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6 Cover Letter Secrets Every Candidate Needs to Know

April 18th, 2017

If you’re like most job candidates, you dread writing cover letters. What are you supposed to say that’s not already discussed in your resume?

While writing a cover letter can feel like a pointless exercise, it’s not. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that hiring managers do read them and they’re actually an opportunity to promote yourself – and why you should get the job. To help you put together one that gets results, consider these tips:

#1: Don’t rehash your resume.

The cover letter shouldn’t be a duplication of your resume. Instead, it should be used to explain something new about yourself that your resume doesn’t showcase. For instance, if you’ve used the company’s products and services – and are a fan – then you can explain why you’ve always wanted to work there. In fact, telling a story is a powerful approach for cover letter writing.

#2: Focus on facts, not fluff.

Don’t make statements, such as “I’m a top-notch candidate best suited for this position.” You don’t know that; other candidates could be stronger or better suited. Instead, stick to facts about your background and the value you can bring to the potential employer.

#3: Be real.

Don’t be overly formal or use corporate jargon in your cover letter. When you do, you wind up sounding more like a robot than a real person. Also, don’t copy and paste a boilerplate cover letter and simply swap out the company and hiring manager’s name. They’ll know in an instant. Instead be professional, but also warm and engaging with your tone and language.

#4: Talk about what you can do for the employer.

Your cover letter shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about how you can help the company succeed, whether it’s through increased sales, more efficient processes, or shaping better policies. You may need to re-read the job posting to get a better sense of how your background and skills can contribute to the company’s bottom line.

#5: Use numbers and statistics.

Hiring managers want to see real results – in the form of dollars, percentages and statistics. So brainstorm an accomplishment that you can quantify and talk about it in your cover letter, including how you approached the problem and the results you were able to achieve.

#6: Expect to re-write it a few times.

No one gets their cover letter right the first time. Expect to write a few drafts and then revise it many times before it hits the mark. Also, make sure to proofread it plenty of times before sending it out to potential employers. That way you can rest easy it’s well-written and error-free.

Need more help with your cover letter, resume or job search?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 professionals with leading local employers since 1994. From writing your resume to getting interviews and offers, we can help you with every aspect of your job search, start to finish. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Guidelines for Applying for a Job at a Past Employer

April 4th, 2017

You’re in the middle of a job search and just came across what sounds like an ideal opportunity – except it’s with past employer. Should you apply or simply cross it off your list? Here are some guidelines to follow:

Consider the terms you left on.

If you quit without two weeks notice, or were fired, then it’s not the best idea to apply for the position. You burned some bridges and people will remember. Even if you did get the job, it could be awkward and uncomfortable due to the terms you left on.

On the other hand, if you left on good terms and simply found a better opportunity, then it’s certainly a job worth considering. After all, you already know the company and its culture. And if it was a good fit in the past, it’s a probably still a good fit for your now.

Just a word of caution: If you left because there wasn’t opportunity for advancement, or you butted heads with company leadership, then carefully weigh the pros and cons of working there again. Chances are, the same issues are still happening and you might wind up having to deal with them again if you get hired.

Reconnect with old friends.

You’ve considered the past and decided you’d like to apply for the job. Then start reaching out to any connections you have at the company. Whether it’s an old boss or former co-workers, let them know you’re interested in the position and ask whether they could refer you to HR or to the hiring manager.

Don’t assume you’re a shoo-in.

One mistake candidates in this position can make is assuming they’re a shoo-in for the job. But that’s not the case. While you might be in the running, there could be several equally strong candidates you’re competing against.

That’s why, if you do get an interview, it’s important to prepare just as you would for any other company. Do you research, show up on time and be professional, ask meaningful questions, and know how to communicate why you’re the best fit.

Be prepared to talk about retention.

One issue hiring managers have with boomerang candidates involves retention. If you left once, what’s to say you won’t leave again? That’s why it’s important to explain the passion you have for the work and the company and how you’re ready to re-commit and make a valuable contribution.

If you left a former company with a good impression and without burned bridges, it’s certainly worth it to consider a future job there. Just follow the guidelines above to increase your odds of getting hired.

If you need additional help with your job search, call Provisional.

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we take your career success personally. Not only will we work one-on-one with you to learn about your background and personality, but we can also connect you with exciting and rewarding opportunities at some of the top employers in the area! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Are You Hurting Your Reputation at Your New Job with These Mistakes?

March 21st, 2017

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience. But did you know that how you perform in those first few weeks can impact your reputation for years after? That’s why it’s so important to put your best foot forward and to avoid these 5 common mistakes:

1. Running late.

It’s your worst nightmare come true: you hit a traffic jam on the second day on the job. Not to worry. Things like this happen to the best of us. However, if running late is starting to become a habit, then it’s a problem. You’re basically showing a lack of concern for company rules when you’re late to work or meetings. It happens once in a while to everyone – and when it happens to you, apologize. However, never let it become a habit.

2. Being a know-it-all.

You have a lot of knowledge and experience – and you want to share it. That’s great. However, don’t go about it in a way that makes it seem like you’re a know-it-all. Sometimes, it’s best to sit back and listen, so you can understand an issue in depth more or a gain a better sense of the big picture – before offering your opinion. However, don’t ever hesitate to ask questions to learn more and get up to speed faster.

3. Sucking up to your boss.

You want to make the best impression on your boss. But don’t kiss up. Your boss will likely see through it and even if they don’t, your new co-workers will – and it can impact your relationship with them. So always be respectful, but avoid going overboard.

4. Getting involved in gossip.

It might seem like gossiping helps you get to know your new co-workers. But really, it’s setting a bad standard. Not only does it make you look immature, but it can also lead to a reputation as a gossip at work. Your boss and co-workers might therefore hesitate in sharing important company news with you in the future.

5. Disparaging your new employer on social media.

Nothing on the Internet is really private. And you’re taking a big risk by posting negative information about your new boss or co-workers. If you’re having an issue, talk privately about it with family or friends. If it’s serious, then bring it up with your manager. However, don’t go to social media to air your frustrations.

Making a great impression in your first days and weeks on the job requires a few key elements: hard work, drive, and not making the mistakes above. Good luck!

Do you need help finding a rewarding new job in Spokane?

Connect with Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we take your career success personally. Not only will we work one-on-one with you to learn about your background and personality, but we can also connect you with exciting and rewarding opportunities at some of the top employers in the area! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

You’re Job Interview’s Over…Now What?

March 7th, 2017

Ever been to a job interview that you thought went well – only to hear nothing weeks later? As one of the leading employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows it’s happened to even the best candidates. So before you go to your next job interview, here are some tips to help you handle a stressful hiring process:

Know what comes next.

Before you leave the job interview, ask about next steps. This will give you a general idea about subsequent interviews, as well as when to expect a decision. It will also minimize the time spent waiting by the phone. If, for instance, you know you won’t hear anything for at least another week, you can focus back on your job search, instead of constantly checking your email.

Send a thank you note.

Some hiring managers read them, others don’t. But a well-written thank you note could be the deciding factor between you and another equally strong candidate. So get yours out within 24 hours of your interview. Just make sure before you leave your interview, you asked for the correct names and contact information for those you interviewed with.

Connect with your recruiter.

If you’re working through an employment agency, then reach out to your recruiter after the interview. They may have news to share from the employer, or, at the very least, they’ll want to know how the interview went and whether you’re interested in the job.

Continue your search.

Even if you’re confident that you performed well and got the job, don’t stop your search. It’s never a good idea to place too much importance on any one opportunity until you have an actual offer. That said, if you really think the chances of you getting the job are high, then you might want to start reaching out to contacts to ask for permission to list them as a reference.

Follow up.

If you got another offer, then it’s reasonable to use that as an opportunity to follow up. Just don’t issue an ultimatum. Simply let your contact know you received another offer, but are still very interested in their opportunity and would like to know the status of the hiring process.

Don’t burn bridges.

If you don’t get the job, be professional about it. Simply look at the situation as an opportunity for you to make new connections that could be useful later on in your career.

Need more help finding a job you’ll love?

Call Provisional. As one of the leading employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we’ll work with you to get to know your skills, background, and personality. We’ll then match you with rewarding jobs that are a great fit for you. Search our Coeur d’Alene jobs now or contact us today.

Secrets of a Great Interview Thank You Note

February 21st, 2017

You applied for a job you really want. You got an interview and all went well. At this point, do you send a thank you note? Does it really make a difference and influence the hiring manager’s position? Or should you just sit tight and wait?

The answer: It depends.

Many hiring managers report they don’t take into account whether or not a candidate sent a thank you note. However, you never know if the person who just interviewed you actually falls into that category…or not.

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows another situation where a thank you note can make a difference involves when a hiring manager is considering two equally strong candidates. If you send a well-written, thoughtful thank you note – and the other candidate doesn’t – it could be what sets you apart and leads to a job offer. In addition, if a hiring manager is interviewing a sea of other candidates, a thank you note can be the one element that helps them remember you over other applicants.

That’s why it’s typically a good idea to send one. That said, there are some tips to keep in mind before you fire one out to your interviewer:

  • Be timely. Don’t wait a week to send out a thank note. You should mail or email yours within 24 hours of the interview.
  • Send a note to all who interviewed you. That means, before you leave an interview, you need to gather everyone’s names and contact information. Make sure you personally address the notes and write something unique in each one (such as a shared interest or mutual acquaintance).
  • Be authentic. Write something genuine and heartfelt, rather than from a boilerplate letter you find on the Internet. That said, don’t go overboard with praise and appreciation. Keep it simple.
  • Reinforce why you want the job. Talk again why you think you’d be a good fit for the position and your enthusiasm for it. Also, cover any key points you forgot to bring up during the interview.
  • Keep it short. Don’t write anything overly long or flowy. Your thank you note should be short and to the point – approximately three to four paragraphs.
  • Carefully proofread your notes. Before sending them, read through each note multiple times to check and ensure they make sense and don’t have any typos.

Need more help finding and landing your next great job?

Contact the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. And we can help you find a new job too! Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

5 Tips for Avoiding Burnout in 2017

February 7th, 2017

If you’re like most professionals, you invest a lot of time and energy in your work. But if you’re coming in early, staying late, and have an unreasonable workload – all with no end in sight – then it can lead to burnout. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows everyone experiences burnout from time to time. But if you want to make sure it doesn’t sabotage you and your career, follow these tips:

1. Take breaks during the day.

There are certainly busy times or seasons where you skip lunch or don’t take breaks so you can get all your work done. But this shouldn’t be a habit all year long. You need breaks in order to stay focused and energized. Plus, sitting for hours without getting up isn’t good for your physical health.

2. Take care of yourself.

Are you staying up late, only getting a few hours of sleep a night? Do you eat a lot of junk or processed foods? Do you drink coffee all day instead of water? All of these unhealthy habits could be contributing to your stress and ability to manage it. It’s important to take good care of yourself in order to prevent burnout. That means eating healthy foods, getting enough rest at night and drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

3, Take yourself offline after hours.

With today’s technology, it’s tempting to stay plugged in at all hours. But this too contributes to burnout. Instead, don’t check your email after a certain hour and turn your phone off. Constantly checking your phone and email will only contribute to your stress level. So unplug and relax at night. You’ll be better able to manage communications and activities during the day when you know you have down time at night.

4. Take a look at technology.

Are there certain kinds of technology – software or processes – that could make workflow more efficient for you and everyone on your team? If you’re noticing you’re spinning your wheels in areas that could be streamlined or easier through technology, then do your homework. Investigate possible solutions so you can present your ideas to your boss and the team.

5. Take time to talk with your boss.

Stress may simply be a part of the job. However, if it’s truly getting out of hand, then speak up and connect with your boss. Be ready with specific examples of challenges you’re facing and ideas for solutions. You don’t want to come off as a complainer, but as someone who is noticing a problem and is prepared to work toward a positive resolution.

Sometimes, especially if you’re being overworked and underpaid, a new job is the answer. If you need help in your search, contact Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for interviews, and match you with Spokane jobs that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

4 Tips for Planning Out Your Career in 2017

December 27th, 2016

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of your career, an industry veteran, or you’re ready for a change, you need a plan – specifically, a career plan – if you want to get ahead. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows a career plan will help you carefully strategize your career, so you can achieve your goals. Not sure where to start? Follow these tips to begin the process:

#1: Determine your final destination.

What’s your dream job? Where do you ultimately want to end up? You have to be clear on where it is you want to go in order to develop a career plan. If you’re not sure, then ask yourself where you want to be in the next two years, five years and 10 years. Be completely honest with yourself in the process.

Beyond just thinking about the kind of work you want to do, also consider the type of company you want to work for. For instance, what type of culture do you prefer? How much travel do you want to do? What kind of schedule do you want to work? Knowing your ideal work environment will help you better evaluate and find opportunities that are right for you.

#2: Find out what it takes to get there.

In other words, what skills, knowledge and experience do you need to obtain to reach your ultimate career goal? Do you need an advanced college degree? Or simply a certification? Do you need more experience in what you’re already doing under your belt? Carefully think about and consider the investment of time and other resources it will take in order for you to reach your career goals.

#3: Write it out.

You know where you want to go – and what you have to do to get there. Now get all that information out of your head and onto a piece of paper. There’s power in writing out your career plan for several reasons.

  • First, it will help you really think through each step and every goal in the process.
  • Second, you can then modify and edit where needed. For instance, maybe you need to break one big goal into multiple smaller goals and steps to make it more realistic.
  • And third, seeing your plan in print will make it seem more tangible and easier to commit to.

#4: Put it into practice.

Now it’s time to step outside your comfort zone and just do it. The first step can be hard and you might feel uncertain. But you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t step out. And once your successes start to add up, it will be easier to keep going.

Ready for a better career – and more success – in 2017? Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every aspect of your search. In fact, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

The Ins & Outs of Background Checks: What Employers Want to Know About You

December 13th, 2016

You’ve made it into the final round of the interview process. Congratulations! Now comes the time a prospective employer might do some digging into your past in the form of a background check. What can you expect from the process? And is there anything you can do to prepare?

First, as one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that background checks are performed for many different jobs these days. In fact, they’ve become a routine part of the hiring process. Some companies conduct basic ones, while others require more rigorous checks. This is often due to the nature of the work. For instance, more intense checks are usually performed if you’re going to be handling finances or sensitive company information, as well as working with children, the elderly, or those with special needs.

When you have to submit to a background check, it’s a good sign. Companies don’t perform them on every applicant that sends in their resume – or even every candidate that comes in for an interview. They only conduct background checks on those they’re seriously considering hiring. So that’s good news for you.

A few areas a background check will look into include:

  • Addresses, including current and former
  • Credit history (In the state of Washington, an employer is entitled to a credit report only if the report is substantially related to the job and the employer’s reasons for using it are disclosed in writing to the candidate; or it’s required by law.)
  • Past employment, including job titles and length of employment
  • Colleges and degrees earned, and when
  • Criminal history over the past 10 years

Though it can seem invasive, employers aren’t trying to pry with background checks. They’re trying to answer one simple question: Does a candidate’s facts match up? If you told a hiring manager you hold a certain degree, or position, and it comes to light that’s not true, it’s obviously going to impact their hiring decision. However, if you’ve been honest and open about your background to the hiring manager throughout the process, then you have nothing to worry about.

If a red flag does come up, most employers will offer you the benefit of the doubt and ask you for clarification. For instance, if your resume said you started your past position in March, and the correct month was April, it’s probably not a huge deal. But if there’s a glaring discrepancy in your past – one you can’t reasonably explain away – then it will likely hurt your chances of getting the offer. So remember, always be honest.

Need more help finding your next great job in Spokane, WA? Call Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every aspect of your search. In fact, we’ve placed more than 8,000 direct hire employees with leading local employers since 1994. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Do’s & Don’ts for Handling the Job Offer Waiting Game

November 22nd, 2016

As one of Spokane’s top employment firms, Provisional knows that the job search waiting game can be excruciating. You wait to hear back after submitting your resume. You wait to get a call for an interview. You wait to hear back after the interview. And this can go on for several rounds.

So what can you do to stay patient during such a stress-filled process? Here are several do’s and don’ts:

Don’t stop your job search.

Just because an opportunity seems promising and you think you’ll get an offer doesn’t mean you should stop looking. Instead, stay occupied by continuing your search. That way, if you don’t get the offer you were after, you don’t have to start up the search process all over again. Plus, you might find out about an even better position.

Don’t check your email every five minutes.

If you do, you’ll drive yourself crazy and get even more stressed out. Instead, aim to check it once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and again at the end of the day. Other than that, put your phone down or keep your email account closed throughout the rest of your day.

Do keep busy.

Besides keeping your job search going, make sure you’re staying busy with other activities. If you’re unemployed, then pick up a new hobby or volunteer at a local homeless shelter. Just get your mind off yourself and your job search for a while.

Don’t pester the hiring manager.

They said you’d hear back in a week. It’s now been a week and one day. It’s tempting to follow up with a call or email. But sit back and wait a while longer. If you come on too strong or overeager, it can weaken your negotiating stance when it’s time to talk about the offer.

Also, keep in mind,  a hiring manager is likely busy filling many different positions, not just the one you interviewed for, and may need a few extra days to get back to you. That said, if they told you they’d call you in a week and it’s been over two weeks, then follow up.

Do take rejection graciously.

You thought the job was yours. But you just found out you didn’t get the offer. It’s ok to be disappointed. Just make sure you don’t take it out on the hiring manager. Thank them for their time. Also ask them to keep you in mind for future opportunities or to connect on LinkedIn.

Need more help with your job search? Call Provisional. As one of Spokane’s top employment firms, we know what companies are looking for – and can help you find job leads, craft the best resume and prepare for interviews, all so you get the offer you’re after. If you’re searching for work and need help, contact Provisional today.

Career Habits That Can Help You Get Ahead

November 8th, 2016

You like your job and you’re happy with your employer. But lately, it feels like something is missing. If you’ve been in the same role for a long time, then it’s time for a change. But how can you make your mark and get ahead? Here are several habits to help you put into practice:

Start thinking about what’s next.

As one of the leading employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Provisional knows it’s easy to stay in your comfort zone. But if you want to advance in your career, then it’s time to start thinking about next steps – and the skills you need to get there. Once you know the expertise you need, make a plan for obtaining it. For instance, do you need to go back to school, enroll in a certificate course, or attend an industry conference? Create a plan for how you’re going to educate yourself, including long- and short-term goals, and a timeline for getting there.

Dress for the job you want.

You might have an entry level job, or a junior position. However, that doesn’t mean you should show up to work looking like a college kid. Ever hear the phrase: ‘Image is everything’? So if you’re putting forth a sloppy or too casual image, then it’s going to impact how others perceive you.

Raise your visibility with company higher ups.

Just because someone is in an executive leadership role doesn’t mean they’re off limits to you. And if you want to get ahead and get promoted, then it’s important that company stakeholders know who you are. So if you see your boss’s boss sitting alone in the lunchroom, ask to join them and strike up a conversation.

Turn challenges into opportunities.

It’s easy to get off course if you’re facing roadblocks in your career. But rather than having the attitude that you can’t do anything about it, take a proactive approach. Successful people don’t sit idly by; they take action, look for a solution and take advantage of new opportunities that come their way.

Ask for what you want.

Your boss isn’t a mind reader. So if you think you deserve a promotion, ask for it. If you know you’re not there yet, then make your intentions clear to your boss and ask what you need to do to prepare yourself for advancement.

Interested in promoting yourself to a new job in a different company? Call Provisional. As one of the leading employment agencies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we’ll work with you to get to know your skills, background, and personality. We’ll then match you with rewarding jobs that are a great fit for you. Search our Coeur d’Alene jobs now or contact us today.

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