Is your thank you letter in the mail?

Hand Written Thank You Note

Previously, we had talked about the importance of enclosing a cover letter with your job application and personalizing it, to ensure, that you’re addressing the job requirements while explaining your qualifications.

Though this may seem like a tedious task, it is one that will show employers you have thoughtfully considered how your skillset could best serve the company.

This week, we’re going to talk about another often overlooked component of the job application and interview process: the thank you letter. Commonly, thank you letters are a great way to show gratitude for a gift that you have received.

And, when a hiring manager calls you in for an interview, they are gifting you their time. So, use it wisely and then follow up with a thank you.

Thank you letters (or emails, we’ll get to which one is better in a second) allow you to do three things:

  • Show that you have good manners: Like when showing gratitude for a gift, a thank you letter sent after an interview shows the interviewer that you are thankful for their consideration of you.
  • Show that you’re serious about the job position: According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, those who don’t send a thank you letter or email following an interview—a shocking 57% of job applicants—“stick out as a sore thumb” to hiring managers.
  • Reiterate points that were made in the interview by you or the interviewer: Show that you were being attentive during the interview while making sure that the interviewer remembers specific information about you.

According to Monster.com, whether or not you send a thank you email or letter is largely dependent upon where you’re applying.

If you know a hiring decision is not likely to be made for a couple of weeks, then sending a thank you letter through snail mail is fine, and at a more traditional company, may be preferable.

If you know that the decision will be made within 48 hours of your interview, then it is beneficial to send a thank you email to make sure that the message travels fast and is sent to the appropriate person.

Employers want to hire employees that are committed to the company and are grateful for the experience. Be one of the few that shows appreciation before even getting the job offer.

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (11 May 2017). Job interview thank you letter examples. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/job-interview-thank-you-letter-examples-2063964

Kaufman, Z. C. (2017). Job interview thank you: Is it better to send a letter or email?. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/interview-thank-you-email-letter

 

4 open-ended interview questions and what employers really want to know

Applicant and recruitment procedure

A job interview is your first and only opportunity to make a positive face-to-face impression. So, it’s important that you’re prepared to answer whatever questions come your way.

However, not all questions are going to have simple yes or no answers or require you to rattle off your work experience and skills. Employers may simply want to gauge your ability to think critically or assess how you’ll fit into the company culture.

You might be wondering: Where do I begin to answer the question? How much detail is too much detail and what are employers looking for in my answers?

So, here are 4 commonly-asked, interview questions and what employers really want to know:

  1. What can you tell me about yourself? Employers typically ask this question so they can learn about your previous work experience and gauge your skills. Kathryn Minshew, a writer for The Muse.com, a website that offers career advice to job seekers, suggests that to answer this question, job candidates should use the Present-Past-Future Formula.

This formula prompts job candidates to guide their answer by talking about present and past job positions they’ve held, the skills they acquired through their past positions and how their experiences and skills pertain to the position they’re applying for.

2. What is your greatest weakness? It may seem counterintuitive to go into a job interview and explain in detail your greatest weakness to a potential employer. However, it’s important to realize that they’ll simply want to ensure you’re aware of your weaknesses and have taken steps to improve.

So to answer this question, you might want to share an anecdote about a time one of your weaknesses e.g. an inability to delegate tasks, threatened your work efficiency and explain how you overcame that challenge e.g. by learning to delegate tasks.

Monster.com says that when choosing a weakness to discuss, make sure it’s not directly related to the job you’re applying for e.g. if the job required you to keep track of and file documents, it would be unwise to mention that you have a problem with organization.

Instead, mention that you tend to take on more work than you can handle. So essentially, don’t place doubt in your employers mind that you are unable to handle critical components of the job.

3. What is your greatest strength? When asking this question, employers typically want to confirm that you have the credentials listed on your resumé. So, don’t be vague when giving your answer.

Detail concrete examples of situations where you exhibited a strength in order to complete a task e.g. being detail-oriented helped you to identify a mistake in a client logo that no one else had noticed and was due to be printed on 100+ shirts.

4. Where do you see yourself in five years? According to Dayvon Goddard from LinkedIn, employers want to know that their potential investment in you is going to be a valuable one. Do not place doubt in their minds by suggesting that your potential investment in them is not a long-term one.

Instead, suggest that you are interested in growing with the company and that the position is pertinent to your long-term career goals.

Begin preparing answers to these questions now so you’re not thrown off guard during a job interview. Make sure that you’re confident in your answers so that a potential employer is confident in your abilities.

Need some practice?

The USF Career Success Center conducts mock interviews.

Visit Tower Hall N204

8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Adams, S. (6 February, 2014). 4 ways to use facebook to find a job. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/02/06/4-ways-to-use-facebook-to-find-a-job/#16480f0f1fab

Doyle, A. (18 January 2017). Best way to answer interview questions about your weaknesses. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-your-greatest-weakness-2061288

Goddard, D. (15 July 2014). Where do you see YOURSELF in 5 years? (how to answer). Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140715181346-135125319-where-do-you-see-yourself-in-5-years-how-to-answer

Martin, C. (2017). List of strength & weaknesses: What to say in your interview. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/greatest-strengths-and-weaknesses

Minshew, K. (2017). A simple formula for answering “tell me about yourself”.. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/a-simple-formula-for-answering-tell-me-about-yourself

 

The cover letter: the hidden gem to landing an interview

Rejected Resumes

In most cases, employers won’t look at a job applicant’s resume until they’ve read their cover letter, and if the letter doesn’t convince the hiring manager and/or executive director that you’re the right person for the job, your resume will most likely be thrown in the trash.

What exactly is a cover letter, you ask? Simply, it is a letter that is addressed to the hiring manager and/or executive director of a company and explains an applicant’s qualifications for the job.

It allows the applicant to go into more depth regarding their skills and qualifications than their resume allows, although, like a resume, it too should be short.

The most important element to writing a cover letter is directly addressing the needs of the company and position to which you’re applying.

The hiring manager or executive director will want to ensure that an applicant has a basic understanding of the company’s mission and needs.

For example, the Illinois Spina Bifida Association (ISBA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “works to improve the quality of life of individuals and families living with Spina Bifida [a spinal cord disorder]”.

So, the applicant would need to understand how the organization is currently achieving their mission e.g. ISBA provides in-home social work services; sleepaway camp for individuals with Spina Bifida looking to become more independent and provides youth and adult support groups.

The opening paragraph of a cover letter should address who you are, what position you’re applying for and how you came to hear about the job listing. Did you see a newspaper ad about it? If a respected employee of the company or organization told you about the position, make sure to include that information.

As a precursor to the following paragraph, where you’ll be explaining your qualifications in detail, write an opening of 1-2 sentences that summarizes why you believe your qualifications make you the right person for the job. For example:

“As a recent graduate of University of St. Francis where I studied Communications with a concentration in PR/Advertising and Journalism, I believe I have a deep understanding of how to target messaging and branding towards specific audiences. It is my hope that my educational background combined with five years of experience working for ABC Advertising Firm, as a project manager, will prompt you to consider me for the position of Marketing Research Analyst.”

The body paragraphs are where you’ll want to elaborate on the specific qualifications you have that are applicable to the position you’re applying for. For example, if the job posting specifies that the company is looking for someone who can, “improve quality results by studying, evaluating, and re-designing processes; implementing changes”; then, you may want to mention any experience you’ve had as a project manager. For example:

“At ABC Advertising, I was tasked with leading a team of graphic designers to create a logo for a sports recreation facility. It was during this time that I came to learn the importance of evaluating progress not only within the context of the finished product but in the ability of the team to work together. My considerations have helped me better manage my creative teams and increased overall workplace efficiency.”

The closing paragraph of your cover letter should reiterate why you’re qualified for the position, and as a personal touch, why you think the company is the right fit for you. Make it clear that you’re interested in interviewing for the position and that you’ll be in touch.

Sign your name, include your contact information and check for any grammar or spelling mistakes and you’re good to go!

Visit the USF Career Success Center for cover letter writing assistance

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (18 June 2017). How to write a successful cover letter. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-2060169