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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6 Signs That You Should Quit Your Job

6 Signs That You Should Quit Your Job

Staying in the same job offers comfort and consistency, but many workers outgrow their position, lack room for advancement and miss out on potential career opportunities. Staying in your comfort zone is definitely easier than quitting and navigating the job search market, but the rewards may be worth the risks. This is because new jobs offer fresh challenges, excitement and growth prospects.

Morning Sickness

If the first thing you feel in the morning after waking up is dread, then maybe it’s time for a career change. Ideally, you should be excited to start your day, upbeat about your long commute or thinking about what you will accomplish by the end of your shift. If the job doesn’t make you happy and fulfilled, having nice bosses, coworkers and customers isn’t enough to keep you motivated. Taking inventory of the pros and cons is the best way to identify and decide if a career change is truly needed.

Pros vs. Cons

Create a list with at least a few descriptive categories, such as like, dislike and talents. The first column should include things that you like and love about your past and current jobs. The second column should include things that you dislike doing and lack competencies in, such as math or desk work.  The third column should have things that you passionately enjoy doing and dream about experiencing. These could include hobbies and extracurricular activities. Identifying non-negotiable items and values will help you to creatively brainstorm new career goals.

Time to Be Selfish

Many workers sacrifice their own self-interests for the sake of their friends, family, and community. For example, some people are pushed by their parents into pursuing a degree they loathe, but others relocate to unfamiliar cities to help out family members. Jobs that involve intense public interaction, such as teaching, social work, and customer service, benefit the community but burn out the dedicated workers. If you have already devoted years to civic or familial obligations, maybe it’s time to transition to a career that revolves around your needs and preferences.

Stress Management

Certain industries experience high turnover rates because of stress and pressure. This includes everything from waitressing to firefighting to executive management. If work-related stress is seriously affecting your health, it’s time to consider your career options. The negative variables that physically and mentally impact you, such as the work, people or culture, may be adjusted through internal adjustments. For example, an experienced waitress may be ready to change restaurants or apply for supervisory positions. A stressed out supervisor in the service industry may simply need to transfer to an itinerant, specialized or administrative position.

The Wall

Workers who are overqualified for their position may be stuck in a career rut that fails to utilize their skills and training. Sometimes, management simply doesn’t want to acknowledge that you have more to offer or that you are making significant contributions. This is true if you have been repeatedly been passed over for promotions, not given challenging assignments or awarded with due recognition. The more that your innovative ideas and experiential advice are answered with denials or silence, the more you should consider a job change. It’s a good idea to use available career resources to find your dream job.

Toxic Environments

Most workers won’t directly experience bullying, harassment or verbal abuse, but they may have to silently suffer in unpleasant or passively aggressive work conditions. This could be a narcissistic boss, self-centered coworkers, and bureaucratic leadership dynamics. Human resources could be driven by policy adherence and cutting corners instead of investing in employees. The company may be driven by profits at the costs of sustainability, quality products, and customer satisfaction. Any of these growth-inducing behaviors may motivate you to switch careers.

In the end, a job isn’t just about a salary and stability, it’s about a quality of life and personal achievements.  The BLS states that the average adult spends 8.8 hours in work-related activities during the week, which is anywhere between 180 to 200 hours per month. Holistically analyzing and understanding all the dimensions of your skills, career goals and personal dreams will help you find the job that will make you thrive and grow.

Are you ready for a career change? Check out all the open positions up now at sirvo.com/search!

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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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What’s the Career Path of a Restaurant Manager?

What’s the Career Path of a Restaurant Manager?

If you like being the host (or life) of the party or if you enjoy bringing people together for a good time, then you’ll enjoy working as a manager in the service industry. The hours can be long, but the rewards are worth it. You’ll form close friendships with your employees and with your patrons. Some of these connections will last a lifetime.

You know, we would never tell someone they don’t have to go to college to be successful. But with the internet bringing the world closer together and with the world changing rapidly, the fact is A) success is being measured differently and B) there are other ways to achieve success.

In 2017, restaurant and foodservice jobs make up 11% of employment in the state of Colorado. The National Restaurant Association predicts that number to grow by 12.3% by the year 2027. Here are more stats illustrating why pursuing a management career in the service industry is a viable option.

Within the industry, there are just a few steps to becoming your own (or THE) boss, but each step requires a complete grasp of the level before. Most managers work within the industry, either starting out as a bartender or server, but it’s increasingly common that employees from the Back of the House become heads of restaurants, too.

Whether you pursue a career by learning the business as you go or by working in the business while going to school, this is pretty much the path a manager takes.

1. Host/Server, Prep Cook/Dishwasher

If you’re in the front of the house, you’ll start out as a host or server. If you’re in the back of the house, you’ll start out as a prep cook or dishwasher.

Managers must always know how every aspect of their restaurant functions. Starting out at the bottom is a great way to learn how a foodservice establishment operates. Knowing exactly what your employees go through on a shift to shift basis is a great way to earn their respect.

Also, there will be times when you have to jump in and help out. You’ll want to know what you’re doing. If you’re hired into a company as a management trainee, it’s very likely their training program will have you working in every position of the restaurant at some point.

2. Bar or Service Manager

After learning the restaurant positions and functions, you’ll be able to move to higher level positions such as the Bar Manager or Service Manager.

In these positions, you’re given the responsibility of managing small teams of employees, mentoring and training, and handling opening and closing duties to ensure the restaurant functions at its highest level.

3. Assistant General Manager

After Bar/Service Manager, the next step is taking the reins as Assistant General Manager. At this level, it’s common to be paid a salary instead of on an hourly basis. This level of management is also typically offered benefits.

The trade off is, the hours are loooong. You’ll be the first to arrive in the mornings or the last to leave at night. But, you’re also learning the upper-level management skills needed to someday run your own restaurant.

4. General Manager/Owner

This is typically the highest position in the restaurant. You have final say in all business decisions. You’re in charge of making sure the business is a success. You’re responsible for all employees. If you’re working for a corporation, you can still progress higher than GM. If you’re working for a small company, this could be the highest you can get before you move to the next step of owning your own business.

If you decide to go the corporate route, other possible positions to achieve could be:

  • Area Manager
  • Regional Manager
  • Division Executive

Rest assured, the service industry as a career choice is here to stay. Taste trends are changing faster than ever, which means more new restaurants are on the horizon. An added benefit of a career in the service industry is it’s very easy to travel, so keep that in mind as your think about your future. Restaurants and bars are everywhere!

If you’re ready to see what’s waiting for you, browse our latest openings now.

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7 Ways to Make Your Resume Stronger

7 Ways to Make Your Resume Stronger

When you’re looking for a new job, your resume is typically the first contact that potential employers have with you. Your goal is to use your resume to create a great first impression–not by lying, but by putting your best foot forward and showing people exactly what you can do. These tactics will allow you to create a stronger resume that will help bring you to the top of the stack.

1. Build your experience. You know that you have to have experience in order to get a job, and you have to have a job in order to get experience. There are, however, some other ways you can get some great experience that’s relevant to your job. In the hospitality and restaurant industry, this might include:

  • Volunteering for events that require a great deal of customer service
  • Finding opportunities to cook for friends, loved ones, and other events–especially if you get paid to do it
  • Organizing local events, including those that aren’t for profit

2. Put the important details first. You have approximately six seconds to catch the attention of the manager or recruiter reading your resume. That means you want to put your most important details at the top of your resume, where they’re easier to see.

3. Keep it clear and simple. It’s tempting to pad your resume with extra words, especially if you happen to have, for example, a page-and-a-half long resume that you’re trying to stretch to two pages. Instead, cut it down: a clear, concise resume is much more appealing than one that appears to gush or to contain unnecessary or excess information.

4. Personalize your resume. Think about the specific job you’re applying for, then put relevant information first or emphasize it more clearly. For example, if you’re applying for a hospitality position, your time as a customer service representative at a call center might showcase your ability to prioritize customer service and handle high-stress situations. On the other hand, if you’re applying for a job as a restaurant manager, you might be better suited to discuss your previous experience in the restaurant industry at the top of your resume.

5. List accomplishments, not skills. It’s great that you have customer service skills–but what have you done with them? Instead of a rote list of your skills, use active language to describe what you’ve actually accomplished with them. Which sounds more appealing: “good at dealing with customers” or “effectively managed customer interactions and diffused tense situations” as you describe your previous management position?

6. Keep it real. Don’t lie on your resume. This seems obvious, but all too many prospective employees fall prey to the urge to exaggerate or even manufacture information about their previous positions. If you want the job, be honest: chances are, someone will check before you’re offered the position. Lies will make it evident that you aren’t a suitable candidate.

7. Proofread. This is a critical step in the resume writing process–especially if you’re using a template or copying and pasting from someone else’s resume. You must be sure that you’ve checked your spelling, avoided major errors, and, most critically, put your information in your resume, not the person’s you copied.

Crafting a strong resume is the first step in attaining the employment you’ve always wanted. Don’t just slap it together; instead, take the time to do it right, building a strong resume that reflects your accomplishments and explains to a potential employer why you’re the right fit for the job. Don’t forget to include a cover letter detailing your interest in the position and why you think you’re a good fit, if relevant. Your ability to get the job of your dreams could hinge on the quality of that first communication with a prospective employer.

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