Adams & Garth Blog

Writing a Great Cover Letter…When You Don’t Have Experience

April 26th, 2016

The purpose of a cover letter is to explain why you’re interested in the job – and why you’d be a good fit for it. But what if you don’t have a ton of (or any) experience to tout in your cover letter? How do you show you’d excel in the position?

Rather than saying something generic, like “I’m a great communicator,” it’s important to dig deep and think about why a hiring manager would want to hire you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a ton of experience. What it does mean is that you have to show a hiring manager why they should get excited about you.

For instance:

  • Maybe you’re an incredibly detail oriented person with an eagle eye for mistakes who creates spreadsheets to organize every aspect of your life.
  • Or perhaps you’re a people person who loves to help others. In every summer job you’ve had in the past, you’ve been complimented on your interpersonal skills and ability to handle tough customers.

Even though you don’t have direct job experience, these are the kinds of soft skills it’s important to promote in your cover letter. Keep in mind too, assuming you’re applying for entry level jobs at this point, most candidates won’t have a ton of experience to promote either. So if you can stand out with a highly desirable skill or personality trait, then you’re going to be a step ahead of the competition.

Some other cover letter writing tips:

  • Be direct with your opening. Don’t open your cover letter with subjective phrases like “I’m the self starter you’ve been looking for,” or “I’m the strongest candidate for the position because…” These phrases are annoying to hiring managers and won’t get their attention in a positive way. Instead, say something simple like “I was excited to see your opening for XYZ position.”
  • Don’t regurgitate what’s on your resume. Most job candidates make the mistake of repeating what’s on their resume in their cover letter. Don’t be one of them. You should be explaining why you’re excited about the position and why you’d excel in it. Your resume, on the other hand, should communicate your past track record of success.
  • Don’t address every qualification in the job ad. You do want to be sure that the qualifications described in the job posting are discussed at some point between your cover letter and resume. But that doesn’t mean your cover letter should include a bullet list of the qualifications with explanations about how you meet each one.

Do you need more help with your cover letter, resume…or finding jobs in Central Virginia? Call Adams & Garth. As one of Central Virginia’s top employment agencies, we can help you find job opportunities that are a great fit for your skills, background, and goals. Search jobs in Central Virginia or contact Adams & Garth today to learn more.

4 Ways to Take Charge of Your Career…So You Can Get Ahead

April 12th, 2016

As one of the leading Charlottesville employment agencies, Adams & Garth knows that in today’s world, you can’t rely on your boss or company to plan out your career path. It’s up to you to set goals and seek out new opportunities. Here are 4 tips to help you take charge of your career – so you can get ahead:

Tip #1: Be proactive.

It’s easy to get comfortable in a position and feel safe. That’s ok for a while. But if you stay put for too long, your career will stagnate. It’s up to you to make things happen.

If you think you deserve a raise, don’t wait around for your boss to notice all the great work you’ve been doing. Likewise, if you’re ready for a more challenging role, it’s up to you to speak up. Your boss is probably too busy to focus on your career path.

So if getting promoted in your field requires an MBA, then now’s the time to start. Don’t just hope a bigger salary or a better position will come your way. It’s up to you to go after it.

Tip #2: Be accountable.

If you make a mistake at work, own up to it. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another. When it happens to you, don’t point the finger of blame or brush off any responsibility. Just apologize for it and ask what you can do to fix it. When you’re accountable you can deal with and shore up your weaknesses, putting yourself – and your career – on a path toward improvement.

Tip #3: Be aware of your faults.

Are you always late? Do you lack attention to detail? Do you have poor communication skills? Everyone has flaws. What are yours?

When you know what areas could use some improvement, then you’re halfway to improving them. If you’re late every morning, commit to leaving the house 20 minutes earlier. Set five alarms if that’s what it takes to get you up and running earlier. If you need to improve your people skills, take a class or work with a mentor. Whatever the case for you, have a specific area you want to fix and put a plan into place for improving it.

Tip #4: Be positive.

Sometimes, bad things happen that are outside your control. Your company might cut your hours and put you in a different position you don’t like. But rather than having a pity party, take action. Pull out your resume and start the process of polishing it. Let go of anger and resentment and look at the situation as an opportunity to move ahead.

Would you like more help moving ahead in your career? Call the experts at Adams & Garth. As one of the leading Charlottesville employment agencies, we’ve matched hundreds of job candidates with great jobs throughout Central Virginia and we can help you too. Contact us today to learn more or search our Charlottesville jobs now.

 

When to Ask About Salary in a Job Search

March 22nd, 2016

The job ad doesn’t list it. The hiring manager doesn’t bring it up during the interview. So when exactly are you supposed to ask about salary? You don’t want to sound like all you care about is money. But let’s face it – you need to make sure the salary is competitive for your industry and experience.

In an ideal world, all employers would post a salary range in their job ads. This would give you a ballpark idea of what the Central Virginia job pays. If it was too low, you’d know immediately and could walk away. A range would also give employers some wiggle room depending on your experience level and the strength of your skill set.

In reality, though, you’re often left wondering about this incredibly important aspect of the job search. So how do you deal with this delicate subject?

Your first step should be to do some research on salaries in your location and for professionals in your industry with similar experience and expertise. Check professional associations and ask those you know in the field their thoughts. Once you know a range, then you can feel confident if an employer asks you about the salary you’re seeking.

Also, don’t bring up salary in the first moments of your interview. It’s understandable you don’t want to waste time if the salary is low. However, many employers will bristle if you start talking about money right away.

If, toward the end of the interview, there’s a natural point in time to bring it up, then ask about it. You can say something like:

“I hope you don’t mind me inquiring about salary at this stage. But can you give me an idea of the range so we can make sure we’re on the same page moving forward?”

Keep in mind, though, some employers may be turned off when you ask about salary. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – since salary will play a critical part in whether or not you accept the Central Virginia job. But that’s simply conventional wisdom. So if you’re not comfortable bringing up the subject, then wait until the second interview.

That said, if you’re being asked to travel across the country for an interview, or a recruiter is reaching out to you, then it’s perfectly acceptable to ask upfront – over the phone – about the salary range. When you do, though, be prepared for them to ask you about the salary range you’re looking to secure.

Do you need more help finding a great job with a competitive salary? If you do, let Adams & Garth know. We partner with leading employers to offer you outstanding jobs in Central Virginia in a variety of fields. Contact Adams & Garth today to learn more.

Getting Ready for Round 2: How to Ace Your Second Interview

March 8th, 2016

Getting a call back for a second interview means you are a serious contender for the job. Congratulations! But that might leave you wondering what to expect during the subsequent interview, including what kinds of questions you’ll be asked, what topics will be covered, and whom you’ll be meeting with.

With that in mind: How can you prepare, so you ace it the second time around and land the job? Here are a few tips to help you:

Find out the format.

Will this be a one-on-one with the company president, or a panel interview? Will it be a single meeting, or interviews throughout the day? Once you know what to expect, you can better prepare.

Check out your interviewers.

If you are given the names of those you’ll be interviewing with, research them ahead of time. That doesn’t mean you need to full out cyber stalk them. Just find out their role and how long they’ve worked at the company.

Get ready to get in depth.

The first interview was likely a screening of sorts, during which the basics were covered. The second interview, however, will be much more in depth. So be ready to answer more demanding questions and talk in detail about your accomplishments and track record.

Practice your answers.

You may have already practiced your answers to interview questions. But do it again so your responses are fresh in your head during the second interview. Don’t let a lack of preparation sabotage your efforts.

Mind the gaps.

If there’s a certain area where you know you fell short during the first interview, the second interview will certainly be an opportunity to assuage any fears about your candidacy to the hiring manager. So think about any weaknesses in your previous interview performance and be ready to vanquish them the second time around.

Ask your own questions.

Now that you know a lot more about the position and the company, don’t forget to bring up your own questions about the job, the team you’d be working on, and the company culture.

Dress your best.

In your first interview, everyone else was in jeans. So should you emulate their dress code in your second interview? No. No matter their company culture and dress policy, wear professional attire to every job interview. Once you get the offer, you can modify your clothing choices.

It can be hard to know what to expect for a second interview. But by following the tips above and doing your best to prepare extensively, there’s a good chance you can land the job. Good luck!

Do you need help finding your next job? Call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we partner with top employers throughout the region to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Search our Central Virginia jobs now or contact us today.

How to Recover from a Bad Job Interview

February 23rd, 2016

Have you ever left a job interview knowing it didn’t go well? You seemed like a great fit, until halfway through the interview. That’s when everything fell apart.

As one of Charlottesville’s leading employment agencies, Adams & Garth knows this can certainly be a discouraging situation – one that’s hard to recover from. But don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s very normal to feel negative after a bad job interview.

You’d probably like to press the rewind button and go back to the beginning. While you can’t do that, the good news is that there are some steps you can take to salvage the situation – and your reputation. Here’s a look at 5 of them:

Step #1: Reflect on the experience.

It’s easy to only focus on the negative. But try to be more objective about the experience and think about what went right. Also, identify exactly where you went wrong and what you should have said or done so you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Step #2: Forgive yourself.

You know what went right and what went wrong. Now it’s time to let it go and forgive yourself. Nothing positive will come from beating yourself up over the situation. Accept that you made a mistake – and then move forward.

Step #3: Say thank you.

Contacting the hiring manager might be the last thing you want to do, given the situation. However, it’s important that you acknowledge your error and thank the hiring manager for their time. Don’t bring to light any blunders you’re not entirely sure they caught. But do send a well-written note or email admitting to a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

Step #4: Apologize for specific errors, not the whole interview.

If you called the hiring manager “Mike” throughout the interview, but realized afterward his name was “Mark,” then apologize for the error. But don’t say you’re sorry for a bad interview. You never know what the hiring manager is thinking and the interview might not have been as awful as you think.

Step #5: Inform the hiring manager of any external distractions.

If you just had a death in the family, or your spouse is recovering from a life threatening illness, it’s no wonder you’re distracted. And the follow up thank you letter is the perfect opportunity to explain the situation. The hiring manager may take this into consideration when making their final decision, or even ask you back in for another interview.

Need more help landing your next job interview? Call the experts at Adams & Garth. As one of Charlottesville’s leading employment agencies, we partner with top employers throughout the region to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Search our Charlottesville jobs now or contact us today.

3 Tips for Handling Resume Criticism

February 9th, 2016

Searching for a new job? Then you likely know you should ask a friend or colleague to review your resume before applying to any openings. They should be looking for any grammar or spelling mistakes, as well as inconsistencies.

But what if their feedback goes beyond that – and they offer some harsh criticism about your resume? Should you ignore them, or take it to heart?

As one of the leading employment agencies in Charlottesville, Adams & Garth knows the stronger your resume, the better your chances of landing an interview. So it’s wise to put any feedback you get to good use. Here’s how:

Tip #1: Stay open minded.

It’s easy to get defensive when you’re getting critiqued. But take a step back and try to take your emotions out of the equation. Your friend or colleague isn’t trying to hurt your feelings. They’re simply doing what you asked.

That said, if they offer feedback you don’t understand or agree with, talk it through. Don’t simply dismiss it. Remember, you want your resume to stand out among the competition. Incorporating their input may just be the ticket to doing that.

Tip #2: Don’t take it personally.

Resume writing isn’t typically taught in high school, college or graduate school. That may be one reason that most people struggle with it. If you’re one of them, don’t get upset or take it personally. Even those who are strong in the writing department can have a hard time communicating about themselves and their career accomplishments on paper. So don’t look at any critique as an indication you have weak communication skills. Instead, take the advice being offered to you and use it to fine-tune your resume.

Tip #3: Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes.

Having a colleague or friend is a great way to not only catch any typos, but also ensure your resume will get the hiring manager’s attention. So be sure to share the job posting with the person reviewing your resume. If they have some comments about the relevance of the projects and accomplishments you’ve included, then listen to what they have to say.

Also, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. There are certain areas of your background you may want to promote. But are those truly the ones that will impress a hiring manager?

Creating a great resume is a challenge. So when you get some less-than-glowing feedback about yours, don’t take it too personally. It may take a few drafts to get it just right. But when you do, it can help launch yourself into an exciting new job opportunity.

Would you like resume writing help from the experts? Call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Charlottesville, we can help you craft a strong resume, prepare for interviews, and connect you with employers offering rewarding opportunities. Contact us today to learn more or search our Charlottesville jobs now.

“Why Do You Want to Work Here?” How to Answer This Common Interview Question

January 26th, 2016

If you’re searching for jobs in Central Virginia, then you know you’re eventually going to have to face the dreaded interview – and questions like “why do you want to work here?” As a candidate, it’s your job to persuade the hiring manager that you’re the person for the position – and the perfect fit for the company.

How do you go about doing that? Start with these quick tips:

Quick tip #1: Find out everything you can about the company.

You can’t tell a hiring manager why you want to work for ABC Company if you don’t know much about it. So it’s up to you to learn all you can – so you can offer a convincing answer.

Start by going to their website and reading through it, including the About / Mission, Services, Team, and News and Events pages. You want to know where the company’s been, but also where it’s going in the future. That information can give you some clues as to why the employer could be a good fit for you.

Beyond their website, use Google and sites like LinkedIn to read all you can about the company. Look for any news articles recently published about new product launches, key stakeholder moves, or other industry information that could impact the company. Be sure to check out the organization’s profile on LinkedIn, as well as any other social media profiles they may have. Research their executive team and try to get a sense of what skills and traits seem most valued there.

Once you’ve completed your research, you should have a much better sense of where you could fit in – and why you’d want to work there.

Quick tip #2: Craft your own answer.

When it comes to preparing your own answer to “why do you want to work here?,” there are plenty of resources online. But only look to them for inspiration, not to copy them verbatim.

Remember, you want to stand out during an interview, which means being unique and authentic. Beyond giving the interviewer a sense of why you do want to work for the company, your answer will also demonstrate to them that 1) you’ve done your homework and 2) you are enthusiastic about the opportunity.

Quick tip #3: Practice before your interview.

Once you have a good idea of what you want to say, write it down and practice it. Don’t just wing it. While you don’t want to come off as canned or too rehearsed, you also don’t want to forget to cover any key points.

So what should your answer sound like? Here’s an example:

“You know, Mike, I’ve done a lot of research about your company over the past few days and I have to say, I’m truly impressed. The organization has a reputation not only as a thought leader in the industry, but as an “employer of choice” among its staff members. That’s something I really want to be a part of: A company that places an emphasis on innovation, while still treating it’s people like part of a family.”

Want more help finding jobs in Central Virginia? Let Adams & Garth know. We partner with leading employers to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Contact Adams & Garth today to learn more.

Create a Great Cover Letter for Your 2016 Job Search

January 12th, 2016

Do you want to find a new job in 2016? If you do, then an important tool in your job search process is the cover letter. In fact, as one of Charlottesville’s leading employment agencies, Adams & Garth knows a great cover letter be make the difference between getting called in for an interview, or getting passed over.

So if you want to create a cover letter that gets results, here are 7 quick tips to follow:

#1. Don’t regurgitate your resume.

Your cover letter gives you an opportunity to stand apart from other job candidates and show just what you can do. That’s why it’s important not to just restate what’s already on your resume. Instead, your cover letter should be the place where you show some personality and write something new about yourself, like your work habits or why you want to work for a particular company.

#2. Avoid hype.

Avoid statements like “I’m the best person for the job.” First, you don’t know that’s true and second, it makes you sound arrogant. While your cover letter should demonstrate overall why you’d be a great fit for the job, avoid these kinds of exaggerated statements and other fluff. Instead, tell a story, or talk about specific facts and details.

#3. Demonstrate your interest.

Companies want to hire someone who’s enthusiastic about the position and the company…not someone looking for any old job. So show you’re excited about the opportunity by explaining what you like about the company, what piques your interest, or why the culture and your background are a great match.

#4. Describe what you bring to the table.

At the end of it all, hiring managers want to know about what you can bring to the table that’s unique. In other words, what positive impact you can make at the company. Describe how your personality, skill sets, or strengths are relevant to the particular position and how you will help make a difference. Get specific too. For instance, if you work in sales, describe what you’d do to improve sales performance, along with your past track record of success.

#5. Explain any career gaps or other issues.

Do you have any gaps in employment or other issues that could stand out on your resume? Or are you over- or under-qualified for the job, but really believe it’s the right one for you? Then your cover letter is the perfect opportunity to explain the situation. If you don’t offer clarification about such issues, your resume might get overlooked.

#6. Don’t be overly formal.

The best received cover letters are warm and conversational, not overly formal. That said, don’t be too casual or use slang, abbreviations, or pop culture acronyms (LOL!).

#7. Avoid templates.

Don’t simply take a boilerplate resume you’ve found on the web and cut and paste your information into it. Hiring managers can spot these in an instant. Instead, take the time to craft a custom resume for each position you’re applying to, so you can stand out and get noticed.

It’s not easy writing a great cover letter. If you need help with the process – or with any other aspect of your job search – call the employment experts at Adams & Garth. As one of Charlottesville’s leading employment agencies, we partner with top employers throughout the region to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Search our Charlottesville jobs now or contact us today.

7 Steps to a New Job in the New Year 

December 22nd, 2015

As one of the leading Charlottesville employment agencies, Adams & Garth can tell you if you’d like to find a new job in 2016, then you need to start planning now. To help you in the process, here are a few steps to take:

Step #1: Get your resume ready.

Before you begin the job search process, break out your resume and get to work polishing it. Start by identifying the achievements, experiences and skills most important to highlight. Also, be sure to ask someone you trust to review and proofread it to catch any errors or inconsistencies.

Step #2: Carry business cards with you at all times.

Every time you step out your door, there’s an opportunity to network. One way to make a strong first impression on new people you meet is to have business cards with you at all times. That way, if you’re at a holiday party and make a great connection, hand them your business card and ask them to keep in touch.

Step #3: Start networking.

Networking can seem like an overwhelming task. But make it easy by committing to attending at least one networking event each week. It can be either in person or online. You can check your local chamber of commerce, or online for local meetups that would be of interest to you. Also, reach out to colleagues you’d like to stay in touch with and schedule a lunch date or go for drinks after work.

Step #4: Increase your visibility.

Make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile. Reach out to your network and ask for recommendations. Also, make sure the skills and experiences you list are still relevant to the type of job you’re looking for. Don’t forget to include samples of your work, as well.

Step #5: Make sure you have a pitch.

Create an elevator pitch so you know what you’re going to say when someone asks you what kind of job you’re looking for. You should also be able to talk about your strengths and the value you can offer a potential employer. That said, don’t practice your pitch so much that you sound too rehearsed.

Step #6: Inform your network.

Let your network of friends, family, colleagues and fellow alumni know you’re looking for a new opportunity. Even if someone doesn’t work in your field, they may be able to connect you with those who do. Keep in mind, networking is the fastest way to a new job.

Step # 7: Be realistic about your expectations.

Be realistic about your career goals. If you don’t have a ton of experience in your field, then applying for a management role is likely not attainable. Instead, look for those opportunities that will help you gain the skills and experience you need to reach your ultimate dream job.

If you’d like expert help finding a new job in the New Year, call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading Charlottesville employment agencies, we partner with top employers throughout Central Virginia to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Contact us today to learn more or search our Charlottesville jobs now.

How Many Questions Should I Ask an Employer in a Job Interview?

December 8th, 2015

Part of being prepared for a job interview is thinking about the questions you want to ask. But is there a rule about how many you should be asking?

First, as one of the top employment agencies in Charlottesville, Adams & Garth knows it may vary depending on where you are in the hiring process. For example, if you’re just having a quick phone screen with the hiring manager, you don’t want to keep them on the line with 20+ questions. Ask a handful – three to five – that will help you best discern whether the job is something you’d be interested in learning more about. Keep in mind: if you’re invited in for a face-to-face interview, you can ask more questions then.

Second, once in an interview, there is no hard fast rule about the number of questions you should be asking. It’s more about quality, not quantity at this point. Remember, your goal in asking questions is to get the information you need to find out whether the job and the company are a good fit for you. Some tips:

  • Ask questions such as “what are the short-term goals and expectations to meet for the person in this role?,” and “describe the company culture to me.”
  • You can also ask questions that demonstrate your awareness of the company and initiatives, such as “I recently read an article about the company acquiring a new business. Will this impact the role I’m interviewing for in any way?”
  • At this point, avoid asking questions related to benefits or perks unless the interviewer brings them up.
  • If it seems like the interviewer is ready to wrap up the interview or has to go to another appointment, simply say something like “I do have more questions moving forward, but don’t want to take up more of your time. Can I email the rest to you?”
  • If you are offered the position without having your questions answered, don’t accept it blindly. Let the hiring manager know you need more information before you can make a decision.

When it comes to interviewing, it’s not about asking a certain number of questions. It’s about asking the right questions that help you learn about the job and the company so you can make a great career decision.

Do you need more advice on interviewing and other job search activities? Call the experts at Adams & Garth. As one of the top employment agencies in Charlottesville, Adams & Garth can help you polish your resume, prep for interviews, and give you access to rewarding jobs in your field!

Contact Adams & Garth today to learn more.