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Struggling with Your Cover Letter? Here’s How to Write an Effective One

September 12th, 2017

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that many candidates struggle with cover letter writing. And for good reason. Most don’t know where to begin, let alone what to include in theirs. So they end up regurgitating their resumes, or pulling a boilerplate letter from the Internet and swapping out details for their own.

But in today’s competitive job market, that’s not the way to get hired. Instead, when you’re trying to write your cover letter, but get stuck with the process, follow this format instead:

The Beginning.

  • Your contact information should be at the top of your resume. That way, hiring managers don’t have to search through your application, resume and cover letter for it. It’s front and center.
  • In terms of the greeting, if you don’t have the name of the hiring manager, and can’t find it despite your best efforts, it’s ok to address the letter “To whom it may concern” or “Dear hiring manager.”
  • In the first paragraph, you need to grab the attention of the hiring manager, and also make it clear you’ve done your homework and understand what they do.
  • If you were referred to the job by a mutual contact, then this also a good place to drop their name.

The Middle.

In the rest of the body of the letter, keep in mind you’re trying to highlight why you’re the best fit for the job. The most effective way to do this is to talk about a past project or accomplishment that’s most relevant to the position. For instance, if you mentioned you increased sales by 10% in a past position on your resume, your cover letter is the ideal place to further explain how you went about doing that and what impact that had on the company. Whenever possible, use numbers.

The End.

The ending of the letter is the place to reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm for the role. It’s also a good place to thank the hiring manager for their time.

A few other tips:

  • Your cover letter should be short and sweet, and less than one page.
  • It should be formatted in a way that makes it easy to read, with a good size font and plenty of white space.
  • If you have an online portfolio or work samples, you can also provide a link in your cover letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to shine. It’s important that you not only highlight the skills and abilities that make you unique, but how you can contribute to the potential employer’s bottom line. You also need to come across as a real person, not a robot, with some energy and passion.

If you’re still having trouble with your cover letter, give Provisional a call.

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every step of the job search process, from resume and cover letter writing to job leads and interviews. Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

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.

Don’t Let These Common Job Search Mistakes Cost You Your Dream Job

January 24th, 2017

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that even the most experienced job candidate is bound to make a mistake or two during the job search process. Some mistakes aren’t a huge deal; while others can cost you big time – in the form of your dream job. What are they? Here’s a look at 5:

Mistake #1: Not Googling yourself.

Before you submit your resume for a job, Google yourself to check and see what comes up. You might be surprised at the results. If, for instance, there are negative remarks about a past employer, a hiring manager will wonder what you’re going to say about them should they hire you. And most hiring managers will Google you, so it’s important that all the results are professional and appropriate.

Mistake #2: Not researching the company ahead of time.

Whether in your resume, or during an interview, it’s important to showcase that you’ve done your homework. Before you submit your resume, or go in for an interview, research the company – who they are, what they do, and their customers. That way, you can share insights and talk intelligently about what you’ve learned, as well as connect your background and skill set to their unique needs.

Mistake #3: Being unprofessional.

Dressing inappropriately, or showing up late can seriously impact your chances of getting the job. Employers will think if you can’t get it right during the interview, then you’re certainly not going to once on the job.

Mistake #4: Talking poorly about a past boss or employer.

You may have had a bad experience at your last company. But don’t tell that to a hiring manager. They’re only hearing your side of the story and speaking negatively in this way will only make you seem unprofessional. Plus, you never know if the hiring manager interviewing you knows your past boss. So it’s best to always focus on the positive instead.

Mistake #5: Asking about vacation time and benefits during the interview.

Sure, you want to know what the job is offering in terms of benefits. But wait until the hiring manager brings it up. Asking about it during your first interview makes it seem like you’re more interested in paid time off than actually doing the job.

Need more help landing your dream job in Spokane? Call 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.

How to Blast Through Morning Blues…& Get Your Work Day Off Right

April 12th, 2016

Did you ever have a morning when you woke up on the wrong side of the bed – and everything that day was downhill from there?

As you know, the start of the day sets the tone. And if you generally have bad mornings, then it could be impacting your productivity, not to mention your energy and enthusiasm.

Here are some tips to help you blast through morning blues and start each day on a positive note:

Stop hitting snooze.

You may have a love/hate relationship with your snooze button. But continuously hitting it is actually harming your productivity. In fact, according to studies, doing so slows down your decision-making abilities, impairs your memory and hurts your overall performance once you do get up.

Get up earlier.

It may sound painful, but when you wake up earlier – just an extra 20 or 30 minutes – you can actually start your day without feeling like you have to rush. It’s a more peaceful way to begin your workday, which can translate into more relaxed yet productive time in the office. It may take a while to implement this habit, so start by setting your alarm clock 10 or 15 minutes earlier than usual.

Start off slow.

Don’t jump out of bed, then immediately check your emails or the text messages you may have missed. Doing so can drain your energy and your productivity for the rest of the day. Instead, ease yourself into the day with breakfast and shower first before hopping onto your phone or laptop. Take some time to reflect on the previous day and what you want to accomplish today.

Be positive.

Starting off your day in a negative frame of mind will only set the tone for the rest of the day – and not in a good way. Even if you had a bad day before, begin each day with a clean slate. Leave yesterday behind, get organized, and prepare yourself to hit the ground running at work.

Put off meetings first thing.

Nothing saps your energy in the morning like a meeting. Instead, try to schedule meetings later in the morning. That way, you can take the time you need to get settled and focus your energy for the day ahead of you.

Mornings aren’t a favorite time for many people. But by following the tips above, you can blast through your morning blues and help set the tone for a great day ahead.

If you’re ready to get your workday off right – just with a different employer, call the team at 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.

How LinkedIn Can Help You Boost Your Career

November 10th, 2015

You’re not searching for a new job. So there’s no need to create or update your LinkedIn profile, right? Actually, as one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional can tell you that LinkedIn is far more than just a job search tool for active candidates. It’s a social networking site that can not only help you find out about jobs if you’re looking, but also help you boost your career in a variety of ways. What are they? Here’s a look:

A stronger network.

Even if you’re not looking for a new opportunity, you probably will be someday. And when you do, it’s important that you have a robust network in place that you can leverage in your search. You don’t want to try and create connections when you’re searching for a new job. Instead, it’s best to do that ahead of time so the relationships are in place when you need them.

Access to industry groups.

There are an endless stream of industry groups you can join. But what’s the benefit of them? They can connect you with other like-minded professionals. Through those relationships, you can share valuable information, gain new insights, learn from diverse discussions, discover new partnership opportunities and build relationships that may boost your career in years to come.

Unexpected career opportunities.

Most headhunters are on LinkedIn and some may even be looking for professionals with your exact skill set and experience. While you might be content where you are, when you have a strong profile on LinkedIn, you’re opening yourself up to a world of unexpected opportunity.

A place to keep your resume updated.

When you create a LinkedIn profile, it’s akin to an online resume. And it also offers an easy place to make updates as you move ahead in your career and take on new responsibilities. It’s also a great place to upload a portfolio or samples of your work, as well as request testimonials and recommendations from those you know. Then, when you’re interested in initiating a job search, all you have to do is polish your resume rather than create it from scratch.

A solid online reputation.

When you participate in industry groups and contribute in the “Answers” sections of LinkedIn, you’re doing more than just providing information and insight. You’re also building an online reputation – one that can help you advance your career in the future.

Are you actively searching for a new job? If you are, and you’d like expert help, call Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for job interviews, and match you with opportunities that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

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

How to Handle a Job Offer While Waiting for Another

August 11th, 2015

Picture it. You’ve had several interviews and you’re just waiting to hear back. But the offer you get – while not unwelcome – isn’t the one you really wanted. Do you politely decline? Ignore the offer until you hear back from your preferred company? Or accept in the hopes you’ll grow to love the job?

As one of the top employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows there’s no quick fix or easy answer to this situation. It depends on where you are in your career, where you want to go, and whether or not the offer can help you get there. To help you make a smart move, ask yourself:

  • Is the position a good fit? While the job might give you a temporary sense of security, if it doesn’t blend well with your background, experience and personality, chances are, you won’t be happy there.
  • What are my career goals? If the position isn’t ideal, but could be a stepping stone to achieving certain career goals, then it may be worth considering. In this case, you need to look at the bigger picture. For example, if you want to get your MBA and the company would pay in full for it, then accepting the offer could benefit your career in the long run.
  • Where am I with my finances? Your finances will play a big role in whether or not you accept the offer. If you’re in a position of desperation, then you might need to bite the bullet and accept. But if you’re in decent shape financially, then you can likely wait longer to see if your dream offer comes through.
  • Would I want to work for the company? If you’re hesitant to work for the company – whether it has a poor reputation as an employer or it’s not in an industry you’re all that interested in – then that’s a good reason to pass on the offer.

Still not sure what to do? If you’ve thought it through and still don’t know what to do, then rely on your instincts. In other words, what’s your gut telling you to do? It’s oftentimes right in these situations.

If you don’t have any job offers – and would like to secure one – call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment firms 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.

How to Toot Your Own Horn in a Performance Review

December 9th, 2014

You’ve spent the past year working hard for your employer. You’ve landed new clients, successfully managed projects, and now it’s your turn to get some recognition for your efforts. But did you also know it’s up to you to toot your own horn during your performance review? Otherwise, all those great results could go unnoticed by your boss. Here’s how to get the recognition your deserve:

Create a brag book.

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional can tell you if you try to recall in December what you accomplished in February, it can be hard to remember details. Instead, create a document that helps you keep track of your achievements. Every time you accomplish a goal, go above and beyond, or get positive feedback, log it in your book. Think too how each accomplishment helped the company. Before your performance evaluation, review your brag book so your accomplishments are fresh in your mind for your sit-down with your boss.

Get specific.

Don’t just tell your boss you’ve “done a great job this year.” Get specific about the value you’re offering each day. Think of two or three major accomplishments you’d like your boss to be aware of and focus on those. Be sure to not only describe the accomplishments, but also how they impacted the company in a positive way.

For instance, if you successfully managed a major project, was it because it came in under budget, you completed it before the deadline, or you delivered terrific results? Whatever the case, be sure to focus on the facts and not vague statements.

Ask peers to provide input to your boss.

In a perfect world, your boss should be soliciting feedback from co-workers for performance reviews. However, most are too busy to take this step. So, take it for them by asking your colleagues to put in a good word for you with the boss.

How do you ask? Keep it simple: “I have a performance review next week and since we’re working on XYZ project together, I was hoping you could share some feedback of my work with our manager.”

If you’re ready to make a change to a new job in the new year, call 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.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Giving a Presentation at Work

August 12th, 2014

Does the thought of having to give a presentation at work strike fear in your heart? If it does, you’re not alone. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that most people don’t put “public speaking” on the top 10 list of their favorite things to do at work. However, if your job demands that you get in front of an audience and present, then you’d better conquer those fears quickly. Here are a few tips to help you:

Practice…a lot.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but many people will think they can get in front of an audience and simply “wing it.” What ensues, instead, is them typically stumbling through the presentation. Don’t let that happen to you. Practice your presentation until you can deliver it smoothly. And don’t just read it through in your head. Practice it out loud. If you can, videotape yourself and review the footage so you can clearly see areas that need improvement.

Know the facts, cold.

If there are certain facts, dates, or details in your presentation that you’re a little fuzzy on, then get the information you need to clear up any confusion. The last thing you want is someone to ask a question about the one detail you aren’t completely sure about and not have an answer for them.

Anticipate questions.

If someone was presenting to you, what kind of questions would you ask? Chances are, there are commonly asked questions to the information you’re presenting. So write down a list of what those might be and prepare answers ahead of time.

Talk to one or two people.

It’s much more comfortable talking to one or two people, rather than an entire audience. So when you’re giving your presentation, focus on a few friendly faces in the crowd and pretend you’re having a conversation with them. After a while, you’ll likely find yourself more at ease and able to address the whole audience.

Make the presentation interactive.

There’s nothing more boring than an hour-long monologue. Instead, make your presentation interactive. Engage your audience by having them complete exercises or answer questions. Be sure to pepper your presentation with real-world anecdotes, rather than simply presenting dry facts.

Be authentic.

While practicing ahead of time is critical to your success, don’t worry about trying to be too polished and perfect. Audiences respond far better to authenticity, so if you stumble a time or two, shake it off and keep going.

Ready to pitch your way to a new job? Call Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for job interviews, and match you with opportunities that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

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

Job Search Advice for New College Grads

April 21st, 2014

Armed with a degree, but not a lot of experience? Then searching for a job in today’s landscape can be a daunting proposition. To help you navigate your way through this new territory, keep these job search tips in mind:

Check Yourself

Before you even submit your first resume, be sure to Google yourself and see what comes up. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that’s the first thing many hiring managers will do if they’re interested in you as a candidate. And if your social media profiles need some cleaning up, that should be one of your first orders of business. The last thing you want is for an employer to see something unflattering about you and decide not to interview you based on that information.

Don’t Apply for Just Anything

If you have a degree in the fields of liberal arts or communications, you might be tempted to cast a wide net and apply for anything. But don’t do it. Before you start your job search, think about the kinds of experiences – including jobs, internships, volunteer activities, extracurricular activities and coursework – that you enjoyed most. If they’re viable career opportunities, then pursue jobs in those areas. Don’t waste your time applying for a position as an entry level bookkeeper if you have no track record of bookkeeping or accounting experience in your past.

That said, do keep an open mind. The reality of the situation is that the employment landscape, especially for new college grads, isn’t great. So before you shoot down a less-than-ideal opportunity, consider the big picture and whether it could eventually lead you down the career path you want to travel.

Strive to Build Relationships

Don’t solely rely on job boards and your college’s jobs database to find a position. It’s important to build relationships with people you admire in the field. So talk to your professors, use your college’s alumni network, and ask your parent’s friends for advice about finding the kind of job you’re looking for.

Don’t Wait to Start Searching

Don’t take the summer off to relax and enjoy. Many of your fellow graduates will. When they begin their search in the fall, they’ll face even stiffer competition for employment. In addition, the hiring process can take many months and the more time you take off, the longer you’ll have to wait to get a job.

Get Another Internship

If you’re having a hard time finding the right job, don’t be averse to accepting another internship, especially if you can gain valuable skills and experience from it. Not only will you be working (albeit not in the ideal capacity), but if you play your cards right, you may be able to turn it into a full-time opportunity.

Finding a new job is no easy task. But it’s especially challenging for today’s college graduates. Use the tips above to help you get your search rolling and be patient. Remember, you will find a job!

If you’d like more help with your search, call Provisional. As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for job interviews, and match you with entry level opportunities that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

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

Score! Tips for Landing a Job at Your Dream Company

March 25th, 2014

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows most candidates hit the Internet first in search of openings when looking for a new job.

But what if there’s one company you desperately want to work for? You’re a personal fan, their culture is a fit for your personality, and you’re passionate about their vision and mission. You’re not looking for any job; you’re looking for a career at a company where you love going to work each day.

Is there anything you can do to increase your odds of getting hired there? To help you, here are a few tips to put into action:

Learn all you can.

You might think you already know a lot, but to be successful in getting a job at your ideal company, research is the key. Go well beyond just looking at their website and check out their LinkedIn company page, as well as their Facebook and Twitter profiles for more clues. If you know people who work there, then actively seek them out to get the inside scoop of what’s going on inside the organization and tips for getting hired there.

Search for the right decision maker…then contact them.

When it comes to hiring, HR is simply the gatekeeper to the actual decision maker, which is typically the head of or a manager in a department; or, if it’s a smaller company, the owner.

You need to get personal and find these people online. Check their social media profiles for intel about shared interests or things you have in common. Look for news articles or press releases distributed about them that are online. Then contact them via email and use that information – along with what you know about the company – as an icebreaker.

If their email address isn’t available online, then call the company and ask for it. If you still can’t find it, then find an email address for another employee and plug in the same formula (for instance: mary_smith@xyzcompany.com) for the person you’re trying to connect with.

Put yourself in their shoes.

It’s easy to get caught up in telling a hiring manager all about your background. But put yourself in their shoes instead – and ask yourself:

• What do you think would make them want to hire you?
• What’s in it for them?
• What clearly makes you different, unique, or special when compared with other candidates?
• Is there anything else you can do that no one else can?
• How can you help them meet goals, innovate or become more profitable?

So yes, you need to explain your background in your cover letter and resume; but make sure you answer these questions, as well.

Tap into your network.

If all else fails and you can’t find a decision maker to contact, don’t forget about your network of contacts. If you know someone who works there, ask for an introduction. When you’re referred by a person you know, you have a much better shot of getting an interview.

Looking for a job in Spokane? Let Provisional know.

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can work directly with you to craft a great resume, prepare for job interviews, and match you with opportunities that are a fit for your background, skills, personality and career goals.

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

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