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New year, new job? 

If you’re kicking off the new year with a job hunt, you’re not alone! Finding a job can be difficult, especially amid the pandemic when millions of Americans are unemployed and trying to rejoin the workforce. The good news is, there are several ways you can make your application stand out, including submitting a strong cover letter.  Ready to get started? Read on to discover our top five tips for writing a cover letter that will catch employers' attention and get your application to the top of the pile.

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Be personable

If you can, try to find out the name of the supervisor you would be reporting to in this position, and address your letter to them directly. If that information’s not available, even referencing the name of the department and company in your greeting is better than “To Whom it May Concern.” Establishing a human connection right at the top of the page will put the hiring manager in the mood to learn more about you!  

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Use your network

Did someone recommend that you apply for the position? Do you know someone who works there who enjoys their job? Mentioning a connection you already have to the company and its employees can show that you’re familiar with their values and what they do.   

Don’t know anybody there? No problem! You can show a personal connection, and that you’ve done your research, by explaining why you’re interested in the field and why you want to work at that company specifically.

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Add, don’t repeat. 

Your cover letter doesn’t have to stand alone—employers use it in conjunction with your other application materials to determine if you’re a good fit for the job. It helps to think of this letter as one piece of an overall portrait of you. So, while it does make sense to emphasize relevant work or education experience, overall, you want to avoid too much repetition of information already available on your resume. Use your cover letter to highlight personal qualities, skills, experiences, and hobbies relevant to the job that might not show up elsewhere in your materials. Brag a little bit!  

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Be concise. 

A cover letter should almost never be more than one page. Use clear language that gets to the point, and avoid filler words like “very,” “really,” and “seems,” which take up space without providing information. Writing in multiple short paragraphs, rather than one or two large ones, is best practice for letter-writing—it gives the hiring manager a clear understanding of what you want them to learn about you in each section. 

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Check your work. 

Nothing can put a damper on your claim that you have great attention to detail like a letter full of typos! Even though you probably feel eager to get your application out in the world, resist the temptation to send without reading over your letter – at least twice! Use the spell checks and grammar checks integrated in word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or install a free plug-in like Grammarly for even more comprehensive revision suggestions. If you can, have a friend or loved one do a final read before you hit send—the best proofreading tool is a fresh set of eyes! 

 

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Have your cover letter all ready to go? Check out our Job Board to see if there’s a brand-new position just waiting for you!  

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Images from Pexels.com

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A 2018 survey conducted by LinkedInfound that 67% of Human Resource professionals are using technology to help them save time during their advertising, hiring, and onboarding processes. In addition to that, it’s reported that 75% of submitted resumes are never read by a human 

As a job seeker, these numbers may seem scary, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances. By making your resume AI-friendly you can make it easier for bots to understand your relevant skills and move you on to the next stage. 

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Four Ways to Make Your Resume AI-Friendly 

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Get to the Point 

As an applicant, it is natural to want to show employers that you’re a great team player and that you always go above and beyond. Bots, however, aren’t looking for those skills. Your limited resume real estate can be better used by highlighting your specific skills and accomplishments. 

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For example, if you’re a talented graphic designer, avoid using phrases like “creative visionary” or “world-class brand guru.” Try something more specific like “graphic designer with advanced skills in Photoshop and InDesign.” 

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Once your resume gets passed the bots, you’ll have an opportunity to show off your amazing personality and skills to the hiring committee. 

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Use Keywords 

Review the job description to find thmost important skills and experiences hiring managers are looking for. Do they mention specific programs, education levels, or hard skills? If you have experiences that showcase what they're looking for, make sure you use the same, or similar, words used in the job description to describe them 

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If you are having trouble identifying which keywords are the most important there are several things you can do to help you prioritize. One quick tool you can use is a word cloud. A word cloud is a visual display of the most frequent words used in a body of text. Copy and paste the job description into a free world cloud tool and see which words are the largest. Focus on these words.

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Using keywords appropriately is crucial, as it can be easy to overdo it. Once you’ve identified the most important keywords stick to using them 1-2 times throughout your resume and try to incorporate them naturally. At some point your resume may be read by a human, so it still needs to be easy to read and understand! 

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Use the Right Format 

Do you ever wonder why applications ask you to upload a resume and then fill in all the information again? It’s because it’s difficult for AI to read a PDF fileWhile it does take a lot of time and may be frustrating, make sure you take extra care to fill these fields in. Knowing this, consider uploading your resume as a Word document instead of a PDF in situations that don’t have this added step. 

If you do opt to submit Word document, it’s important you refrain from using the Header and Footer options. Bots do not typically scan these sections, so if you have important information there it could be overlooked. 

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Test it out! 

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Before you submit your resume, take a minute to see what it will look like to a bot. Copy and paste your text into a plain text reader. Does it look jumbled or disorganized? That will make it more difficult for a bot to read. 

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If this happens to you, your next step is to remove the formatting from the text in your document. Once you’ve stripped the formatting, you will need to add your bullets and headers back in. When you’re doing this be sure to use the standard options (bold headers, square/circle bullets). 

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You Have an AI-Friendly Resume – Now What? 

It’s time to apply to jobs! Visit our job board to find current openings at deaf-friendly companies. You can also follow Communication Service for the Deaf on Facebook to get job updates on every Wednesday. 

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[et_pb_section fb_built="1" _builder_version="3.22" custom_padding="33.9219px|0px|48px|0px|false|false" global_colors_info="{}"][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.25" custom_padding="0|0px|29px|0px|false|false" global_colors_info="{}"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.25" custom_padding="|||" global_colors_info="{}" custom_padding__hover="|||"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.29.3" global_colors_info="{}"]If you’re looking for a job, one of the most important factors related to your success is your resume. What’s a resume? It’s a summarized list of your experiences and skills. If your resume has a mistake in it, companies will likely not offer you a job. Often, people don’t realize the mistakes they make, but that doesn’t have to happen to you! [/et_pb_text][et_pb_video src="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFVKmSyE8h4" _builder_version="3.29.3" global_colors_info="{}"][/et_pb_video][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version="3.25" custom_padding="33px|0px|16.9531px|0px|false|false" global_colors_info="{}"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.25" custom_padding="|||" global_colors_info="{}" custom_padding__hover="|||"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.29.3" global_colors_info="{}"]

Here are five suggestions on how to improve your resume and avoid problems.

1.   Review your resume for typos, spelling and grammar.

First, it’s important to review to check spelling and grammar. If there are mistakes, companies will notice and think you obviously did not pay attention and you did your resume quickly. Don’t do that - it’s better to slowly read again and again. If you’re not sure about grammar and spelling, ask a teacher, friend, or someone else to help.

2.   Properly format your resume; make sure size and spacing is consistent.

Second, resumes must be properly formatted, which means that it needs to look the same throughout. For example, if you have lines of text that are different sizes in your resume, change the lines to the same size. Keep your paragraphs close together and your spacing consistent. Also important is to not explain too much. Keep your text limited to one page. When you work on your document and are ready to send, export to PDF format. Because documents might not look the same on different computers, a PDF format ensures that your resume looks the same for everyone.

3.   Remove all “me” words from your resume.

Third, it’s not a good idea to be all about yourself. Try not to do that. If a company see you using the word "I" or "me" a lot, that’s not good. Explaining a lot is not necessary. Make the point with your skills, results, and success. For example, don’t say, "I developed a new product." Change it to “Developed a new product.”

4.   Make your resume unique for each job application. Adjust your resume to match all companies and their differences.

Fourth, you know those mail ads you get and always throw away? Companies do the same thing! It’s not good to mass distribute your resume. It’s better to be more focused. Research one company, then look closely at their goals and job descriptions, and then adjust your resume to match them. Do the same for each job application. Read their job descriptions for words and phrases that you see often. Work with them — put them in your resume.

5.   Make a list of positive job references ... but hold on to it until you’re asked to give it to a potential employer.

Fifth, companies want to find out more about who you are. They do this by asking for references and names. Your references should be someone who has already worked with you in the past. They might be a teacher or former boss. You don’t need to put them on your resume. As you fill out application forms, if they ask for references, do go ahead and add yours. But if they don’t ask, then hold back your references' names, VP numbers and email addresses. When companies request reference information, have them ready to pass along. Be sure to let your references know that companies will be contacting them. It’s best to make sure they aren’t caught unprepared.

Now you know several common mistakes that people make on their resumes. Now it’s time to revise and improve your resume!

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With the current state of the job market in the United States, many job seekers are adjusting their employment expectations. This means searching for temporary work, switching fields, or even taking a job they may be overqualified for. 

If you find yourself having to make these changes, don't get discouraged. It's important to remember that it won't necessarily hurt your career trajectory. In fact, making these adjustments now may show future employers just how resilient you are.

Now it's time to start your search! Not sure where to start? Don't worry, there are plenty of tips and tricks for looking for work during the pandemic out there. We've outlined four below.

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Four Tips for Looking for Work During COVID-19 

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1. Audit your online profiles, resume, and cover letter.

Reviewing your Linkedin profile and updating your resume should always be the first step in your job search. Not only to make sure your information is up-to-date and error-free, but also to make sure that you're highlighting skills that are currently in demand.

For example, prior to the pandemic, remote-friendly job skills weren’t a major commodity. Now, knowing how to use video conferencing and document sharing apps are a must. Do you have experience working with people in different time zones? Working without direct supervision? Make sure employers know what you have to offer by working these to your skill section.

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2. Polish your transferrable skills. 

Not sure you have remote-friendly skills? Or are you looking to add a new software or skill to your personal toolkit? Either way, many of us are finding we have more down-time than ever before, and many companies are offering free or discounted online courses. Below are just a few options:

Try to set aside some time each week to learn a new skill. Not only will it make you more marketable to employers but learning something new can also give you an added sense of accomplishment.

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3. Look in the right places.

You have a great LinkedIn profile, you’re learning new skills, now it’s time to find open positions.

Job Boards

Job boards are a great place to start your search. Employers and recruiters use these tools to post open positions and find qualified talent. There are plenty of different types of job boards out there, below are just a few:

Company Websites 

Many companies post open jobs to their website before they share it on social media or job boards. Keep an eye on the career pages of companies in your field, or local organizations to find new opportunities before they’ve been shared with the general public.

One way to keep track of these organizations is to make a list of your dream companies and companies within commuting distance and check their career pages weekly for new opportunities.

Social Media

Facebook and LinkedIn are full of professional groups where people share open positions, advice, and experiences. Join groups dedicated to your industry, or local area and participate in discussions to pick up on opportunities you may have otherwise missed. Here are two groups dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing job seekers:

In addition to these job-focused groups, you can also gain exposure by participating in one of the many Facebook Live events organizations are hosting right now. By thoughtfully participating in the comment sections, you’re able to show the organization, and other audience members, that you know what you’re talking about.

Not sure how to participate? Here are four tips to make the most out of your virtual networking events.

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4. Set measurable goals.

Searching for work can be exhausting, especially if it feels like there’s no end in sight. Setting clearly defined goals is one way to prevent burnout and to hold yourself accountable. Take some time today and think about what's realistic for you in terms of:

By setting these goals, you’ll (1) feel a sense of accomplishment and (2) get closer to employment each time one is met. That said, there are several other ways to maintain your confidence during a long job search. Check out this video to learn more.

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Ready to Look for a Job?!

Check out Deaf-Friendly Jobs on CSD Works' Job Board Below!

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We’ve all been there. You found a job description that fit your skills, got your hopes up, and then it didn’t work out. You may have even followed our previous advice to polish up your resume, research the role, and prepare for the interview. But you didn’t get the position.   

Losing out on a job can feel like a personal rejection, and that can make it hard to move on. In fact, research shows that those who have been looking for work for more than 10 weeks experience a negative impact on both their physical and mental health. This may be because job interviews feel like an evaluation of you as a person, even if they aren’t. 

Of course, since only one person can be hired for a position, the odds of getting a rejection letter are always higher than a job offer. Therefore, a successful job hunter will need to make the most out of every application – including learning from the inevitable rejections. 

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Three things to do when you don't get the job

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1. Reflect  

Take a few minutes to acknowledge that it didn’t work out the way you wanted, but that doesn’t mean you are a bad candidate or that you won’t get the next job you apply for. There are plenty of reasons you may have been passed over for this position including things out of your control. Research shows that even for the most serious applications, success or failure can depend on something as simple as how recently the evaluator ate lunch. Other times there are things you could have done better (you can read about seven common things here). Identifying these possibilities will help you improve moving forward.  

Be sure to review the experience for any lessons you can learn. Sometimes frustration and sadness are the price we pay for a valuable learning experience. Make sure get something out of it! Were there questions that you feel you could have answered better? Did you have relevant experiences that you could have showcased more? Were the position, company, and culture the right fit for you?  

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2. Reach Out

Just because you didn’t get this position with your favorite company doesn’t mean there won’t be more openings that fit your skillset in the future. Politely responding to a rejection email with thoughtful questions can show the employer that you are a mature candidate who is interested in using negative feedback to improve themselves for the future. Not sure what to include in your response? Check out this blog from Indeed.com for inspiration.

This can also be a good time to reach out to people you know, such as friends and family members that you trust to give you good advice. Sometimes people close us can see things that we cannot, while also understanding our strengths, weaknesses, and goals better than an employer you may have only met once. Is there someone you know that can take a look at your resume for you?

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3. Revamp  

Now that you’ve reflected on your experience and have gotten feedback from on your application, it’s time to get back to work! Nothing shakes off feelings of rejection faster than working toward a new goal. Let’s start with the most basic advice: even though many things are outside of your control, you need to make sure that you take control of everything you can. Two areas you can control during the job search process: the jobs you apply to, and the interview.  

Applying to the best jobs for you:   

Sometimes all you have when researching a job is the title and a short description. This can occasionally lead to confusion or, worse, time wasted applying to a job that you don’t want or that you aren’t qualified for. Perhaps you made it as far as the interview before you realized that the job wasn’t what you expected. There are some things you can do to make sure you’re using your time and efforts efficiently.  

How to improve your interview skills:  
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Are you in the middle of a never-ending job search? Watch this video on how to maintain your confidence.  

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Ready to Look for a Job?!

Check out Deaf-Friendly Jobs on CSD Works' Job Board Below!

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Guest post from Patrick Young, editor of AbleUSA.

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Technology can be incredibly useful in advancing your career, whether you’re job hunting, seeking a promotion, or trying to start your own business. The ability to organize and manage your work from your pocket is invaluable, especially when you have a disability which may limit your ability to get around.  

Although most of us know that tech has plenty of assets to offer, we don’t always take advantage of them. By using the tools at your disposal, however, you can give yourself a substantial career boost.

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A Changing Market

Technology has changed the job market. According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans own a smartphone. This makes it more important than ever to keep up in our ever-connected world. A smartphone allows you to connect with clients, keep your eye on job postings, check email, and stay on top of your career no matter where you are. Of course, you’ll need an unlimited data plan for these tasks, so research various phone service plans and upgrade, if necessary, to avoid racking up your phone bills with data overages. Those who find ways to make the most of their devices will rise above the pack.

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The Business of You

Another way technology has changed the job market is by making it easier than ever to get work as a contractor. This is an excellent option for many, especially those who don’t thrive best in an office environment. Freelance and contract jobs offered by online staffing firms like Upwork allow you to do your job anywhere that works for you. They also give you the freedom to take on as much or as little as you want. This is often a perfect lifestyle fit for people with disabilities: The flexibility allows you to make the most of your ideal workspace, as well as take on a fluctuating workload to match energy levels and potentially busy schedules.

Contract workers can use tech to connect with new clients, keep track of current projects, and submit and file invoices. Task management apps such as Omnifocus and Todoist can be especially helpful for freelancers. These allow you to organize your work so you can get things done on time.

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Improving Accessibility

Technology has radically altered the workplace for people with disabilities. In the past, even the most well-meaning companies may have had limited knowledge of how to make workspaces more accessible. Now, however, workplaces and workers alike can easily connect to accessibility services.

For example, the Internet has improved access to support systems such as those offered here at CSD Works. This service provides an instant connection to accessible workspaces, as well as brings workplace assessments, deaf-friendly training, and on-site ASL classes or custom training videos to current companies.

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Some Useful Apps

There are several apps that people with disabilities can use to ease their job search or boost their career. Evernote, for example, allows you to organize and sync notes between devices. If you’re preparing for a job interview, you can prepare answers to common interview questions at home, then review your notes in the lobby before the interview starts. 

Transcription apps take live speech and turn it into readable text. The transcription usually isn’t perfect, but it’s still useful for those with difficulty hearing or other auditory processing problems. On the flipside, flashcard apps such as Sorenson Buzzcards can facilitate quick communication between non-verbal individuals and clerks, coworkers, and others without knowledge of ASL. 

Finally, mental wellness and mindfulness apps may be a useful resource for those looking to further their career. These apps allow you to track your mood and recognize patterns that may harm or improve your mental health. Mindfulness apps (including the deaf- and HOH-friendly app, “The Breathing App”) allow you to practice daily meditation, which improves both emotional and physical wellness. By putting time into improving and maintaining your mental health, you can prevent burnout and increase creativity. This will make you better at your job and more satisfied with the work you do. 

Technology is a powerful tool for individuals with disabilities when it comes to moving your career forward. From simplifying tasks to providing resources, tech offers many tools that can push you toward success. Make the most of these tools, and watch your career shine. 

Photo Credit: Pexels

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