What to Include in a Cover Letter

What to Include in a Cover Letter

After spending so much time on your resume, it can feel frustrating to find out you also need to write a cover letter. But rather than thinking of this requirement as a burden, view the cover letter as a platform. This is your chance to explain why you’re the best fit for a job and prove it, all in one place. If you think an employer might have concerns about your work history, you can use a cover letter to ease their fears.

That’s a lot of information to pack into one letter. Fortunately, there’s a standard template you can follow.

1. Contact Information

Begin your letter with your own contact information. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address. You can even include your Sirvo URL. If you do, make sure you’ve chosen a custom Sirvo URL that uses your name or a professional phrase, not just random numbers.

If you’d like, you can use the same header as your resume. Your resume header should already have your name and contact information, and using it for your cover letter creates a consistent look across your application documents.

After your own information, list the company or hiring manager’s information. A name, job title, company name, and address is sufficient. Including the employer’s contact information is a traditional practice that’s expected in physical cover letters. However, it’s not always relevant today. For example, in emails or when filling out an online form, you can skip your employer’s contact information.

2. Greeting

A greeting is so simple that it doesn’t seem worth mentioning. But what’s important about the greeting is that you use a person’s name. “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” won’t leave your employer with a good impression. On the other hand, using a contact’s name is personable and demonstrates that you cared enough to do your research.

Finding a name isn’t always easy. The first place you should check is the source of the job opening. Some job ads include a contact’s name. If you learned about the job through your network, ask that person who will be reviewing applications for the job opening. But most of the time, you’ll need to do some internet sleuthing.

Begin at the company’s website and search for a hiring manager. If there’s no clear contact listed online or the company lists more than one hiring manager, your best shot is to just call the company. Don’t try to call the person you think will be doing the hiring. Instead, call the main line. Explain that you’re applying for this position and that you’d like to know the hiring manager’s name. They should be perfectly willing to help you out.

If none of that works you can always get creative and use something like, “Dear future superior,” or “Hello amazing hiring manager,”. That’ll get their attention!

3. Introduction

When you finally begin your letter, introduce yourself and state the position you’re applying for up front. Most people mention where they heard about the job, and this is especially important to do if you found out through a mutual contact. Being part of someone’s extended network automatically makes you more trustworthy than a general applicant.

Your first paragraph should also have a “hook,” that concept you learned about in elementary school English class. Capture the reader’s attention with information that leaves them wanting to read more. Examples are a time when you successfully did similar work, a skill that’s directly relevant to the job, or a connection to the company or its mission.

4. Body Paragraphs

After your introduction, include two to three body paragraphs dedicated to demonstrating your skills and knowledge of the company. First, paint yourself as a strong candidate for the job. Detail how your strengths would be an asset to the employer. Highlight past achievements by using concrete examples and numbers and feel free to organize this information into a list or bullet point to emphasize it.

The hiring manager might not know who/what ‘Bob’s Burgers’ is, or how that experience would be related to the position listed, so it’s your job to let them know what you learned and why it’s relevant.

Even if your past experience isn’t directly related to the position you’re applying for, you have transferable skills that apply to this job. The cover letter is your chance to explain how all your experience is relevant and makes you an excellent fit.

Either within your skills paragraphs or in the following paragraph, demonstrate your knowledge about the company and job opening. Connect your skills to what you know about the company and their pain points. For example, you might have noticed areas where they struggle and have ideas about how you can help them improve. Being well-informed about the company is an asset and places you ahead of the competition.

5. Conclusion

Before you close, briefly summarize why you’d be a great fit for this job, touching on your letter’s “greatest hits.” End the letter with a polite closing, and avoid saying anything that sounds too demanding or arrogant. Finally, use a formal closing such as “Sincerely” or “Best” when signing off. If you’re submitting a physical letter, leave space for your signature.

A cover letter doesn’t have to be a stressful task. Just follow the standard formula for a clear and professional letter.

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A Few Things to Know When Applying for your First Restaurant Position

A Few Things to Know When Applying for your First Restaurant Position

You may hang out in restaurants with your friends and family regularly. But seeing the restaurant from the customer’s POV and from the staff’s are two different perspectives.

Whether you’re considering a taking a job in the service industry to make a few extra bucks, or if you’re thinking of turning it into a lifelong career, here are five things to keep in mind when applying for your first position.

You’ll need to do some research first.

This is good practice for any job. For the restaurant industry, you’ll want to know what the different restaurant types are and what kind of work you can expect at each.

You’ll also want to know a bit about the restaurant itself, what their hours are, what their busy times of the day and the week are, and what kind of food they serve. Believe it or not, all of these will factor into when the restaurant manager schedules you.

You need to have a flexible schedule.

Speaking of schedules. Keep this in mind: the service industry is busy when all other industries are not working. So you may be working nights, holidays, and weekends regularly.

Be willing to work your way up.

Whether you’re applying for a position in the kitchen or for a position in the dining area, you’ll need to understand how each position of the restaurant functions. The best way to do this is to learn things from the ground up, so don’t take it personally if the hiring manager offers you a less prestigious position than you had in mind.

If you can show you’re willing to accept the challenge and work your way up, chances are you won’t be in that position for long.

Be ready to get your hands dirty.

We mean this in the literal and figurative sense of the phrase. As we said above, showing your positive attitude will earn you accolades quickly. But along with that, you may actually be getting your hands dirty.

What we mean is you’ll be cleaning all the time.

Whether you’re cleaning up in the kitchen after the rush, or cleaning up after a patron is done with their meal you can expect to be washing your hands a lot.

You’ll be on your feet for long periods.

This is fast paced, physical industry. Patrons don’t like to wait for their food. People want their food and drinks and they want it now!

This leaves no time to rest or sit down. And as we touched on earlier, every position of the restaurant is important and can’t function without the other. Expect to push yourself a bit to ensure great service.

A few other quick tips to make sure you get that job:

  • You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but you still need to show up looking serious about getting the position. Leave the shorts, flip flops, dirty, and torn clothes at home.
  • Show your personality. Whether you’re in the front of the house of the back, managers want to see that you’re going to get along well with others and that you’ll be able to provide great customer service.
  • Having a pen and a resume with you when applying is always a good idea.

With these tips in mind, you shouldn’t have a tough time finding the right fit at all. When you’re ready to get that first industry job, feel free to visit our job search page and kick your new career off.

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The Do’s and Don’t’s of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Job Searching While You’re Still Employed

There are plenty of reasons why you might choose to look for a new job while you’re still employed. You might need more money, feel that you’re overworked in your current location, have personality conflicts with some of the other employees, or simply be ready to move on to new things. Job searching while you’re still employed, however, takes a more delicate touch than job searching when you aren’t currently working. These do’s and don’t’s will help make the process simpler. 

1. Don’t share with your friends. No matter how tempted you are to share your latest career aspirations with the friends you’ve made at work, the workplace isn’t the right location for that kind of gossip. If you don’t word to get to your managers that you’re looking for a new job, it’s best to keep it quiet until you’ve secured a new position. 

2. Don’t use resources from your current company to search for your new position. This includes using company time to search through job listings or update your resume. Contacting a prospective new employer on your lunch break is one thing; printing out your resume on the company printer because you forgot to do it at home before leaving for work is something else entirely. Continue to give your company your best for as long as you’re there, including keeping your future career aspirations to yourself until it’s time for you to let the boss know.

3. Do let your managers know about a new position as soon as possible. Sure, employees who have put in their two weeks’ notice in the past have been escorted off the premises in the past without even getting to work their last shift. Still, you don’t want to wait until your last day and then leave your current colleagues scrambling to find a replacement for you. Instead, put in your notice as soon as you can.

4. Do keep your social media conversations about new work to a minimum. While you might need to update your LinkedIn profile, that doesn’t mean you need to parade the fact that you’re looking for a new job–especially if you want to keep it from getting back to your current bosses for a while. Instead, keep your search private and off of social media. This is not time to take advantage of connections made through your Facebook friends!

5. Don’t list your current employer as a reference. Let interviewers know that you would prefer they not contact your current employer at this time. Instead, use other references from previous employers to build your resume and show your capability. List awards you’ve won or commendations you’ve received as proof of your capability at your current job instead.

6. Do check your attire. You’ve got an interview after your shift, so you dress up more than usual for your work day–and suddenly, your bosses are wondering what’s going on. If you must, change after leaving work, even if you’re running on a tight schedule. Keep in mind that a business casual outfit is easy to dress up with a jacket if you must present a more professional appearance for an interview than is common in your current place of employment.

7. Do behave with integrity. Potential employers are going to want to know why you’re leaving your current job. You can be honest–this job is not a good fit for you professionally; you’re hoping to better your career opportunities–without badmouthing your current employer. Resist the urge to over-share! Behaving with integrity will let a new employer know that you’ll show equal respect to their business if the time comes for you to leave.

Job searching while you’re still employed can be a challenge, but it’s better than having to scramble to find a job–any job–when you lose your current one while still searching. Make sure that you’re prepared for the challenges of job searching while employed before you begin.

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How To Hire Restaurant Staff Who Will Stay

How To Hire Restaurant Staff Who Will Stay

Creating a successful restaurant business depends on many considerations. These include your location, marketing efforts, quality of food, specialness of your recipes and, more than anything else, the work of a qualified staff. Your leadership of employees means the difference between struggling and excelling. The first key component to retaining a great staff is to hire the “right” people in the first place. Learn how to improve your hiring practices to recruit a successful work team.

Don’t rely on one simple advertisement to find candidates. You will find the best people when you place ads in a variety of places. For example, take advantage of social media to advertise your available jobs. Also, reach out to the lower economic regions of your communities to attract job applicants ready to work and achieve. You want your talent pool filled with a diverse population representing both genders and a variety of ages, races, nationalities and cultures. According to the Center for American Progress, hiring persons from a diverse set of candidates creates a more qualified workforce.

Don’t rely on one simple advertisement to find candidates.

Set up interviews with applicants that show promise. Look at resumes to find which candidates have experience in the restaurant field and have recent references. Consider internships and education as well as job backgrounds. Don’t let a lack of experience stop you from interviewing applicants who express genuine interest in learning as you can start these individuals in various positions such as bussing tables and dish washing. Everyone needs a place to start.

Create interview questions designed to discover if applicants are suitable for restaurant work. Ask them to give you three reasons why they want to work in your establishment. You can learn much from this simple question as it will likely tell you whether a person is sincerely excited by the prospect of working at your restaurant. For instance, if she says she likes to work with people in social settings, enjoys a fast paced environment and is a fan of your food, she has given an answer that makes sense for working with you.

Pose scenarios during interviews regarding how applicants would handle certain events and to determine what they know.

Pose scenarios during interviews regarding how applicants would handle certain events and to determine what they know. For example, ask them to tell you what they would do when a customer wants a refund after eating, asks you to take food back or complains about wait time. If the applicant is looking for a cook position, you can ask about his prior training, query him about various cooking methods and ask him how he handles the pressure of rush time and what specific techniques he uses to get orders out in a timely manner. The applicants with the best answers will probably be your best choices.

Take time to lead candidates on a tour of your restaurant. Introduce them to members of your staff. Allow them time to look over the establishment and get a sense of how your shifts run. Observe the behavior of the applicants during this time. Do they seem overwhelmed? Excited? Are they anxious to talk to other employees and act interested in the various aspects of the business? If their attitude and behavior in the actual workplace does not match that displayed during the interview, it is a red flag that something is amiss.

Resist the urge to hire candidates immediately following an interview.

Be honest and transparent with all candidates. Invite them to ask you questions. You can often learn much from what they ask. Always, always check their references and run background checks and perform drug tests. Remember you must get the candidates’ permissions to do these screenings. Resist the urge to hire candidates immediately following an interview. You might be excited about a potential worker, but you time to reflect and to do appropriate checks before you hire the applicant.

Remember, you want to hire a person who wants to be part of a team, shows a desire to learn and believes in exceptional customer service. These are the people likely to stay with you.

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How to Interview Hospitality Candidates From Start to Hire

How to Interview Hospitality Candidates From Start to Hire

Why did we hire that person? I’m sure that’s a question you’ve asked yourself in the past about a new hire. The truth is, hiring can often be a frustrating experience for the management team as a whole. So what can we do to ensure that the candidates we hire turn out to be the great employees we’d hope for? Use the interview as your final test, and make it one that can only be passed by those that have the skills and personality for which you’re looking.

Defining the Interview Process

In order for your interviews to be successful, a standard procedure must be in place. After all, we all know how easy it is to mismanage this integral step in the hiring process. From crossed lines of communication to scheduling mishaps, there are so many places to take a wrong turn. So, avoid the disorder and create an outline to be used each and every time your group needs to hire.

Here are a few things your procedure must address:

  • An accessible and universal interview schedule template (interviewing with who and when).
  • Effective interview questions that your management team can reference if necessary.
  • Access to current job postings so that everyone is on the same page as to job requirements, necessary qualifications and experience level.
  • The number of interview rounds required before a decision can be made.
  • The review process in which the management team communicates the pros and cons of each candidate

Once the process has been created, stick to it! Make revisions when necessary, but be consistent in following the guidelines. This will not only reduce stress but also lead to better hiring decisions in the end.

Time to Interview

Once you’ve decided on the standard operating procedure in terms of logistics, it’s time to get to the good stuff – the actual interview. Of course, asking the right questions is crucial.

While there will have to be some clear cut questions asked (about experience and such), the most revealing questions are those that are open-ended. Questions that require candidates to think through their answers will give you a broader understanding of who they are and what they can bring to the table.

It’s also imperative that different questions are asked in every interview round so that as much information about the candidate can be gathered. This is where communication between managers is necessary. Best practice is to have all managers involved in the decision-making process briefed following each interview.

Last but not least, don’t forget that the interview is not one-sided. Candidates are also interviewing us, so just as they have to prepare, we do too. Ensure that the management team is ready to answer any questions that candidates may ask and that the rest of the staff is aware that an interview is taking place.

Decisions, Decisions

Now that the interviews are completed, it’s time to hire. Ideally, before any decisions are made, the pros and cons of each candidate should be discussed at management meetings so that everyone who took part in the interview process can give their input.

However, this may not always be an option, so then it’s up to the owners, chefs or GM’s to collect the information and communicate with the rest of the team. If that person is you, consider every piece of information you’re given and don’t be hasty in deciding who to hire because it will do more harm than good.

The main takeaways here are that a consistent and organized hiring process is essential to making the right additions to your staff. Take the necessary steps throughout this vetting process even if that means committing more time to this stage because, in the end, the interview really should be a test that only the best employees pass.

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Lessons from Las Vegas

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In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

read more

Experience Sirvo for yourself

Sign up now to find hospitality jobs and hire top industry talent.