Adams & Garth Blog

What’s a Pain Letter – & Should I Be Using One in My Job Search?

June 28th, 2016

Writing a cover letter is a tough job. How do you convince the hiring manager you’re right for the position in just a few paragraphs?

One recent trend is to send in a “pain letter” rather than just a cover letter. A pain letter is simply where you talk about a hiring manager’s biggest problem – i.e. “the pain” – and then explain how you can solve it. Some experts so that in doing so, you showcase your skills and experience, your knowledge of the company, and your desire to make a contribution.

But are pain letters really a good idea? After all, how do you really know what a hiring manager’s biggest pains are?

Sometimes, the answer is right in the job description. For instance, the job description might say something like:

“We’re looking for a social media manager who can develop an effective strategy and improve our presence on various social media channels.”

Once you know the specific pain point (lack of strategy and visibility on social media in the example above), you can get to work crafting a letter that shows how you can relieve the issue for the employer.

That said, if you can’t figure out a specific pain point, don’t try to guess at it. If you do – and you’re off the mark, you’ll appear presumptive and out of touch to the hiring manager. Instead, aim to frame your cover letter in terms of what the hiring manager needs (a finance whiz, an administrative guru, or whatever the case may be) and how you will excel in the position.

Keep in mind, the best way to stand out to a hiring manager isn’t to follow the latest trends. It’s to have a solid resume with a proven record of success and write a compelling cover letter that explains why you’re a great fit for the job.

A few other cover letter writing tips include:

  • Tell a story – in other words, why you want to work at the company, or why you first entered your career field.
  • Don’t regurgitate your resume. Include new information on your cover letter.
  • Use numbers where you can to quantify accomplishments.
  • Don’t be overly formal; be professional yet friendly.
  • Customize each letter for the different positions you apply to.
  • Keep it short – no more than one page.

Need more help writing cover letters – or finding your next dream job in Central Virginia? Call the employment experts at Adams & Garth. We can connect you with leading employers and top jobs throughout Central Virginia. Call us today to find out more.

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.

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.

“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.

Do You Need a Video Resume?

October 28th, 2014

Making an impression on hiring managers is an important part of finding a new job in Central Virginia. After all, they get dozens if not hundreds of resumes from applicants – so standing out among them is critically important.

But does that mean you need a video resume?

Unless the job listing specifically requests that you submit one, the answer is “probably not.” If you have a solid background with the right skill set for the opportunity, then that’s what’s going to sell you as a strong candidate for the position…not a video resume.

In addition, a video resume can actually harm your chances of landing an interview. For instance, if a job listing does not call for a video resume to be submitted, a hiring manager might be frustrated by yours because they want to simply scan cover letters and resumes, not commit a lot of time to watching a video resume.

So when it comes to applying for positions, stick with the tried-and-true cover letter and resume. Spend ample time polishing and customizing yours for each opportunity you apply to. When you do – and your skill set is a match for a position – you will stand out to a hiring manager, all without a video resume.

That said, when a job listing does call for one, how can you develop a video resume that’s professional?

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Dress for success in the video. That means wearing what you would to a job interview.
  • Make sure the room you record in is quiet and neutral so there are no visual or audio distractions.
  • Make eye contact with the camera.
  • Start off your recording by stating your name and the job opening you are applying for. Segue into discussing your background and why it’s a good fit for the opportunity and the company.
  • Don’t ramble on. If you get an interview, you’ll have plenty of time to talk about all your accomplishments. Just focus on a few keys ones that are truly relevant for the job you are interested in.
  • Be mindful of your pace. You don’t want to talk too quickly or too slowly. Instead, try to keep a natural pace.
  • Once you’ve completed your video resume, upload it to a site like Vimeo or YouTube so you can share the link with employers. Be sure to include it too on your LinkedIn profile.

And if you need help standing out to hiring managers – and landing a new job in Central Virginia, please contact Adams & Garth. We’ve partnered with leading employers throughout the region to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields.

The Friends & Family Plan: Be Careful When Working for Those You Know

March 25th, 2014

In theory, working for a family member or friend sounds great. After all, you know their personalities, what they do and what you’re getting yourself into – plus you have a shot at helping their business succeed. What could go wrong?

A lot. Before you accept a job in Central Virginia where you join the ranks of a company owned by someone you know well, keep a few things in mind:

Clearly defining roles and expectations is more important than ever.

When you work for someone you don’t know, you still need goals and expectations. However, when it comes to working for family and friends, this is even more important because there is so much at stake – namely your relationship.

But this can be hard because many times, small businesses are family owned and far more casual about job descriptions and responsibilities. So it might be up to you to insist on this aspect. When you do, your time at the company is far more likely to be productive and successful.

Use what you know.

You know your friend or family member’s personality. It’s unlikely they are going to be any different at work. So if they have a tendency to be sarcastic, a little too direct, let their tempers flare, or uncommunicative, then guess what? They’re probably going to be like that at work, as well.

The advantage for you though is that you already know this information going in and you can use it to help guide you when conflicts do arise.

Brace for conflict.

Speaking of conflict, expect it. Just because you know or are related to the person you are working for, doesn’t mean you are going to be given the VIP treatment or handled with kid gloves.

Don’t cross boundaries.

If your sister is the boss and out of the office, don’t act on her behalf when a decision needs to be made or fire put out, unless she told you directly to do so. If you do, you’ll not only undermine your relationship with her, but you’ll also make a bad impression on your colleagues. Know where the boundaries are and don’t cross them.

Put communication on your priority list.

Communication is important regardless of the work setting. But again, considering there are personal relationships involved, it becomes even more vital when you work for friends or family members.

So communicate when you have an opinion, or you’re upset about something. Don’t keep your mouth shut just because you’re afraid of offending a family member.

Whether you choose to accept a job with a family member or a friend is up to you. But if you do, follow the tips above to keep both your work and personal relationships in tact.

Looking for 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.

6 Tips for Holiday Party Networking

December 18th, 2012

As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, Adams & Garth knows that holiday parties aren’t just a time for eating, drinking, and being merry. They can also provide job candidates with a great opportunity to network.

So how can you get the most out of the gatherings you attend this year? Here are 6 tips to help you:

Tip #1: Just Say “Yes.”

If you’re looking for jobs in Central Virginia, you can’t afford to be choosy with which events you decide to attend and which you don’t. You should accept invitations to all holiday events. You never know who you’ll meet and what kinds of opportunities will cross your path.

Tip #2: Know Who’s Going to Be There.

Do some research ahead of time so you know who’s attending and whom you should be connecting with. Set a goal of meeting at least three or four new people at an event. Your aim here should be quality over quantity with your connections. You’re trying to build relationships, not beef up your rolodex.

Tip #3: Follow Proper Etiquette.

True, holiday parties are good opportunities to network. That said, you shouldn’t be carrying around a stack of resumes, ready to hand one out to anyone you meet. If you do meet someone of interest, then simply offer them your business card and make plans to touch base in the near future.

Tip #4: Ask for Advice.

Rather than asking for jobs in Central Virginia, ask for advice. People generally love doling out advice and the ones you meet will be much more receptive to being a resource for you. So simply say something like “Do you have any advice for getting my foot in the door at XYZ company?” or “What kind of advice could you offer me on how to break into ABC career field?”

Tip #5: Take Notes on Those You Meet. 

Obviously, you don’t want to stand around at a holiday gathering with a notebook and pen in hand. But bring a paper and pen with you and leave it in your car. That way, as soon as you leave a party, you can jot down notes and important details about those you met while the information is all still fresh in your mind.

Tip #5: Follow Up. 

After the holiday party, send out a handwritten note, along with your resume, to your new contacts. Be sure to reference something specific from your conversation and to make plans for touching base; for instance, let them know you’ll call them for lunch or coffee.

Looking for More Help With Your Job Search?

Let us know. As one of the leading employment agencies in Central Virginia, we can connect you with the top employers – and the top jobs in Central Virginia. Contact us today to learn more!

6 Great Jobs for Extroverts

August 21st, 2012

Do you love being around people? Are you often described as “the life of the party?” After a long day at work, do you want to go out and socialize?

If this sounds like you, then there are plenty of exciting and rewarding jobs in Central Virginia you might be a great fit for. Here’s a look at 6 of them:

1. Sales Manager
Median Salary: $98,530 per year*

If the idea of talking on the phone all day or being in meetings fills you with dread, then sales is likely not for you. However, if you are a true extrovert and love to interact with others – whether in person or on the phone – then sales could be a good fit. That said, there’s more to just being a “people person” to succeed in sales; you also must demonstrate the power of persuasion. And when it comes to being a sales manager, you must be able to effectively set goals, analyze data, and train and supervise your sales representatives.

2. Public Relations Manager/Specialist
Median Salary: $57,550 per year*

When you’re in PR, it’s your job to meet and connect with other people (typically the media or those within your industry) in order to brand and promote another person, company, product or service. You also need to be an excellent communicator since, oftentimes, you’re the face of the product you’re selling.

3. High School Educator
Median Salary: $53,230 per year*

As an educator, you’re not simply teaching students, you’re also interacting with them, their parents, your fellow teachers, school administrators, the school board, and anyone else involved in the education system. As a result, having strong interpersonal skills and a love of people is truly critical for success in this position.

4. Human Resource Specialist
Median Salary: $52,690 per year*

HR is the ultimate people-related profession. Whether you’re interviewing candidates, orienting a new hire, or handling issues between existing employees, your role is to understand people and different personalities, how they work and fit in the company’s culture, and help them to succeed.

5. Customer Service Representative
Median Salary: $30,460 per year*

Not only are strong interpersonal skills a must in customer service jobs, but so is plenty of patience. You’re going to be dealing with people with questions at best, or who are irate at worst. So you need to be able to diffuse stressful situations and keep a cool head in the process.

6. Physical Therapist
Median Salary: $76,310 per year*

As a physical therapist, not only do you have to help patients overcome injury or illness and manage their pain, but you also need to help them deal with frustration and setbacks in an encouraging way.

Need Help Finding a New Job in Central Virginia?

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.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook

6 Reasons to Ramp Up Your Job Search Efforts This Summer

July 3rd, 2012

Summer vacation is here – and that means your job search is about to go on holiday, right? Wrong!

Even though summer may seem like a slow time for many companies, most businesses do hire during the summer months. So if you’re looking for jobs in Central Virginia – but are thinking of taking a vacation from your search this summer – you could be missing out on some great opportunities.

Here’s why:

1. Less Competition From Other Candidates.

Many job candidates do take the summer off from their job searches, which is great news for you if you continue your hunt. So while they’re lounging around the pool, or taking it easy, you can be searching for and applying to all the jobs in Central Virginia they aren’t.

2. Many Companies Want to Hire for Q4 projects.

Many projects have to get in gear come fall, and so summer is the best time to find the people necessary to staff Q4 projects.

3. Companies Ramp Up their Temporary Hiring Efforts.

For businesses in certain industries, summer is the busy season. So to deal with an increase in demand, they hire temporary help. While your ultimate goal may be full-time work, if you make a positive impression, there’s a chance that a temporary gig could turn into a permanent one.

4. More Turnover.

If an employee is going to leave their job, then summer is the time do it. These vacancies, whether expected or not, are just more opportunities for you to find a new job, particularly if a hiring manager is under pressure to hire.

5. It’s the Start of the Calendar Year.

Some companies start their fiscal year July 1, which means more money is available for hiring new people.

6. Plenty of Summer Time Networking Opportunities.

From barbecues and pool parties to weddings and garden parties, the summer offers a plethora of opportunities for networking. And, as you probably know, networking is one of the best ways to find out about jobs in Central Virginia and ask for referrals.

Want Help With Your Job Search?

If you do, let Adams & Garth know. We partner with leading employers throughout Central Virginia to offer you outstanding opportunities in a variety of fields. Contact Adams & Garth today to learn more.

Why Do Employers Ask About Salary History During the Hiring Process?

February 28th, 2012

As a job seeker, when asked about salary history, you may be tempted to respond with, “None of your business.” Unfortunately, though, you probably won’t get a positive reaction from the prospective employer with that answer.

So why do they want to know about past salary? And what can you do to effectively negotiate a better one in your future job? Here’s a look.

Why They Want to Know

Employers want to know about your salary history for a variety of reasons. First of all, they like to see that you have been steadily increasing in what you are paid over the years. If they see a lot of major dips in salary or a steady decline, then that is a red flag for them.

In addition, they presume you want a raise from what you were making in your previous position. Most candidates expect one. However, they want to know what your most recent salary was so they can make an appropriate offer to you. For instance, if you made $65k in your last job, then they assume you’ll accept an offer of $70k.

Tips for Salary Negotiations   

  • When discussing your past salary history, emphasize to the prospective employer that you are looking to make fair market value in the position. To do so, you’ll need to understand your market value and use that information – instead of your past salary – as the benchmark for the negotiation process.
  • In addition, don’t forget about your benefits package. If, for instance, your total compensation package (including both salary and benefits) in your last position was $85k and they are offering you a compensation package of only $80k – even if the salary is more – use that as leverage during negotiations. Ask for more money or added benefits.
  • Finally, whatever you do, don’t lie about or exaggerate your salary history. Some companies request W-2s from prospective employees prior to finalizing the deal just to ensure salary history is accurate. And by lying, you could lose out on your dream job.

If you’d like more help with the job search process, let us know. As an employment agency with over 20 years of experience, we can give you access to some of the top employers and top jobs in Central Virginia.

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