My #1 Trick for an Awesome Cover Letter

image source: sciencepreps.iupui.edu

image source: sciencepreps.iupui.edu

This guest post was written by recent communications graduate and former Career Development Intern and co-op, Amy Annette Henion

Last April, I sat on a hiring committee. Yes, I tend to talk about this a lot. (C’mon – as a student, is it not super cool to hire a great career counselor to help out your peers?)

While poring over the applicants’ cover letters, we noticed an important detail that made some candidates really shine. What did they do that the other candidates didn’t?

They talked about why they were passionate about our organization.
While writing a cover letter, you MUST follow this rule. Hiring committees and interviewers are looking to see if you care about their mission. Talking about your passion helps you stand out from the crowd. While applying for jobs, the last thing you want is a generic cover letter that sounds as though it could apply to any job at any other company.

So what makes you really want to apply to work for a certain company? Is it their dedication to helping serve underprivileged populations? Do they consistently strive for excellence with their product? Do they have a vibrant start-up culture that you think you can help build and grow? Say so! Sharing your passions paints a more colorful portrait of you as a living, breathing human being with hopes and dreams for the future. And who wouldn’t want to hire that kind of person?

Amy Annette Henion is a 2014 communications graduate with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lived in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

What the Heck is an Informational Interview?

why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? 1. They're paying it forward. 2. Most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course) Source: usatodayeducate.com

Why are people willing to talk you despite their busy schedule? They’re paying it forward and most people enjoy talking about themselves (and helping of course).
Source: usatodayeducate.com

You’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”

What is Informational Interviewing?

It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.

The Power of Asking

There are two secrets why informational interviews work.

  • People love to talk about themselves.
  • People love to help college students.

At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the

source: resumebaking.com

source: resumebaking.com

breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me!

You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start. Stay tuned for more blog entries on how I went through the process myself, and I’ll teach you how to do it too!

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.

10 Things I Learned from Sitting on a Hiring Committee

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photo courtesy of Flickr user bearstache.

Back in April, I was part of a hiring committee, and it was our job to hire a new career counselor. Here’s what I learned from my first time on the other side of the table.

  1. A messy resume is a dealbreaker. If you can, send it as a PDF to avoid wonky reformatting.
  2. Don’t say in 40 words what you can say in 10.
  3. Unorganized writing suggests an unorganized candidate.
  4. An interviewee who can tell a story will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
  5. If we can’t clearly tell from your resume where you got your experience, we will investigate. If we still can’t figure it out, we will think you’re hiding something.
  6. For the ladies – if you absolutely must personalize your interview outfit, pick fun and tasteful shoes. Shoes won’t distract during the interview the way bold jewelry might.
  7. Take a breath and relax!
  8. If we learn in the interview that you probably won’t be happy in the position – in terms of culture, fit, and work-life balance – we will do you a favor and let another employer hire you for a job you’d like better.
  9. Be on time!
  10. Always send a thank-you note! Don’t get caught up in the paper vs. email debate. It’s more important that you pick one and do it.

Amy Annette Henion is a senior communications major with minors in theatre and East Asian studies. She basically lives in the theatre department office on the first floor of Ryder. Follow/tweet her at @amyannette37 and read her blog here.