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Cliff Montgomery: Job Hunting and Career--Planning Q&A with the Career Coach

“Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery.
Q: In my current job search, I have been reading that many people are no longer using cover letters to accompany their resumes. Do you support using cover letters and if so, what kind of things would you include in it?
A: I am very supportive of using well-written cover letters. They should accompany every resume you send out, and I feel strongly that it could be the difference between getting an interview and your resume being ignored.
Today, with large number of applicants applying for positions, a candidate needs to find a way to stand out from the crowd; this is where a cover letter can make all the difference.
Here’s how: After carefully reviewing all the requirements for the job in which you’re interested, a cover letter can be designed specifically for each opportunity to show the company how you and your skills are a good fit for the role. It can also be used to highlight your softer kills such as “high energy,” “enthusiasm” and “drive” – descriptive attributes that are sometimes missing from resumes which normally highlight objective background and experience.
Your cover letter should express a high level of interest and knowledge about the position, as well as in the company you’re applying to. Lastly, try to personalize your letter as much as possible using the name of an individual to whom you might have spoken and referencing some parts of the networking conversation to further demonstrate your interest.
Hopefully these tips on how to write your cover letter will help your resume find its way into the “yes” pile. Good luck!
Q: I have always described myself as a high achiever, but in this crazy environment we find ourselves in today, I find it difficult to really achieve anything of note, and as a result I’m just not happy. Do you have any recommendations for me?
A: I can totally relate to your situation, as I have always measured myself on achieving exceptional results; but it’s no easy task today. That being said, I have worked hard to lower my “achievement bar” and find myself more satisfied with accomplishments that previously I would have just considered “OK.”
Relative to being “happy,” this is not easy either, as with the ongoing pandemic and its repercussions, home schooling, political unrest, and social conflict, happiness can sometimes seem elusive.
In response, what I advise my clients to do (and what I do for myself) is to create a personal “Happy List” and review it every day. This is done by making a list of all the things, however small, that make you feel happy. It could include having dinner with your sweetheart on a Saturday night, playing with your children, reading a good book in your comfy chair, and well, you get the idea.
Even in these very challenging times, your list can remind you when you are happy even in small ways, so you don’t take them for granted or worse yet, miss them.
Send your questions to Clifford E. Montgomery, CPC, in New Hope. He can be reached at 908-209-1642 or at His website is

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