Cover Letter | Collins McNicholas

Jobseekers Guide – Interview Tips

Jobseekers Guide – Interview TipsIntroduction “You only get one chance to make a first impression” First impressions do count, and research has shown that the average person can make up their minds about somebody within the first 30 seconds! A job interview is no different. Preparation, presentation and attitude are the key ingredients to be successful. What to Expect? From the employer’s perspective, the purpose of the interview is to evaluate you and your capabilities, to assess your ability to contribute to the organisation and to see how well you might fit into the organisation. The Stages of an Interview There are 4 stages in a typical job interview: • Breaking the ice – introductions and ‘chitchat’ designed to help you relax and feel comfortable. • Exchanging information – questions that focus on the organisation, the job and your interest in both. • Expanding the focus – specific questions about you and how well you will be able to do the job. • Wrapping up – time for clarifying, asking questions and final comments. Interview Preparation Preparing yourself properly for an interview will help you relax and give you the confidence to answer tough questions. Thorough preparation will dramatically improve your chances of getting the job. Research the Company & the Role Firstly make sure you read through the job description carefully. If you are dealing with a recruitment consultant they should also be able to tell you about the company you are going to see, and about the person who is interviewing you. You should also conduct your own background research on the firm and the individuals you are meeting. You will then be able to make a much better impression at the interview. What to research? Go to the company’s website and research: • What products/services do they offer? • Who are their major competitors? • Where is the company’s headquarters located? • Have they been in the media or received any awards recently? • Use LinkedIn and Google to find out more about the company, and the people you are meeting. • Try to identify someone you know who works in that company and ask them to tell you what they can about the company. Review and know your CV Thoroughly familiarise yourself with your CV. Pay particular attention to things that you may have listed as accomplishments or achievements and be prepared to discuss these. Personal Presentation Before going for an interview make sure that your interview attire is appropriate. Don’t dress casually even if the employees of the company are wearing casual clothes. If in doubt, dress formally. Body Language Research has shown that only 7% of the message we send out is based on the actual words we use. The rest is down to body language and tone of voice. • Stand tall and confident, nerves make you slouch. • Smile and make good eye contact. • Avoid negative body language such as shuffling, scratching, looking around, folding your arms, etc. • Speak with energy and enthusiasm. Competency Based Interviews Companies are increasingly using a competency based interview model to screen job candidates. This involves asking job applicants to give specific examples where they have displayed certain competencies, or skills, and to describe the result of their actions. Sample Competency Based Interview Questions: Teamwork Give an example of a time when you have been asked to work in a group to complete a project. How did the group organise priorities and the delegation of tasks? What was the overall outcome of the project? Decision Making Describe a situation when a project or piece of work was going to miss a set deadline, how did you prioritise which parts of the work to complete first and how did you go about completing the existing work? Problem Solving Describe a significant problem that you have encountered recently. How did you approach this problem? Who was involved and how did you go about resolving it? Personal & Career Objectives What are your short, medium and long term goals, how have you gone about identifying and developing these goals and how do you intend to achieve them? Motivation Can you tell me about a time when you have performed over and above the expectations of your role?                             Communication Give an example of a time when you have had to communicate with individuals and groups. What methods of communication did you use and what problems did you face? The Star Technique This technique is particularly useful when answering competency based questions but can be applied to almost any interview question. Structuring your interview answers using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interview technique will give you confidence and clarity when answering your interview questions. Following its form will result in your answers being high quality, comprehensive and detailed. This technique will also help you avoid deviating from the question and keep your answers structured and to the point. We would strongly advise you to use the STAR technique. Situation: Describe the background of a particular situation when you used the key competency. For example if the competency is budgetary control: “In my last job I was appointed to lead a project involving a £600,000 engineering factory shutdown lasting 2 weeks. I had overall responsibility for the budget for this project. I did face some challenges on this project which required careful management to keep to budget.” Task: Describe what your particular task was in relation to this, i.e. “My responsibility was to ensure that the project came in on time and on budget, which required close liaison with the department heads, maintenance managers, and cost and planning team. Any overspend, delay or conflict had to be resolved immediately to keep the project on budget. One week into the project we were faced with unexpected delays due to the unavailability of essential maintenance equipment which threatened the completion of the project on time and would ultimately have prevented the...

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Jobseekers Guide – Cover Letters

Jobseekers Guide – Cover Letters Cover letters are a basic requirement for most jobs, which is why it is so important to know exactly what a good one looks like. There are many examples on our website but here is a brief guide to prepare the perfect cover letter and CV for any job: Writing a Good Cover Letter A cover letter enables you to express your interest in a particular job and organisation, to highlight your main skills and attributes, and to match these to the employer’s selection criteria. You can explain which opportunity you are seeking, express your enthusiasm for the role, and demonstrate how you will make a contribution. Keep a draft copy of your cover letter and change it for each job you apply for. Here are a number of tips for writing a good cover letter: Avoid rewriting your CV in your cover letter. Highlight specific things about your experience and how it relates to the position you are applying for. Keep it simple. Avoid long, drawn out sentences with complicated vocabulary. Limit your cover letter to one page with three to five targeted paragraphs. Use some of the words included in the job description when writing a cover letter. Proofread your letter. Have colleagues/ friends check for mistakes. How to write the cover letter Salutation, Name, Title, Address, & Date Put your name and address, at the top right hand corner of your cover letter. Put the recipient’s name and address further down the left hand side of the page. Address the person by name, rather than using ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Underline the position you are...

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How to Write a Great Cover Letter

Your cover letter is often the first impression you make on a hiring manager, therefore it is essential to include the right information. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and it should make a hiring manager want to find out more about you. A cover letter is not as structured as a CV and so gives an opportunity to be more personable. Below is a quick list of things you should keep in mind when preparing a cover letter. It needs to be sent to the correct person – try to find out the best person to address the cover letter to rather than just saying ‘To whom it may concern.’ This could be the direct hiring manager or a contact in HR. A small bit of research should enable you to find a contact name. It should show that you have done some research on the company/job you are applying to – include a reference to the company or industry in the cover note. This could be mentioning something you read about the company or even just mentioning that you are aware they are an industry leader. It should be tailored to the specific job you are applying to – a generic cover note will not do. It needs to highlight your skills and experience that are relevant to the job. You can use the job specification find the key requirements and then highlight where your experience matched this. It should be kept short and concise – the cover note should be kept to a single page. You don’t need to highlight everything that is already covered in...

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Writing a Great Cover Letter

Many jobseekers find it difficult to write a cover letter. Although it may not appear as straightforward as writing a CV, with a little guidance it can prove a relatively simple task. The keys to writing a good cover letter are to keep it clear and easy to read, and to focus the employer’s attention onto your best qualities. Purpose The purpose of a cover letter is to state your interest in the job, to express your desire to work for the company and to highlight the key skills/qualities that make you the ideal candidate for the job. A good cover letter will be short and to the point. Three to five short paragraphs is sufficient and it should never be longer than one page. A cover letter should be tailored specifically for each job application. Don’t restate everything on CV. Instead, expand on the most impressive part of your CV in a way that highlights your ability to do the job. Ask yourself, what skills and experience do I possess that will be most useful in this job? The answer will determine the content of your cover letter. Structure Insert your name, address, email and phone number at the top right hand side of the page. Place the employer’s details below that on the left hand side of the page. Enter the date immediately below the employer’s details on the left hand side. Next you should mention the job you are applying for. On a separate line write ‘Re:’ followed by the job title and the job reference number, if there is one. In the opening paragraph introduce...

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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...

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Conquer your Fears…Conquer the Cover Letter

As a recruitment professional one of the most common subjects I am asked about is the cover letter. It is a task that fills people with dread. I am often puzzled by how much difficulty people have writing this short letter attached to the front of their CV. The purpose of a cover letter is simple; highlight the main reasons you believe you are the right person for the job. Once you keep that in mind, writing a cover letter is pretty straight forward. Employers typically spend a few seconds scanning a job application and, because of this, small errors can end up spoiling the chances of even the strongest candidate. These mistakes are easy to avoid once you know what they are. So with that in mind, here are my top 5 mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter. 1. Using a Generic Cover Letter Every cover letter you write should be written for one specific job application. Employers require different skillsets and different types of experience in their employees. Identify what employers value most and tailor your cover letter to meet those expectations each time you apply for a job. 2. Restating Everything on Your CV The purpose of a cover letter is to draw the employer’s attention to the most relevant pieces of information on your CV and emphasise why that makes you the right candidate for the job. Rehashing your CV will lead to your cover letter being far too long. Three to four short paragraphs is the ideal length for a cover letter. 3. Not Describing What You Offer the Company Your reasons...

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