My History of Job Searches
Job hunting can be really tough. And it can take a long time to discover the best methods. You’re usually competing against 100s, if not 1000s of other applicants for a single position. I learned the hard way. You’ve got to have a great covering letter to get your foot in the door and start promoting yourself.
Like most students in the States, I got my first jobs during high-school and college by visiting shops and filling out employment application forms. A few dozen applications, and voila, a job. A job that most people really wouldn’t want. Well, you have to start somewhere.
After college I was lucky and found a great job through my faculty adviser and another after that through networking with some business acquaintances. Then I went back to school for a graduate degree in engineering. After receiving my grad degree, I made some big mistakes in my job search. I hadn’t been networking at conferences, and my cover letters went something like this.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Enclosed is my resume in application for the xyz position in your department.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I can now spot 4 huge mistakes. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.
I’d completely missed the opportunity to use the cover to personalize my application and provide persuasive additional information. And a cover letter isn’t just for professional applications. Even if you’re just filling out an application form at the local fast-food shop, follow up with a cover letter. Then after an interview, follow up again with a thank-you “cover letter.” It’s important to be seen as interested and down-right eager. Not to mention persistent and thorough.
How did things eventually turn out? I landed a great job at a global aerospace firm, followed by a couple of jobs at small and mid-sized engineering firms. I’ve worked on some great projects, and now I’m looking forward to retirement.
Unfortunately, with hundreds or thousands of competitors for each position, it’s still largely a matter of numbers. You need to send out a lot of resumes to get a single interview. It can be a tough quality versus quantity tradeoff. For better or worse, I spend more time on the job opportunities that look really exciting, and may cut corners a little on the others.
Amazing Cover Letters… Really?
I’ve looked around for templates and tools to help with all this. Here’s my uncensored review of the best tool I’ve found. I’m writing this (and starting this website) because I know lots of people are looking for job-search guidance and most sites say little or nothing about cover letters. I’ve found a surprising number of resources that actually give bad advice. I’m pretty picky, so here comes both good and bad points
“Amazing Cover Letters” (ACL) is great for quickly writing great covering letters. Though I wish they’d stop mentioning “instant” and “3 ½” minutes though – your really should spend a lot more time than that. But that’s also what I like best about it; you can spend as much or as little time as you want on each letter.
ACL is more than just a set of example letters or templates. It’s a software package with some built-in guidance. Entering the software, you can first review a half-dozen or so 1-page summaries with resume cover letter advice and tips. At any time you can click on a few simple questions and the program will generate a template for your general situation. This includes cover letters plus follow-up, networking, and thank-you letters. You can then navigate though another half-dozen pages to further personalize you letter as well as make it more persuasive. Plus another dozen or so helpful “writing tools” pages. Finally, you can cut and past the draft letter into your word processor to edit and customize until your heart’s content.
With Amazing Cover Letters, you can automatically create a good-enough letter in just a couple of minutes, or you can spend an hour or more crafting a killer resume covering letter.
What’s not to like? Well, there are a few things that bother me. First, there’s not really a MAC version. If you have a MAC you can use a version of ACL that resides on the web. But personally, I’d feel a little uncomfortable depending on an internet connection and someone else’s web site to get important work done. Secondly, breaking the guidelines into little 1-page bits that you have to go through click-by-click is a bit irritating. This works well when you’re interactively editing, but I’d rather have something more like an eBook I could read through for the learning portion.
If you purchase ACL you’ll see several other offers before you get to the download link. I haven’t used them myself, so I can’t really say anything about them other than that they look promising. If you sign-up with your email address you’ll receive a few emails. Some are promotional, others have useful and interesting job-hunting tips. You can easily unsubscribe via the link at the very bottom of each email.
The full pacakge costs under $50, and comes with three bonuses. The first is 3 top “contest-winning” cover letter examples. The second is another software package that lets you go click-by-click through 10 job interview “secrets.” They’re great guidance for what hopefully comes after your cover letters. The third is a 14-page eBook on salary-negotiating methods. You’ll need Adobe and an un-zip program to use these bonuses. The ACL download page includes helpful links to this free software, plus good instructions for getting everything downloaded, installed, and running.
In brief, I really like it. It gets me past any “blank-page block” and into a great draft amazingly quickly. From there you can further craft your cover letter, or just give it a through proofing and send it out.
Everything is delivered over the web, so you can get the tool and start using it within minutes, any time of the day or night. The package comes with an 8-week guarantee. You can get a full refund anytime within that period, and still keep the bonuses. It’s hard to loose with this one.
Note: I’m an affiliate for ACL. That means that if you purchase it via my website, I’ll get a commission. You’ll pay the same, maybe even a bit less, than going directly to the ACL site. I’ve purchased and used itmyself, and wouldn’t be an affiliate if I didn’t like it.