Job Search Q&A #2: Cover Letters, Changing Careers, Being Underqualified and More

Job Search Q&A #2: Cover Letters, Changing Careers, Being Underqualified and More

This roundup of reader questions and answers touches on finding greentech jobs, using cover letters, being underqualified, changing careers and applying to multiple openings at the same organization.

Question

Reminder

I've tried to keep the questions and answers as close as possible to the actual conversation but in some cases I've changed things to protect the reader's identity or I've given a longer answer than what was possible at the time due to the fact that Twitter – where many of these questions are coming from – only allows 140 characters per message.

Greentech jobs: where?

Any advice for sustainable (wind/solar, etc) job searching?

Find out which greentech and/or cleantech companies just got funding by searching on press releases and the blogs of industry venture capitalists. There's a good chance the newly-funded companies will be hiring soon. Don't just use Google in this case, try Twitter Search as well.

Cover letters still needed?

Are cover letters still relevant when sending a resume over e-mail? If I write a cover letter in the body of the e-mail, does anyone read it or do they just open the attached resume file? Should the cover letter be part of the Word document as well?

The goal of a cover letter is to get the recipient to open your resume. Considering the number of resumes that recruiters receive, the vast majority will not open the resume automatically just because you're sending it to them. So yes, use the email itself to write a short, direct cover letter message that will make the recipient quickly open the attached resume. Here are some more cover letter writing tips.

Underqualified? Maybe not as much as you thought

I'm trying to only send resumes to jobs I'm really qualified for but it seems like employers are only seeking super-qualified people who have complete mastery and expertise in everything. What am I supposed to do?

Except where space is limited, a job listing is an employer wish list. In a tough market where people are being laid off every day, employers feel they can get more for less – and they can – but only by asking for it. Keep applying if you have most of the qualifications they're asking for and feel that you can still impress them. Here's the success story of a job seeker who found a job even though he didn't have all the job listing's requirements.

Changing careers in the same industry

In trying to find a job after relocating to a new country, how easy is it to move to a related career within the same industry (hi-tech)?

The best way to switch to an “adjacent” position is in the framework of an existing job. One example is a technical writer who showed that their skills would work well in product development, went ahead and proved it, and then transitioned into a full product development role. This can work because everything happens internally at the same company that knows and has confidence in the career-switching employee. As a gradual move sideways in the company's structure, there will likely be the option of staying in the initial role if experiments in the new role don't work out.

Unfortunately the above scenario doesn't lend itself to relocation. It's very hard to get a job in a role for which you have no experience or training, in a country or culture where you have no experience or training. Instead, if you're planning an international move (like making aliya), try first for a job based on your experience and proven expertise. If the opportunity comes up, aim for a company where you will later have the option to slide into a related career.

Responding to multiple openings at the same organization

After my job interview and testing a few weeks ago, I received notice that my candidacy is moving forward but that there are still other candidates in the loop and a final answer will only arrive in a few more weeks at the earliest. In the meantime, I've found another appealing job opening at the same company. I'd like to apply for this second position as well, but how? I'm sure the same HR person is going to be seeing the CVs, so clearly she knows I am in the running for the first job since she set up the testing. I'm concerned that they will let the person I interviewed with know that I'm applying for the job, which could be good or bad, because it could push her to advocate for me, or could backfire and make her think that I have “other options” so that she wouldn't advocate for me. What should I do?

Of course apply for the second job. If you think the same HR person is going to see the arrival of your 2nd CV in a negative light, there are 2 options:

  1. Call her first and explain that you're still interested in the first position as well but of course she understands that you need to prepare for all eventualities.
  2. Find a reason to call her about the first position, and use it as a chance to mention the second position so you can gauge whether or not you should go for it.

The HR person is supposed to be trying to fill both positions with the best candidates. It's tempting to think that if they thought you were qualified for the 2nd position, they would have contacted you directly for it since they already have your CV and have interviewed you. Unfortunately, reality just isn't like that and there are so many possible reasons that you won't receive such a call, so it's best not to worry and just make your move.

Have a job search question?

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About the Author Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

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Holiday Weekend Job Search Do's and Don'ts says

[…] boards, email, application forms, LinkedIn messages to congratulate other people on their new jobs, cover letters, work portfolios, job fairs, followups, references, background checks, networking events, interview […]

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