Archives for September 2014 | Collins McNicholas

The Top 10 Tips for Writing a Great Cover Letter

I recently gave a talk to a group of postgraduate students in IT Sligo about how to find work in today’s job market. During the course of the afternoon they asked me several questions about different aspects of applying for jobs, but the question that drew the most interest from the group was about how to write a good cover letter. A good cover letter can greatly improve your chances of landing an interview. To do this you need to show what makes you the standout candidate for the job. The cover letter is usually the first thing an employer sees when they begin reviewing candidates, so it is vital that you state your case strongly and clearly. With that in mind, here are my top 10 tips for writing a great cover letter: 1.      Start strongly A strong opening paragraph is crucial. You must clearly state who you are, why you are writing, and why you are the right person for the job. You can then expand on this in subsequent paragraphs. 2.      Highlight your most relevant skills The purpose of a cover letter is to draw the attention of the employer to the most relevant points from your CV. It is about identifying the attributes that make you the right person for the job. They should be able to recognise immediately why you are such a strong candidate. 3.      Relate your experience and skills to the job Niall Murray, GM Collins McNicholasIt is important to demonstrate how your skills and experience will be applied to the new role in the organisation. Be specific about the ways in which you can add value to the company based on the skills you possess. Match your skills to the specific tasks that the job requires. 4.      Emphasise personal characteristics Do not limit yourself by referring solely to professional accomplishments. Personal achievements or characteristics can demonstrate how much of an asset you could be to the company. Recruiters are now taking a much more holistic view of candidates to see how well they will fit in with their company. This is particularly relevant for recent graduates that have limited professional experience. 5.      Identify with the company and its culture Employers are seeking people that not only have the right skills and experience but for individuals that they believe will fit in well within the organisation. If you can show that you understand and appreciate the culture of the company it will reassure employers. Research the company, mirror some of the language they use in your application, and link it to your own accomplishments. Try to be subtle. A heavy handed approach that closely copies the language of the employer will look forced and unnatural. 6.      Provide examples of skills and accomplishments Give examples of times when you had to use your skills. If you can back up what you say with evidence of past accomplishments this will make it more impressive. It is also useful to describe the results from your actions as well. Describe what you did, what skills this demonstrated, and the consequences from your actions. 7.      Don’t rewrite your CV Avoid doing this at all costs. The cover letter is meant to highlight the most relevant points from your CV and link them to the position being applied for. It is completely unnecessary to restate your entire CV and is a waste of the employer’s time. It will not be appreciated. 8.      Be concise Keep your cover letter short. Three brief paragraphs should be ample room to get your point across. Clarity and brevity are qualities that employers appreciate. They will not want to spend several minutes reading a long winded version of your life story. 9.      Close strongly Your closing paragraph should reiterate the most valuable asset you can bring to the company, thank them for considering you for the position, and inform them of how you will follow up on the application.  10.  Proofread Minor mistakes in spelling, punctuation, or grammar, not to mention a poorly formatted cover letter, will make a negative impression. This may seem trivial but small mistakes such as these show a lack of attention to detail that employers find disconcerting; if you cannot get the small things right how can you be entrusted with more important tasks. Niall Murray, General Manager Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group Email:...

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Enterprise Ireland CEO Discusses Entrepreneurship in Ireland

Julie Sinnamon the CEO of Enterprise Ireland addressed the SCCUL Mentors Group which I chair and I thought some of the following comments she made at this seminar might be of general interest. Julie is extremely optimistic about the prospects for the food sector and anticipates a 50% growth in that sector over the next 5 years. She sees much of the growth in this sector being located in the regions. This ties in with a broader objective to ensure a balanced distribution of EI support across all parts of the country. She is very optimistic about the future of EI companies generally and this optimism is positively influenced by the recent PMI data (Purchasing Manager’s Index) which is at its most positive in the past 6 years. One thing Julie would like to see is more female entrepreneurs and she made the point that of the 250 senior management personnel in 100 companies that EI have recently supported only 8 of the executives were women. Julie puts this down to a lack of female role models, an unjustified lack of confidence and the fact that the average age of the entrepreneurs EI supported is 32 which is an important age in a woman’s biological cycle. Julie also said that 50% of inward entrepreneurs are now people with no Irish connections at all but who want to locate here because of Ireland’s strong entrepreneurial culture. Julie described the challenge of scale facing Irish companies which is seen in the fact that Ireland has a small number of very big companies and a very large number of small companies. She...

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CIPD Western Programme of Events 2014 – 2015

Collins McNicholas is  pleased to be the main sponsor for the launch of the Programme of Events of the CIPD Western Region for the year 2014/2015. Collins McNicholas has a long association with the CIPD in Ireland and in the Western Region. This is not surprising as both Colman Collins and Val McNicholas were HR Directors (or Personnel Managers as they were known then) with Nortel Networks and Wang Laboratories respectively prior to setting up Collins McNicholas in 1990. Collins McNicholas’ association with the CIPD goes right back to the re-launch of the CIPD in the region in 1992. Val McNicholas was instrumental with Michael McDonnell, Margaret Cox, John Madden, the late Joe McAllister and others in the re-launch of the CIPD that year. In addition Colman Collins was a lecturer on the initial CIPD accredited diploma course which commenced in the GMIT (then known as the RTC) the following year. Val McNicholas was the first Chairperson of the CIPD and held the post for the first two years. Colman Collins was the Chairperson for the year 1995/1996 and Michelle Murphy was Chairperson for two years 2005 – 2007. Colman, Val and Michelle are all Fellows of the CIPD and have served on the National Executive of the CIPD. In 1993 Collins McNicholas sponsored the CIPD Student of the Year Award at the GMIT for the first time and they have sponsored it every year since then. We are pleased to note that Gail Quinn the current Chairperson of the Western Branch was a former winner of the Student of the Year Award. In addition to re-launching the Western...

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Sligo IT Opens its New Science Building

Sligo IT officially opened its new science building last Monday. The €17 million, state-of-the-art MacMunn building was opened by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and its completion marks the end of a 5 year, €35 million redevelopment of the Sligo IT campus. The science building includes an 80 station foundation laboratory, as well as 7 teaching and 4 research labs. The building is named after Sligo native Charles Alexander MacMunn. Born in Easkey in 1852, his key scientific achievement was the discovery of respiratory pigments throughout the tissues of plants and animals, which is now known as the Cytochrome System. His discovery, made during research conducted in a hayloft above his stables, went unacknowledged during his lifetime but remains key to medical science’s understanding of respiration in cells today. It is fitting that over a century after Munn’s discovery that Sligo IT now specialises in Environmental and Life Sciences. Sligo IT Department of Life Sciences produces over 300 graduates annually and has an excellent reputation for delivering innovative, online and mixed learning courses. By delivering qualifications in Medical Biotechnology, and Pharmaceutical Science and Drug Development, among others, it excels at producing industry ready graduates. Sligo IT also collaborates directly with industry, and the NIBRT training facility in UCD, to deliver training courses for pharmaceutical and medtech employees in the North West. The IT is also providing 270 Springboard places this year, the majority of which are in life science courses. This new facility will add to the capabilities of Sligo IT’s School of Science, and further improve the quality of its courses. There is a strong cluster of biopharma and...

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