The unemployment rate for veterans is the lowest it has ever been since September 2001, and it continuing to fall. This achievement is due in part to the employers who have made a commitment to hire those who have served in our armed forces.

In advance of Veterans Day, job site Monster worked with a panel of veteran hiring experts and Military.com to gather a list of the 10 best companies for veterans. All of the companies in the top 10 employed at least 15 percent veterans.

Evan Guzman, founder of The MiLBRAND Project, which helps companies attract and retain veteran hires, says the reason that companies love to hire veterans is because of the values that military service instills in them.

“Veterans are loyal, resilient, possess a strong work ethic and are masters of teamwork,” he says. “Companies, especially the nominees and winners on our list, know that veterans bring advanced experience in meeting mission objectives and will adapt those skills into their jobs.”

Read on to see Monster’s list of the 10 best companies for veterans:

10. Boeing

Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 15 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 15 percent

Monster’s company description: “Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. Their products include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.”

How they support veteran employees: Boeing’s veteran hire retention rate in 2016 was 92 percent and the Boeing Military & Veteran Engagement Team (BMVET) integrates Boeing’s efforts within the military and veterans communities. Boeing is a frequent sponsor of Veterans in Aerospace Symposium and the Veterans Transition Initiative.

9. Union Pacific Railroad

Headquarters: Omaha, Nebraska

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 20 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 17.5 percent

Monster’s company description: “Union Pacific Railroad is North America’s premier railroad franchise, covering 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States.”

How they support veteran employees: Union Pacific hosts regional Military Leadership Hiring programs to place vets in management positions and sponsors UPVETS, which provides support, networking and mentorships to veteran employees. The company has a 61 percent veteran retention rate.

8. BAE Systems

Headquarters: Arlington, Virginia

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 21 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 16.5 percent

Monster’s company description: “BAE is an international defense, aerospace and security company that delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services.”

How they support veteran employees: BAE aims to hire 100 veterans a month in 2018, with an emphasis on female veteran hiring. Their Warrior Integration Program focuses on integrating combat-wounded veterans into the workforce through on-boarding, mentoring, and career development. The CEO of BAE Systems recognizes 5,000 veteran employees a year for their accomplishments and contributions to the company.


Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 22 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 15 percent

Monster’s company description: “USAA provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to more than 11 million members who are serving or have received an honorable discharge from the military, plus their eligible family members.”

How they support veteran employees: In 2018, USAA aims for 30 percent of all hires to be veterans or military spouses. USAA offers a 12-month VetsLeaD (Veteran Transition Leadership Development) program which offers classroom training and executive mentorships.

6. Schneider National

Headquarters: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 22 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 28 percent

Monster’s company description: “Schneider National is a provider of trucking and transportation logistics services.”

How they support veteran employees: Schneider was ranked the best company for veterans in 2016. Over a quarter of all Schneider employees are veterans, in part because the company accepts driving certifications through the Military Skills Test Waiver.

5. Booz Allen Hamilton

Headquarters: McLean, Virginia

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 27.2 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 29.8 percent

Monster’s company description: “Booz Allen Hamilton provides management and technology consulting and engineering services to major corporations, governments, and not-for-profit organizations.”

How they support veteran employees: Booz Allen Hamilton runs the Veteran Recruiting Center of Excellence (VRCE) with a specific talent acquisition team geared wholly to recruiting and retaining veterans. Programs like these are why 49 of the company’s leaders are veterans.

4. Lockheed Martin

Headquarters: Bethesda, Maryland

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 28 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 23 percent

Monster’s company description: “Lockheed Martin is a global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology defense contractor.”

How they support veteran employees: Lockheed Martin employs a full-time military relations and recruiting team that attends over 170 military recruiting events a year. The company also hosts an annual Military/Veterans Leadership forum to explore solutions for better supporting veterans in the workplace.

3. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 31 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 29 percent

Monster’s company description: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of the world’s largest law enforcement agencies, is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S., while also facilitating lawful international travel and trade.”

How they support veteran employees: CBP makes strategic use of Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans, which allow CBP to circumvent the typical job-application process by directly appointing qualified veterans into positions within the workforce.

2. Intelligent Waves

Headquarters: Reson, Virginia

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 37 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 47 percent

Monster’s company description: “New to the list this year, Intelligent Waves LLC is a veteran-owned small business that specializes in providing IT and communications support to a wide variety of U.S. government customers.”

How they support veteran employees: Intelligent Waves offers an Employee Assistance Program that provides counseling and referral services to their veterans, whether they are in need of personal, health or wellness assistance.

1. ManTech International Corporation

Headquarters: Fairfax, Virginia

Percentage of 2017 hires who are vets: 64 percent

Percentage of workforce who are vets: 46 percent

Monster’s company description: “ManTech provides advanced technological services to the U.S. government in the areas of defense, intelligence, law enforcement, science, administration, health and other fields.”

How they support veteran employees: ManTech hired a higher percentage of veterans in 2017 than any other company on the list. A whopping 64 percent of their hires in 2017 are veterans and ManTech plans to increase this

A broad range of industries are represented in Monster’s list.

“This year’s list shows an increased acknowledgment from industry that veteran’s experiences and skills reach well beyond traditional industries of defense and aerospace and into transportation logistics, technology and financial services,” says Jodi Hon, SVP and GM of enterprise business for Monster.

Terry Howell, senior director at Military.com, says that efforts from both for-profit companies and non-profit organizations have been crucial for the improvements that veterans have seen across sectors.

“Companies like Starbucks and Amazon have made efforts to bring employment opportunities for veterans and military spouses to the public’s attention,” Howell says. “Their leadership and support for organizations, such as the Veterans Jobs Mission, is having a great impact on veteran unemployment.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/10/the-10-best-companies-for-veterans.html

I was watching “Chefs Table” this weekend, and a now-famous pastry chef was being interviewed about how he found his first job at a renowned restaurant. He said that he was living in Italy, and he called the restaurant and asked for work. The restaurant said, “sure, when do you want to start?” and that was how he landed his first job.

I stared at the screen, and laughed out loud. This business did not see his resume, did not know anything about who he was, they weren’t even aware of his relevant experience! Granted, this took place the early 2000’s, before the internet exploded onto the scene and changed the way we search and apply for employment. Wouldn’t is be great if it were that easy now?

Applying to jobs today can be…frustrating. In the past, you would look for a help wanted sign, walk into a building, and speak to the manager or owner there. Or, you would call around until someone said they had a vacancy.

Now, we have the internet. The internet has allowed us access to thousands of job opportunities we never would have known existed, which is wonderful. However, the internet has also allowed thousands of job seekers to apply to for jobs, and that has made the market extremely competitive for the job seeker. It is a gift and a curse.

Part of my role as a career strategist for my clients is to assist them in the daunting task of job applications. As one applicant in a sea of thousands, they often feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying for jobs through job boards. To add to the stress of applying, I also have to explain to them how imperative it is to tailor their resume to every individual application; to make it unique and to show the employer how valuable they are.

As a job seeker, this is an impossible ask. Not only do they have to spend hours tailoring applications and writing cover letters for jobs, they usually never hear back from them. How can we expect them to put in this much effort?

So, as a way to alleviate some of stress in this arduous process and to empower my clients to make the most of their time and energy, I have employed the help of some nifty technology that can be found – you guessed it – on the internet. If you can’t beat them, join them! Battle technology with technology, use these tools to work smarter, not harder. And soon enough, you’ll feel like an expert in the game of online application.

1)   VMock

 What It Does: VMock: Smart Career Platform is an online tool that provides assessments of your application content. This can be a scan of your resume, cover letter, or even a presentation you are using in an interview. The tool “scans” your resume, and provides a score from 1-100 on a bell curve, on your resumes “strength”. The tool scores your resume using 3 core modules across 100+ parameters, and outlines in detail the strong and weak aspects of every bullet of your resume. It also provides recommendations on who to improve your score in the weak areas of your resume, one by one.

 Why I Like it: VMock made the list because of the multi-dimensional aspects of this tool. Not only does it score your resume, but it gives you algorithmic feedback on specific areas. This tool gives you an overview on your resume, and is not specific to an employer or industry too. The online tool provides feedback in other areas as well, such as “Career Fit”, which give you career advise based on the content of your resume. VMock is equally useful to students and recent grads and seasoned professionals.

2)   JobScan

What It Does: One of the most frustrating things about applying online is the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS’s). They determine your fit for a position based on keyword matching. You could be a good fit for a position, but if you do not match the keywords correctly, you get pushed out of the applicant pool. JobScan uses ATS technology to “scan” the resume you used for an application along with the position description, and score you out of 100 on how well it matches the position. It does not recommend you submit an application with a score less than 80. The tool provides a detailed “match report” which outlines areas that you fit the position (marked with a green check) and areas where you can improve (marked with a red x). You can add the keywords you missed, incorporate the tips it provides, and re-scan until you achieve that 80% or higher match.

Why I Like it: This tool is great for two reasons. For one, it helps you outsmart those pesky ATS’s and get called in for interview 3X more than if you tried tailoring your resume on your own. Two, it gives you an idea of how ATS’s work, and teaches you the things to look out for in your applications. I like JobScan because it has a “teach a man to fish” mentality. You can pay for premium and scan every application you use, but I have shown this to clients who have used it a few times for free (you receive 5 free scans a month) and then gone on to become master keyword matchers on their own. However, you choose to utilize this tool, you understand the game much better for it.

 3)   Glassdoor

 What It Does: Most job seekers are familiar with Glassdoor. It is the free online “yelp” of companies and positons, basically. Most people utilize Glassdoor to look up salaries of positions. But, there is much more to this online tool. Yes, you can research salaries on Glassdoor, and filter them by location, which is very advantageous if you’re about to negotiate salary with a potential employer. In addition to this, however, this tool provides in-depth reviews of a company, from benefits to perks, to work life balance and more. The information can never be edited or deleted, too, so you know you’re receiving somewhat genuine intel. You can also look an interviews – yes interviews! You can see what types of questions the applicants were asked, and whether or not they were hired.

Why I Like it: Glassdoor keeps it real for job applicants. If you’re about to interview with a company and want to do real research, this tool is a great start. It provides you with the good, the bad and the ugly of what a company or organization has to offer, and you can go into the interview armed with the right questions about how they treat employees, how often the promote, how great the culture is, and more. A note: I would keep in mind that despite the “no edit and no delete” feature, this information must be taken with a grain of salt. Most people will only review something if they have a wonderful experience, or a terrible one. So, the reviews may be extreme and the personal accounts from past or current employees may air on the negative side. Keeping that in mind, however, the information is more useful than not.

 4)   JobHero

 What it Does: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all of the things you’re using and documents you’re saving in the job search process? You have documents saved here, an excel spreadsheet tracker there, jobs saved on various job boards like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed. You can lose information pretty easily, and its annoying to have to remember where everything is. JobHero allows you to store all of that precious information in one place. This tool allows you to save your job applications across web platforms and track your progress. You can also set reminders for yourself for follow-ups and deadlines for applications and assignments. You can also upload documents to the tool, like the resume you used to apply or specific things you were tasked with submitting to specific opportunities.

 Why I Like it: JobHero is an organizers dream. You don’t have to continually create systems to track things, because you can link everything to this one tool. You can filter things by date created, due dates and status of applications. JobHero Sidekick syncs your applications from all of your job boards to one dashboard. You can also search jobs and receive career advice on this tool, there are articles on salary negotiation, interviewing and more. If you enjoy streamlining your life, this tool helps you do it.

 5)   My Interview Practice

 What it Does: In addition to applying for jobs and tracking them, preparing for what happens when you finally get the call you have been hoping for is another source of anxiety. Soft skills are something I have seen as the biggest area of need for my clients. People simply do not practice their interview techniques, and it is killing their chances of landing a job! Practice really does make perfect. My interview practice is an online interview simulator that aids you in practicing your answers tot hose pesky behavior-based questions, as well as the more basic “strengths and weaknesses” ones. It provides interviews across various industries and positions, and provides you with a professional review of your answers.

 Why I Like it: I think it is always important to practice your job interview techniques. New questions are being proposed by Human Resource professionals all the time, and it is important to stay up to date. Like a muscle you must exercise, you need to keep your interview performance in shape. This tool not only helps you keep yourself well-versed, it allows you to practice with different interviewers, across industries and professions. You can also share your interview with a coach or a peer for their feedback. The question bank is updated constantly, to stay competitive with what the job market is demanding. If you’re applying for jobs, you should be practicing your interview techniques, too.

Those are my top favorite online tools at the moment. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of online tools, and these are just the ones I have used. You can research your won tools to find what works best for you – and share them with your peers on LinkedIn!

The job search journey can be difficult sometimes, but if you apply the “work smarter, not harder” methodology, you’ll see a change in the way you apply and the way that employers respond to you in the job market. Keep up the great work!




Often, I hear veterans say that they become discouraged in the job hunt. So much so that they believe that this an actual reflection of who they are. It is important to never take the job search personally. Sure we could all learn more skills, have more training, have more degrees, but who you are is not the problem. Here are a few ways to remain positive and getting effective results in the job search process.

Enroll with an Employment Program:

Sometimes we all need a little help. Non-profit organizations like U.S.VETS are here to aid you in building your resume, bridging the gap with certifications, and connecting you to employers from the inside. But most all of it is helpful to have a point person to go to bounce ideas off of and to ask questions of. As you may have noticed in life we have to go out and get the opportunities, they don’t just come to us from inside our houses. By plugging into an organization it can also allow you have access to events that will allow you to connect with employers directly and explore your options. You may not know this but employers are looking for you! Ok, maybe not you specifically… but your set of skills. 🙂 So widen your net and get connected into the community.

Schedule Informational Interviews:

Did you know you can reach out to employers and ask them questions? Some people are even willing to sit down with you and discuss what it is that you do. This is a great option if you aren’t completely sold on what you want to do and want to learn more or even just want to get your foot in the door. Talking to someone in the inside will give you a lot more ideas of how to work there. (The employees that work at a business usually have the inside scoop.) They may be able to even tell you the ‘what not to do’ things as well that they wish they had done. Either way, always make sure to follow-up and thank them, and also connect with them on LinkedIn if you hadn’t already. Lastly make sure you reach out again to let them know you are still looking and if they have anything that would be a good fit. People are more likely to help people they have met, not just a name through a computer.

Remember, who you are is not the problem. You just need to get out there and catch one of the million possibilities right in front of you. You can do this through getting help with a non-profit or even going directly to the companies themselves to ask questions. The key is to be consistent and be bold while improving your skills. We are here for you!

-Denise Berry

Are you actively applying for jobs and want to brush up on your interviewing skills? Here are a 4 tips and tricks of techniques you can use to nail your interview:


  1. Utilize the S.T.A.R. Interviewing method: The S.T.A.R. Method is a behavioral based interviewing technique that evaluates problem solving skills, past performance, and measurable results produced in prior roles. When answering interview questions, follow the S.T.A.R. outline below:


  • Situation – Describe the context in which your job duties took place. Example: School, work, or volunteer
  • Task – Describe your role in completing a task and your responsibility within the group or company
  • Action – Describe what steps you took to complete the task you were given
  • Result – Describe the outcome and achievements generated by the work you produced


  1. Articulate WHY You Are Interested in the Position: While employers do want to hear what you can bring to the table to add value to their company, they also want to hear why you are interested in working for them! Figure out why you are attracted to a position and speak to it on your interview. This well hopefully resonate with the hiring manager and set you apart from other candidates.


  1. Conduct Research on the Company and the Person You Are Interviewing With: In order to maximize your interview time and impress the hiring manager DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You can do this by researching important statistic and milestones within the company you are interviewing for. If you are fortunate enough to know who you are interviewing with, take a little time to conduct background research on them as well by looking up their LinkedIn profile and biography on the company website. This can ultimately help you potentially connect with your interviewer and obtain the position.


  1. Demonstrate your value: Pitch ideas or suggestions you have specific to initiatives or goals within the company. This will allow the hiring manager to draw a direct correlation about how your work fits into the bigger vision of the company.


  1. Show Your Work: Provide a portfolio of previous projects you have completed with companies to demonstrate the work you have produced in the past. This includes but is not limited to: drawings, photos, diagrams, contracts, newsletters, and flyers. Showing visual representation of your work helps hiring managers draw a direct correlation of how you can apply your skill set to the position you are interviewing for.



The U.S.VETS hiring event was a hit! 25 veterans were given the opportunity to interview for positions with U.S.VETS Inglewood, U.S.VETS Inland Empire, JVS, & Volunteers of America. Some veterans were even hired on the spot, during the interview. Since the event was such a success we hope to do another U.S.VETS Hiring Event soon!


Networking is the key to finding the perfect career, and connecting veterans to employers who want to hire them is the goal of U.S.VETS Career Network.

On March 23rd, U.S.VETS Career Network teamed up with ZipRecruiter and their corporate responsibility team Zip Cares to host a Veteran-specific workshop at ZipRecruiter HQ.

The event went beautifully, with 14 Career Network clients experiencing the intimate meet and greet with 14 ZipRecruiter employees. We began the event with a lunch at the Santa Monica ZipRecruiter Headquarters, allowing the attendees to network with one another as well as with the employees, breaking the ice and opening the event up for more informal connections and information sharing. The Veterans also received a full tour of the ZipRecruiter HQ offices.

Next, five ZipRecruiter leaders formed a panel, answering questions regarding their experiences at the company, and any advice on finding the perfect career in tech. The panel consisted of Elliot Wilson, VP of Operations (and veteran), Claudia Chen, onboarding coordinator, Jeff Zwelling, Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Moore, Manager of Engineering (and veteran), and Greg DeLong, Key Account Manager (and veteran).

The panel discussion was enlightening for the attendees, opening discussion around ZipRecruiter culture, the stories of each panelist on how they found and achieved their career, and advice on personal branding and networking in the civilian workforce.

After the panel, we broke up into intimate one on one informational interviews, one veteran matched with one ZipRecruiter employee. This “speed networking” activity helps each attendee to connect with more than one employee, and helps them to build internal connections within the company if they choose to pursue a position in the future. It also provides them with the opportunity to receive intimate knowledge on what their resume should look like, and how to apply this knowledge to applications.

Veteran attendees walked away from the event with new tips on how to improve and tailor their job search, as well as new connections to build and grow their professional networks. Special thanks to ZipRecruiter for co-hosting this event with U.S.VETS Career Network!



Maggie Cutler, MSW


Recruit Military Recap:


Yesterday, U.S.VETS Career Network attended the Recruit Military Career Expo in San Diego California. Over 300 veteran and 40 employers were in attendance. Top employers that attended yesterday’s event included Pepsi Co, Northface, Blue Cross Blue Shield California, Raytheon, and Aetna.


If you are interested in attending a RecruitMilitary event in the future please email crobinson@usvetsinc.org .



Chanise Simms-Robinson, MSW

How many people do you know that truly enjoy their job? Who can you think of that looks forward to Monday? You may be laughing to yourself because there aren’t a lot people who look forward to Mondays. This is because most people are not passionate about what they are doing, the environment they are in, or the people they work with. This doesn’t have to be the case for you! Yes, every person needs to survive and make a living. But if you want more than just that, then this is the post for you. Here are some techniques to move toward a better life.

Eliminate What You Hate

I know someone who used to work for a tax firm. He worked long days and nights during tax season. He usually wouldn’t even go home because it was too far to come back so early and he needed sleep, so he would stay at a hotel. This executive was paid very well and had great benefits but he just didn’t enjoy what he was doing. He didn’t get to spend a lot of time with his family and there wasn’t a lot of flexibility in his schedule. After getting headaches frequently he decided to go to the doctor, it turned out he had a benign brain tumor. He was forced to stop working and to have surgery. After the surgery and time to heal, he was cleared to go back to work. But after this life changing incident he decided he wanted to eliminate all things he hated in his life. He started with quitting his job.

The point is that you shouldn’t wait until a medical emergency to see that you are suffering. Look at the specific things you want change in your life and make small steps to changing it daily. You have to always keep moving to get to your goal.

Be Patient With Your Passion

Now you may be thinking, that is easier said than done. Well sure it is, but nothing is life worth having is easy. The next thought may be, “I don’t know what would make me enjoy my job every day.” That’s ok, it takes some people many years before they figure out what makes them excited to work. A fun way to start to explore this within yourself is to be aware of who’s jobs you are envious of. Make a list of the people that make you feel this way and see what they have in common. Typically, these are some things you too would like to be doing every day.

Another way to think of what you are passionate about is to visualize your ideal morning. Upon waking up and getting out of bed, what kind of clothing are you putting on? Where are you going? What are you doing that you are looking forward to? Visualizing what you want can simply point you to what you may already know.

Lastly, keep in mind that this process takes time and there is no right way of going about it. Vera Wang, a famous fashion designer, didn’t start designing until she was 40 years old. She had already done many things up until that point but wanted to try something different. You can too.

Try New Things

To really understand what you love to do, you must try new things. This requires some effort on your part. You can get a new hobby, try a dance class, enroll at a college for cooking, whatever it is you may enjoy doing or have thought about. It is found that people with numerous skills have been more successful over all. Oliver Emberton, a start-up founder, shares that, “Steve Jobs was not the world’s greatest engineer, salesperson, designer or businessman. But he was uniquely good enough at all of these things, and wove them together into something far greater.” To create a business or master a craft it usually takes a combination of skillsets to really succeed.

Also when trying new things, ask people about their experiences with that trade. The more you talk to people the more you can understand if it may be something right for you too. The concept I want you to get out of all of this is that life is short and you should enjoy what you do. So, I dare you to get out there and mix it up, eliminate what you hate, be patient with your passion, and try new things. I dare you to love your job!

Denise Berry, Army Veteran

U.S.VETS Career Veteran Network and BMW Technical Regional Recruiter , Roberto Castillo,  hosted a Veteran Employer Luncheon discussing different career opportunities in the automotive industry. Roberto also shared his personal military to civilian transition story and how he obtained his management role in the BMW company. If you are a veteran and interested in attending future employer events hosted by our Career Veteran Network, please register online today!

Cover letters; they are designed to accompany to every application you submit, and each one you write could mean the difference between being chosen for an interview or passed over. Many clients I work with find cover letters confusing, and are not sure how to write one without sounding redundant to their resume.

A cover letter is different from a resume in that it takes on a narrative format, and goes into specifics, while a resume uses bullet points, and communicates generic accomplishments and quantifiable impact. It is essentially a short essay that you write as a way to demonstrate to the employer that you are the best candidate for the position, both in your professional and personal identity.

Today, most job seekers are applying to hundreds of openings a week. The idea of crafting a unique page-long narrative on your skills and experiences as well as specifics to the position and the company itself seems daunting to say the least. Is it a good use of your time to make unique cover letters for every position? The answer is both a yes and a no.

YES, you should always submit a cover letter when you apply to a position. I say this because most employers will use the cover letter as a means of “weeding out” unmotivated candidates. Some employers will include in the application that it is suggested, without being required, and then only pull applications that include a cover letter. Or, employers won’t put any note on the application, and still only pull applications that include a cover letter. By opting out of writing a cover letter, you’re willingly telling the employer that you don’t care about the job enough to take the time to submit more than a relatively tailored resume.

As I stated earlier, I understand why it seems like a waste of your time. In college when I was beginning my job search, I applied to several positons a week, and would take the time to write cover letters for every position. But after dozens of applications and barely a handful of responses from potential employers, I grew frustrated. Here I was, spending upwards of an hour to two on an application to tailor my resume and to write out a carefully written love letter to a company on why I’m a rock star candidate – and I wasn’t even getting selected for a phone interview! But I soon learned why I was not receiving responses – and it was not because I wasn’t a good fit for the positons.

I read several articles on cover letters, and looked at literature written by recruiters, hiring managers and other human resource and talent acquisition professionals about what they like to see in an application and what they can’t stand. I learned that my cover letters were too generic, and were not crafted in a way that communicated my value and my interest to the reader. Think about the last cover letter you wrote: Did it reveal unique aspects of your experience, personality and value, or simply reiterate your resume in narrative form?

Now, the NO portion of my answer is this: Writing a cover letter does not have to be a long drawn out process. And NO, you do not need to write a brand new cover letter for every application. You can craft a phenomenal cover letter using the below algorithm, and then you can “plug and play” the information you need to include for each application you submit. Similar to creating your general resume, and then tailoring it to the position description. This is similar to an Office Word template. You can use different details and apply your own unique style to the cover letter, but hit the key points I have outlined and I am confident that you’ll begin to see the difference in your job search.

1.    Contact information: Put the employers contact information at the top, and put your contact information in the header of your cover letter (name, email and phone number and address). This will save space on the page for you to write more in the body of your letter, and ensure that the reader sees that information first.

2.    Addressing the letter: Instead of putting “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom it may concern” use LinkedIn to research and locate the hiring managers name to address them directly in the cover letter.

3.    Introduction: Begin with how you found out about the position, and why you believe that you are the best candidate. You can also include how you have a personal connection to the company or industry. For example:

“I am writing in regards to the recent posting for {position title}. I was thrilled to hear about the role through LinkedIn, and I believe that I have the skills and qualifications you desire to meet the needs of a rapidly growing {industry, company, or specific initiative}. I am also personally passionate about {Industry, company, or role} and the impact that you have on each individual and on the community.

4.    First paragraph: Speak to the main experience required of the position – and how you have become proficient in that skill or area. Mention a previous employer and reference a specific project you managed or achievement you had while performing in that role. For Example:

“The role notes a strong background in {Skill}. While working with {previous employer}, I managed {responsibility as it relates to skill). In my role I {main responsibilities and successes} occurring within {previous employer}. As your {position title}, I would feel comfortable managing multiple projects with competing deadlines and varying timelines.

5.    Second and third paragraph: Determine the remaining two or three skills required of the position, these are usually under the qualifications section of the position description. You may use one paragraph per skill, and reference different employers, or different responsibilities within the same employer. It is key to be specific about how you are knowledgeable and can perform the duties of the role, this is where you are citing specific projects or other details that would not normally be included in your resume. For example:

 “The {position title} posting also noted that you prefer experience in {skill 1} and {skill 2}.

While managing {responsibility} at {previous employer}, I lead {role 1, as it relates to skill 1} I have {specific project experience}. I have experience in {specific experience as it relates to skill 1} I also have experience in {responsibility, as it relates to skill 1}.

In regards to {skill 2}, I have {specific project experience}. Within {role 2, as it relates to skill 2} I have also {specific project experience}. Specifically, I have {specific experience as it relates to skill 2} I bring a wealth of knowledge in {responsibility, as it relates to skill 2}.


6.    Bringing in home: Now that you have cited your specific experience, knowledge and skills as they relate to the positon you are applying to, it is important to communicate your culture fit. Chances are that there are hundreds or even thousands of applicants who have similar skills and experience to you. So why should the hiring manger pick you? The closing paragraph is your chance to impress them with your research, and your personal relationship with the employer or industry. For example:

 “{Company’s name} work means a lot to me personally because of the impact that it has in the community. By {specific achievement or mission statement of the company}, you are making a positive impact on the world. Overseeing {position title} for participants who will contribute to that mission is a role I would be very passionate about.

Personally, I can attest to the value of such work. {specific anecdote of personal attachment or passion you have for the company’s work or industry}. Whether it be {previous achievement}, {previous achievement}, or {previous achievement}, I aim to change the world one person at a time. I would be honored to be selected to interview for {position title} for {company name}, and I look forward to hearing from you” 

Ending your cover letter with a call to action brings it to the attention of the reader that you are prepared to take on the challenge of the position, and are ready to be considered right away. You can also speak to how you can best be reached (email or phone) and when you are available to speak (Monday to Friday, or any day 9 am to 5 pm, etc.).

 Remember that your cover letter is simply a chance to broaden the readers view of why you’re a good fit for the role, it is your chance to make specific references that will tie you to the company’s mission, values ad culture. Do not be afraid to make it personal, and show them why you are passionate about what you do.

Now, go out there and land your dream job!

Maggie Cutler