or their contact information.  This will come in handy after you leave the interview to Follow Up.  Do this to show the interviewer that you really want the job and are willing to take time to show them that you care.  The more creative the follow up, the better you will look.  At the least, I recommend writing a personalized, hand-written thank you note.  Tune into the Success Advice Podcast # 1 – Follow Up to learn why it is so important and how to follow up!

*BIG TIP* - You were asked to come for the interview because you sold yourself on paper.  You interviewed and were able to effectively sell yourself in person.  Now what?  ASK FOR THE CLOSE!  Do this to show the interviewer you want it and that you know how to get what you want. 

Here are a few ways to do this:

  • A Safe Close, ask “What are the next steps from here?”
  • A Safe Close, ask “When should I expect a decision to be made?”
  • A Safe Close, ask “When should I follow-up with you about the decision?”
  • A Blunt Close, ask “Does it seem like I am a fit for this position and the company?”
  • A Bold Close, (the assumptive close) ask “When do I start?”


Here is the BIG TAKE AWAY to interviewing success:

1.           Pre-interview prep (practicing questions you may be asked, preparing questions to ask, and conducting research)

2.           Dress to impress

3.           Communicate effectively and sell yourself! (speak slowly and clearly)

4.           Ask questions to engage the interviewer and show you are prepared

5.           ASK FOR THE CLOSE

6.           Follow Up

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Performance & Success Advice Blog Post # 22 - Change is constant

Today is Wednesday, October 14th, 2009.  This evening I was supposed to leave on a month long business trip to Florida to speak on college campuses and stop at my Alma mater for the UCF v. Miami game.

Earlier last week, I made the executive decision to cancel the trip for several reasons.  Initially, this decision brought me unease as I was really excited to go.  As I tried to sleep on it, and couldn't sleep, I ended up thinking and eventually writing a poem to help me get through the situation.

I know that in life one of the only things that is constant is change.  Thinking about this made it clear to me that although the outcome changed, it was not necessarily a bad thing.  Conversely, that the change was in fact a good thing.

Here if the poem I wrote:

The Roller-coaster of Life
Life is full of twists and turns,
Keep your head up for the lessons learned,
As at first you might not agree,
Have patience, everything is meant to be,
So embrace the change that we've come to know,
It's life's way to show us where to go.
Accept the change and ride the wave,
Good is to come so just be brave!

In life, nothing lasts forever.  This means that we must focus on being happy now and making the best with what we have.

Instead of going to Florida on the business trip, I am staying in Colorado and going on the business trip here.  Instead of going to UCF for the game with all my friends, I am going to the CU Boulder game here with my new friends.

Change will always be happening around us.  It is inevitable.  The advice I wish to communicate with that poem is not to focus on what your losing, but to focus on what you have to gain!  Embrace the change and I have full faith that you will make good things happen out of it.

Questions?  Comments?  Blog with me!