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.

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 Get a New Job at Your Old Employer

November 10th, 2015

You’re looking for a new job when you come across a posting that sounds ideal. But then you realize one potential sticking point – it’s with your past employer. Should you skip over it, or apply anyway?

As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth knows if you left your past employer because you didn’t like working there – whether it was your boss, your co-workers, or the culture – then you should keep moving. Even though it can be tempting to apply if the job sounds perfect, you’ll likely wind up unhappy, frustrated and ready to move on…again.

In addition, if you burned a few bridges when you left, then you may be wasting your time re-applying. For instance, if you quit abruptly without two weeks notice or were consistently written up for poor performance, those are good reasons not to apply.

However, if you simply left for a better opportunity, but would be interested in boomeranging back in, then it’s certainly worth it to apply. And, in fact, you might be a top choice candidate for your past employer for a few reasons:

  • You already know the business and the culture, so onboarding and training time would be less than for other candidates.
  • You are a known entity. In other words, your past employer knows your personality and work ethic and doesn’t have to worry about any nasty surprises should they hire you.
  • You fit with the culture. One of the prime reasons new hires quit is due to a lack of cultural fit. But you already know the culture and are comfortable in it.

With that said, how do you go about re-applying so you make it to the top of the list? Here are a few quick tips:

  • Reach out to your old boss or former colleagues and tell them you’re interested in the job. Try to get together over coffee or lunch and inquire about what you think the chances are of you landing the position. Ask if they’d be willing to recommend you.
  • Be prepared to be persuasive. Just because you are a well-liked former employee doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in for the job. You still need to sell yourself and persuade the hiring manager as to why you should be the top choice. For instance, if you’ve expanded your skill set since you’ve left the company, highlight the added value you can bring to the table because of it.
  • And finally, approach the process just as you would with a new employer. Be prepared for every phone screen and interview. Act professionally at all times. And follow up with thank you notes after any interviews.

Do you need more help finding your next great 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.

Hiring Managers Want Results! Here’s How to Promote Yours on Your Resume

July 14th, 2015

As one of the top employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth knows when an employer is looking to hire, they want to know what sets you apart as a candidate. One way to stand out in a sea of other job candidates applying for the same opportunity is to showcase your achievements using figures or numbers. But if you’re like many out there, quantifying the results you’ve accomplished over the years can tricky. How do you do it? Here are a few areas to think about:

Money you’ve saved employers.

Organizations are always looking to make or save money. If, during the course of your past positions, you were able to do that, it’s important to promote that accomplishment on your resume. Think about different ways you’ve saved or made money for a past employer – or better managed a task so it was more efficient cost-wise. Some examples include:

  • Successfully managed an operating budget of $500k.
  • Cut company office supply costs by 15%.

Time saved for employers.

Similar to money, organizations want to be able to cut time spent on tasks, and deliver positive results faster. Important milestones to communicate on your resume in relation to time include meeting critical deadlines or spearheading a more efficient way of doing business. When reviewing your resume, a hiring manager will think that if you could achieve those results for one company, then you could do the same for their company.

Value delivered in other areas.

It can be hard to attached numbers to many other daily tasks. However, when doing so, examine your primary duties in a role, especially those most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Then think about things like how often you performed that task or how many individuals you managed throughout the process. For instance, include amounts such as:

  • Managed a team of 10.
  • Wrote 10 responses to RFPs in a one-year time period; four of which were successfully secured.

The bottom line? The more you can put numbers on your resume, the better your chances are of standing out – and getting a call for an interview from a hiring manager.

If you’d like more help sprucing up your resume and landing a great new job, call Adams & Garth. As one of the top employment agencies in Central Virginia, we can help you with your job search from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more!

What to Do When a Job Offer Gets Pulled

June 23rd, 2015

You’ve finally found a great job opportunity. But a week before you’re supposed to start, you get a call from the HR manager at your new company. The job offer has been put on hold. What should you do? Do you wait around until they’re ready to bring you on board? Or do you cut your losses and start your search all over again?

While it’s certainly not fair that your job offer was rescinded, it is perfectly legal – as long as there was no contract signed. If you did have a contract, then there may be a basis for a legal claim. If you didn’t, then you’re basically out of luck. You’re considered an “at will” employee and as such, an employer can terminate the relationship at any time, including before it even began.

What do you do now?

First, don’t take the situation personally. Unless they discovered some horrible issue in your background, then it’s not your fault the offer got pulled in the 11th hour. There could have been a variety of factors at play. For example, maybe the person leaving decided not to quit after all and accepted a counter offer. Or there could have been a change that took place in the company – such as a new CEO or departmental merger – that caused the offer to be withdrawn.

It’s up to you to find out whether this is a temporary situation, or if the offer is really gone altogether. If it’s a financial issue, which most are, then the employer may have realized their financial outlook wasn’t as bright as originally thought. Whatever the case, try to speak to the decision maker so you can get a clearer sense of where you stand.

While you’re doing that, though, don’t hold your breath for good news. You have bills to pay and a career to move forward, so it’s important to re-start your job search. Also, the more time that passes after an offer is pulled, the less likely that you’ll get hired – even if it was your dream job.

Do you need more job search help? Call the experts at Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we will work to get to know you, your background, skills and personality – all so we can match you with job opportunities that are a terrific fit.

Search our Central Virginia jobs now or contact us today.

 

How to Stand Out at Work – and Get Promoted

June 9th, 2015

You have a job you love, so you don’t need to focus on your career, right? Wrong. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth knows if you want to progress and move forward at work, there are steps you need to take to ensure the higher ups notice you. What are they? Here’s a look:

Make sure you’re seen.

According to studies, workers who telecommute may end up getting lower performance evaluations, lower raises and fewer promotions when compared with colleagues in the office – even when they work just as hard and just as long. So if you telecommute, it’s still important to show your face every so often. If it’s not possible to actually go to your work location, then consider using Skype or another video teleconferencing tool during meetings in order to raise your visibility.

Give people your full attention.

When your boss or a colleague walks into your office, stop texting or emailing. People deserve your full attention and if you don’t give it regularly, then you’re making a bad impression. If you feel like you’re interrupted too often to get work done, then close your door for an hour or two each day.

Develop relationships with others.

If you’re an introvert, this one can be a challenge. But it’s important for you to strive to develop relationships with those you work with. Ask people what they did over the weekend. Inquire about a co-worker’s family. Tell a colleague a funny story from the latest conference you went to. Whatever you do, aim to share with your colleagues; you’ll make yourself more memorable and relatable as a result.

Be a problem solver.

If a colleague is having an issue – and you know you could help him or her – volunteer to do it. Even if it’s outside the realm of your role at the office, your co-worker will be appreciative and likely to want to return the favor in the future.

Voice your opinion.

Nobody likes a know-it-all or someone who comes across as highly opinionated. But do make your voice heard through direct and insightful comments in meetings and during brainstorming sessions.

Give credit where it’s due.

If you see your boss or a colleague going the extra mile, recognize them for it. While you don’t want to kiss up or come across as insincere, giving credit where it’s due is always appreciated and remembered.

Are you ready to stand out in a new job? Call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we will work to get to know you, your background, skills and personality – all so we can match you with job opportunities that are a terrific fit. Search our Central Virginia jobs now or contact us today.

 

How to Research Potential Employers – Before You Say “Yes” to an Offer

May 12th, 2015

When you’re looking for a new job, you want to know what it’s like to work at a company before you accept an offer. You’ll find out some details about a potential employer during the interview process. But what can you do to dig deeper, uncover any red flags, and find the company that’s truly a great fit for you? Here’s a look:

Ask good questions.

As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth knows you should not rely on the interviewer to tell you everything you need to know to make the right decision. Ask questions that will help you assess whether or not the company is the kind you want to work for. Some examples include:

  • Why did the last person in this position leave?
  • What kind of personality fits best within the company?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here? Least?
  • How has the company changed since you started?
  • What’s one thing you wish you knew before you began working here?

Gain a different perspective.

As you talk with the interviewer, ask him or her if it would be possible to talk with prospective team members. It makes sense to meet with at least one co-worker without the interviewer in the room. If your request is denied, take note. Unhappy employees don’t make good brand advocates.

Search online.

Look to websites like Glassdoor.com to find reviews and insider information about the company and its working environment. Although, keep in mind: reviews that are overly positive or negative may be phony; those that fall somewhere in the middle will likely offer the most accurate picture.

Reach out to your network.

Use sites like LinkedIn to find out if you know any current or past employees. If you don’t, reach out to your network and ask whether anyone has worked, or knows anyone who has worked, at the company. They’ll be able to give you the inside scoop on what it’s really like to work there.

Pay attention to how you’re treated.

Before you accept an offer, think about how you were treated during the interview process. Was the interviewer on time? Or did he or she show up late? Did they give you their full attention in the interview? Or keep checking their cell phone? Do the employees you’ve seen seem happy and engaged, or miserable and stressed? Was the interview process well organized, or disorderly? Did the interviewer keep you in the loop throughout the process? Or did they leave you hanging?

Don’t ignore warning signs just because you want a job. If you say “yes” to an opportunity when your guts says “no,” you’ll likely end up unhappy and frustrated. Instead, wait until the right employer comes along.

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.

Sloppy Mistakes That Are Killing Your Job Search

February 24th, 2015

As one of Central Virginia’s leading employment agencies, Adams & Garth knows you can have the most experience and the strongest skill set. But if you’re making sloppy mistakes on your resume and in your cover letter, then you’re not going to get an interview, let alone the job offer.

What are some of the biggest and most egregious errors candidates make when applying? Here’s a look at 4:

Mistake #1: Spelling and grammar mistakes.

One minor typo won’t hinder your chances of getting an interview offer, especially if you have a strong background. However, if your resume and cover letter are sprinkled with mistakes in spelling and grammar, then it’s going to be a red flag for a hiring manager. Every job requires some degree of communication, often times in writing. If a hiring manager is concerned about your ability to do so in an articulate and professional way, then you’re not going to be considered for the job.

Mistake #2: Writing in a tone that’s too casual.

With texting and Facebook, people today – especially those in the younger demographics – are used to writing in a far more casual tone. While this might be ok in an online social setting, it’s not acceptable when submitting your cover letter and resume to a potential employer. You don’t need to adopt a completely formal, uptight tone. You can still be conversational. But you must follow the rules of grammar you learned in grade school. That means no “LMKs.”

Mistake #3: Addressing your resume to the wrong person.

Consider yourself lucky if there’s an actual name of a hiring manager in the job posting. When there is, you’ll have someone to contact and follow up with after you apply. However, they likely won’t want to hear from you if you put the wrong name (for instance, the last hiring manager you applied to) in your cover letter or in your email with your resume. Make sure you review everything before hitting that “send” button.

Mistake #4: Using the wrong company name.

This often happens when candidates do a quick cut and paste from the last job they applied to and forget to swap out the company name. But this signals to the hiring manager that 1) you didn’t take the time to tailor your cover letter for their job opening and 2) you lack attention to detail because you clearly didn’t proofread. Either way, it’s not the message you want to send to a hiring manager.

The mistakes above can be easily avoided by simply taking some additional time and effort to review your resume and cover letter before sending it to a potential employer. If you’re uncertain of its accuracy, then give it to a friend or family member to review ahead of time.

If you need more help with your resume, cover letter, or job search, turn to the experts at Adams & Garth. As one of Central Virginia’s leading employment agencies, we partner with top employers throughout the region to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Contact us today to learn more or search our Central Virginia jobs now.

When Your Boss Doesn’t Show You Any Love

January 27th, 2015

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is on everyone’s mind. But when your boss doesn’t show you any – in the form of respect, warmth, recognition, or kindness – it can be tough to handle. Is it time to move on for greener pastures? Or should you stick it out with an ill-tempered or detached boss?

As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth can tell you: It depends.

First, think about where your boss is coming from. He or she could be under a lot of pressure and stressed out, while you’re interpreting their attitude as a problem with you individually. Ask around and see if other co-workers are experiencing the same treatment. If they aren’t, then dig a little deeper to find the root cause.

Here are a few possibilities:

Your boss has a problem with your performance.

Are you often late, unprepared, or do you miss deadlines? Does your boss assign the important or more challenging tasks to others? Have you had performance problems in the past? Then those issues could be the source of your boss’s frustrations. If they are, then it’s up to you to change his or her mind by building a track record of positive performance and good behavior.

Your personalities don’t mesh well.

You may do good work, but perhaps your personality and your boss’s simply don’t blend well. Part of the problem is likely the two of you have different communication styles. Whatever the case, there are a few ways you can open up the lines of communication, including:

  • Being calm. Don’t get angry. Your boss doesn’t have to share your opinion and the two of you don’t need to be best friends.
  • Ask your boss for advice and guidance on your performance. For instance, you may have a habit of just pointing out problems and he or she may want you to offer solutions instead.
  • Don’t demand, instead suggest. Aim to solve problems and attain a productive and professional relationship, rather than be argumentative.

Your boss feels threatened by you.

If your boss treats you inconsistently – for instance, you’re having a good conversation and then you present a fact they didn’t know and they get defensive – then it’s a sign they’re insecure around you. If that’s the case, they can then use the power of their position to make your life miserable at work.

So how do you deal with this sticky situation?

Start by always being constructive and aiming to collaborate. Look for ways to help your boss and make their job easier. If you find a mistake they made, don’t bring it up in front of others. If problems persist, talk to your boss and ask for clarification about the issue.

Ready for a new opportunity – with a new boss? Call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we will work to get to know you, your background, skills and personality – all so we can match you with job opportunities that are a terrific fit. Search our Central Virginia jobs now or contact us today.

 

Mistakes That Will Land You in the Wrong Career

March 4th, 2014

Ever feel like you’re getting by in your career, but not thriving? You like what you do…sort of…but don’t truly love it?

As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we see people all the time who are in careers they either aren’t well suited for or they simply aren’t happy in. Engineers who should have been accountants. Administrative assistants who should be graphic designers, and the list goes on.

There are many reasons why people find themselves trapped in jobs and fields they want “out” from. If you’re one of them – and wondering where things went wrong – here are a few career mistakes that may have led you off course and how to rectify each:

Not following your instincts. 

Oftentimes, a job or career field can seem perfect on paper. The salary is great, the benefits look ideal, the work seems challenging. So rather than really thinking about whether it’s a good fit for you, you may have looked at all the practical aspects of the opportunity and ignored that nagging sensation that the opportunity just wasn’t the right one.

What to do about it: Your gut can offer you a pretty sophisticated warning system. Don’t ignore it! Even if the next job you’re offered sounds perfect, but it still feels wrong, politely decline and keep looking. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

Doing what other people want you to do.

Sometimes outside pressure – from parents, spouses, friends, and colleagues – can cause you to make decisions and accept positions that aren’t right for you. Or perhaps you earned a degree in a certain field and feel that you’re now committed to it. Bottom line? You’re not where you want to be.

What to do about it: Don’t continue to turn a deaf ear to that inner voice telling you something’s wrong. It’s ok to want other people’s approval. But is it really worth it at the expense of your own personal happiness?

It’s time to start listening to the one person who’s career satisfaction you are in charge of. So start thinking about what gifts and interests you have and how you can find a job that puts them to work.

Not changing course quickly. 

Most people out there have taken a job they wished they hadn’t or made missteps in their career track. However, the key to career success is recognizing a wrong move and rectifying it as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you’ll stay miserably stuck in a career and job you don’t like.

What to do about it: Be honest with yourself. Admit your mistake and create a plan of action for moving forward. Why spend another moment in a job that makes you unhappy when there are plenty of opportunities out there that are better suited for you.

Need more help finding a job – or a new career – that you’ll love? Call Adams & Garth. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we will work to get to know you, your background, skills and personality – all so we can match you with job opportunities that are a terrific fit.

Search our Central Virginia jobs now or contact us today.