Cover Letter & Resume

If you’re like me, the Career Services office and your English classes made you spend way too long writing and refining your cover letter for job applications. Not to say it was a complete waste of time, but I’m going to tell you that the vast majority of recruiters do not even glance at your cover letter.

Furthermore, recruiters are going to decided yay or nay on your candidacy after the first 5 (five!) seconds of skimming your resume. If you’re still with me, that’s about 2-3 times as long as you’ve spent reading this. So how in the world are you going to stand out and highlight your most relevant skills and get that job? Here are a few pointers for that resume:

  • DO include a personal, professional summary at the top of your resume, highlighting your most relevant strengths and skills for the position.
  • DO keep your resume short and sweet. If you write paragraphs on every minute detail of your last position, I won’t read it – concisely give me the applicable skills, results, and accomplishments YOU can contribute.
  • DO read through for typos! It probably won’t automatically exclude you in most cases, but if you’re touting your attention to detail skills, chances are they won’t believe you if there are simple errors.
  • DON’T just submit the same resume to multiple different positions. Make sure you’re inserting relevant skills for each position specifically.
  • DON’T focus on what you’ve done, but how that will promote results in what you WANT to do. This is especially important if you’re making a career change and don’t have specific applicable experience for where you want to go.

So what about the cover letter? Do you ditch it completely? As with most major decisions: it depends. Your resume should tell enough of a story of where you’ve been (through work, education, and other relevant experiences), and where you want to go (through your professional summary or objective statement). You can also take a little more liberty with your resume to show your personality, especially if you’re applying for a creative position. Just don’t go overboard and don’t include a picture (a picture can result in unconscious bias not working in your favor for multiple reasons).

Some instances where a cover letter CAN be helpful:

  • If you’re applying for a position with a smaller company, they are more likely to take the time to read through it to gauge a culture fit; so use it to further expand on your personality.
  • If you are making a career change, it can be helpful to draw out some of the “whys” of your decision, and convince them you really can do Sales even though your experience is all in Teaching.
  • If you can, send your cover letter to the hiring manager; they’re more likely to read it than the recruiter.
  • Instead of making a separate attachment, keep your cover letter short and put it right in the body of your email. Believe it or not, that one extra click to open an additional attachment probably won’t happen, but they’ll likely glance through an email you’ve typed up.

Ultimately, read through the job description, check out the company’s website, and try to incorporate in your resume reflections of why your skills and expertise are perfect for this position.

You Can Chase the Unicorn

You Can Chase the Unicorn All You Want, But It Doesn’t Exist

Ah, the unicorn. You know… the unicorn. The mythical, colorful, perfect creature that dances and flies around and spreads sunshine and rainbows everywhere it goes. It exists right? You have seen one, haven’t you? Maybe even caught one? Of course not! Unicorns don’t exist. Just like there is no “perfect” creature like the unicorn, there is no such thing as the “perfect unicorn” candidate.

You’ve heard of the perfect candidate; we all have, and everyone still searches for it. The candidate who fits all the requirements of the job but is also going to go above and beyond the required duties. The one who will never leave your organization for another position. An employee who you will never have to check-in on; who has that high-octane personality 365-days a year, and who will settle for the lower end of your pay scale, and never rock the boat. Sorry to say, that employee doesn’t exist either, at least not at the beginning.

Finding an employee or employees can be a strenuous task. Finding the perfect employee or employees can     be downright exhausting. Look across the internet and you will see it can take on average about six weeks to fill a position. That’s 42 days.

  • 1 to 2 weeks of gathering resumes (Even longer if the candidates are not coming in at a fast-enough rate)
  • 1 week of conducting interviews (Even longer is candidates schedule does not match with yours)
  • 1 week of deliberating and conversations with any other managers/owners, also conducting 2nd interviews if your process requires it
  • 2 weeks if the employee you are hiring is currently working and will be giving them a 2-week notice

42 days of potentially zero production coming from that position. I say potentially because you may still have someone in that position that you are looking to replace, but let’s be honest, if you are looking to replace that person chances are the production you are getting out of them is not the greatest anyway.

This time frame could also be more than 42 days. How is that you might say? The unemployment rate in Minnesota as of March 2018 is at 3.1%. Time goes by, and the position(s) go unfilled. Why? Because you seek that “unicorn” the perfect employee, and after enough time goes by you settle on hiring someone that maybe fits 30% – 40% of the requirements, and in 1 to 3 months they quit, or get let go, and you must start your process all over again, and before you know it you are now serving employee number 33.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, this happens to most organizations, and we are here to help give some guidance to help you avoid your organization turning into a revolving door for your employees.

  • Bring together all necessary parties within your organization (Leadership Team) and look at the positions you have open right now. Discuss what positions are open, how long they have been open, and why are they open. Sometimes the more eyes you have on a situation the more chances you have to find what the problem is.
  • Ask yourself, are we offering a competitive package compared to what the market is offering?
  • Do you have a strategic process in place for hiring employees?
  • Are you looking for intangible items during your interview? Intangible items that go beyond what is going to be on a resume or listed in a job description.
  • Is the position you are looking to fill clearly defined and reasonable?

I know what you are thinking. “Jim, you just added more time, work, and effort to an already long process.” You are right I did. However, stepping in and dedicating the time now can help with your revolving door of candidates, and help you stop chasing what doesn’t exist.

Written by Jim Macdonald, Business Development Manager, United Human Resources • 952.679.8600 ext 104

Employee Engagement

Three Common Challenges (and Best Remedies) for Employee Engagement

The article “Three Common Challenges (and Best Remedies) for Employee Engagement by Dr. Michelle Rozen covers three questions business owners/managers stumble over when it comes to getting their employees engaged in the business, and how the leaders themselves can become more engaged in their business when they are engaged in their employees.

  1. Whose job is it to make sure that employees are engaged?

Is it the manager(s) responsibility? What about the owner/CEO? How about another employee that might be in the same role? To have the best success of employee engagement it should be everyone’s responsibility. One person can not keep your work culture moving forward in a positive direction. All parties need to be on board in employee engagement.

  1. How to make sure that employees truly care?

When was the last time you recited your companies vision, and mission statement? Does your company have one? When was the last time you clarified the company goals to your team? Revisiting your company’s goals, mission, vision and expectations are the best ways to make sure your employees truly care.

  1. How to get leaders engaged in the process of increasing employee engagement?

There are two ways for leaders to get involved in employee engagement. Explicitly and implicitly. But what is the difference? Explicit involvement on the leader’s part is shown through being active to show their employees that they care. When was the last time you as a leader took the time to talk to your employees, engaged in brainstorming sessions, and being on top of your feedback?

Implicit involvement is shown through personal example. Taking the time with a structured process allows the leader to self-monitor and reflect on their actions.

Rozen, Dr. Michelle. “Three Common Challenges (and Best Remedies) for Employee Engagement.” Huffington Post 26th July 2017

2018 Hot Button Issue: Sexual Harassment in The Workplace

A study that was performed by NCHRA (Northern California Human Resources Association) asked “What is the single most important thing HR can do to eradicate sexual harassment, and why do you feel this would help?

What were the top 5 responses? What Other information and data was collected?

Read Full Article on HR Certification Institute


Today’s Most Satisfied Employees Demand These 4 Things

The employee landscape is changing, and with it has come new needs, desires and areas of importance for employees. This means employee development is no longer just about career development, but also goal alignment, non-monetary offerings, and simply, opportunities to prove themselves.

A quarter of employees would be more satisfied at work if they were given more opportunities to do what they do best, according to a 2013 study by BlessingWhite, and 5 percent directly said career development opportunities and training would increase their satisfaction.

Read Full Article on

Human Resources: The Big Issues

Around the world, companies are struggling with the aging workforce and less-loyal employees. A new survey reveals executives’ worries

Companies are facing daunting challenges in hiring, training, and retaining people. Globalization has increased the demand for talent everywhere, while the upcoming retirement of the Baby Boom generation is projected to shrink worker supply in the West. More than ever, employees are demanding a balance between their work and the rest of their lives—a trend long present in the West but now prevalent in Eastern Europe, South America, and India.

Read Full Article on Bloomberg Business