A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
In This Issue (02/28/03):
- Addressing cover letters to recruiters
- Getting information on career in marine biology
- Reacting and dealing with a canceled job interview
- Updating resume with new job duties/responsibilities
|Q:||Diane writes: I would like to send my resume with a cover letter to recruiters/employment agencies. The career development office I’m working with advises that it is better to have someone’s name to address the cover letter to. Since it would require a great deal of time to try and get a staff member’s name for each agency would it be acceptable to use a generic salutation such as Dear Recruiter?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The rules of cover letter writing are a bit different when writing letters to headhunters than when writing letters to employers but the one rule of all cover letter writing is that the job-seeker must — as best as possible — address the letters to named individuals. Think about it when was the last time you read (junk mail) addressed to ‘Dear Homeowner’ or ‘Dear Pet Owner.’ If you don’t read these kinds of letters why should busy professionals? Job-seekers must always take the time to get names and titles for cover letters.
Before I get to the differences in content let me also address one other red flag in your question. Why would you be sending off so many letters to recruiters? Take the time to research the recruiting agencies that specialize in your field and in your preferred location — and only contact those recruiters. Don’t waste your time — and the time of those recruiters — by writing to recruiters who don’t work in your area.
One other comment about strategy. The majority of recruiters say that the resume is the single most important document they look at when evaluating job-seekers; cover letters are a distant second. The message here? Make sure your resume is exceptional.
Your cover letter to a recruiter should focus on these elements:
For more information about this topic please read the article published on Quintessential Careers written by my partner Katharine Hansen: Cover Letters to Recruiters Require Special Handling.
You can also follow this link to a sample cover letter to a recruiter.
And don’t forget to follow all the other guidelines for good cover letters — especially avoiding typos and misspellings and always being truthful. Find more resources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Cover Letter Resources.
|Q:||Gina writes: I’m interested in pursuing marine biology as a career and I know it’s very hard career wise to get into. Any information regarding fields careers jobs and colleges related to marine biology or marine science would help. Thanks|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I don’t know your definition of hard but from most of the resources I have seen and the people I have talked with a career in marine biology requires at least a master’s degree…so there is definitely a lot of hard work and schooling involved.
A career in marine biology can take several paths. You could work in a private or government lab performing research (e.g. Scientists in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps investigate the ecological physiological cellular and biochemical characteristics of marine bacteria plants and animals etc.) teach work outdoors and/or underwater or even in an office. Chances are you would work in a number of these at various times.
Career paths within marine biology include biotechnologist toxicologist aquaculturist microbiologist ecologist marine educator fisheries biologist mammalogist algologist behaviorist marine pathologist aquarist and parasitologist.
While still in high school focus on math and science courses. In choosing colleges you can look for schools that have a marine biology major for undergraduates but most of the graduate programs in marine biology do not require it to be your major so you could also look at schools that have a strong science program (or pre-med program) with majors such as biology biochemistry chemistry.
And while in college focus on trying to get one or more internships related to marine biology.
Finally remember that interests change so take your time in researching the career and in taking your college courses. And if you decide along the way that marine biology is not for you don’t panic; instead simply spend some time reflecting on the things that do interest you.
You can find an amazing number of links to marine biology resources from the folks at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University. Go to: Careers & Jobs in Marine Biology & Oceanography.
|Q:||Cathy writes: I am seeking advice for my husband. He had an interview for a position which he thought went well and was also told it was a good meeting. He was called back for a second interview. But the night before the interview he received a message on our answering machine saying that the meeting was being canceled. It has now been one week and he has heard nothing. The agency that was working with him only knew that the meeting was canceled. At this point does he "write off" this company as a potential employer or should he follow it up in some way?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I see a couple of red flags in your email and my gut feeling is that it is time for your husband to explore other options but let’s go through this thing step-by-step.
First when using a recruiter or headhunter that person becomes a key point of contact. Just remember that the recruiter works for the employer (and not you) and you should be okay. The recruiter only gets paid for placing a job-seeker with a client company so there are obvious reasons why the recruiter wants to work with you in helping you land the position. Always follow-up any contact with employers with the recruiter and get his or her feedback on your performance and perceptions of where you stand with the employer.
Second job-seekers should always send thank you notes after all interviews — to each person who interviewed you. While not always seen as a requirement thank you letters can push you ahead of the other candidates — give you a little edge.
Third always follow-up with employers — and recruiters. Who knows why the employer canceled the interview? Perhaps they filled the position; perhaps they implemented a hiring freeze; perhaps they received a bad reference about your husband. Information is key. By following-up the next day after getting the message he might be in a better position of knowing where he stood — and where the search stood. He should have also called the recruiter if for no other reason than to update him/her on the progress of the search. Follow-up is key. Job-seekers must follow-up on all job leads.
I wouldn’t necessarily write off this company — there is still time to make contact and see where the search stands — but I would certainly be moving forward with other potential employers because something obviously happened with this company. And your husband should decide whether to keep working with the recruiter.
Finally remember that networking is the best — and most likely – way to find a job. So be sure to let all the people in your network know you are looking for a new opportunity.
For more resources related to recruiters and headhunters including useful advice and recruiter directories go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Recruiter/Headhunter Resources Directories & Associations.
|Q:||Lynn writes: I have recently made a slight shift in my job field. I was an Administrative Assistant for over 6 yrs and now I am working in the Accounting Department. How do I reflect the change in duties from Administrative Assistant to (I don’t really have a title now)…Accounting. I have only been doing this for a month but I recognize that the pay is better on this side of the fence. Some of my daily functions parallel what I was doing in my previous position. However I want to show progression on my resume without looking like I job hop.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I am a very big proponent of keeping one’s resume current. You never know especially in the current economic and corporate climate when you’ll be in a situation where you need to have your hands on an up-to-date resume. So I laud your efforts.
And when you get promoted (or transferred) within your current employer that’s not job-hopping. In your case it shows that your employer values your work enough to expand your job responsibilities.
You really need a job title so you should either ask for a new one — or suggest one to your boss. Once you have the new job title you can show the progress from administrative assistant to the new position on your resume.
While it may be a bit too early in your new position to identify some of your key accomplishments remember that whenever you are describing jobs on your resume you should try and identify quantifiable accomplishments rather than list duties or responsibilities. Employers want to know how you made the job your own — and how you excelled in it.
You can find some great advice on writing a powerful resume — in the form of articles and tutorials — in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.