3 Key Areas to Review in Cover Letters

A few months ago, we talked about key areas recruiters should review in candidate resumes for more efficient screening. But what about cover letters? Has the range of expert advice shared about cover letters over the years rendered them useless during the hiring process?

Cover letters can still be a valuable hiring tool.ID-100123324

Looking at cover letters as an art instead of a science (as many experts have proclaimed over the years) can help you appreciate this tool in a new way. Candidates who put extra effort into a memorable cover letter could very well be the creative problem-solvers your organization is looking for! Plus, spending a few extra seconds on the cover letter can help you determine whether reading the resume is even worth your time.

Be on the lookout for these three keys:

  1. Spelling and grammar. Don’t get ahead of us here, this might not be what you are expecting. Spelling is an area where there is no debate – a misspelled word on resumes is just a bad sign. But when it comes to grammar, you may want to relax a bit. Today’s business language isn’t nearly as formal as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Take this blog, for example – professionals are speaking more, well, human! So rather than grade candidates on whether they can write a formal letter that sticks to all the formatting suggested by those experts, take a look at how the cover letter is written. Are they speaking to you or at you? Can you feel the candidate’s enthusiasm through the use of language?
  2. The “meat.” One reason many recruiters scan or skip cover letters is that candidates often simply use the cover letter as a summary of their resume. It makes sense to skip it, then – why read a summary of the resume when the resume is right in front you?! Exceptional candidates who can make an impact on your business will use the “meat” of their cover letter to add insight that illuminates the resume or ties together their work history to paint the big picture and offer true perspective on this candidate, his or her career and ultimately, his or her potential within your organization.
  3. The close. The cover letter close seems innocuous enough – “Here’s my contact information and I’d appreciate it if you would schedule an interview.” But it’s also pretty yawn inducing much of the time. Creative candidates with real potential will use the close as an opportunity to further demonstrate their enthusiasm and make you enthusiastic about talking to them! Don’t just scan the close, read it carefully – are you excited about the candidate? Or are you ready to toss the resume altogether?

Knowing what to look for in candidate cover letters can help you be more efficient while screening candidates, and could ultimately help you land your next office superstar. If you’re struggling to find and identify the top talent your organization needs, call Helpmates. We specialize in finding precisely the talent businesses need to reach and exceed their goals.

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Social Media Job Search Tips for Recent Graduates

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. From connecting with family to even applying for jobs, chances are you read or post to at least one social media site every day. But particularly for recent college graduates, your social media presence can have a profound impact on your ability to land a job. The following list of dos and don’ts can help you identify habits to avoid, and those to embrace as part of your job search:ID-10070641


Keep your pictures professional. Recruiters will be searching for you on the Internet, including social media. Actually, a simple Google search will likely bring up your social media profiles first. That’s because search engines “crawl” social media posts like they do individual webpages. The more you post to social media, the higher your social profiles will rank for your name. So when your social media profiles come up, be sure that your image is professional. You don’t necessarily need a professional headshot (although that’s a great idea too!), but you should look professional in each picture. Better yet, use the same picture across the board – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (or others) to ensure that you are portraying the right image across all your social channels.

Stay consistent. If you include past positions or coursework on your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles, ensure that the list remains consistent across all channels. If your social media profiles convey different messages, it could signal a red flag for recruiters and result in someone else getting the job. If you have an excessive amount of personal information on certain social media profiles, take a look at your privacy settings to ensure what’s intended to be private remains private, then ensure all public information about your education and professional history are consistent.


Use profanity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but internal filters can often be forgotten when sharing information with our friends and family on social media. The problem is that, as mentioned in the first bullet, search engines crawl social media posts, so if you use profanity in a Facebook post, for example, that post could be one of the top Google results for your name! You certainly don’t want recruiters to associate vulgarity with your name, so the best way to avoid this type of result is to avoid saying offensive things on the Internet.

Connect without a connection. It can be tempting to “friend” or send a LinkedIn request to leaders at businesses you’re interested in, but that strategy can backfire. Facebook is a tool for friends and family – mixing friends and family with networking and your job search could be a recipe for disaster. When it comes to LinkedIn, be sure to establish real connections before sending requests to connect on the social site. Once you’ve met with a recruiter or decision-maker, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a LinkedIn request, but doing so before meeting or making an in-person connection could discredit you and result in you losing out on potential opportunities.

Your social presence can be a boost to your grades and experience when applying for jobs, but you’ll need to follow these tips to ensure you’re putting your best “social” foot forward.  Need help landing a job after graduation? Helpmates works with top employers across Southern California to match them with talented professionals like you. Visit our job board to view our current openings or contact your nearest Helpmates office to take the first step in your career.

While you’re at it, be sure to connect with Helpmates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for more job search and career tips, hot jobs and more!

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Are Video Job Interviews Right For Your Business?

With significant advances in technology and portability of communication, video interviewing is gaining traction in recruiting circles. While the technology is intriguing, there are specific factors to consider when debating whether video interviewing is the right fit for your business.VideoInterviewing

We’ve compiled a list of potential benefits and pitfalls of this emerging technology trend:

Positives of Video Job Interviews

  • Flexibility. Sometimes it can be difficult to synchronize schedules for interviews, but video interviewing means travel time is eliminated, allowing for more flexibility that helps both employers and candidates.
  • Potential Cost savings. If you’re considering out-of-town candidates, video interviewing can help you conduct initial screening without the travel costs associated with bringing those candidates in-house.
  • Additional Candidate Insights. Video interviews allow you to see a side of candidates you may not see during in-person job interviews. Quiet, organized surroundings can help identify candidates who are detail oriented. A technically smooth interview may signal a candidate who is tech savvy and can maximize computers or mobile devices – a great boost to any office.

Pitfalls of Video Job Interviews

  • Technological hiccups. Simply put, many offices lack updated computers or video technology to adequately allow for smooth video interviewing. Add in potential problems associated with slow or problematic internet connections, and any convenience associated with video interviews is lost – and then some. That’s only accounting for the potential technical issues in your office – there’s simpy no way of knowing whether candidates have met the technical requirements. Often times, the only way you can find out is when technical issues force you to delay or even cancel an interview.
  •  Poor locations. Conducting video interviews in your office or cubicle can mean major distractions from coworkers talking or playing music, or even just regular office noise – computer microphones pick up everything, and any distractions can be bothersome to you and especially the candidate, leading to a lower quality interview. Poor lighting can also impact video job interviews, making it hard for candidates to see you (or vice versa) and impacting your ability to connect during the interview.
  • Lost insights. Video job interviews can make it difficult to pick up on subtleties like body language that interviewers can gain during in-person job interviews. Body language, eye contact, even a confident voice can be lost due to the impersonal feeling of screens and potential connectivity lags prevent answers from coming through quickly and with the intended tone, volume or emotion.

The quality of job interviews depends on many factors, but conducting quality interviews and finding top talent is essential for any business. The Helpmates team has extensive experience sourcing and interviewing candidates in a range of industries across Southern California. We’ll help you find the talent you need to reach your goals.

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