The Key to the Cover Letter

When looking for a job due to unemployment, current job dissatisfaction or finding openings at a dream company, drafting a separate cover letter for each prospective position may seem daunting and time consuming. Many applicants may keep stock cover letters depending on company or job industry, but they are doing themselves a disservice by not crafting a fresh cover letter each time, no matter how long it may take. The importance of doing so lies in the purpose of the cover letter.

The typical first step in applying to a position, either through a recruiter or directly, is submitting your resume and a cover letter. Unlike the resume, the cover letter is meant to speak directly to the hiring manager and or HR professional as to why you want the position, what you will bring to the position and company, and your overall motivations and experience as an employee and person.

It also indirectly serves as a writing sample, which is an important factor to keep in mind.

Your qualifications, skills and most important experience are included in your resume, so the cover letter is your opportunity to showcase additional attributes about yourself that the hiring manager wouldn’t otherwise know. They are looking to get a deeper glimpse into the person behind the employee that would be in their office. Are you a dedicated volunteer for a specific cause or charity? Do you ski in the winters or surf in the summer? Are you a spin instructor or have an interesting hobby after hours? These details will all contribute to the picture you are painting of yourself.

While those details will certainly help craft a conversation during the phone and or in-person interviews, and will help HR professionals identify with you as a person, the central piece of the letter should focus on your motivation and desire to do the specific job applied for at this specific company. The job title and name of the company should be included as well as specific aspects of the job description and why you would be the best person they could hire.

The key to all of these details is that they be portrayed in a genuine and heartfelt manner and that you match everything back to the position and company. This will make the hiring manager feel like you greatly desire their particular position, not just a new position.

Every company wants to make careful hiring decisions and hire employees that really want to work on behalf of their mission and endeavors. Eloquently portraying that you do, and will do so effectively, will help them see you as their next great hire during the hiring process.

You’re Hired! Now What?

The phrase that every job candidate loves to hear: “you’re hired!” Emotions run strong and all the preparation that was put towards securing the position finally feels validated. However, now is the time to actively transition from having secured the job to starting off on the right foot with your new company. Consider the following:

Appearance

Chances are you had at least one in-person interview, during which time you noticed how the employees dressed. Now is the time to take stock of your wardrobe to be sure you have clothes that match the culture of your new environment. As formal corporate suits and khakis with a polo are completely different office cultures, it is important you meet expectations in the clothing department, especially if you will be interfacing with clients or external visitors.

Bonus: treat yourself to a haircut! Walking in the office on day one with a fresh haircut will give you a confidence boost and after working hard for the position, you’ve earned it!

Training

If you commented during an interview how you would be willing to learn a program or skill, now is a great time to research class offerings or watch a few online tutorials on the subject. Actively trying to improve yourself already will be an impressive quality that your new boss and coworkers will appreciate.

Network

So you’ve done your homework on the company to prepare for the interviews, but now is the perfect time to do research on LinkedIn to figure out team structures and everyone’s experience. If you already have some semblance of faces, names, and job titles, you will be ahead of the game and will feel less intimidated when meeting a lot of people on your first day.

Travel

Taking a dry run of your new commute at the time you would actually be commuting will prove invaluable as you will be able to get an accurate picture of how much time you will need. Traffic patterns, probability of accidents given certain roads or highways and bus or train timetable accuracy are all issues to be conquered ahead of your first day so you don’t leave anything to chance.

These four items will help you get into the right mindset for your new role and company and will alleviate, as much as possible, the first day jitters.

Q4 Projections and 2018 Forecasting of the Job Market

November is a month that brings the arrival of many things: Thanksgiving, the precipice of the holiday season and the realization that 2018 is almost here. In terms of the job market, Charles Schwab explains that Q4 connotes budget discussions, personnel adjustments and year-end money management. Thankfully, these corporate agenda items will be discussed in the midst of the continuing bull market.

But First, Some Q3 Notes

ADP made some interesting notations about Q3 performances in their “Workforce Vitality Index.”

They noted that the companies making the most hiring were the ones that had fewer than 500 employees.

ADP also found that the strong vitality growth in the construction and manufacturing industries has contributed to men having vitality that hasn’t been this strong for three years, even exceeding the vitality of women.

Strong Q4

“The market has been very strong over the last few years with our clients looking to hire top talent before the end of the year. And plenty have had the budget to do so,” explains James Martinos, Client Account Manager and Senior Recruiter with Friedman Williams.

Experts from Charles Schwab agree.

Historically since 1952, Charles Schwab experts Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Jeffrey Kleintop explain that November and December remain among the strongest performing months of the year.

James has found that in his experience Q4 has been “consistently strong” and he is expecting this one “to continue the recent Q4 trend with the budget and head counts being strong for hiring. The need to hire qualified candidates with the overall profit growth of companies is driving the market.”

Sonders, Sorensen and Kleintop reference the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey as reflecting job openings topping over six million, a banner rate.

Prosperous Job Market

Survey participants of Dr. Richard Curtin, Director, Surveys of Consumers at University of Michigan and Brilliant corroborate the same results while also detailing important predictions for Q4.

The survey findings were of over 850 hiring managers and human resources personnel that hire within accounting, finance and information technology. Respondents predict job openings remaining prosperous with also reflecting the most successful hiring being done through recruiting firms.

An interesting survey conclusion is that the participants noted that corporate accounting jobs such as financial analysts and tax accountants were the most common accounting and finance job openings, with software development and database administrators being the most common in IT.

Christopher Lee, National Group Manager for Friedman Williams, feels that “leadership positions and client facing roles are more and more available; a slow-down in hiring is not what is ahead.”

Not only will the job market be plentiful but the rate at which companies will be making these hiring decisions will be fast.

Quick Hiring Decisions

“If we have the right candidate, our clients are moving very quickly,” states Martinos of Friedman Williams.

The Curtin/Brilliant survey data makes the same conclusion that “nearly all open positions are of recent origin. Of the 38 percent of businesses that reported open accounting / finance positions, 34 percent have been unfilled for 3 months or less.”

These rates support the current successful job market as employees feel comfortable to make job changes knowing that competitive salary and benefits will be offered and, oftentimes very significant to candidates, a quick hiring decision will be made.

Q4 Skills to Improve

When looking for a job change, deficiencies in current skills are highlighted for candidates as they move through the interview process (if there are any). Survey participants were asked to identify the biggest skill gaps and within accounting and finance, the largest was problem solving, followed by communication. This shows that not only are technical skills important but so is the ability to translate information and opinions.

An important notation about skills within the hiring process is made by Lee’s 2017 experience: “The battle of talent is always a crucial one for clients. Many clients are driving their hiring with the most interpersonally qualified candidates, even if they are lacking some of the technical proficiencies needed for a position. They desire the will, the drive for learning and the demonstration of a focused work-ethic and can train in areas not yet developed. This has been even present in 2017 and I see this trend continuing in 2018.”

Harvey, Irma and Maria

As strong and stable as Q4 is projected to be, the recent hurricanes will have an impact on the economic data, albeit not at an overwhelming rate. Charles Schwab explains that since the economic numbers have been steadily increasing, rebuilding in the affected areas may constitute a short bump, but will overall not largely affect the economic numbers other than a slight downward curve. In their National Economic Outlook of September 2017, The PNC Financial Services Group noted that gasoline prices were most affected by Hurricane Harvey this past September.

Q4 Glass Half Full

As with any optimistic outlook, there are usually cautionary factors to consider. Charles Schwab thinks that the bull market is here to stay for the time being and will begin to change to a bear market when the stock market begins to sense a recession.

Tight Labor Market

PNC and the Curtin/Brilliant survey are reporting on the tightening of the labor market.

James Martinos has found that in his experience “great candidates are always in need, more so now than ever. The labor market for highly qualified candidates is thin and our clients are relying on us more than ever to find the skilled candidate for their open positions.”

James’ experience supports the survey result of recruiting firms having the most placement success. As the survey points out, companies oftentimes have to pay a higher salary to replace an employee than if they were continuing that person’s modest wage increase.

Inflation as a Factor

Charles Schwab explains that the factor of inflation could come into play in Q4: the “key to watch will be whether traditional measures of wage inflation starts to take hold…” Charles Schwab expert Kleintop further investigated the issue of inflation and found that the current bull market may be undermined if central banks aggressively anticipate inflation through the tightening labor market, specifically the global labor market. He explains that since the current unemployment rate hasn’t been this low since 2001, wage inflation can start to increase at a faster rate next year if unemployment dips even further.

Thumbs Up for Moving Forward

In their Economic Outlook, Edward Jones assesses the current economic climate as indicators for what will most likely happen in the near future. They anticipate the economy to experience continued growth with regulatory relief, confident consumers, low interest rates, wages continuing to modestly grow and increases in spending due to the unemployment rate lowering.

The possibility of tax cuts may even improve the 2018 numbers even more if it comes to fruition.

Christopher Lee anticipates that “projects and initiatives are continuing from the previous year and being green-lighted for the current year. Our business is accustomed to seeing an uptick in hiring during this time of year; our clients want their new and key team members in place early in the year, helping to drive these projects forwards towards the desired results.”

2018 By the Numbers

The PNC Financial Services Group published their National Economic Outlook this past September and their findings align with those of Edward Jones. They anticipate the Real GDP to increase as well as the amount of payroll jobs (Real GDP has been increasing steadily since 2016).

PNC details that “with solid fundamentals for consumer spending, business investment, and the housing market, the U.S. economy will continue to expand throughout 2018. Real GDP growth will be 2.2 percent in 2017 and accelerate to 2.7 percent in 2018, with support from rebuilding, expected tax cuts, and an expanding global economy.”

In terms of the job market, no matter what year or time of the year, Lee explains that “our recruiters know that constant education and reinforcement of critical market information leads to everyone’s desired career results.”

In short, the current and predicted near future is ripe for exploring the job market and feeling confidence about how the stock market has and will continue to perform.
—–
Sources:
“ADP Workforce Vitality Index 3rd Quarter 2017.” ADP, 20 Oct. 2017. <http://workforcereport.adp.com/2017/3/wvi.aspx>

“Economic Outlook.” Edward Jones, 5 Oct. 2017. www.edward jones.com/market-news-guidance/quarterly-market-outlook/economic-outlook.html

Faucher, Gus, et al. “September 2017 National Economic Outlook.” The PNC Financial Services Group, 5 Oct. 2017. <pnc.com/content/dam/pnc-com/pdf/aboutpnc/EconomicReports/NEO%20Reports/NEO_092017.pdf>

Kleintop, Jeffrey. “Infation May Be The Biggest Question For Investors in 2018.” Charles Schwab, 5 Oct. 2017. <https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/inflation-may-be-biggest-question-investors-2018>

Kleintop, Jeffrey, et al. “Schwab Market Perspective: Fourth Quarter Fun…of Folly?” Charles Schwab, 5 Oct. 2017. <https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/market-perspective>

Lee, Christopher. Personal interview. 9 Oct. 2017.

Martinos, James. Personal interview. 9 Oct. 2017.

Wong, Jim. “Brilliant Q4 2017 Accounting, Finance and Information Technology Hiring Forecast.” Brilliant, 5 Oct. 2017. <BFS_2017_Q4_HiringForecast_WEB.pdf>

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