Can We Talk About Your Cover Letter?

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

Your cover letter may be as important as your resume. It should be given the same amount of attention and contain just as much customization as you put into crafting your resume. For many hiring managers or resume screeners, your cover letter explains which job you are interested in and more importantly WHY you are interested in the position/company and how you are qualified. Your cover letter must explain what value you bring to the company. Don't just list your skills. It is your responsibility to connect the dots so the review can see how you fit the position. No one will care about you unless you tie your experience to the job posting... Read More

Five VA jobs you may qualify for with military training

By a VA Careers | VA.gov - ©2020 All Rights Reserved

Former military personnel may qualify for several positions at VA including Intermediate Care Technician and paramedic. You've spent years sacrificing for your country and working hard to protect it. But what happens when it comes times to transition to a civilian career? Are job opportunities available to you after military service? Here's some good news: You have a variety of options when it comes to a career at VA. VA Careers has a Transitioning Military Personnel initiative designed to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at the nation's largest integrated health care organization... Read More

Brain injuries in Iraq put attention on invisible war wounds

By Robert Burns | Associated Press - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spotlight on brain injuries suffered by American troops in Iraq this month is an example of America's episodic attention to this invisible war wound, which has affected hundreds of thousands over the past two decades but is not yet fully understood. Unlike physical wounds, such as burns or the loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries aren't obvious and can take time to diagnose. The full impact — physically and psychologically — may not be evident for some time, as studies have shown links between TBI and mental health problems. They cannot be dismissed as mere "headaches" — the word used by President Donald Trump as he said the injuries suffered by the troops in Iraq were not necessarily serious.... Read More

Take the initiative and have a tough conversation with your manager

By HRNasty - Reprinted with permission

The tough conversation doesn't have to be tough Last week we discussed why your manager might be difficult to work with. This week's topic was supposed to discuss scripts to use, but I realized I missed a step prior to the conversation. This step is how to prepare for a tough conversation without creating drama. Your manager has direct influence over your career so it is in our best interest to get along. Next week some sample scripts for your difficult conversation. Fair or not, we need to figure out how to effectively communicate with our manager. Most of us have wanted to provide feedback out of frustration and not admiration. When was the last time you pulled your manager aside and exclaimed... Read More

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Can We Talk About Your Cover Letter?

By Hannah Morgan - careersherpa.net - Reprinted with Permission

Your cover letter may be as important as your resume. It should be given the same amount of attention and contain just as much customization as you put into crafting your resume.

Let's Talk About WHY You Need A Cover Letter

For many hiring managers or resume screeners, your cover letter explains which job you are interested in and more importantly WHY you are interested in the position/company and how you are qualified.

Your cover letter must explain what value you bring to the company. Don't just list your skills.

It is your responsibility to connect the dots so the review can see how you fit the position.

No one will care about you unless you tie your experience to the job posting.

The Exceptions

There are exceptions to every rule.

Some hiring managers/screeners/recruiters will never read your cover letter. Others won't even glance at your resume unless you have a well-written cover letter.

You can't make them read your cover letter, nor should you assume they won't read it and not include one.

But because you don't know the preference of the individual receiving your materials, you MUST WRITE A COVER LETTER.

Your cover letter could be the one thing that sets you apart from other candidates and get's your resume a look.

More Variations In Preferences

Just as every reviewer has different personal preferences, so does every company and industry. Your job as a candidate is to understand the expectations of the audience you are applying to.

A position in graphic design would require your cover letter to demonstrate your creativity. A sales job would expect to see proof of your assertiveness and sales skills. And a position within an accounting firm, law firm or government agency, would expect a traditionally outlined letter.

The most important rule in writing is to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and customize your cover letter.

Here's an example of a bad cover letter that didn't follow instructions.

How To Get Started

Research The Company

  • What is the organization's mission?
  • Have they been in the news recently or have any of their key officers been in the news?
  • What types of positions have they been hiring for lately?
  • What is their reputation?

You want this information because you are going to include a reason why you are interested in the company in your opening paragraph.

Underline Keywords In The Job Posting

Literally, do this to make sure you are not overlooking any key qualifications or words or skills.

Note: I may have overlooked some key phrases. You may not even use them all. But knowing what you want to emphasize is important.

Cover Letter Format

Three paragraphs are all you need. Your letter should take up less than a page. People don't have a lot of time. You have to learn how to make your point concisely!

Opening Paragraph (Explain why are you writing?)

  • In response to an ad or someone referred you
  • Use your knowledge of the company
  • Explain why you want to work for the company and/or why the job interests you
  • Make the first paragraph INTERESTING!

Skills Summary (Explain why are you qualified)

  • When responding to a job posting, match your top skills with what they are looking for in the job posting
  • Keep it brief and easily skimmable
  • Use 3-5 bullet points

Closing Paragraph (Say Thank You and explain your next steps)

  • Thank them for considering your resume and reiterate your interest.
  • Let them know you will be calling to follow-up.

Always follow instructions! If the posting requests samples of work or other information, address that in your letter.

Here are 8 Ways To Customize The Dreaded Cover Letter.

How to Address Your Letter

Take the time and find the name of the person who is in charge of hiring for this position. The job posting may offer you clues about who the role reports into.

Use LinkedIn to research the hiring manager's name.

If the best you can do is get the name of the person in HR, fine, use it. I hear excuses all the time that people can't find the name. You can and should take the time to try.

If you honestly have tried and can't find the name, then consider using "Dear Hiring Manager"

All the rules of business letter writing apply! Know them!

Sample and More Examples

I know you want to see samples of what good ones look like. Here is one:

You can check out these 8 different examples by The Muse.

How To Submit Your Cover Letter

Do you wonder how you'll submit your resume and cover letter? Rule number one is... Always follow the instructions about how to apply in the job posting, ALWAYS!

Email

Your cover letter is most likely too long to go into an email. Put it with your resume attachment as page one. Don't make the reader open up two attachments, they won't! In your email, clearly state that your cover letter and resume are attached.

Note: Name your attachment with your name and job title you are applying for. For example hannahmorganTrainer.com.

USPS/Snail mail

Sometimes your only option is to mail your cover letter and resume. Then again, there may be instances when you really want to stand out and you may decide to email AND send your materials through the mail.

Doing both isn't always a bad thing if you mention in the mailed letter that you are sending it this way to ensure it isn't overlooked.

  • Print the cover letter and resume on appropriate paper
  • Sign your name, include your phone and email on the cover letter
  • Do not staple or print on two-sides (This makes it more difficult for the people to scan and process your documents.)

ATS (Applicant Tracking System)

If you are applying online, convert your documents to .txt files which strips them of Word formatting. This will better ensure the information is uploaded correctly.

If you are given the opportunity to submit a cover letter, do it!

Note: Do not use a pdf file unless the instructions say it's ok.

To learn more about preparing your resume for ATS read this: How To Get Past The Applicant Tracking System.

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Five VA jobs you may qualify for with military training

By a VA Careers | VA.gov - ©2020 All Rights Reserved

Former military personnel may qualify for several positions at VA including Intermediate Care Technician and paramedic.

You've spent years sacrificing for your country and working hard to protect it. But what happens when it comes times to transition to a civilian career? Are job opportunities available to you after military service?

Here's some good news: You have a variety of options when it comes to a career at VA. VA Careers has a Transitioning Military Personnel initiative designed to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at the nation's largest integrated health care organization.

In fact, based on certain military occupational specialties you learned in service, you can apply for several positions immediately after your service. Other VA positions offer preference for Veteran applicants or are a good fit for those who worked in military health.

The even better news? We offer employees premium-paid health insurance and robust retirement plans. Veterans working at VA also enjoy education support through Veteran-focused scholarships, professional development opportunities and accommodations to make the workplace fully accessible.

Ready to kick start a civilian career? Check out these five VA jobs you may be well suited for after military service:

  1. Intermediate Care Technician (ICT)

    Former military medic or corpsman should look at ICT careers. As an ICT, you apply your military medical training and skills as a health care provider at a VA medical center (VAMC). You perform complex technician-level diagnostic and treatment procedures. You also provide intermediate and advanced paramedic-level care, intervene in crises and do much more.

    Ryan Wyatt was the first paramedic ICT at the Southern Arizona Health Care System. He's one of hundreds of service members who've transitioned to a civilian career as a VA ICT.

    "When I got out of the Navy, there were no jobs that I could do that had the excitement of what I did in the Navy without having to go back to school," he says. "The ICT program allows medically trained transitioning service members to continue what we do best, which is taking care of our military family. The team mentality is that we can change our patient's outcomes by providing a positive experience in some of the worst times of their lives."

  2. Health Technician/Para Rescue Specialist

    Former corpsmen and medics bring the skills, abilities and experience acquired during active duty to careers as health technicians. These include delivering direct patient care, taking vital signs, administering medication and communicating results. Other responsibilities include providing diagnostic support and medical assistance to VAMCs and specialty clinics.

  3. Medical Support Assistant (MSA)

    MSA positions require tact and diplomacy, and that's why former military personnel are right for these roles. As the front-line contact with patients and staff, you set the tone for customer service at VA. You use your shared experience to comfort fellow Veterans coping with administrative processes or difficult health issues.

  4. Nursing Assistant

    Approximately 16% of all VA nurses are Veterans. That's not a surprising figure. Former military personnel bring the skills learned during service — working as team, caring for others and supporting a mission — to VA nursing careers.

    Consider starting at VA as a nursing assistant. This role involves helping licensed nursing staff provide patient care. Although certification is desirable, it's not necessary for your application. Nursing staff may take advantage of the special education support programs we offer to earn the degrees and certifications necessary to become a Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse.

  5. Support Services

    Every team member at VA has a meaningful role to play in the care of Veterans, including those in the support services role. These positions include housekeeping aid, federal protective officer, engineering technician or transportation clerk. Housekeeping aides, in particular, are given Veteran's preference during the hiring process.

    "Our housekeeping staff keep facilities safe for our patients, and Veterans and their families rely on them," said Darren Sherrard, Associate Director of VA Recruitment Marketing. "We are actively looking to fill these positions with quality employees, including our Veterans."

Choose VA today

Start your next mission serving and caring for fellow Veterans. See if a career with VA is right for you.

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Brain injuries in Iraq put attention on invisible war wounds

By Robert Burns | Associated Press - Reprinted with permission ©2020 All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spotlight on brain injuries suffered by American troops in Iraq this month is an example of America's episodic attention to this invisible war wound, which has affected hundreds of thousands over the past two decades but is not yet fully understood.

Unlike physical wounds, such as burns or the loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries aren't obvious and can take time to diagnose. The full impact — physically and psychologically — may not be evident for some time, as studies have shown links between TBI and mental health problems. They cannot be dismissed as mere "headaches" — the word used by President Donald Trump as he said the injuries suffered by the troops in Iraq were not necessarily serious.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a veteran of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, told reporters Thursday that the number of service members diagnosed with TBI from the Jan. 8 Iranian missile attack in Iraq was still growing. Later, the Pentagon said it had reached 64, up from the 50 reported earlier this week. Milley said all are categorized as "mild" injuries, but in some cases the troops will be monitored "for the rest of their lives."

Speaking alongside Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon is vigorously studying ways to prevent brain injuries on the battlefield and to improve diagnosis and treatment. Milley said it's possible, in some cases, that symptoms of TBI from the Iranian missile attack on an air base in Iraq on Jan. 8 will not become apparent for a year or two.

"We're early in the stage of diagnosis, we're early in the stage of therapy for these troops," Milley said.

William Schmitz, national commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, last week cautioned the Trump administration against taking the TBI issue lightly.

"TBI is known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches, dizziness and fatigue," sometimes with long-term effects," he said, while calling on Trump to apologize for his "misguided remarks."

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., a New Jersey Democrat and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, faulted Trump for displaying "a clear lack of understanding of the devastating impacts of brain injury."

When it announced earlier this week that the number of TBI cases in Iraq had grown to 50, the Pentagon said more could come to light later. No one was killed in the missile attack, which was an Iranian effort to avenge the killing of Qassem Soleimani, its most powerful general and leader of its paramilitary Quds Force, in an American drone strike in Baghdad.

Details of the U.S. injuries have not been made public, although the Pentagon said Tuesday that 31 of the 50 who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury have recovered enough to return to duty. The severity of the other cases has not been disclosed.

The Pentagon did not announce the first confirmed cases until more than a week after the Iranian attack; at that point it said there were 11 cases. The question of American casualties took on added importance at the time of the Iranian strike because the degree of damage was seen as influencing a U.S. decision on whether to counterattack and risk a broader war with Iran. Trump chose not to retaliate, and the Iranians then indicated their strike was sufficient for the time being.

The arc of attention to TBI began in earnest, for the U.S. military, in the early years after it invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein. His demise gave rise to an insurgency that confounded the Americans with crude but devastatingly effective roadside bombs. Survivors often suffered not just grievous physical wounds but also concussions that, along with psychological trauma, became known as the invisible wounds of war.

"For generations, battlefield traumatic brain injuries were not understood and often dismissed," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat.

The injuries have often been dismissed in part because the problem is not fully understood, although the Pentagon began focusing on the problem in the early 1990s when it established a head injury program that grew into today's Defense and Veteran's Brain Injury Center. Among its work, the center provides published reviews of research related to TBI, including links between severe TBI and behavioral issues such as alcohol abuse and suicide.

A study published this month by University of Massachusetts Amherst health services researchers concluded that military members who suffered a moderate or severe TBI are more likely than those with other serious injuries to experience mental health disorders.

Concern about TBI has recently given rise to questions about whether military members may suffer long-term health damage even from low-level blasts away from the battlefield, such as during training with artillery guns and shoulder-fired rockets.

"We're finding that even a mild blast can cause long-term, life-changing health issues," said Riyi Shi, a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering at Purdue University.

A 2018 study by the federally funded RAND Corp. found a dearth of research and understanding of potential damage to the nervous system from repeated exposure to these lower-level blasts. That same year, the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank, released a study urging the Pentagon to conduct a blast surveillance program to monitor, record, and maintain data on blast pressure exposure for "any soldier, in training or combat, who is likely to be in a position where he or she may be exposed to blasts." It said this should include brain imaging of soldiers who have been exposed to blasts as part of the study to better understand how blasts affect the brain.

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Take the initiative and have a tough conversation with your manager

By HRNasty - Reprinted with permission

The tough conversation doesn't have to be tough

Last week we discussed why your manager might be difficult to work with. This week's topic was supposed to discuss scripts to use, but I realized I missed a step prior to the conversation. This step is how to prepare for a tough conversation without creating drama. Your manager has direct influence over your career so it is in our best interest to get along.

Next week some sample scripts for your difficult conversation. Fair or not, we need to figure out how to effectively communicate with our manager.

Most of us have wanted to provide feedback out of frustration and not admiration. When was the last time you pulled your manager aside and exclaimed:

  • "Hey, you are doing a great job as my manager! You promoted the right person"
  • "I really appreciate you going to bat for me when our VP misunderstood the situation"

C-levels are good at supporting their colleagues. Trust me, managers don't hear positive feedback from their direct reports. Ninetynine percent of the time its crickets or criticism.

If you aren't being told you are the advisor...

Your goal is to provide productive feedback that won't turn your manager against you. Believe it or not, feedback for improvement can turn your manager into an ally. You can be seen as a trusted advisor just as easily as you can be seen as the pain in the ass. Be the advisor.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it

Most of us want to get along with others and avoid drama. Managers don't blow up on you for grins. There is usually a trigger. It is hard for your manager to hold a grudge when you provide minimum levels of professional etiquette. Remember the three points below and you can create a professional vibe:

  1. Show common courtesy and professionalism
  2. Always give your manager an opportunity to fix the situation. Don't assume they know what a situation exists.
  3. Give your manager the benefit of the doubt and a little bit of grace. Assume that intent is positive, and your manager doesn't realize they were causing grief.

Why we fear our manager

The first thing we need to do when providing feedback for improvement is to change our mindset. Feedback for improvement from an accusatory attitude will not go over well. To avoid the tough conversation, our feedback needs to be perceived as sincere.

EG: Provide feedback for improvement to your child or significant other when you are angry, and they will probably shut down. Giving feedback to your manager from an angry or frustrated place will be a career-limiting move. Ever seen parents yell at their kids at a Wal-Mart? Not pretty, not effective.

Assume good intent on your manager's behalf

No one wants to walk around with spinach in their teeth or an unzipped fly. If no one points out our innocent faux pas, how can we expect them to be corrected?

Would your manager appreciate you pointing out spinach in the teeth or their open fly? Of course. When we mention either to our manager, we aren't providing the feedback as an angry, emotional rant. We make subtle gestures on the down-low. Only a jerk would shout across the room "Look, every one, his fly is open"! Be the ally.

Managers are not going to react well when they are:

  1. Given advice coming from an emotional place
  2. Surprised with accusatory feedback
  3. Put into an embarrassing situation

Remember bullet number 1 common courtesy and professionalism from the beginning of the post? Professionals don't commit the above acts of war.

Two observations from the HR corner

Observation 1:

I have had 100's of conversations with frustrated employees. 99% of the time the employee is scared to address their manager or their colleague. It's this anticipation of a negative reaction that makes the interaction scary. No one wants to create a negative reaction from someone who has power over their career. Feedback delivered correctly can minimize or even eliminate a negative reaction.

We only need to worry about a negative reaction if our feedback for improvement violates the above tenants. If we are perceived as emotional, accusatory, or trying to cause embarrassment to anyone, of course, we will elicit a negative response.

It's not our intent, but the impact of our actions is what counts

We aren't worried about telling our friends their fly is open. Why not? The intent wasn't emotional, accusatory or designed to embarrass. It is understood that we are there to help.

Observation 2:

When we don't provide feedback for improvement, we are unknowingly giving POSITIVE reinforcement by sitting in silence. If a manager has been behaving in an unproductive manner with no feedback for improvement, we really shouldn't expect them to change. We need to interrupt the cycle of bad behavior.

It's not Fido, it's the owner

When Fido performs a trick, you reward Fido with a treat. We want the doggie to associate the trick with the treat, so the behavior continues. When we see a bad Fido jumping on guests, we scold Fido. We can't expect Fido to stop the bad behavior if we don't let Fido know his behavior is bad. We need to interrupt the cycle of bad behavior.

In the same way, Fido's behavior is usually the result of the owner, your manager's behavior is the result of our feedback or lack of feedback. Provide accusatory, emotional or embarrassing feedback and the behavior will be dismissed or filed away for retaliation.

Want to make your manager an ally? Take the emotion out of our feedback and assume good intent or a lack of awareness.

Next week, I promise, we share scripts.

See you at the after-party,
HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can't help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. "He has a nasty forkball".

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