How Your Cover Letter Can Get You Noticed
A popular adage goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." An even more popular adage goes, "Don't judge a candidate by their cover letter." Just kidding. That's not popular, that's not an adage, and it's not even correct. Your cover letter will be your first impression to your potential employer, and of course they will judge you for it. So make sure it's phenomenal. Here's how.
1. Nix, "To Whom it May Concern"
"To Whom it May Concern" might just be the 5 most uninspired words in the American-English lexicon. Your cover letter "may" not even concern anyone if it opens with this tired and lazy salutation. Instead, find out an actual living, breathing human being to which to address your cover letter. With a few seconds of research, you can likely come up with a name of someone in the department to which you're applying. Someone who may very well be concerned.
And according to Vicki Salemi at U.S. News, it's best to start at the top: "If you're pursuing a job in human resources and the company clearly lists the name of the chief HR executive in charge, go ahead and address the letter to that person. Will the executive be the first person to open the cover letter in the applicant tracking system? Not exactly. Will it look like you did your homework? You bet."
2. Show off that you know about the company.
Having a generic cover letter that you can send out to the masses is a good place to start, but you should never send out a generic cover letter before you spice it up with company-specific details. The HR department doesn't care that you are qualified for "a" job in your field, but that you are qualified for "the" job that they are seeking. Research about the company, and present to them why you want to work there. Also, make sure it's the right company. We can't tell you how many times we've seen cover letters that are addressed to people in a completely different company. That's embarrassing, and a surefire way to get it thrown in physical (or metaphorical) trash. Make sure that you cater your skills to appeal to those mentioned in the job description. Be relevant, and only include information that can benefit your eligibility for this job.
3. Don't rehash your résumé.
Get right to the point. No one cares to read what they can already find out from your résumé. Your cover letter is an opportunity to show your human voice, so show your diligent personality without going overboard. Focus on skills, communications, and relationships you've built in your professional life. Tell a story. Give your potential employers the relevant context that explains why you would be the ideal candidate at this point in time. Be brief, yet substantial.
4. Use power words.
Instead of using words such as "organized" and "hard-working," like any good employer would already expect you to be, according to career experts, words that stand out appeal to the emotions. Talk about your enthusiasm, passion, and listening skills. Talk about your admiration for such-and-such and how you inspired so-and-so. Use strong verbs such as "achieved" and "led," or "negotiated" and "generated." These are positive words that mean more than just you did stuff and were responsible.
Also, make sure you use the active voice ("I generated leads for the world famous Walrus Expo in Alaska") instead of passive voice ("Leads were generated by me and my team for the world famous Walrus Expo in Alaska."). It's a way to keep things concise.
5. Cut it out with the adverbs.
"I was enormously instrumental in my team's success." Eye roll. Cut out the extra words, and you'll be able to shine that much brighter. The words are getting in your way, and are often a cover-up for not knowing exactly what you want to say. Instead of more words, choose better words, and you won't find the need to make up for it.
6. Turn your experiences into skills.
When you're reading your cover letter back to yourself, see if all of your skills can translate into the domain in which you are applying. Think outside of the dodecahedron. Even your time spent vacationing in Bali can translate into skills. That vacation shows that you're able to appreciate different cultures and practices, for example. Every skill you have can be interpreted through a corporate lens.
7. Have impeccable grammar.
The only way for you to catch all of your mistakes is to print out your cover letter (yes, print it) and read it aloud to yourself or others. And while you're at it, send it around to a bunch of people to proofread it. Even a small typo is enough to get you on some employers' naughty lists. Take the extra precaution.
You're on your way to landing that job, if you keep these cover letter tips in mind. Go get 'em!
- 31 Tips On How to Write a Cover Letter | The Muse ›
- Cover Letter Tips - Get Good Cover Letter Advice | Monster.com ›
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- Cover Letter Tips: 4 Simple Secrets That Can Revolutionize Your ... ›
- Expert Advice: 8 Tips for Writing a Standout Cover Letter - NerdWallet ›
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!