Financial Analyst Jobs: Duties and Responsibilities

Financial Analyst Jobs: Duties and Responsibilities

Recent college graduates who are looking for entry-level finance jobs often seek out financial analyst positions to kick off their finance careers. If you think a career in finance is in your future and a position as a financial analyst might be right for you, make sure you’re up for the duties and responsibilities involved first.

Financial analysts work long hours, are often required to travel at a moment’s notice and must be willing to immerse themselves in extensive research to succeed. They must also be able to grasp and communicate (verbally and in writing) complicated economic and financial insights and data in order to make financially sound recommendations to the companies they support.

This takes a lot of courage, especially if you are making recommendations that involve millions or even billions of dollars.

Another thing to consider when looking for an entry-level finance position is the type of company you would like to work for starting out. The experience you gain now may dictate where you end up working later on. A variety of types of companies hire financial analysts, such as:

- Private banks.

- Investment banks (buy-side or sell-side).

- Brokerage firms.

- Insurance companies.

- Private corporations.

- Government agencies.

Think you have the passion, stomach and work ethic to make it as a financial analyst? Here’s a breakdown of the duties you’ll be required to perform.

Research, Research and More Research

In general, the role of a financial analyst is to cultivate and review large volumes of data then formulate a recommendation based on what you have learned. You will need to examine national and global trends in economics and finance and make predictions based on this research.

Financial analysts also spend time researching the strengths, weaknesses and risks associated with different companies based on the type of firm for which they are working. They are often required to make lengthy, onsite visits to the companies in question during this research phase.

You may be wondering how an analyst’s duties vary based on the type of firm. While the core responsibilities are very similar, there are some differences, because goals vary from one type of firm to the next.

A financial analyst working at an investment bank will research and evaluate companies to determine risks and the potential benefits and profits pertaining to mergers, acquisitions and IPOs (initial public offerings). They will need to closely evaluate financial and economic conditions and often utilize forecasting tools and models.

A financial analyst at a buy-side investment firm will research companies to determine which businesses their organization should or should not purchase stock in for an in-house fund that the firm manages. They also need to closely evaluate financial and economic conditions and often utilize forecasting tools and models.

A financial analyst at a sell-side investment firm prepares research reports for buy-side firms that are looking to purchase stocks to add to an investment fund. These analysts often focus on a specific industry sector and will spend time comparing the quality of securities in that sector. Ultimately they will recommend whether to buy, sell or hold specific stocks.

A financial analyst at an insurance company or private corporation will research a variety of economic and financial data pertaining to the specific industry at hand. In addition, they will look closely at the financial health of the company itself or other companies that it may have an interest in presently or in the future.

Financial Presentations and Reports

Once the analyst has wracked up hours of research and analyzed untold amounts of data, they need to present their recommendations to a department head or team, depending on the firm.

This is where it helps to have solid technical writing skills as well as experience with preparing spreadsheets, charts and graphs. A good analyst will be able to prepare a technical financial report that clearly supports the recommendations they are making – with both numbers and words.

Staying Abreast of Current Economic and Finance Trends

Along with the company and industry sector specific research that analysts perform, they also need to read general financial and economic industry reports, research, journals, newspapers and the like to stay on top of trends in the finance industry as a whole. Seeking out webinars, media reports and industry events also help top financial analysts stay informed.

So if you still think you’re up for the hard work and long hours that come with a career as a financial analyst, Doostang is here to help. Visit our website to search jobs, today. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

“Career: Financial Analyst.” Princeton Review website. Available at http://www.princetonreview.com/careers.aspx?cid=68. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

“Becoming a Financial Analyst.” Investopedia website. Nov. 4, 2012. Available at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/06/financialanalyst.asp. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

“Best Business Jobs: Financial Analyst.” U.S. News and World Report website. Available at http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/financial-analyst. Accessed Nov. 15, 2013.

How To Land the Highest Paying Finance Jobs on Wall Street

How to Land the HIghest Paying Jobs on Wall Street

If you plan to climb your way up the corporate ladder and secure one of the top paying finance jobs on Wall Street, be prepared to pay your dues. The most coveted Wall Street jobs typically require an MBA and several years of toiling away in the trenches.

There is no question that finance jobs can pay well, which is one of the main reasons people choose to pursue careers in finance. Even entry-level financial analysts can expect to start out well. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the 2010 median annual income for a financial analyst was close to $75,000.

For finance pros who hope to earn the big bucks – millions of dollars in salary and bonuses – the opportunities are better in finance than in many other fields. It still isn’t a piece of cake to land the highest paying finance jobs on Wall Street or elsewhere. If you do want to aim high, here are a few jobs you might consider along with some insight on what it takes to get hired.

Stockbroker

If you have a 4-year degree, competitive spirit, thick skin and excel at networking, a career as a stockbroker might be a good option for you. Your degree might get you in the door, but you’ll have to work hard and compete with hundreds of other brokers to get the most desirable, high-net-worth clients to utilize your services. Long-term success in the brokerage world relies on referrals, so you need to deliver great results for your clients in order for them to recommend people from their circle to you.

Head of Investment Banking Firm

Have you set your sights on the investment banking world and the big paychecks that come with it? Getting to the top of an I-bank isn’t a walk in the park. While entry-level investment banking jobs pay a decent wage to start – you can expect to make about $75,000 per year – you will need to have a top-tier MBA, do your time as a financial analyst (80 to 100 hours a week) and be a great networker to become a head of an I-bank. You will also need to be a stand out contributor in big-money deals, have strong accounting skills and be able to deal with egos and office politics to get the top investment banking jobs.

Chief Risk Officer

If you have a passion for risk management, actuarial work and your MBA in hand, the role of Chief Risk Officer could be your ticket to a big payday. The demand for experts in risk management has grown in recent years due to the economic collapse. Expect to spend your early finance career years doing actuary work (the median income level for actuaries was close to $90,000 in 2010 according to the BLS) and accumulate a decade or so of managerial experience before qualifying for this position. Excellent communication skills – verbal and written – are a must for Chief Risk Officers.

Mutual Fund Manager

Are you a team player who is willing to spend time in the trenches researching companies and fetching coffee? A career in mutual funds might be a good fit for you. Entry-level mutual fund analysts can expect to make a decent starting wage similar to other entry-level finance positions. Once you make your way on to a mutual fund management team, salaries in the low to mid six figures are common. Managing multi-billion dollar funds comes with a great deal of pressure, because a lot of people are relying on your decisions, so you’ll need to handle stress well. Mutual fund companies also prefer to promote from within, so you’ll want to avoid job-hopping to land the top-paying mutual fund jobs.

Finance Media Superstar

If you’re looking to see your name in lights – or on the TV screen – you could expect to make a good chunk of change in the finance world. According to Forbes, big names like Suze Orman and Jim Kramer can pull in $10 million to $20 million or more annually. In order to work your way up the media ranks, you’ll need to start with a journalism degree, and an MBA will help get you in the door at the top media networks – Bloomberg, ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox. Expect to spend several years working behind the scenes doing research and supporting other players before you get your chance in front of the camera and a book on the New York Times bestseller list.

Head of Mergers and Acquisitions

Like other finance careers, you’ll need to do your time as a financial analyst and have an MBA to be a top M&A earner. Expect to do the legwork, research and number-punching for a managing director then set your sites on an associate position at one of the top banks. You’ll need to advance your career from associate to VP to managing teams and hone your relationship building skills along the way if you hope to land a top job in mergers and acquisitions.

Big Money Means Hard Work and Time Invested

All of these finance jobs have several things in common, aside from the multi-million dollar paydays. If you want to secure a top job on Wall Street, you will need a great education, an MBA, years of experience working through the ranks and a strong network. If you hope to make your way to the top, expect to invest many years getting that top degree and working hard.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Occupational Outlook Handbook; Financial Occupations.” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics. 2012. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

“Making It Big on Wall Street.” Forbes website; May 18, 2013. Available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/investopedia/2013/05/18/making-it-big-on-wall-street/. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

LaRoche, J. “Can’t be a CEO? Here are 9 Other Super High Paying Wall Street Jobs and What You Need to Do to Get Them.” Business Insider website; July 20, 2012. Available at  http://www.businessinsider.com/9-high-paying-wall-street-jobs-2012-7?op=1. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.

4 Steps to Secure Your New Job

 

Shifting the focus of your resume can make a more powerful impact on hiring managers. A positive new attitude can help open doors to a new job. Try the following few simple steps:

1.  Focus on Accomplishments

A strong resume highlights accomplishments.  It can be easy to forget achievements if you have not included them in past resumes or kept a separate file. Build your confidence by brainstorming positive results you achieved in past positions.

Give yourself time for this activity and think about what you can measure.  For example, what did you produce for your last employer? Not every industry will have sales numbers, but perhaps you managed the United Way Campaign more successfully than prior leaders. How many junior associates did you coach toward promotion?

You may need to “think outside the box” to identify tangible results of your skills and talents.  Once you have your list, add those accomplishments to your resume. Now tell potential employers how your skills will transfer to their environment and benefit the bottom line!

2.  Target your Industry

The target for your job search may be different from what you have done in the past. As a result, you may have a broad range of skills or a diverse professional background.  This can be a strength or a detriment, depending on how you present yourself.  Research basic skills expected for a candidate in the position in which you are interested. Then expand to the next level by identifying qualities that define an outstanding professional in your target field. Next begin matching your work history with the basic and expanded skills in the new industry.

Look for common skills in your background that will be an asset in the industry where you are currently targeting your efforts.  Broad experience may help if you are working with a diverse clientele, such as in sales or healthcare.  Re-frame your wide-ranging experience as strengths rather than a lack of focus or inconsistency in job history.  Finding that common thread will provide insight into your values, and believe it or not, employers are definitely interested in candidates who share their values in support of the corporate mission.

3.  Keywords

Keywords are critical in any job search today; not only for capturing the attention of hiring managers, but also in rising to the top of electronic searches. Translate your skills into just a few buzz words that are likely to get attention. Use powerful language in your resume by selecting descriptors that capture your strengths!

Research companies of interest to you. Most corporate websites will include a mission statement, and perhaps a description of their community involvement.  Not only can you mirror the language of the vision statement in your own resume and cover letter, but you may also discover opportunities to network informally with staffers and executives involved in community campaigns.

4.  Practice your Attitude

Job searches are challenging and can wear down the most positive of attitudes. Change is difficult, but don’t let it get you down. Pessimism never landed anyone a job!

Enlist family or friends to practice your elevator speech and interview skills.  The more you repeat these brief descriptions of your strongest skills and values, the more comfortable you will be in an interview or networking situation.  Don’t just save it for the interview. You never know who you may bump into in the corporate lobby or on the way to HR. Everyone in the corporate environment is a potential advocate for you in the hiring game!

Project enthusiasm into your networking and resume. A fresh year coupled with fresh perspective may give you just the boost you need to energize your search and re-organize your resume. Use your research skills to match your experience with the companies in which you are interested. Re-package your skills, rev up your job search, and then get ready to listen for opportunity’s knock!

 


Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC)

6 Great Tips to Landing an Interview

 

Private Equity Research Associate

Financial Analyst / Associate

Fund Analyst

Investment Banking Associate

Financial Analyst

Venture Capital Analyst

Find Local Jobs In Your Area

The emphasis for most job seekers is on how to clearly communicate strengths to the potential employer.  While that is critical, the way in which you focus on skills, experiences, and talents has to appeal to the needs of the hiring manager and corporation in order to get an interview.  One of the most productive strategies to facilitate this “match” between you and the company is to do a little background research.

1) Research the Company

Use the Internet and local resources to find out all you can about the organization.  Most communities have a business section of the newspaper or perhaps a separate publication. The Chamber of Commerce may also have company profiles.  It’s not just major corporations you want to investigate; it can also be helpful to analyze changes among small, local businesses.  Which ones may be expanding? Which ones are on the decline?  Target your energy toward those most likely to render positive results.

2) Local Networking

Expand your research to look for networking opportunities.  Most papers continue to have local news about social events and the “movers and shakers” in attendance.  Perhaps there are some opportunities for you to become involved in the same organizations and meet these individuals outside the office.  Most sources still report that networking continues to be a job-seeker’s strongest key to opening employment doors.

3) Cold-Calling

Okay, you’ve identified the best potential prospects within your target market.  Now, you must get ready to start calling.  Be organized. Rank your contact list from those companies that are most appealing to those that are least interesting.  Include phone numbers, email, snail mail, and the identified contact person.  Set it up like a log so you can keep notes about conversations, such as the day you called, the outcome, and any follow-up plan.  You don’t want to appear disorganized by calling the same person within a couple of weeks!

Prepare a script for phone calls, including your selling points, but more specifically, have responses ready for potential objections. That’s the beauty of phones – no one can see you’re referring to your notes.

Typical examples of objections include:

“I’m very busy” or “We’re not hiring”…

I understand, however, in researching your organization, I feel I can positively impact your bottom line perhaps without the investment of a salaried position, at least at the outset.  May I send a proposal?

“You need to talk to HR”…

Whom should I contact? I’m happy to provide a resume and an outline of my proposals to improve sales or maximize employee productivity to keep on file.

4) Dropping by

Take a resume and a brief bio of your highlights that align most closely with the organization’s current mission.  Here is where your research pays off.  Brainstorming about potential special projects or ways your unique skill set can benefit the company’s new direction can set you apart.  This approach is an expansion of old ideas about cover letters – showing the company you have gone beyond just “doing your homework” to actually envisioning yourself within their corporate mission.  Companies typically need people with vision and initiative, and they will take notice.

Don’t try to make an impression by leaving your glossy 8×10 headshot, using fancy fonts, and colored paper.  Take a professional approach. Attach your business card and make certain you use your best contact information – which means staying away from anything related to a current place of employment or an informal email address.  Include your bio or project proposals.

5) What is your brand?

Think of yourself as a product. What are you trying to “sell” to the employer? What is it about your “brand” that can optimize the company’s bottom line?  These are points to emphasize in any brief contact you have with the organization.  This can be the brief bio you provide, a voice mail, or an email message, all of which should contain a consistent message about strengths, skills, or that special project you are offering. This is not a time to be secretive, coy, or too concerned about proprietary rights.  If you have a great idea and the company actually usurps it, you have dated documentation of when you provided this to the company.  In that event, you have a very different scenario on your hands.  What you want to focus on is your initiative and willingness to be a team player even before you become a part of the team.  Hopefully, you can lessen the odds of any negative outcome by conducting thorough research that includes some information about the company’s ethics, relationships with staff, and orientation toward innovation and intellectual property.

6) Stay Positive

Keeping up your energy level and a positive attitude are important aspects of your job search, though a bit less tangible.  Be aware of the energy you project when you enter a room.  Even though it can be easy to slip into the doldrums if you have not been able to achieve the results you want as quickly as you would like, it is critical that you maintain a positive attitude.  Perhaps doing research about the company has energized you about new possibilities.  Remember to keep up your exercise program, leisure activities, and friendships for rejuvenation.

Your positive attitude is the strongest asset you can display to potential employers.  If contacts at your target organizations remember their interactions with you in a positive way, you are more likely to get a return call.  Do your research and put your plan in motion to get that interview!

Private Equity Research Associate

Financial Analyst / Associate

Fund Analyst

Investment Banking Associate

Financial Analyst

Venture Capital Analyst

Find Local Jobs In Your Area

Author: Alesia Benedic

Does Your Resume Send the Right Message?

 

What message do hiring managers get when they read your resume?  Without realizing it, you may be sending mixed messages.  Aligning your job search with your current goals is a part of the resume-writing process many people don’t even stop to consider.  As a result, resumes can sabotage your job search due to a presentation of mixed skills and conflicting messages about your goals.  Be honest with yourself – what are your job search goals? Are you looking for more creative opportunities? A career switch? More money?  What’s most important to you right now?

Whether you are aware of it or not, your resume communicates your feelings about the job search, present situation, and future goals.  “Uncertainty” may be the strongest message hiring managers will get from your resume – a message not likely to instill confidence.  In fact, such “confusion” will probably land your resume in the “slush pile” where it will not be read at all.  However, careful analysis and simple organizational “tweaks” can make all the difference in getting your resume read and transform potential deficits into strengths.

Clear Job Goals – Where’s the Money or Self-Fulfillment?

Consider some basic questions about your job search.  Are you asking “where’s the money”?  Are you feeling unfulfilled and perhaps even unappreciated in your current career situation?  Do you long for a change in your career or are you seeking more flexibility in your schedule?  Do you have dreams of what you would really like to be doing but feel “stuck” just earning a living?

As a society, work expectations have changed drastically over the last couple of decades.  It is assumed most people will have a minimum of 7 different positions throughout their work-lives. Realistically, it is probably twice as many – although that reality doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. What it actually represents is the culmination of the slow mentality shift away from “corporation as caretaker” that used to be part of a life-long career.

That change can give you greater flexibility, but with freedom comes responsibility – as the saying goes. Your responsibility is to figure out what you want for yourself – it’s never too late to decide what you want to be when you grow up (smile).  Crucially, if you have not figured out what is most important to you in your search right now, your resume is likely to reflect that indecision.  Take a few minutes and think about what you really want to do and then identify what you can do at this point in your career search.

Diverse Job Experience

Now, let’s get down to looking at your work experience.  How consistent has your work history been?  Do your positions demonstrate a clear progression of increasing responsibility or seem more like a “mash-up” of seemingly unrelated job experiences?  The latter description can certainly work against you if not carefully crafted into a cohesive resume.  These diverse experiences can become strengths and increase your value to an employer if “packaged correctly”.  Diversity can be an asset in today’s complex work environment.  If you are able to “connect the dots” for the employer by presenting a common thread that includes your passion for excellence, curiosity, and drive to make things happen, you can immediately move to the top of that pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.

A varied work history – whether across industries or simply a number of different positions within the same field – doesn’t have to become an obstacle to the perfect job.  A bit of planning can help determine optimal presentation at this point in your career.

 

Transfer of Skills

A practical place to begin is with skills that can easily translate as strengths across industries.  Common examples include communication, leadership skills, and strategic planning.  You can start by thinking about how these “transferable skills” have been part of previous roles.  Those are areas to emphasize as that common thread mentioned earlier – think about your strengths and make those skills the core of your resume and job search.  Once you have done that, it is similar to decorating a family tree around the holidays – the ornaments in our analogy become those unique accomplishments you want proudly displayed in each specific position, while the “common thread” holds everything together.

Provide structure for your job search by presenting a resume to potential employers that sends the right message. Clarifying the purpose of the resume at this point in your life will present a cohesive “package” to hiring managers.  An authentic representation will land the job because of the consistent clear message about your strengths and skills.

Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Milestones for a Successful Job Search

Manage your job search just as you would a well-organized project and you will be able to place yourself in a new position! By meeting milestones you will feel more in control of your job search.

1.  Identify Target Companies

Use traditional and Internet strategies to identify companies of interest. Network with professional and community organizations to gather information about potential openings, new projects, and names of key personnel. The hiring manager may be the gatekeeper, but isn’t the only contact who may be helpful in the organization. Use Internet sites to expand beyond your geographic area and get a sense of the current market for positions of interest to you.

2.  Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

Apply the research gathered about companies, key personnel, and positions to revise your resume and cover letter for each position if possible.  Although this may sound daunting, a complete overhaul is not required for each position. Emphasize skills and accomplishments in your resume that align with corporate needs. A slight adjustment may be all that is necessary to present yourself as the perfect candidate. Don’t rely on references to float your resume to the top of the pile. The cover letter and resume must stand on the merits of your experience, skills, and potential for contributions to the company’s bottom-line.

3.  Follow-up

When you follow up, remember to use a number of different strategies. Traditional thank-you letters and e-mails can both be appropriate. When managing group interview situations, you may prefer to use email and a brief phone message to keep your name and credentials fresh in the mind of each interviewer. You will also want to follow up with the initial contact person for your cover letter. That individual may become an important point-person in keeping you apprised of the interview process and keeping your name at the top of the list!

4.  Keep Going

Even after the interview, keep in contact with your network and maintain your job search efforts. Part of the challenge in current job searches is how protracted the process has become in a tight job market. Think of the process as a marathon and pace yourself. Rejuvenate yourself to keep up a positive energy.

5.  Maintain Good Records

Set up an organizational system to record your progress and include all the details! Keeping a comprehensive record of all names, dates of contacts, and outcome will prevent following up with the same person twice when you did not plan to do so. The record can also give you a sense of accomplishment and control as you monitor milestones in your job search project. Good organization leads to good results and helps you present a positive image in all your contacts.

Monitor job search milestones just as you would for a complex project. Exercising those skills keeps you on your game and moves you toward a new position. Use the milestones to maintain your focus and a positive energy to stay on track to a timely delivery in your job search project!

Overcoming the “Under-Qualified” Stigma

Investment Banking Analyst, Chicago, IL
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It’s happened to everyone: you come across a job description for a position that’s right up your alley. The job is interesting and looks like something that you are completely capable of and excited to do. And then your eyes wander to the “Qualifications” section… You don’t have a Masters degree, 5+ years of experience, or a Series 7 license. So what do you do? Scrap it and move on? If you’re lacking many of the key qualifications that appear mandatory, then indeed you’re probably better off allocating your time and effort applying elsewhere. But if you’re only a few qualifications away from that ideal candidate description, you might be selling yourself short if you give up before even trying. Read on for a list of tips on overcoming the “under-qualified candidate” stigma.

Emphasize Your Skills

Ok, so maybe you don’t hit every bullet point with your qualifications. But don’t give up hope just yet. For many positions, the “Qualifications” section is merely a list of attributes of the ideal candidate. This doesn’t mean that they’re unwilling to consider someone who meets only some of the requirements. So instead of dwelling on what you haven’t done, focus on what you’re great at. Many skills that you acquire throughout school, volunteer work, or another job are transferable to other positions, and can be used to replace any prerequisites that you might not meet. Highlight these skills or experiences in your cover letter, and explain how they will help you excel in that specific job. One important caveat: don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you’re completely unqualified for – for example, if you’re looking at a position for an Associate Attorney at a top law firm, you better have a law degree.

Go the Extra Mile

If you come up short on knowledge or experience, emphasize to an employer that you are willing to work harder than any other candidate to brush up on your skills and become well versed in the subject matter. Don’t underestimate the value that hiring managers place on a strong work ethic. Include in your resume and cover letter examples of your ability to learn quickly. If you possess many of the other qualities of the ideal candidate, you may find that your enthusiasm to learn and contribute may very well land you the position.

Network

Networking is a great way to gain introductions into a company. Networking can also help you establish someone on the inside as an individual who can vouch for you. When you come across that tricky job description, mention to your contact that you’re planning on applying, and explain why. Be honest, and address any points that might weaken your application. Companies want to hire individuals they can trust. If someone with a good history at the company is able to put in a good word for you, it will further bolster that company’s confidence in bringing you on.

Volunteer or Intern

If you find that no matter how you try to spin it, you just can’t land the position you want based on your qualifications, offer to volunteer your services for free. This isn’t to say that you should ever allow a company or an individual to take advantage of you. But if you volunteer or intern for a company, you’ll gain valuable experience that you can parlay into a future opportunity at the company. Get in, work hard, and show them that they need you. Even if doing so doesn’t lead to another prospect within that company, you’ll gain important knowledge and skills that will qualify you for a position similar to the job you had hoped for at the outset.

It’s easy to look at a job description, think, “There’s someone out there who’s better,” and quickly abandon the effort. But have a little faith in yourself – play to your strengths and commit to working even harder than the next guy, and you may find yourself more qualified than you think. So take a chance – you’ve got nothing to lose – and you may find yourself one step closer to your dream job!

All the best,
The Doostang Team

Perfect the Punch in Your Cover Letter

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Your resume and cover letter should combine to deliver an effective “one-two punch” that grabs the positive attention needed to land an interview. Though many think the cover letter has become obsolete because of online resume posting, in reality the cover letter is equally important in electronic and paper applications. Typical business standards of communication apply in any type of career search contact. Being too informal and using emoticons or e-mail acronyms (such as BTW or LOL) will likely sabotage your well-planned efforts.

Personalize the Letter

Research the company and the HR department to determine the person to whom you should address the letter. You may even call the company to inquire as to the name of the appropriate person who is screening for the position of interest. If unable to find the name of a specific person in any of your research, you can always default to the title of the individual in charge of the position search, such as “Office Manager” or “Director of Human Resources.”

Although personalizing the salutation is a good start, don’t stop there if you want to stand out from the crowd. Use the results of your research to determine the values, mission, and new initiatives for the company. Aligning your strengths and personal work history with these key areas will help the hiring manager see you as a viable team member. Recruiting key talent makes the hiring manager look good, so help them by making it easy to recognize what a great fit you are for the opening.

Highlight Your Accomplishments

Every hiring manager differs in his or her approach to screening resumes and cover letters. Some don’t even bother with the cover letter, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on your attention to detail. Many other hiring managers use the cover letter to screen out unlikely candidates.

Make your cover letter doubly effective by including several accomplishments that align with key aspects of the open position as well as the overall corporate mission. Many people don’t include specific accomplishments in the cover letter to avoid being repetitive. But key concepts often bear repeating! By emphasizing the same accomplishments in the cover letter and the resume, you help the hiring manager remember your strong points. Beyond that, if the hiring manager only reads the resume or the cover letter, you have made certain that your key skills are highlighted and will be noticed at least once, if not twice!

Electronic Postings

Spend time perfecting your subject line if submitting your resume via email. Including your name in the subject line facilitates name recognition. To present a business-like impression, stick to the basics in your subject line, such as listing the position and a descriptor (e.g., “Robert Smith Application” or “Jane Doe Resume”). The same cover letter that you submit with a paper application becomes the text of your email accompanying the electronic resume.

The Basics

Of course, you need to pay attention to the basics of business grammar, spelling, and format when writing the cover letter. You don’t want to set yourself apart by making the cover letter too “flashy.” Colored paper, personal photos, and overly distinctive fonts have no place in a strong cover letter. Review the letter to make sure it aligns as closely as possible with the details included in the job announcement. Give the entire package a final close inspection before sending it out to ensure it is not only accurate, but also complete in terms of what the employer has requested (e.g., transcript, references, etc.). Finally, don’t forget your original signature on the paper version of your cover letter. Even such a small oversight may close the door on your chances for an interview.

The cover letter can be a critical component in your job search. It allows you the opportunity to “connect the dots” for the hiring manager between your skills and their needs. Customizing the cover letter demonstrates your due diligence, initiative, and interest in the company. Create an effective “one-two punch” and get the most out of your cover letter to highlight your skills and present yourself as a top-notch candidate.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Show Career Progression to Impress Hiring Managers

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Intern, Chicago, IL
Consultant, West Lawn, PA
Research Analyst Intern, New York, NY
Jr. Designer, Boston, MA
Associate-Investments, New York, NY

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A consistent career progression demonstrates many of the qualities hiring managers look for in job candidates. By streamlining your resume to convey these strengths, you put yourself a step ahead of the competition even in a tight job market. A consistent career progression shows initiative, investment in your profession, and a can-do attitude.

Separate Out Different Titles in the Same Company

You may have changed jobs several times, but all have been with the same company. Progression up the ladder in one company indicates recognition of your strengths and skills by professionals knowledgeable about your performance. Separate out each title and include a job description and accomplishments for each as well. Don’t lose the impact of a well-showcased career progression by consolidating all positions into one. An example:

ABC COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Director of Facilities

Quality Assurance Manager

Director of Safety

Highlight Accomplishments with Bulleted Lists

Be certain to distinguish daily job duties from accomplishments. Use a job description that is sprinkled with action words for a dynamic presentation of your skills.  Avoid the use of such terms as “responsible for,” as that relates a lower level position in which one “reports” to someone instead of positioning you as a creator in your own right.

The accomplishments should include specific achievements, such as annual sales, new programs initiated, or cost savings. Quantifying your achievements communicates the value you provided to your employer. Set up the bulleted lists like this:

·    Reduced operating expenses 15%, via expert Lean Management skills.

·    Negotiated lucrative $15M 3-year contract with major account.

Include Company Descriptions

You may be asking why you should worry about company descriptions. Isn’t the resume about you and not the company? But in fact, company descriptions provide a context for your duties and accomplishments, making them even more powerful. Managing a tri-state area for a Fortune 500 company with 35,000 staff requires a far different skill set than does managing a 12-state region for a 3,000-employee company. The company description only needs to be included once, a strategy that saves prime space on the resume to highlight your achievements if you had two or more different positions with one company.

Use Reverse Chronological Approach

The reverse chronological approach is preferred by most hiring managers because it is straightforward and shows a clear career progression. Some job seekers are tempted to use a functional format, especially if the work history includes a number of different jobs across industries. The reverse chronological resume actually explains career progression more clearly for those with a diverse background because you can show additional accomplishments or duties effectively, even if the positions may have been lateral moves.

Describe Performance Beyond the Job Title

Every job has “other duties as required.” Make those other duties work to your advantage. For many professionals, added responsibilities not only make the work more interesting while on the job, but also diversify your skill set for the next job search. If you sought out other responsibilities or volunteered to assist with major projects in other departments, be sure to state that in the accomplishments section.

A clear description of your career progression most effectively presents you as a capable and interesting candidate, and the hiring managers will want to know more about you after reading the resume. The depth of your skills will be communicated by “showing” the reader your progression, rather than by using too many adjectives to describe your talents. Show them your expertise and land that new job!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

5 Tips to Energize Your Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Research Assistant, New York, NY
MBA Marketing Summer Intern, Cambridge, MA
Equity Research Analyst, White Plains, NY
Long Term Strategy Manager, Bellevue, WA
Investment Banking Analyst, Washington, DC

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Although the news has been reporting an upswing in hiring, there are still many workers waiting to land a job. Making that happen requires preparation and creating opportunity, in addition to effectively displaying your skills and value to potential employers. Follow these tips to be prepared and to create opportunity for yourself!

1.  Plan Your Strategy.

Review all the positions to which you have applied and analyze them for similarities and differences. Compare these trends with your skills, experiences, and goals. How closely does your skill set match with your job search?

For many job seekers, the longer one is out of work, the broader the net becomes. This strategy may have been effective in the past, but current hiring managers simply aren’t interested in being a part of your broad-based search. In order to make an impact, understand that the hiring manager views your search as a mini-performance evaluation. If your search appears disjointed or lacks coherence, most employers will consider this as indicative of your future performance on the job! Match your skills as closely as possible to available jobs to maximize your efforts.

2.  Create a List.

Targeting your job search with specific goals is just as critical well into the process as it was during week one. Writing down your goals can focus your efforts more effectively and help you present a more powerful image to potential employers. Creating a list will also allow you to follow up in person with potential employers, an action that will set you apart from the majority of candidates being considered for the position. You can also use your list to track contacts with employers, increasing the level of organization on display to potential employers.

3.  Invest in the List.

Your earlier analysis of skills and experiences will help you identify any potential areas of training that may help you stand out from the competition. Go beyond the initial job description for the position of interest to learn more about the company’s presence in the local community. Although employers are primarily interested in your on-the-job value, if you are able to engage them in conversations about corporate philanthropy, you are demonstrating a deeper understanding of the company’s values, prompting them to invest in you as well!

4.  Showcase Accomplishments that Align with Corporate Projects.

A resume is an effective tool to help you open doors, but in order to do so it must be closely aligned with the company’s mission, values, and top-notch projects. Edit your resume so that only the most meaningful accomplishments are included. Many job candidates become emotionally attached to certain achievements, often from early in their careers. But the fact that you earned “Rookie of the Year in Sales” when you were just out of college will do little to land the job. Focus your resume on more recent accomplishments, usually within the last 10 to 15 years, and select those that mirror the needs of the company’s most important, visible, and profitable departments.

5.  Go Beyond the Resume.

Finally, no matter how outstanding your resume is, these days it often takes more than a great resume to land the job. Brainstorm how you can make yourself stand out beyond the resume. In addition to including the personal contact noted above, this step may also include creating white papers that outline potential areas of improvement for the company. Or you may consider branding opportunities for yourself – from business cards to promotional items to lunch or treats for the helpful staffers you have met along the way.

Getting a good position is definitely a job within itself. A key in minimizing the amount of time you spend in that space is directly linked to your efforts and initiative. Posting your resume is not enough in this economy to get the response you want. Use your understanding of people and organizations to help move your efforts forward. Think of your job search as a personal marketing campaign and implement a bit of self-promotion strategy to make yourself known and to land an interview!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!