3 Must-Haves for the Ultimate Cover Letter

3 Must-Haves for the Ultimate Cover Letter

Job seekers put a lot of work into the job hunt and resume preparation. Without a great cover letter, employers might not even look at your resume. At Brelsford Personnel we’ve seen thousands of cover letters, so we have a pretty good handle on what gets results. Read on to discover how to catch that potential employer’s attention, highlight your qualifications and land the interview.

Three Brief Paragraphs

A good cover letter is no longer than three short paragraphs. Hiring managers and staffing agencies are busy. You put your education, work history and volunteer experience in your resume, so you don’t need to list it all again in your cover letter.

Use what you know about the employer and the job description to choose which of your skills to highlight. While you want to let potential employers know your capabilities, at this point you might not have enough information to state you’re the perfect fit. Stick to a short summary of what you know you can do.

These Cover Letter Sections

At the top of your cover letter, put your contact details. Include your name, street address, phone number and email address. If your LinkedIn profile is complete and updated, you can include that as well.

Beneath your contact information, create a section with the date, hiring manager’s name, the company address and phone number and the contact person’s email. If at all possible, address your letter to a person and not the generic “To Whom it May Concern” or “Sir or Madam.”

Grab attention with a first paragraph that tells how you heard about the job, why you’re interested and what professional experience you can contribute. Use the second paragraph to provide specifics on how your skills fit the job description. For example, if the job description states the employer wants an administrative assistant with technology and communication skills, succinctly explain how you used tools like Microsoft Office Suite, WordPress and Outlook to effectively communicate in a previous role.

Use your third paragraph to thank the potential employer for considering you and to request an interview. Wrap it up with “Sincerely” or “Respectfully,” then your name.

Extra Information If You’re Relocating

If your job change coincides with a move to East Texas, mention why in your cover letter. Employers are edgy about hiring someone who might not stick around, so if you have family ties, you’ve already bought a home or you have other strong reasons to want employment in the area, let them know. Tell when you anticipate moving and when you’re available for interviews.

More Job Search Resources

Find advice for writing your resume, dressing for interview success and acing the interview on our resources page. Then check out our online job postings today.

Sources:

https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CoverLetters.html
https://resumecompanion.com/how-to-write-a-cover-letter/
http://money.cnn.com/2017/11/16/pf/how-to-write-cover-letter/index.html

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

This article was originally posted as a four-part series. We’ve combined all four posts so East Texas employers can find them all in one place.

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

1. Attract the Best When You Identify Key Characteristics

What happens when you combine low unemployment with retiring baby boomers and technology that allows East Texans access to jobs all over the globe? The challenge to attract top talent becomes intense.

Gallup meta-analysis suggests companies that choose the top 20 percent of candidates when it comes to talent have increased productivity, sales and profitability. They also have a significant decrease in turnover and absences. The productivity gap is huge, and it widens as job complexity increases.

That makes sense, but employers wonder how to secure that top 20 percent. The first step isn’t creating a job posting; it’s looking at the characteristics of your current top performers.

Key Traits of Top Performers

As soon as you read “top performers,” names probably came to mind. You already know the people at your company who unerringly accomplish more than anyone else. They seem to always make the right decisions, never require hand-holding and encourage others to do the same.

Every position requires a different skill set, and when you’re hiring there are non-negotiable qualifications, certifications and degrees for each. That’s what your employees do.

What we’re talking about here is what your top performers are. When you look at the people whose names popped into your head, you will probably find they share these characteristics:

  • They’re consistent. Top performers consider quality their chief priority every time. They don’t quit because the clock says they can leave. For each task, they seem to have a timeline in their heads for what must be accomplished to deliver superior results, and they always deliver. You can depend on their character as much as their competence.

 

  • They thrive when challenged. They are willing to take on the toughest assignments because they feel like they can make a difference. They don’t wait for opportunities, they create them. They have the ability to see the big picture for each project, zoom in to understand and solve for every detail, then reframe to evaluate progress.

 

  • They rely on facts and data, not emotion. They are always looking to expand their knowledge base. They research for work, but they are constantly learning in other areas of their lives as well. While they listen to their instincts in decision making, they also ask probing questions, look at industry best practices and analyze data.

 

  • They are comfortable with both teamwork and leadership. They have a confident, positive attitude that makes them an asset to any team. Other team members tend to look to them for advice and encouragement. They are comfortable giving and getting feedback. They don’t get defensive when receiving criticism because they see their weaknesses as areas for improvement. They praise others for a job well done and see success as a group effort.

 

  • They feel company goals align with their personal goals. They recognize that as they help their organization succeed, they’ll have more opportunities for advancement and professional growth. They feel they have a personal stake in helping meet organizational goals that creates a relentless drive.

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

What Top Performers Want from You

Right now you’re probably thinking, “That sounds accurate of my top employees, but people like them are hard to find.” Hiring managers often express frustration saying when they interviewed job candidates, the applicant seemed great, but once hired he or she didn’t perform as expected.

Some performance predictors are role-specific. The characteristics that make a good loan officer don’t necessarily make a good insurance adjuster.

However, just like high quality candidates share a set of characteristics, there are ways they respond to interview questions that indicates their mindset across a range of roles.

  • Excellent candidates are attracted to companies with similar beliefs and values. They are well qualified for the role, and they say they want the job because it fits what matters to them and what they are best at. In contrast, lower quality candidates say they want the job because it offers the pay, hours or benefits they’re looking for. These things matter to top candidates, but they’re not what excites them most about the position.

 

  • Top performers want challenge and opportunity. When you ask potential employees what they enjoy most about their work, they talk about being able to make a difference in peoples’ lives or solve challenges no one else could. Interviewees who aren’t as likely to be top performers might say they enjoyed positive interaction with their co-workers, appreciated their schedule or felt supported by management. Again, top performers appreciate those things, but they thrive when they have a mission.

 

  • The best candidates want growth. When you ask what their dream job looks like, they mention the importance of ongoing professional development or opportunities for advancement. Less qualified candidates think more in terms of high income, reduced stress or a position of authority.

 

  • Top candidates apply at top companies. They do their research. That doesn’t mean they only apply to large corporations. They’re also interested in small business that shows innovative thinking and strong brand values. When interviewed, they are able to tell what company strengths make them feel it would be a great place to work.

Where Can You Find Top East Texas Employees?

At Brelsford Personnel, we recognize the process of recruiting, interviewing and hiring top performers is time consuming and expensive. A bad hire is even worse. We evaluate each resume and conduct one-on-one interviews to find the best fit for each position no matter how long that takes. We have many years of experience that allows us to spot those top performers and place them in roles where they thrive. Get in touch to find out more about our process and access the best East Texas job candidates today.

2. Attract the Best By Developing Your Employee Value Proposition

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

Why would a highly talented person choose to work for your company? Ed Michaels asked the question in his 2001 book The War for Talent, and the question is still relevant today. The labor market is tight, so it’s hard to find the best East Texas employees and just as hard to keep them.

Your customers have lots of choices. So do the people who apply at your company. You invest in developing your brand image and personality for consumers. Creating your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is similar to that process, but it’s aimed at employees instead of customers.

Do You Need an EVP?

As the name implies, an Employee Value Proposition states the value employees receive when they work for you. When some of us were just starting out, a steady paycheck was compensation enough, but hiring has changed.

The best East Texas employees are in high demand, and they’re choosy about where they work. A strong EVP provides these benefits:

It sets you apart from your competitors. Just like branding clarifies how you are unique, your EVP makes it apparent how working for your organization is different from working for other companies in the same industry. If there’s not something that makes you stand out, all employees have for comparison are job responsibilities and salary. If you don’t pay more and your competitor does, there’s no incentive to choose your company. A strong EVP clearly communicates what else you offer.

An EVP improves retention rates. When you articulate brand values and goals, you attract candidates who support them. Those employees are more likely to be engaged and motivated and less likely to look elsewhere for employment.

The employees you hire strengthen your brand. When they care about the things that matter to your business and embody key organizational traits, they exhibit brand values at every point of consumer contact.

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

Creating Your EVP

Decision-makers start by asking why the employees they’re looking for would want to apply, what would help them do their best, and what the company offers that motivates them to stay. Find answers by following these steps.

Step 1 – Identify Objectives

Decide what you want to accomplish through your EVP. Some of the most common reasons companies take the time to develop one is to attract and hire the right candidates, to improve engagement among current employees and reward top performers, to reinvigorate disengaged teams or to accomplish more with longer tenures and fewer hires.

Step 2 – Gather Information

Review employee engagement data, retention metrics and any other statistics you already have. Your best insight will come from talking to current and former employees. They’re the people who understand the best and worst aspects of working for your company. Create surveys, focus groups and exit interviews that ask questions like the following:

  • Why did you first apply to work here? Were your job expectations met? Please elaborate.

 

  • What tangible benefits we offer are most valuable in keeping you here?

 

  • What intangible benefits mean the most?

 

  • How would you describe working here to someone who was thinking about submitting their resume?

 

  • For former employees, why did you choose to leave?

Identify your most productive employees and seek to understand what attracts them and why they stay. Use those benefits as part of your workforce planning strategy so your EVP attracts more of the same type of individual.

Prospective employees can offer an outside viewpoint into how your company is perceived to job seekers. Ask what their awareness is of your company’s culture, benefits, growth opportunities and job satisfaction and how they came to that awareness.

Step 3 – Analyze Results

Sift through the data to look for patterns. Are there benefits you offer that don’t seem to matter as much as you thought they would? Are some perks more important than others? In what areas does your company receive negative feedback? Identify ways you can provide benefits that delight employees and differentiate you from rivals.

Step 4 – Draft Your EVP

Take that research and create a simple statement that outlines your brand’s commitment to employees and what they will experience. It should be inspirational while offering a realistic view of what it’s like to work for your organization.

Spell out how your company is making a difference in your industry. Align it with your principles and culture. Then test your EVP with employee focus groups to see how it resonates.

Step 5 – Promote Your EVP

Once it’s created and tested, communicate your EVP through company emails, post it on your website, integrate it into job postings and hang it where employees can see it. Discuss it with new employees during onboarding and review it when people are promoted.

Step 6 – Regularly Reevaluate

Set a timeline for assessing the extent to which your EVP is making a difference in hiring and retention. Go back to your original objectives and see how well you’re doing.

Compare data like employee turnover rates and absenteeism after you implement your EVP to what it was before you had one. Continue to collect feedback from employees about their job satisfaction, what incentives matter most and whether they feel part of a diverse, high-performance culture.

Always Hire the Best

Brelsford Personnel successfully provides high performance employees to businesses in metro Tyler and Longview because we don’t just think in terms of filling a vacancy. We get to know each of the organizations we’re privileged to work with.

When we search our candidate database and prepare a job posting, we look at more than just qualifications, skills and educational experience. Our goal is to provide employees who are a good fit for the company culture and make sure our candidates are in a role that suits them best.

Instead of worrying about finding the best employees or dealing with the consequences of a bad hire, put our expertise to work. Find out more when you get in touch today.

3. Hire Strong Employees When You Build a Strong Corporate Culture

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

Is company culture just a buzzword, or does it make a difference in employee recruitment, performance and retention? Harvard Business Review says company culture “picks up where the employee handbook leaves off.” Entrepreneur.com defines it as “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time.”

Your corporate culture is an essential part of developing your brand’s identity and values. A strong company culture attracts the best East Texas employees and keeps them engaged. It decides how staff responds when the boss is out of the room or the challenge they face takes an unexpected turn.

Corporate Culture Studies

When savvy business owners consider investing time, energy and other resources, they seek data that indicates they’ll see a return on that investment. Here are some numbers.

  • A Columbia University study analyzed the relationship between job satisfaction and employee turnover and found employees who ranked their company culture as high left only 13.9 percent of the time. Offices with a poor company culture had a turnover rate up to 48.4 percent.

 

  • Company culture makes employees happier and more productive. One study by the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick discovered happy workers are 12 percent more productive than average, while unhappy employees are 10 percent less productive. People work harder when they’re happy.

 

  • When researchers in a Duke’s Fuqua School of Business study talked to 1,800 CEOs and CFOs, 92 percent of them said improving their firm’s culture would increase their company’s value. They linked ineffective culture with high turnover, unethical behavior and poor quarterly earnings.

What Makes a Strong Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is about more than just pleasant lighting, free snacks and mentioning birthdays at staff meetings.

Strong corporate culture has a mission or vision. TED has a two-word mission statement that says the community’s purpose is to “spread ideas.” Coca Cola says their mission is “to refresh the world in mind, body and spirit.” Your vision or mission guides employee decision making and spills into interactions with customers, vendors and stakeholders.

Strong culture has clearly articulated values. Personal values dictate how people live their lives. Company values define how employees and stakeholders act in business and in the community. Values might include a commitment to innovation, environmental sustainability, compassion, honesty, dependability or a spirit of adventure.

Staff communicates with respect. People feel comfortable bringing up new ways of doing things. Managers offer feedback constructively and encourage each team member to be their best. There’s an open door communication policy with a clearly defined process for resolving conflict.

New hires fit. When people spend most of their day together, they are united if they share the same mission and values. Your employees bring your company culture to life.

In the book Built to Last, James Collins and Jerry Porras studied 18 companies over six years to try and identify cultural attributes of top ranking US companies. Each company had different beliefs and values, so a strong culture wasn’t tied specifically to prioritizing idealism, courage or self-improvement.

What they all had in common was that they prioritized hiring, managing and training employees based on their vision and values. They had a clear system for making sure each new hire was a cultural fit.

Company Culture and Hiring

The people you hire represent your company even when they’re not working. They talk about their job when they’re sitting on the patio at Fresh. During the day they post memes to social media that indicate how they feel about their jobs and their co-workers. When they’re at church or the gym, who they are either aligns or contrasts with what your business values.

Finding the right fit isn’t just about retention and productivity. It’s about what’s best for each candidate. When people are in an environment that suits their beliefs and values, they grow and thrive. When they’re not, they feel dissatisfied and unengaged.

Know how your values impact job duties for each role. Reference them in your job posting and design interview questions that relate directly to those values. Build them into your onboarding process. Regularly communicate them at every level of your organization.

Molding Your Corporate Culture

Shape your current culture by doing the following:

  • Look at your current mission statement and identify the key values that will form the foundation of your company culture.
  • Interview staff to see where you stand. Inc. provides a 15-question true or false quiz to evaluate corporate culture with advantages and pitfalls for some of the most common types, or you can develop your own. If weaknesses emerge, state what you want to change and how you plan to do so.
  • Seek employee input on the values you’ve identified.
  • Communicate cultural values and goals. Put them in your handbook, in the breakroom and in the company newsletter.
  • Encourage everyone to drink the Kool-Aid. If management and staff worked together to find what you’re passionate about, everyone should be a believer. If you can’t practice what you preach, don’t preach it.
  • Prioritize ownership. Let each individual know how they contribute to the big picture.
  • Regularly express gratitude. Thank people in public and in private for the ways they demonstrate company values. Take time for thanksgiving during celebrations and times of conflict or stress.

Solid company culture turns individuals into teams. It attracts employees who love their jobs and keeps them engaged.

Hire a Cultural Fit Every Time

At Brelsford Personnel, our goal is to make a positive difference for the people we serve. Since 1988 we’ve successfully placed candidates with top Texas companies because we study our clients.

We seek to start each relationship with employers by making a site visit so we understand your organization’s personality, leadership style and mission. We screen candidates for both skill and personality to match employers and staff. Experience the Brelsford difference when you get in touch today.

4. Hire the Best East Texas Employees by Attracting Top Millennial Talent

Your Ultimate Guide to Attracting the Best East Texas Employees

There’s always a difference between the mindset and work habits of different generations. At many companies, Baby Boomers are in leadership roles and seeking to attract, hire and manage millennials, a population segment with vastly different work habits and expectations. Attracting top millennial professionals starts with understanding what motivates them.

Millennial Statistics

A person who became a young adult during the 21st century is a Millennial. Most researchers say this group was born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, with some demographers arguing for a little earlier or later. The oldest Millennials are in their late 30s, while the youngest are still teenagers.

Pew Research found Millennials became the largest generation in America’s workforce in 2016. Last year there were 56 million of them looking for a job or actively employed. By 2020, they will make up half the country’s workforce and 75 percent in 2025.

What Millennials are Looking For

Attract top Millennial talent by first understanding what they want. Deloitte questioned more than 10,000 individuals in 32 countries to generate their seventh annual report on Millennial business motivation, ethics, workplace optimism and concerns.

They found diversity and flexibility are the key to attracting loyal millennials.

While Millennials recognize profits are necessary, they don’t think that should be an organization’s main goal. They feel corporations should put a premium on the following:

  • Changing society for the good
  • Protecting the environment
  • Creating jobs that improve people’s lives
  • Stimulating both diversity and inclusion at work
  • Encouraging innovation

Millennials want to work where they can grow and have a future. Ninety-one percent of them say they want rapid career progression. They expect employers to have clear policies on how to earn bonuses, raises and promotions.

In the Deloitte study, two-thirds of Millennials say they will probably have left their current employer by 2020. Many of them cite poor leadership development as their reason for leaving.

Millennials grew up with technology, and they want to use it at work. They embrace Industry 4.0, which uses big data, powerful analytics, automation and the Internet of Things.

They also want training. Only 36 percent say they feel their organization is helping them prepare for technology of the future. They also want help developing soft skills like confidence, critical thinking and creativity.

Offer Millennials These Benefits

Employers compete for highly qualified candidates in every age group. Attract Millennials when you offer these benefits.

  • Career development – Provide training programs and team building opportunities. Offer skill-specific training, but also provide opportunities to develop interpersonal skills, critical thinking, creativity and responsible online behavior.

 

  • Positive social interaction – Younger employees want to interact. Encourage a monthly brown bag lunch to mix departments and management levels. Volunteer together, have a summer cook-off or send teams to one of the area’s escape rooms. Put Millennials in charge of planning.

 

  • Flexible scheduling – Instead of sick or vacation time, offer flex time employees can use as needed. You can still require employees to work traditional hours and request schedule changes, but provide them with a set number of hours to “spend” as they please. Other flexible scheduling options include a compressed work week, split shifts or scheduling that allows employees to complete work on nights and weekends.

 

  • Emotional and physical health support – Show employees you care with subsidized gym memberships, group participation in East Texas cycling and running events and free mental health support.

Retain Top Millennial Talent

Going back to the Deloitte study, two thirds of all Millennials say they’ll probably quit their current job by 2020 and one in four says they plan to quit this year. Mentally tally how many people work for you who are younger than 40. What if a quarter of them quit?

You lose everything you invested in recruiting, onboarding and training them. You have to start over, and it will take time before their replacement finds their stride within your organization.

Millennials Quit for Better Offers

A Forbes article says often Millennials leave even when they like their job because they were offered a better opportunity. Keep that from happening by giving them opportunities to grow and advance within your company. Spell out what it takes to get a raise so they know when they can expect increased pay.

People Relocate

People of every generation relocate when their spouse has a job change or a family member needs long-term care. If it’s mutually beneficial, offer telecommuting to keep employees who transfer to another area.

Millennials Go Back to School

Sometimes members of this group feel dissatisfied with their current career path and think they can’t advance without more formal education. Consider offering scholarships for employees who want schooling to advance their careers, but also provide training and opportunity inside the workplace.

Brelsford Has an Extensive Candidate Database

Brelsford Personnel provides East Texas employers with professional, top-performing employees. We’ll find the right fit for your job vacancy, and we tailor our services to fit both your needs and budget. Get in touch to hire the best East Texas employees every time.

Blog posting from Content by Missy exclusively for Brelsford Personnel

Your Ultimate Interview Prep Checklist

Your Ultimate Interview Prep Checklist

[Courtesy of Glassdoor.com]

So you applied for a job online, and just got a call from the recruiter asking if you can interview with the hiring manager. You are super excited until you hear that the interview is happening in 48 hours. 2 days. OMG!

Don’t panic; just prepare. Complete with timing and strategy, we’ve complied a comprehensive list of essential ways to gear up for your interview and knock it out of the park. Ready, set, prep!

As soon as you hang up with the recruiter:

1. Study for your interview like it’s a final exam.

  • Find as much information as you can on the company or organization, and commit as much of it to memory as possible.
  • If the job you’re interviewing for requires knowledge in a certain field, do all the learning and brushing up you can on information that will be relevant to your interview.

2. Generate a list of potential interview questions (and their answers!) beforehand.

  • Base your list of questions on both what you expect them to ask and the real-life experience of others
  • Reach out to people who worked in similar companies and positions as you are interviewing for and ask them about their interview experience
  • Use tools like Glassdoor’s interview question database to look up real interview questions and their answers.

36 hours before the interview:

3. Write out answers to every question you anticipate, and practice delivering them out loud.

  • Even if you don’t remember your responses word for word, you can fall back on certain key points and phrases.
  •  Write your own list of questions for the interviewer, and be prepared to ask them when the time arises.
  • Make sure your questions are nuanced and well-researched. Never ask for any information that can be simply found online.

4. Compare your skills and experience to the job description.

  • For each component of the job description, brainstorm your relevant skills and experiences, and think critically about how you want to present them.
  • If there’s a preferred skill or experience you do not have, be able to demonstrate you’ll be competent without it.

12-24 hours before the interview:

5. Be rested and healthy for the big day.

  • Before getting good night’s sleep, try to imagine yourself acing the interview.
  • Eat wholesome, healthy meals for the days preceding the interview.
  • If you are prone to anxiety, try breathing techniques or meditation the morning of the interview, and even directly before.

3-6 hours before the interview:

6. Dress for success

  • Keep your fashion choices subdued and classic – don’t wear clothes that will distract the interviewer.
  • If you’re unclear on what type of clothes to wear, don’t be afraid to reach out to your interviewer and ask.
  • Wear clothes you feel confident in. Don’t be afraid to invest in an “interview outfit” or two that you feel your best in.

7. Empower yourself

  • Practice a firm handshake, strong posture, and attentive body language in advance.
  • Think of a mantra you can call upon for self-confidence, like, “no matter what, I will do my best.”
  • Think of a mantra you can call upon for self-confidence, like, “no matter what, I will do my best.”

8. Don’t leave any unnecessary unknowns.

  • Plan what to bring (extra copies of your resume!) and even what transportation you are taking to the interview way in advance, so there’s no added uncertainty the day of.

During the interview:

9. Keep an interview journal

  • During or even after your interview is over, take a few minutes to jot down what parts you felt you aced, and where you could have shone brighter. These notes can serve as a valuable guide for your future interviews.

6-12 hours after the interview:

10. Follow up.

  • Extending the conversation shows that you’re passionate about the job. Don’t call every day asking if you got the job, but a simple thank you note can speak volumes about your commitment to the position.
  •  And if you didn’t get the job? Let them know if you’re still interested, and ask what you can do to be a more attractive candidate in the future.