cover letters

Do Cover Letters Still Matter?

In a world where we can apply to a job with a single click of a button, it’s becoming incredibly easy to apply for dozens of jobs in a matter of minutes. And today’s technology sparks an interesting question to many job seekers (especially the younger generations) – do cover letters still matter? Are they still important? The short answer is yes; they can still be an essential component of your job application and a great one-two punch with your resume.

Are cover letters still necessary?

Not too long ago, especially when the job market wasn’t as hot, cover letters were almost mandatory. In today’s market, they may not be necessary, but they are still a great addition to your application. A cover letter intends to introduce yourself as an applicant, highlight your skills, showcase some of your achievements, and briefly explain why you’re a good fit for the team and the position. And you may feel that this isn’t essential in today’s tight talent market, but a recent study illustrates that 26% of recruiters still read cover letters. Another survey revealed that 49% of hiring managers believe cover letters are a great way to bolster a job seeker’s application. So, regardless of what you think, recruiters and employers still value them.

Why are cover letters still important?

Cover letters are a great supplemental resource to reinforce your application. They are a great way to illustrate your soft skills that may be difficult to showcase on your resume. Your cover letter is also an opportunity to explain your passion for a particular industry or career path; it’s also a chance for you to describe situations like job gaps or lack of experience to your prospective employer. Essentially, a cover letter is a great way to highlight anything unique about you and your work experience.

What should they include?

Now that you’re convinced that a cover letter is an excellent asset to your job application, what should you include in it? Here is a brief overview of what they should incorporate:

  • Your contact information
  • Address the letter to the appropriate hiring manager
  • State which job you’re are applying for
  • Explain why you want the job and what you bring to the table
  • Demonstrate that you understand what the company does or stands for and how you fit into that picture

So, whether a job posting directly states a cover letter is mandatory or not, it is always a smart idea to include one. But if you’re going to submit one, ensure you do it right. Unfortunately, you cannot submit the same one over and over. You must tailor it to each position to really impress your future employer.

Ready to kick off your job search? Check out our available opportunities! JSG is ready to help you find that new job opportunity in 2020.

Before Applying for a Job

4 Things You Must Do Before Applying for a Job

Before Applying for a Job

In today’s candidate-driven market, there are probably dozens of job opportunities around every corner. Whether you’re a mechanical engineer or an aviation technician, the market is hot, and it’s tempting to see what’s out there. However, before you even think about submitting your job application, here are four things you must do before applying.

Read over the entire job posting

The first thing you will want to do is ensure you read over the whole job posting. This is essential for two reasons:

1)     To understand if this is an excellent fit for you and make sure you actually want the job

2)     So you can tailor your application materials to fit the job description

Hiring managers like to narrow down their pool of candidates by providing precise instructions and details in the job description. Are they asking for a cover letter? Do they want samples of your work? If you skim over the job posting, you may miss vital details that can filter you out of the candidate race.

Research the company

After you find a job posting that you want to respond to, take a few minutes to research the company. This should be a pretty painless step in the application process. Knowing more about the company can be a huge advantage to you as a candidate. It will help you craft your resume and cover letter by understanding their business, mission and vision, and the company culture. It will also help you decide if the company is even the right fit for you and your career goals.

Tailor your resume

If you take the time to review the job posting carefully, you will be able to better craft your resume. Even in this tight market, you should always customize your resume for each job you apply to. Even if they are in the same industry or the same type of position, each employer is looking for something different. And guess what? It is usually spelled out in the job description. So, while you’re reviewing that job posting, highlight the most critical components of the description and be sure your resume fits those well.

Clean up your references

Many employer applications put you through the wringer. They collect your resume, cover letter, and a bunch of other details about your career. Moreover, many of which also ask for your references. Well, before you submit the contact details of your close professional colleagues, you should always give them a heads up. Ensure you still have their permission to use them as a reference and that their contact information is accurate. Let them know you are applying so they can be on the lookout for a call or email they otherwise may not be expecting. The last thing you want to do is have a prospective employer catch one of your references off guard!

soft skills

Why Soft Skills Are Becoming More Important in This Tight Market

soft skills

If you have ever searched for a new job, you’ve probably seen soft skills included on a job description. Whether they were weaved into different qualifications or literally just listed out, almost every job description is asking for candidates with certain soft skills. But what exactly are soft skills? And why are they so important? Let’s break it down and illustrate why hiring managers are quickly becoming more and more concerned with them.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are a mixture of social skills, people skills, communication skills, and personality traits that enable people to navigate their environment and work well with others. Essentially, soft skills complement your more technical hard skills.

Soft skills are more intangible skillsets that are unteachable. You cannot acquire these skills; they are inherent traits. Some common examples:

  • Common sense
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Critical thinking

Why are they so desired?

More and more companies are shifting their focus on soft skills. Hiring managers and HR professionals are realizing that hard skills, such as web development or writing, are teachable. On the other hand, you cannot teach someone how to be an excellent problem solver.

In this tight job market, the candidate pool is getting slim. Employers are forced to be less choosy when recruiting candidates. In some cases, hiring managers are forced to hire underqualified candidates or candidates who don’t possess all of the ‘necessary’ qualifications.

In other words, employers are hiring candidates that lack the hard skills for the job. They are choosing to make sacrifices for those who have the necessary soft skills to be successful. Hard skills can be taught, so if employers hire candidates with the right skills, candidates will ultimately be successful with the right training and leadership.

Hiring for soft skills improves retention

Hiring managers are emphasizing soft skills when recruiting new candidates because they help improve retention. If you have an employee with a great personality and all the intrapersonal skills necessary to be successful, they will ultimately become a great culture fit. If an employee is a good match for their role (and the company), they’re more likely to stay put.

How to demonstrate those skills

Now that you know why soft skills are so important, let’s discuss how to demonstrate them when you’re applying for a job. Before you even get called in for an interview, the best place to show them off is your cover letter.

When trying to show off those soft skills, you can’t just list them on your resume, So, weaving them into your cover letter is a great way to show that you have the right skills to become a successful member of the team. When writing your cover letter, you don’t have to directly state what those skills are; however, you can illustrate your unique skill set when talking about your background and work experiences.

Even if you aren’t a perfect fit for the job, if you can illustrate that you have all the soft skills necessary to perform the job, you will probably get offered an interview. And once you get that opportunity, it’s essential to demonstrate them throughout the interviewing process. From your first conversation to your thank you note, you must show you have what it takes to perform the job. If you can prove that you have those skills, most hiring managers would be thrilled to speak with you about the job.

Job Application Mishaps That Could Get You Fired Before You’re Even Hired

Maybe you haven’t had to apply for a new job in a while, so you’re going over everything. Resume, Cover letter, what you will write in your application. But you also need to make sure you do NOT make one of these mistakes that’ll end up getting you fired before you’re even hired!

Grammar/Spelling Mistakes

Some people think this isn’t a big deal and that hiring managers will just look over it. Because come on, it’s just some grammar and spelling mistakes, right? Well, actually, wrong! If you’re not even willing to double check your application materials, a hiring manager will think you don’t care enough about the position. This will most likely end with your application being put in the, “do not contact list” and you never hearing back.

Double checking everything you write when you are filling out an application will ensure that you get seen and hopefully offered an interview. The last thing you want to happen is to be skipped over when you have great skills to be successful in the position.

Lying on your Resume

This is obviously a no-go… And there is a difference between making yourself look good over flagrantly lying. When editing your resume and cover letter, it’s important to incorporate keywords and activities you’ve accomplished relating to the position. But do not add things you haven’t done. Do not add experience you don’t have. They will figure it out. And whether that is during an interview or after you’re hired, you will get fired.

So, don’t lie. Even if you feel your experience isn’t where they want it. If they like who YOU are, they can help you get to where they want you to be. Never risk losing a job because you’re afraid you won’t get it in the first place. You just end up shooting yourself in the foot and leaving a terrible taste in that hiring manager’s mouth.

Bad References

When you write down references make sure they are aware and willing to help give you one in the first place. Having a hiring manager calling someone who hasn’t worked with you in years isn’t the way to go. Especially, if you haven’t told them that you put them down.

Companies do call your references and it could tank or make you landing the job… So find people who have good experiences working with you. Update them on the fact that you’re looking for a new position and would love to put them down as someone to contact. Update your list as necessary! This way when hiring managers contact them, you know they will help you land the job, not lose it.

Bad Mouthing an Old Employer

When you’re lucky enough to be called in for an interview, you will be asked about why you want to leave your current company. A lot of people find this question stressful. But really, it’s simple. If you stay positive and talk about what you learned and how leaving is what’s going to help you grow, it makes you look confident and optimistic. Which in turn, makes every company want to work with you.

If you decide to bad mouth your current company it starts to look like you’re the problem. The hiring managers will not want to hire you. Even if these problems at your current employer are real and terrible. Every position you hold will have people you don’t like. But people want to see that you can work with these hard characters and still be productive.

Bad mouthing your previous/current company is a sure way to be fired before you ever get the chance to be hired. And when you’re looking for jobs and applying for positions you really want, this is not something anyone wants to do. So, make sure you keep these tips in mind so the next interview you get will help you be a sure-hire for the position!

job search

Job Search Basics You’ve Probably Forgotten

job search

If you’ve been in the working world for a while, you probably think you’re an expert in the art of the job search. But we’ve noticed that while some candidates are great at answering “what’s your greatest weakness?” they sometimes forget some of the foundations of looking for a new position.

Manners matter

The ultimate fundamental of job searching (and life really) is to be exceptionally polite and respectful throughout every step of the process! Many hiring managers take note of your interactions (including pre-interview moments like meeting the receptionist) and factor that into their hiring decision. A well-written thank you note could be the differentiating factor between you and your competition.

Companies want to hire people, not robots

And while it’s important to be polite, don’t forget to also be human! Culture fit is becoming a non-negotiable screening tool at many companies. Yes, they want to hire someone with the skills but they also want to hire someone who they want to spend time with. In written communications, keep your tone professional but also personal. During interviews, don’t be afraid to weave in relevant personal connections.

Update everything

Everyone knows you should update your resume and take another look at your cover letter template. But there are a few details almost everyone overlooks like your voicemail. Does it state your name? Do you have enough room for someone to leave you a message? And don’t forget to check your social media settings. Are all of your privacy settings where you’d like them?

Tell them you want the job!

I’m not sure why people are so afraid to tell the people they’re interviewing how much they actually want the job! No, you don’t need to get on your hands and knees and beg, a simple statement will do. Each time you converse, reiterate your interest in the position. “I’m extremely excited about this opportunity, it seems like it would be a great fit for my skills and career goals.”

rockstar resume

R is for Resume: How to Write a Rockstar Resume

rockstar resume

When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you even have a copy of your resume on hand? In this candidate-driven market, it’s important to have a recent copy of your resume available. You never know what opportunities might come up!

Here are five tips to write a rockstar resume that gets you a callback.

Contact information

This is often overlooked when writing your resume. Your contact information must be prominently placed on your resume. We always recommend placing it at the very top of the page. Your name should obviously be the first and largest part of your contact information. Directly after that, you should list your email address, phone number, and in some cases your address.

Remove the resume objective

Let’s face it: resume summaries and objectives are outdated. They are unnecessary and often redundant to your cover letter. As a candidate, your objective is (obviously) that you are looking for a new job opportunity. Since you should be explaining in your cover letter why you are interested in the position/industry/company that you are applying to, you don’t need to repeat yourself in your resume.

Your resume is about your work experience, accomplishments, and unique skill set, so get right to the point and start listing off your qualifications.

Edit it down

Go through your resume carefully and analyze what you’ve included. Now depending on what stage you are in your career, you do not need to list every single job you’ve ever had. If you are 20+ years in your career, you don’t have to list that part-time job you had in school on your resume.

Weed out unnecessary working experience or other qualifications that are not fitting for this position. If you are unsure whether you should include something, ask a mentor or friend for their input.


Have you heard the expression “keep it simple, stupid?” You’ve probably seen elaborate resume templates online that are full of fancy fonts and formatting. However, unless you are applying for a creative or artsy field, it’s best to keep formatting simplistic.

Use bullet points and headings to break up your resume into sections. Make different sections of your work experience and education easy to find. The simpler the formatting of your resume is, the easier it is for Application Tracking Systems ATS) to analyze your resume. If they struggle to scan your resume, it will likely never reach the desk of the hiring manager.

Also, make sure you submit your resume as a PDF! Formatting for PDFs often gets screwed up on other computers like a Word document or other programs. Plus, PDFs are easier for ATS to read, giving you a better chance of landing an interview.

Keywords and phrases

This is extremely important. You must tailor your resume for every single job you are applying for. The more specific your resume is, the better the odds your resume gets passed the ATS.

Mirror the job description. Use the same language and keywords that are used in the job description. Yes, this means you must customize your resume for every application. But trust me, customizing your job application can be a pain in the neck, but if you want to make it through those pesky application tracking systems, it’s well worth your time!

C is for Cover Letter: How to Write a Killer Cover Letter

C is for Cover Letter: How to Write a Killer Cover Letter

C is for Cover Letter: How to Write a Killer Cover Letter
Does anyone enjoy writing cover letters? I know I always dread them when I am applying for a new job.

Unfortunately, writing a solid cover letter is a crucial part of the job hunt that almost no one looks forward to. We all know it’s difficult to convey to hiring managers and recruiters how amazing you are on a single page. It also can be challenging to not just regurgitate everything that’s already on your resume.

So, how do you craft a killer cover letter that impresses potential employers? Make sure you follow these three tips to guarantee yourself an interview.

Address the cover letter to an actual person

First things first, address your cover letter to an actual human being. Never, and I mean never, start off with “Dear Sir or Madam.” Starting your cover letter with a generic opening will almost guarantee your application gets thrown in the trash.

Do a little research. Get on LinkedIn and look up the company. Using the company’s name as the search term, you can quickly do a search for employees that work at the company. Keep scrolling through names until you find someone who appears to be the hiring manager.

If you are still struggling to find an appropriate person, give HR a call. They will be happy to help you properly address your letter. Introduce yourself and tell them exactly what position you are applying for. They may even remember you when sifting through all those job applications!

By doing a little research and addressing your cover letter to a real person within the company, it shows that you put thought into your application and that you are extremely interested in the position.

Tailor it to the job you are applying for

You MUST customize your cover letter to the job. If you’re not modifying your cover letter to each job you apply for, you could potentially be handing the job to a competitor.

You must carefully analyze the job description and use some the same verbiage from the job description. Select keywords and phrases that are essential to this position and work them into your cover letter. This is crucial if you’re submitting your cover letter online. If you don’t have relevant keywords and phrases in your letter, your cover letter will get filtered out from Application Tracking Systems (ATS) and your application won’t even land on the hiring manager’s desk.

Be careful not to overdo this, but mirroring the job description will help illustrate that you are a perfect fit for the position and demonstrate that you carefully read through the job ad. If a job is worth applying for, it’s worth a customized cover letter.

Be yourself

This is the most important factor for drafting a killer cover letter. Be yourself, be honest, and don’t be afraid to show off your personality. Employers hire for people, not skills. Most skills can be taught, but companies cannot create a genuine, passionate candidate.

This is your opportunity to show employers why you’re a great candidate. Demonstrate your passion for the role and tell a good story. Stories help bring your background to life and allows your personality to shine through the letter.

Companies and hiring managers want to see that you’re excited about the position. This may sound crazy but have some fun with it. If you are bored writing the cover letter, then the hiring manager will likely be bored reading it. Your writing reflects who you truly are. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Just make sure you keep it professional.