Are Cover Letters Necessary? Why or Why Not?

An overhead view of a woman typing a cover letter on a laptop.

People often ask us “are cover letters necessary?” In the intricate process of job applications, this  depends on whether the employer deems that cover letters are necessary. When working with a staffing agency like Whitman Associates, where professionalism and precision define our approach, our goal is to help coach you through when you should submit a cover letter with your job application and how to go about writing an effective cover letter. We understand the significance and timing of the submission of cover letters. One way to ensure that your cover letter and job application stand out in the competitive landscape of the Washington D.C. metropolitan job market is by understanding what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for when accepting applications.

The Power of Being Proactive

Cover letters are necessary when applying for almost any position. While crafting your cover letter, you should tailor it to the particular role you are applying to and highlight your experience and transferable skills that match the job description. You want to ensure that your cover letter’s format aligns with your resume and work history to make your application feel cohesive and well-thought-out.

Tailoring your cover letter to align with the employer’s expectations can enhance your application. Cover letters are necessary in most applications, therefore it is important to pay attention to any instructions in the job posting so your cover letter is meticulous, timely and well-received.

When Should You Include a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a marketing tool to sell yourself to a potential employer. Don’t hold back when asking yourself, “Should I include a cover letter,” when considering if and when cover letters are necessary. Your cover letter is integral to your job application as it highlights your accomplishments, special skills and overall experience. 

A well-written cover letter will also provide the prospective employer insight into your written communication skills, so typos and grammatical errors will hurt your chances of landing an interview.

If you apply to a company where cover letters are not considered necessary, it’s a good practice to include an email with a brief introduction along with your resume. This does not need to be comprehensive; a concise paragraph in an email  introducing yourself and why you are interested in applying will convey professionalism and appear to be more polished in your submission process. The bottom line is that it’s always helpful to ask yourself, “Should I include a cover letter,” with every job application. Make sure to know how and when you should submit a cover letter based on the employer’s expectations before you submit your final application.

A job applicant handing a cover letter to a hiring manager

Cover Letters as Screening Tools

When cover letters are necessary, they are often used as a part of the screening process to see how closely you pay attention to detail. With that said, proofread your cover letter repeatedly and have someone else look it over before sending it out. You could be the best candidate for the position, but if your cover letter has errors, does not flow well or fails to showcase your valuable and transferable skills, you may not be selected to move to the next round of interviews

In some instances, employers may specify a response timeframe, and aligning your cover letter with their timeline showcases your attentiveness and respect for the employer’s process. 

Different industries may have different norms regarding if and when to contact the recruiter or hiring manager or how and when to follow up. Whitman Associates provides candidates with insights into industry norms, ensuring that your communication aligns with the company’s expectations, especially when cover letters are necessary in order for your application to be considered.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

A cover letter is your first opportunity to make a powerful impression on potential employers. A well-crafted cover letter can be the key to landing an interview and standing out among other applicants when cover letters are deemed necessary. 

A typical format for a cover letter includes:

  1. Date
  2. Salutation or Greeting
  3. Opening Paragraph
  4. Middle Paragraph
  5. Ending Paragraph
  6. Closing
  7. Signature
  8. Your Contact Information

As noted above, date your document whether you submit it on paper, through email or via an online portal. Use the contact information for the hiring manager when you can find it, and address your letter directly to them with a salutation or greeting such as “Dear Mr./Ms. [Hiring Manager’s Name]” when writing your cover letter. 

In the opening paragraph, use this space to introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in applying for the opportunity at this company and how it aligns with your career goals. 

In the middle paragraph, discuss your transferable skills and give concrete examples of how your experience aligns with the job description. This paragraph will help showcase how and why you fit the role well. 

Use the final paragraph to thank the company for taking the time to read your application and to express your interest in the next steps of the application process. You may also use this space to clarify anything not included in the sections noted above, such as an employment gap or skills that you want to highlight on your resume.

When closing your letter, use a polite salutation such as “warm regards,” “sincerely,” or “thank you for your time,” and then sign or type your name.

 A desk with a laptop and coffee mug beside a notepad with a drafted cover letter
A blank notebook surrounded by a pencil, glasses, a cell phone, and a laptop.

Cover Letter Checklist

As you submit job applications, the timing of your submission can be a factor that sets you apart from other candidates. We recognize that strategic timing aligned with industry norms and employer expectations can contribute significantly to your application’s lasting impression on the hiring team.

When telling yourself, “I know I should include a cover letter,” it’s best to understand the purpose of the information you’ve included and why you are including it. 

A quick checklist to help you get through your cover letter’s format is:

  • Did you personalize your opening?
  • Do you have a strong opening statement?
  • Is it tailored to the job description?
  • Does it showcase your achievements?
  • Does it demonstrate a cultural fit?
  • Did you keep it concise and professional?
  • Is it connected to your resume?
  • Does it end with a strong call to action?

Utilizing a Follow-Up Letter

After submitting your resume and cover letter, consider working with Whitman Associates to write and submit a follow-up letter reinforcing your interest in and availability for the position you applied to. This additional touch point can reiterate your value as a candidate

Whether you choose a proactive approach, a tailored timeline, or a strategic follow-up, remember that the timing of when you should submit a cover letter is crucial in your journey toward professional success. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss our open roles so that Whitman Associates can help you land your dream career.

Indeed vs. ZipRecruiter: Which is better for job seekers?

In the competitive world of job hunting, finding the right platform to search for opportunities is crucial. Two popular job-hunting sites, Indeed and ZipRecruiter, offer a range of job listings that cater to different audiences and come with distinct features. Is ZipRecruiter better than Indeed, or does Indeed offer more advantages than ZipRecruiter for job seekers? Let’s compare Indeed and ZipRecruiter from a job seeker’s perspective, shedding light on their strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision. 

Target Audiences and Job Variety

Indeed and ZipRecruiter list various job opportunities, but their target audiences differ. Indeed might be the better choice for job hunters seeking office or administrative roles. The platform has a stronger focus on this category of jobs, making it easier to find relevant positions.

Two men and a woman are shown looking at a laptop

Job Aggregation Options

One advantage that Indeed has over ZipRecruiter is the “job aggregation” feature. Indeed pulls listings from multiple job boards, providing job seekers with a more extensive range of opportunities in its database. In contrast, ZipRecruiter pushes job postings out to other websites but limits job seekers to view only jobs employers post directly on ZipRecruiter.

User Interface and Application Process

Indeed’s user interface is praised for its ease of use. Job seekers often find navigating the platform and applying for roles simpler using the “Indeed Apply” feature. This streamlined process can save valuable time and effort during the job application. 

Cost Consideration

When considering job search platforms, the cost may be a relevant factor for job seekers. It is worth noting that both are free for applicants; however, Indeed also offers free options for employers to post jobs, making it more likely to have a broader range of employers as users. In contrast, ZipRecruiter does not provide free posting options for employers, which potentially impacts the number of opportunities available to job seekers through ZipRecruiter’s platform.

Email Volume & Database Size

Job seekers who value a clutter-free inbox may prefer Indeed over ZipRecruiter. Users have reported that ZipRecruiter tends to target them with a higher volume of emails, which might become overwhelming for some users. Indeed’s vast user base and extensive reach make it one of the largest job search platforms globally. With more users and employers onboard, job seekers may find more job postings on Indeed than on ZipRecruiter.

Considering LinkedIn as an Alternative

While comparing Indeed and ZipRecruiter, it is essential to acknowledge LinkedIn as an excellent resource for job seekers. LinkedIn’s invaluable niche comes from combining job listings with networking opportunities, offering job seekers a way to find roles and connect directly with professionals and hiring managers at their target companies.

Indeed vs. ZipRecruiter: Which one wins?

So, is ZipRecruiter better than Indeed? They both have their strengths and weaknesses as job search platforms. Job hunters seeking office and administrative work and candidates looking for a streamlined application process might prefer Indeed’s user-friendly interface. On the other hand, ZipRecruiter’s targeted job distribution could be appealing to other users. However, the platform’s cost to employers, limited job postings from employers and higher email volume may raise concerns for some job seekers.

In the end, the question of whether ZipRecruiter is better than Indeed becomes contingent on your personal preferences and needs. Remember, by staying proactive, leveraging multiple resources and tailoring your job search, you maximize your chances of landing that dream job!

Writing an ATS-Friendly Resume

three people looking at resumes on a table

Welcome to Whitman Associates’ comprehensive guide on creating an ATS-friendly resume. Whether you’re starting from scratch or optimizing your current resume for ATS, you’ll find valuable insights and tips to increase your chances of making a positive impression on both a mechanical and intentional reviewer.

At Whitman Associates, we are committed to assisting you on your job search journey. Understanding how an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) works is a key step in this process. With this knowledge, you’ll not only enhance the quality of your application, but also gain a deeper understanding of the modern recruitment landscape, empowering you to navigate your career path with confidence. Now, let’s begin our deep-dive into the world of ATS.

What is an ATS?

Before we dive into ATS-friendly resumes, let’s clarify what we mean by an ATS, or Applicant Tracking System. An ATS is a software application used by employers to manage recruitment. It organizes, screens, and tracks applications and resumes, significantly streamlining the hiring process. It can filter applications based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, former employers, years of experience, and schools attended. However, an ATS isn’t just a machine doing the recruiter’s job, but a tool to assist and enhance the hiring process.

Debunking ATS Myths

It’s easy to find a plethora of misinformation about ATSs online. Some sources may lead you to believe that these systems automatically filter out candidates based on arbitrary or discriminatory criteria. However, this is a misunderstanding. In fact, an ATS is simply a tool to manage the sheer volume of applications. It’s designed to organize and streamline, not discriminate or exclude.

Another common myth that circulates among job seekers is the belief that ATSs actually “read” the resumes they submit. Many fear that their candidacy is solely at the mercy of an AI system parsing their resume. 

The reality is that ATSs serve predominantly as storage and organization tools. They collect and categorize resumes, making it easier for human recruiters to manage and review applications.

The Importance of an ATS-Friendly Resume

Crafting an ATS-friendly resume is a crucial aspect of the modern job application process. Since many companies utilize these systems to handle the initial screening of applications, understanding how to optimize your resume for ATS is not just useful, but essential. The perfect resume increases your chances of being shortlisted for the position you’ve applied for by ensuring that the resume can be correctly interpreted and categorized by the system.

Armed with this knowledge, let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of creating an ATS-friendly resume. Whether you’re applying for your first job or eyeing a top-tier position, we’re here to help you navigate the ATS landscape and get one step closer to landing your dream job.

Creating an ATS-Friendly Resume: The Do’s

two women sitting at a desk and conversing

DO Embrace Specificity in Skills

Every job opening requires a specific set of skills, languages, and software knowledge. If you have them, flaunt them. When optimizing your resume for ATSs, consider every language you’ve studied, every software you’ve worked with, and all the skills you’ve developed over time. The more specific you are, the better.

Remember, recruiters often look for specific skills when they search in an ATS. For example, if a recruiter types “Excel” into the search bar, you want your resume to be part of the search results. Optimizing for ATSs can be your ticket to getting your application noticed and, ultimately, shortlisted.

DO Prioritize Plain Text over Graphics

While a visually stunning resume can be an attention grabber, it could also be a hindrance to your visibility in an ATS. Some systems may struggle to accurately process images, graphics, or pictures, which could affect your resume’s searchability.

For creative professionals, there’s a way around this. If you have artwork or a portfolio to showcase, include a link to your website or another platform. This way, you retain your creative edge without affecting your ATS visibility.

DO Revise for Readability

Although an ATS might scan your resume for keywords, a recruiter will be the one to make the final decision. This underscores the importance of making your resume readable. Ensure your resume is clear, concise, well-structured, and free of grammatical errors. A resume laden with typos or difficult to read can overshadow your qualifications and work against you.

Creating an ATS-Friendly Resume: The Don’ts

DON’T Use Fluff

When highlighting your skills and experiences, it’s crucial to be clear, precise, and to the point. Algorithms that ATSs use thrive on explicit skills and professional experiences. Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of ambiguous, generic descriptions that might not be detected in an ATS search. 

Take, for instance, a statement like ‘exceptional team player’. While it might sound impressive, it could be more impactful to mention specific teamwork skills such as ‘collaboration’, ‘conflict resolution’, or ‘leadership’.

DON’T Overuse Buzzwords

While it’s crucial to use relevant keywords and industry jargon in your ATS-friendly resume, be careful not to overdo it. Yes, these buzzwords can optimize your resume for ATS searches, but remember, your resume ends up being evaluated by human recruiters. The goal is to strike a balance between keywords and meaningful, descriptive content.

DON’T Write Like a Robot

It’s understandable that, armed with some knowledge about ATS, job seekers might be tempted to outsmart the system. Strategies such as copying and pasting large blocks of keywords might seem like a clever workaround. However, while these tactics might temporarily trick an ATS, they will likely fall flat when your resume lands in the hands of human recruiters.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a resume that’s both ATS and human-friendly. Make sure your keyword usage is natural, integrated seamlessly within your experience and skills descriptions.

The Whitman Associates Recruitment Approach

At Whitman Associates, we take pride in putting the human touch into our recruitment process. Our approach prioritizes manual review over software screening. Once we manually identify a potential candidate, their resume is inputted into our ATS to track their status throughout the recruitment journey, ensuring clear and transparent communication at each stage.

Understanding and leveraging the capabilities of an ATS-friendly resume is vital in the modern job search. However, we strongly advocate for viewing your resume as not merely an ATS-optimized document, but a human-friendly one too.

Your Dream Job Awaits

Our expertise at Whitman Associates extends beyond career advice – we are your partner in landing your dream job. As your trusted, leading professional staffing firm serving the Washington, D.C. area, we have a keen eye for matching candidates with the right opportunities. Our role doesn’t end with understanding your resume; we are committed to understanding you. 

Allow us to guide you through your job search, adding value and efficiency every step of the way. Get in touch or email your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com and get started on your journey today.

How to Land a Job with No Experience: A Comprehensive Guide

A man in glasses sitting at an office table with coworkers.

Navigating the job market and constructing your resume with little to no work experience can be a daunting task. However, with the right mindset, strategic planning, and leveraging powerful resources like Whitman Associates, landing your first job is entirely achievable. In this blog, we’ll explore some actionable steps to help you break into the professional world. Let’s discover how to get a great job, even with no experience.

Embrace Networking

Networking is a powerful tool in how to get a job with no experience in the digital age. It’s not just about shaking hands at industry events; it’s about forging genuine connections that open doors to opportunities. Attend industry-specific events online and in person to gain valuable knowledge and make your presence known.

Consider joining professional organizations related to your field of interest. These organizations often host networking events and provide resources for job seekers.

LinkedIn is an essential tool for modern networking. Make sure your profile is complete, professional, and engaging. Regularly share and comment on posts related to your industry to increase your visibility. Connect with professionals in your field, join industry-specific groups, and don’t shy away from reaching out to potential mentors.

Highlight Transferable Skills

You may lack professional experience, but chances are, you’ve developed valuable skills in other areas of your life. Volunteering, school projects, hobbies, or even personal challenges can all provide valuable experience.
Identify these transferable skills and learn how to articulate them effectively in your resume to get a job with no experience. Leadership, teamwork, project management, and communication are all highly valued in the professional world. Showcase these skills with specific examples or stories.

Gain Experience through Internships and Volunteering

Internships and volunteering offer valuable opportunities to gain experience, learn industry-specific skills, and build a professional network. These no-experience-needed jobs will make you a better candidate for your dream job. Plus, they demonstrate to employers your initiative and commitment to your chosen field. It’s a win-win!

Tap into the Power of Temp Jobs

four women working together in an office space

Temporary jobs are an excellent gateway into the job market. They offer you a chance to gain professional experience, learn new skills, and build a network. And many times, they can lead to permanent positions.

Whitman Associates has been a leader in the staffing industry since 1972, offering candidates exceptional opportunities with businesses in the Washington D.C. area. Applying to temp jobs through Whitman Associates is about gaining a partner in your job search. We provide guidance, insights, and full-service support to meet your needs, teaching you how to get a job even with no experience.

Leverage Technology

Technology has revolutionized the job hunt process! If you’re wondering how to get a job with no experience needed, using job search engines and company websites to find opportunities are great places to start. Sign up for email alerts for new postings that match your interests and qualifications.

Utilize online tools to create a sleek, modern resume and cover letter. Websites like Canva offer free templates that can help your application stand out. Also, consider creating an online portfolio to showcase your skills, particularly for creative roles.
Video interviews are increasingly becoming the norm, so it’s essential to feel comfortable in front of a camera. Be sure to build upon and practice your interview skills consistently to stay on your interview A-game.

Tailor Your Application

When applying for jobs with no work experience, avoid submitting generic resumes and cover letters. Instead, tailor your application to the specific job and company. Research the business, identify its values, and use your findings to show how you can contribute to help you get the job with no experience. Employers appreciate candidates who take the time to understand their business and its needs.

Developing a Personal Brand

Looking to take your personal branding strategy past your perfectly-tailored resume? Your personal brand is a reflection of your unique skills, experiences, and passions. Developing a strong personal brand can help differentiate you from other candidates. Create a consistent online presence across various platforms and showcase your expertise and relevant experience through blog posts, articles, and social media content.

Keep Learning

Even as you’re learning how to get a job with no experience, continue to invest in your education and keep learning. Online platforms like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy offer free courses across a wide range of subjects. Earning certifications in relevant areas can bolster your resume if you have no work experience and demonstrate how committed you are to the field.

Moreover, consider going back to school if it aligns with your long-term career goals. Pursuing further education, such as a graduate degree or vocational training, can enhance your skills and make you more competitive in the job market. However, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits and costs, including time commitment and financial investment, to ensure it’s the right choice for your situation. Whether it’s a formal degree or an online course, continuous learning is a valuable strategy in your career journey.

Stay Persistent and Positive

Embarking on a job search and learning how to get a job with no experience can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming. You’re likely to face rejection and possibly criticism along the way. However, it’s essential to stay persistent and maintain a positive mindset. The key is to remain open to feedback and continuously seek ways to enhance your skills and qualifications. 

Maintaining a positive attitude during your job search isn’t just about feeling good—it’s a strategic move. Employers are more likely to hire candidates who demonstrate resilience, optimism, and a can-do attitude. Each step, no matter how small, brings you closer to your career goals.

Seek Professional Guidance

Learning how to get a job with no experience may seem challenging, but it’s not impossible. With a strategic approach, a robust network, and the guidance of experienced professionals like Whitman Associates, your career journey can begin on a strong footing.

With our A+ Better Business Bureau rating and stellar Google Rating, you can rest assured that Whitman Associates is here to help you land your dream job. Serving the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia area, we have been connecting job seekers with the region’s top employers for more than 50 years.

Get in Touch with Whitman Associates Today

By following these steps and leveraging resources like Whitman Associates, you’ll understand exactly how to get a great job—even with no experience. Remember, everyone starts somewhere, and with the right mindset, resources, and persistence, your ‘somewhere’ could be just around the corner!

Reach out to us at (202) 659-2111 or send us your resume via email. Together, we can transform your career aspirations into a fulfilling reality.

Questions To Ask in an Informational Interview

Two women having an informational interview at a table.

Have you ever found yourself wondering how to break into a new industry or where you can gain insights into a particular career path? Informational interviews can allow you to ask questions about a company or a career field before you formally apply. These meetings can unlock valuable knowledge, expand your professional network and accelerate your career growth. 

Here’s everything you need to know about what informational interviews are, why you should request one and how to go about setting up and conducting these invaluable conversations.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a one-on-one conversation between you and someone working in an industry, role or organization you’re interested in. The purpose of this informal meeting is to gather information, advice and insights from someone with firsthand experience. Informational interviews are not job interviews, so you won’t be asking questions about specific job openings or asking for a job directly. Instead, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the industry and job category you are interested in, learn about potential career paths and build relationships that could lead to future opportunities.

Here are a few of the great benefits of requesting an informational interview:

Gain insider information

Informational interviews offer an opportunity to ask key questions and learn about the ins and outs of a particular role or industry from someone who’s “been there, done that.”

Expand your network

Establishing connections with professionals in your desired field can open doors to potential job opportunities, mentorships or referrals.

Improve your interview skills

These conversations can help you practice communicating effectively and confidently as a job seeker, which will prove useful during actual job interviews.

How to ask for an informational interview

Reaching out to professionals to ask for an informational interview can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. LinkedIn, for example, is a career-focused networking space where questions about a person’s role or industry are incredibly common.

Think of it this way — a growth-oriented company is always looking for new talent and wants job seekers to show interest. If you find someone who loves what they do, they will probably also love talking about it and relish the chance to answer your questions. Here are some tips on how to ask for an informational interview.

Research

Start by identifying professionals in your desired field, role or organization. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for this — you can search for people by job title, industry or company, and even filter by location or shared connections.

Connect

Once you’ve found potential informational interviewees, send them a connection request or message with your question. Be sure to personalize your request by mentioning shared connections or interests and explaining why you’re reaching out. Keep it brief and respectful.

Be specific

Clearly state that you’re looking to conduct an informational interview and provide context about your career goals or interests. Let them know you value their time and are only seeking 20-30 minutes of their expertise.

Be flexible

Offer a range of dates and times when you request an informational interview, and be willing to accommodate the interviewee’s schedule. Be open to conducting the interview in person, over the phone or via video call.

Hi Samantha!

I’m a communications student at Georgetown. I’m interested in event management after I graduate, and I’d love to hear more about your experience working with DC Event Planners. Do you have 20 minutes for a quick meet-up or phone call? 

Some people will respectfully decline, but you may be surprised by how many people say yes.

Questions to ask during an informational interview

Now that you’ve successfully secured an informational interview, it’s time to prepare a list of thoughtful questions to ask. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Can you describe a typical day in your role?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job, and what are the biggest challenges?
  • How did you get started in this industry, and what steps did you take to reach your current position?
  • What skills or qualifications are most important for success in this role or industry?
  • Can you recommend any resources (books, websites, professional associations) for someone looking to learn more about this field?
  • What career advice do you have for someone looking to break into this industry or transition into a similar role?
  • Are there any upcoming networking events or industry conferences you’d recommend attending?
  • Can you suggest other professionals I should speak with to gain further insights into this field?

Following up and thanking the interviewer

Once you’ve completed your informational interview and asked all of your key questions, it’s time to follow up. The follow-up is a crucial step in the informational interview process, as it helps solidify the relationship you’ve built with the interviewee and demonstrates your gratitude for their time and insights.

Send a thank-you note

Within 24 hours of the interview, send a personalized thank-you email or handwritten note to the interviewee. Express your appreciation for their time, reiterate what you found most valuable from the conversation and mention any next steps you plan to take based on their advice.

Connect on LinkedIn

If you haven’t already, add your informational interviewee on LinkedIn with a personalized connection request. This will help you stay in touch and keep up-to-date with their professional journey.

Share updates

As you make progress in your career journey, don’t hesitate to share updates with the interviewee. They’ll likely be interested in hearing about how their advice has helped you, and it’s a great way to maintain the relationship.

Pay it forward

As your career progresses, be open to conducting informational interviews for others who may want to ask questions about your career path. Sharing your knowledge and experience can make a significant impact on someone else’s career journey.

Accelerate your success with Whitman Associates

Requesting an informational interview to ask your connection key questions is a powerful networking tool that can provide valuable insights into your desired career path, expand your professional network and hone your communication skills. By being proactive in requesting and conducting these interviews, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking new career opportunities and achieving your professional goals. 

When you’re ready to further your career search, remember that Whitman Associates can help — saving you precious time and money on your journey. As a trusted partner in professional staffing since 1972, our knowledgeable and friendly team is dedicated to matching your unique skills and aspirations with the perfect opportunities. Send your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com to get started.

LinkedIn Profile Best Practices

LinkedIn has become a necessity in today’s job market. It’s one of the first places employers will look to evaluate a candidate, and it remains one of the most powerful tools for job hunting, recruitment and networking. LinkedIn offers a wealth of opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals, build your personal brand and even find your dream job — but you have to know how to use it.

Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand, your online resume and your virtual business card. This is where potential employers will come to learn more about you, so it’s important to put your best foot forward. Here are nine best practices that every job seeker should know.

A tablet showing the LinkedIn app in the App Store

1. Treat LinkedIn messaging like a professional email.

LinkedIn is not a platform for casual conversations or small talk. When you’re using your LinkedIn profile to communicate with potential employers or recruiters, it is best practice to treat your messaging as a professional email. Use proper grammar, punctuation and capitalization, and always be respectful and courteous. 

If you message a recruiter, address them by their first name. In online culture, Mr. and Ms. sound overly formal. Instead, write a clear, concise message with a friendly tone.

2. If you are open to work, say so! 

One of the most important features to use on LinkedIn when finding a job is the “Open to Work” setting. This lets recruiters know that you’re actively looking for a job. This is different from the #OpenToWork banner that many people overlay on their profile pictures. The setting is private and will only show your preference to recruiters, allowing you to make new connections without worrying about your current employer seeing your status.

3. List all locations you are open to work. 

If you’re using LinkedIn to find a job in the D.C. area, one of the most important details you need to include is your location. However, you shouldn’t just list your current location, especially if you’re open to relocating for a job. It is best practice to add all the cities or regions where you would be willing to work to your LinkedIn profile. This will make it easier for employers to find you when they’re searching for candidates based on location.

4. Select whether you are willing to work remotely. 

Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many job seekers are looking for opportunities that allow them to work from anywhere in the world. If you’re only interested in remote work, it is a good idea to select that setting on your LinkedIn profile. Keep in mind that, post-pandemic, many companies have adopted hybrid models of working or are back in the office full time. For instance, some companies may require one day per week in the office, or some companies may allow 100% remote work but require that you keep business hours in a certain time zone. If you’re open to hybrid options, our best job search advice is to list geographical locations and your preference to work remotely.

A woman in glasses working on her laptop.

5. Use keywords.

Make sure you’re using keywords in your profile that are relevant to the job openings you’re applying for. For example, if your goal is to become a communications assistant, look at relevant job descriptions from several different companies. If you notice they all mention marketing, creativity and communication, your LinkedIn headline could read, “Creative Marketer with Communications Experience.” Recruiters often use LinkedIn’s search function to find candidates, so using relevant keywords in your profile can help you appear in their search results. If you’re using LinkedIn to find a job, this can increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters who are looking for someone with your specific skills and experience.

6. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.

Your LinkedIn profile is not a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. One of the most important LinkedIn best practices is to keep your profile up to date with your latest job experience, skills and achievements. Make sure your headline is clear and concise, and your summary accurately reflects who you are and what you can offer. Update your profile picture regularly, and make sure it’s a professional-looking photo. 

7. Use an appropriate photo (no selfies!).

Speaking of photos, your LinkedIn profile picture is an essential part of your personal brand. It’s the first thing that potential employers will see when they come across your profile, so it’s important to make a good impression. It is best practice to ensure that your LinkedIn profile picture is a professional-looking headshot that accurately reflects who you are. If you have a portfolio website or other professional social media accounts, use the same profile picture on all of them. This will help any prospective employer connect the dots between your different online profilespresences.

8. Be selective. 

Be selective about the job postings you apply to. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of job categories and job postings on LinkedIn, but applying to every job you see isn’t the best approach. Instead, focus on the jobs that are the best fit for your skills and experience, and take the time to tailor your application materials to each position.

9. Be patient!

Finally, be patient. Even with all of these LinkedIn profile best practices in place, finding a job can take time, and it’s important to stay positive and persistent in your job search. 

If you’re using LinkedIn to find a job in the D.C. area, don’t forget that it is also a networking platform. Don’t just use it to search for jobs; be sure to also connect with other professionals in your field. Join groups, engage in discussions and share articles or insights that showcase your expertise. Networking is a powerful tool that can help you get your foot in the door, and it’s essential to building your personal brand on LinkedIn. So keep networking, keep applying to jobs and keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. With time and effort, you’ll find the right job for you!

A LinkedIn profile is an incredibly powerful tool for job seekers — by following these best practices, you can increase your chances of being noticed by recruiters and finding your dream job.

Find Your Next Role with Whitman Associates

If you’re looking for additional support and guidance in your job search, we can help. Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving the Washington D.C. area — we’ve been helping candidates find and secure their dream jobs since 1972! 

Get started by emailing your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com. Our team of staffing experts will take the time to review your resume and connect you with job opportunities that match your skills and experience. We look forward to helping you take the next step forward in your career search.

Job Search Advice For The Washington D.C. Job Market

Make the most of your Washington, D.C. area job search with Whitman Associates.

Aerial photograph of Washington Monument

Whether you want to find a new job or have recently moved to the Washington, D.C. area, any job search should start with updating your resume and reviewing interview tips. Be sure to brush up on best practices for remote interviews, as remote or partially remote interviewing is still typical in many industries. When preparing to send out your first application, there are some questions worth considering prior to hitting “submit.”

What is the job market like?

Statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures show an overall trend of decreased unemployment across the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s unemployment rate is notably lower than the national average. The same report goes on to highlight a number of growing industries in the D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland metropolitan areas.

Growing industries include professional and business services as well as education and health services. These sectors – along with a few others – have seen noted growth in the number of D.C. area residents employed in recent years. For anyone interested in pursuing an office-based career in or around Washington, D.C., now seems like an excellent time to conduct a job search.

A hot job market does not necessarily mean your job search will be smooth and easy. The current landscape presents both opportunities and challenges for job seekers trying to find a job in the D.C. area. Consider connecting with a local employment service, like Whitman Associates, for assistance in finding a job in the current D.C. job market. 

How do I find the best role in the current market?

A hot job market gives candidates the chance to think about long-term career goals. The best role is the one that allows you to meet your current responsibilities while opening up options for the future.

Start by looking at job openings in the D.C. region and consider connecting with a career coach to help you strategize for the future. If you need immediate work, staffing and placement agencies are the best resource to use.

Based on the growing number of office-based roles opening up in the Washington, D.C. area, job search candidates should consider the long-term potential of office work. Keep an eye out for positions with some of the following words in their title:

  • Office Administration
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Program Coordinator
  • Human Resources
  • Legal and Clerical Support
  • Marketing
  • Secretary
  • Communications

These positions are in high demand and can often be entry level roles. Perhaps the best advantage of office work is the ability to connect with people in different industries. Then down the line, you can then utilize those connections to find your next  job in the D.C. metropolitan area.  

As an example, let’s say your job search connects you with a temporary clerical support role at a law firm in Washington, D.C. While in that role, you learn about office operations. That can open a career path leading to higher-level office administration roles. By the end of your placement, you’ll have potentially dozens of new pathways to consider.

I have a job – is now a good time for an upgrade?

Absolutely – you should take full advantage of the DMV area’s hot job market while you can. If you already have a position but are thinking of taking the next step forward with your career, there are resources to help you manage your obligations while finding your next great fit.

Keep an accurate and up-to-date calendar and develop a strategy to make your job search as efficient as possible. Failure to show up on time for an interview or missing a day of work could result in burnt bridges if you’re not careful. Make sure you are familiar with typical traffic conditions and transit options in the D.C. metro area so you’re able to keep all of your appointments.

If your job search goals include changing industries, the current employment market in the Washington, D.C. area presents many opportunities to do so. If you are between jobs  your resume will likely have gaps that can make you less attractive as a potential candidate. One way to avoid this is by taking on a temporary placement in your industry of choice. A temporary role can help bridge the gap between your existing experience and the requirements of your new industry.

Two men shake hands

Connect with The DMV’s top staffing agency

The best thing you can do to aid any job search is to connect with an established staffing agency. Whitman Associates, Inc. has been helping job seekers in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. with their job search goals for over 50 years. Our team members connect top employers with candidates looking to find a job in the D.C. area. Contact our placement team to learn about the latest opportunities.

How to ask for a job that does not exist yet (with sample email)

Job seekers tend to assume that all open positions are clearly listed. However, as few as 20% of open positions are posted on job boards. This means that job seekers who apply for work exclusively through job postings found online are missing a lot of opportunities. So how do you ask for a job that doesn’t exist or that isn’t listed as open? Just ask!

If you find a company you are interested in working for and don’t see any current openings listed that match your skill set, you can, and should, still submit a cover letter and resume to that company’s human resources department or to a suitable manager within the organization. 

That may seem like a waste of time, but really, you will be getting ahead of the game. Whenever a position does open up, the hiring manager will hopefully already have you in mind. Take a look at this sample email asking for job openings to see what this looks like. 

Sample Email Asking for Job Openings

Subject line: [Your Job Title (for instance, “Legal Secretary”)] Interested in Career Opportunities

[First Name of HR/Recruiter/Hiring Manager] 

My name is [your name], and I am a [recent grad from [school] OR job title and your expertise; for instance, a “social worker with experience in child welfare.”] I hope you’re doing well. 

I realize you do not currently have a job opening listed for a [job title], however, I would still like to make introductions and explore ways I can help your team with [value you can provide; for instance, “developing accessibility-focused website projects.”]

I checked out the [company’s name] website and like the projects you are currently developing, in particular:

  • [the name of a relevant project with an explanation for why you are interested]
  • [the name of a second relevant project with an explanation for why you are interested]

Note: This is also a great place to personalize your email and add information about where you heard about the company and why you would like to work for them.

For the past # years, I have worked with [your experience with examples of past clients or projects. Providing detail and showing you you will be an asset to their team is key.] 

When time allows, please see a few examples of my work here:

  • [Link to example #1 of your work, if available; you can also attach files if it makes more sense. Be sure to reference the attachment name here instead]
  • [Link to example #2 OR attached file]
  • [Link to example #3 OR attached file]

Note: If you are a recent grad with limited real-world experience, provide links to college projects, case studies, internship projects or volunteer efforts. 

I have also attached my resume to this email. Please let me know if I can provide more information.

Sometime in the near future, I look forward to speaking with you.

Warm Regards, 

[Your name]

[Your email signature with contact information]

Apply for a job that doesn’t exist yet

The bottom line for how you ask for a job that doesn’t exist is that you have to take the initiative. Simply calling or sending a note based on this sample email asking for job openings can tell hiring managers that you have initiative and are eager to work with them. The company or hiring manager may not necessarily be looking for someone, or at least not yet. But when you prove yourself to be an attractive candidate, you will get your foot in the door for whatever opportunities come next. Start with this sample email asking for job openings and see where it takes you!

4 Qualities of a Good Worker

In today’s competitive job market, standing out as a potential candidate requires more than just the right qualifications. While experience and skills are essential, certain qualities of a good employee can make a significant difference in your professional journey. Whether crafting your resume or preparing for a job interview, highlighting your unique qualities with examples of positive results will give you a clear advantage over the competition. When describing the responsibilities from your previous positions, make sure you include evidence of your most marketable traits. Additionally, if you are a hiring manager, consider these four qualities of a good worker to look out for while identifying exceptional candidates for your team.

1. Initiative – Going Beyond Expectations

One valuable quality of a good employee is the willingness to take initiative and go beyond the defined scope of their role. While competence in completing assignments is crucial, employers seek individuals who proactively contribute and exceed expectations. Demonstrate instances where you have led projects and contributed innovative ideas and solutions. Emphasize your passion for a specific project or role and explain how you went above and beyond to show your sense of initiative, especially if the new role you’re seeking is directly related to that passion. This desirable quality of a good worker will immediately set you apart from the competition.

2. Prioritization – Efficiently Managing Responsibilities

The ability to prioritize responsibilities effectively sets outstanding employees apart from others. An employer seeks individuals who can balance multiple priorities and recognize the most critical and time-sensitive tasks. Being able to share examples of how you have efficiently prioritized your workload and delivered measurable results demonstrates qualities indicative of a good employee.

A woman smiling in front of a white board with flow charts

3. Communication – The Key to Professional Success

Strong communication skills are universally valuable in any career. Speaking professionally, clearly, and politely significantly enhances your professional image. Additionally, proficient writing skills are equally essential qualities of a good worker. Highlight your ability to convey ideas clearly and provide instructions effectively, as these traits are highly sought after by employers while they are reviewing resumes. Additionally, consider the times you’ve experienced miscommunications at work and the solutions you found to avoid them moving forward. Nobody is perfect, but employees who can learn from their experiences to become even better can make the most attractive hires.

Three people sitting in front of a table laughing together

4. Reliability – A Pillar of Trust

Employers seek employees they can rely on when needed the most. Punctuality and a solid attendance record exemplify the qualities of a good worker. When an employer needs extra help, a trustworthy team member takes the initiative to assist when and where the situation demands it, without waiting for explicit instructions.

By emphasizing these four critical qualities of a good employee on your resume and during interviews, you will stand out and leave a lasting impression on prospective employers. Take a moment to reflect on your experiences and identify areas where you can further enhance your initiative, prioritization, communication, or reliability. Which aspects can you self-identify that need improvement? For expert hiring or job hunting assistance, connect with our recruiting team at Whitman Associates to get started today. We’re eager to help you demonstrate the  qualities that make you a good worker.

About Whitman Associates

With over fifty years of experience providing expert staffing services to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Whitman Associates proudly offers personalized employment services to our community of talented candidates. Our staffing professionals offer coaching and development to set you up for success during interviews and throughout your career. With unique opportunities to learn via temporary and temp-to-hire positions, you can tailor your resume to reflect your long-term goals.

Navigating the lively, ever-changing professional landscape of the greater D.C. area can be overwhelming. Instead of braving it alone, work with Whitman Associates for guidance on qualities you should highlight as  a good worker. We will provide unwavering support throughout your entire job search process, from updating your resume to making a great impression by demonstrating the qualities of a good employee in your new role.

Our office is conveniently located in downtown Washington, D.C., making us easily accessible via Metro from the Farragut North or Farragut West stations. Email your resume to resumes@whitmanjobs.com so we can get a better idea of who you are and your professional experience. Use your resume to show us your personal qualities of a good worker.

How to Advance Your Career

diverse women leaders in a modern office

Are you looking for ways to advance your career? You may be seeking to get a job promotion or to go from temp to permanent. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are key things to keep in mind. Here are some tips that will help you get there.

Develop a win-win mindset

The first step in knowing how to advance your career is developing a win-win mindset. You can’t expect to move up if you’re only thinking about what’s best for yourself. Instead, think about the company’s goals and how they align with yours. 

By taking some time to understand what your superior needs and to find solutions to problems, you make everyone’s life easier. If you lead by example, being genuinely helpful to your co-workers and superiors, others will likely follow and it will encourage a sense of community. In a world that celebrates a go-getter, differentiate yourself by being a go-giver. 

Keep learning

There are three things you need to do to advance your career: learn from your mistakes, learn from others’ mistakes and keep learning new things. You can do this by taking classes or workshops, reading books on leadership or management, taking advice from your co-workers and industry professionals, listening to podcasts about industry trends, joining meetups related to your interests and even making friends outside of work who share similar passions as yourself. All these things will help shape how well prepared you will be for future opportunities that come down the road.

Keep in mind that there’s truly no such thing as a stagnant career. When you deeply understand how to get a job promotion or how to go from temp to permanent, you know that your job is set to change in different ways as time passes—and you should be too. That’s why keeping up with the latest trends and technologies is so important to advancing your career. 

Build strong working relationships

The workplace is a social arena, and knowing how to build strong relationships with your colleagues will advance your career and lead to more opportunities for growth. Chat with your team during breaks, or set up a lunch meeting to discuss a professional goal you’re working on and how the team can get involved. Asking about their lives and opinions will help you understand how they think, which will expose you to new ways of thinking. Your co-workers might have insight or tips you’ve never heard of before – even if it’s about the best barbeque place in town or how to get on the boss’s good side. Learning new things and building relationships is key to climbing the career ladder. 

In addition to being friendly and communicative with those around you, it’s also important that you learn how to work well as part of a team. Being able to collaborate effectively—and having others recognize this ability—will make your career prospects much brighter in the long run.

Take ownership of your work

Effective steps to advance your career include taking ownership of what you do and knowing how to do it well. This means that you don’t pass the blame on to others or say “I’m sorry” all the time. When work isn’t getting done properly, it’s up to you to make sure your work gets done correctly and on time. 

Accountability speaks volumes about leadership. In taking responsibility, even if others weren’t clear about expectations from the start, you set the tone that you will be showing up no matter what.

Take initiative

In learning how to advance your career practically, there will be times when you are asked to take initiative and be proactive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get involved with new projects if needed. 

If someone asks for help, take it as a chance to learn and offer support. The more confident and skilled you get in your field, the better off you and your company will be in the long run. More importantly, moving from a temp role to a permanent position or securing your chances of getting a job promotion will be a breeze.

Make yourself indispensable

Knowing how to advance your career means you understand that it’s a lot easier to get ahead if you’re the go-to person for everyone else. You know that when there are problems, your co-workers come to you for help. When others need guidance, they run to you first. If you have a reputation for being reliable and results-driven, it means that people will want to work with you and possibly for you. Make yourself indispensable by knowing what needs to be done in a crisis. 

Be trustworthy

If you want to know how to get a job promotion or how to go from temp to permanent, developing a reputation for being honest and trustworthy is a crucial step. This means being a good communicator—you never know who you’re going to be working with, so it’s helpful if people know they can count on you and that what you say will be true. 

In considering how to advance your career, you also need to make sure that the information you share with others is confidential. Keep secrets close at hand and don’t gossip about co-workers or clients. 

Finally, avoid the temptation of becoming a know-it-all. This could alienate those around you professionally and socially, which could lead to negative consequences in both areas moving forward.

Network your way up

The people around you have the potential to help you understand how to advance your career in a variety of ways. They can provide mentorship and support, advise on how to improve your work and find jobs for which you’re well-suited. 
To make the most of this opportunity, build connections and network. Find people who are good at what they do. Asking someone for their insight can be intimidating if they seem far above your level in terms of experience or expertise—but it doesn’t have to be. Usually, they are more than happy to share what they have learned along the way.

If someone has been working in their field for a while, chances are they’ve learned from other people as well. Building a strong connection with one person opens you up to their network of connections as well. If nothing else, asking for help shows that you’re committed enough to your own success – which will not go unnoticed.

colleagues discussing business ideas in the office

A final word

By following our tips on how to advance your career, you can distinguish yourself from the pack. The key to advancing your career is being willing to do the work. You need to be willing to invest in yourself, whether that means investing in books or online courses or taking advantage of any opportunities for training that come up at work.

You also need to be willing to learn new skills by stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things—even if it feels a little uncomfortable or overwhelming at first. Taking advantage of career coaching or trying out new jobs and hobbies is a great way to push yourself to try new things you wouldn’t have thought about previously.

Lastly, remember that the paths to success are many and they’re not often linear. Let your uniqueness shine through as you advance. 

D.C.’s top-rated staffing agency

If you need help with your job search or finding employees to fill open positions, Whitman Associates is your solution. We help employees find jobs they’ll love, potentially lifting them from temp work to a permanent position in a company. We also help employers by providing top-tier talent from the D.C. metropolitan area. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you succeed.