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  • RHR: Can Your Paleo “Template” Include Grains & Legumes?

    Post From https://chriskresser.com/can-your-paleo-template-include-grains-legumes/

    revolution health radio

    In this episode we discuss:

    • Should we avoid foods with lectins?
    • Should we avoid foods with phytic acid?
    • Reasons why you should limit or avoid legumes and grains
    • Customize your diet to meet your individual tolerance
    • New book coming soon

    [smart_track_player url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/thehealthyskeptic/RHR_Can_Your_Paleo_Template_Include_Grains__Legumes.mp3″ title=”RHR: Can Your Paleo Template Include Grains and Legumes?” artist=”Chris Kresser” ]

    Chris Kresser: Hey, everybody, it’s Chris Kresser. Welcome to another episode of Revolution Health Radio. This week we have a question from Staci. Let’s give it a listen.

    Staci: Hello my name is Staci. Thank you so much, Chris for all you do. I absolutely love your website and your podcast. I use it as a resource for myself and for my patients. I’d like to ask a question that I really tried to research very hard and I’ve had trouble because most of the research on whole grains compares it to the regular SAD diet with processed flours, the white stuff, the sugar. So it’s really hard because the evidence will of course say that whole grains are better. But I want to know if outside of food sensitivities, are gluten free, whole grains that are unprocessed, not turned into flours, things like quinoa, rice, brown rice, things that you’re cooking in a pot and eating essentially, are they inflammatory? Are they bad for our microbiome? I haven’t seen evidence to support this. I think that if people have a food sensitivity to it, and for sure that happens especially with IBD and other autoimmune conditions, it’s very common to have food sensitivities even to gluten free whole grains. But outside of having a food sensitivity to it, is there evidence that everyone should be off of gluten free, whole unprocessed grains? I haven’t been able to see that. Is it true that they’re inflammatory for those that don’t have an immune reaction because it’s a food sensitivity for them? Is it true that they’re not good for the microbiome? The research that I’ve seen shows that it improves biodiversity, the microbiome, whole grains. So that would be what I’d like to ask you today. If anyone can help me with this question, I think it could be you. You do mention that the Paleo is the template. And I think that that might be part of the answer. It’s a good place to start, but not necessarily everyone needs to be off of them — off of whole grains or legumes or things like that. Especially if they’re prepared in the right way. So that’s my question for you today. Sorry it’s a little long-winded. Thank you.

    Chris: Okay, Staci, thanks for sending your question. I’m going to expand on this a little bit and talk about legumes as well as grains because I often get questions about whether legumes can be part of a healthy diet. Of course, the Paleo dogma holds that we should never eat grains or legumes. There are usually two arguments to support this idea. The first is that grains and legumes contain lectins.

    Should we avoid foods with lectins?

    Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes, and animal studies have shown that lectins can impair growth, damage the lining of the intestine, destroy skeletal muscle, and interfere with the function of the pancreas, among other things.

    That sounds pretty bad, right? Not so fast, though. There are several reasons that these results probably shouldn’t be extrapolated to humans:

    • The first is that animals in these studies consumed an enormous amount of lectins—much more than a human would get from a varied diet that includes some grains and legumes.
    • Second, most lectins are destroyed by cooking. For example, cooking legumes for as little as 15 minutes or pressure-cooking them for seven-and-a-half minutes almost completely inactivates the lectins that they contain, leaving no residual lectin activity in properly cooked legumes and grains. The results vary a little bit depending on the legume and the grain, but that’s a general rule. Cooking does inactivate most lectins.
    • What’s more, other components in food, like simple sugars, can bind to lectins and diminish their toxic effect. Even if there is a small amount of lectin left after cooking, it’s unlikely that it will have a detrimental effect, given the presence of simple carbohydrates in both legumes and grains that can bind to those proteins.
    • Finally, if lectins really are a problem, then we’ll have to cut out a lot more than grains and legumes from our diet if we want to avoid them. Turns out the lectins are present in over 50 different fruits, vegetables, spices, and commonly eaten plants, including carrots, zucchini, melon, grapes, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, garlic, and mushrooms, to name a few.

    Every plant we eat contains some small amount of toxin, since this is how plants defend themselves. In the majority of these cases, these low levels of toxins don’t harm us, and in fact they may even provide health benefits. For example, many of the compounds that we call antioxidants, like polyphenols found in blueberries, dark chocolate, etc., are actually pro-oxidants that cause mild oxidative stress, and by doing that they upregulate our body’s natural antioxidant defense system. This is a little-known fact about so-called antioxidants. They actually benefit us by promoting a little bit of oxidative stress that our body then responds to in a hormetic, or favorable, way.

    The one lectin we may want to exercise caution with, though, is peanut lectin, since both raw peanuts and peanut oil have really high lectin content. There is some data in animals that suggests that peanut lectin may contribute to atherosclerosis by stimulating the growth of smooth muscle and pulmonary arterial cells. However, other research, including clinical trials in both animals and humans, has found that peanuts and even peanut oil actually reduce cardiovascular risk factors and thus may protect against heart disease. I think the jury’s still out even in that case.

    Are grains and legumes really that bad for you?

    Should we avoid foods with phytic acid?

    The second argument that is typically made against grains and legumes is that they contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is the stored form of phosphorus that is found in many plants, especially in the bran in whole grains, and nuts and seeds. Although herbivores like cows and sheep can digest phytate, or phytic acid, humans cannot. This is bad news because phytic acid binds to minerals, especially iron and zinc, in food and prevents us from absorbing them. It’s important to note that phytic acid does not leach minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food in which phytic acid is present. If you eat rice or oats that have phytic acid in them, then you don’t absorb as many nutrients as you would otherwise from those foods if the phytic acid was not present, but the phytic acid is not going to remove nutrients that are already stored in the body. Phytate can also interfere with enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, which is needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, which is required for the breakdown of starch. Phytic acid also inhibits the enzyme trypsin, which is needed for protein digestion in the small intestine.

    Again, at first glance it sounds pretty bad, right? It sounds like we shouldn’t be eating any phytic acid at all. While it’s true that diets that are high in phytate contribute to mineral deficiencies, it is also true that humans can tolerate moderate amounts of it without harm. This might be because our gut bacteria produce enzymes that break down phytate and thus make us able to extract the nutrients that the body needs. In fact, there is even some evidence that phytic acid has beneficial effects. It has been shown to prevent the formation of free radicals, which makes it an antioxidant; it prevents the accumulation of heavy metals in the body and plays a role in cellular communication.

    The problem with telling people to strictly avoid grains and legumes because they contain phytate is that, just like legumes, many other healthy foods in the diet, including Paleo-friendly foods, contain substantially higher amounts of phytic acid than legumes or grains. For example, a single serving of trail mix, which is that beloved Paleo snack favorite, is likely to be much higher in phytic acid than a serving of lentils or whole grains. Cacao beans, which we make chocolate from, have about the same amount of phytic acid as most other beans and legumes, and spinach and Swiss chard are higher in phytate than almost any legume, nut or seed.

    It’s also important to note that phytic acid can often be at least partly broken down by certain food-processing methods, such as soaking and roasting. I wrote an article awhile back called “Another Reason You Shouldn’t Go Nuts on Nuts,” suggesting that you can dehydrate roasted nuts before eating them for exactly this reason. In the case of legumes, studies have shown that soaking at room temperature for 18 hours or at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours eliminates between 30 and 70 percent of phytic acid, depending on the legume. For grains, it really varies, depending on the grain. Some grains have phytase, which is the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid, naturally present in the grain, and so those grains typically don’t need to be soaked for as long. Whereas other grains don’t have phytase and need to be soaked for longer, and generally it’s better to add some kind of acidic medium like fermented dairy, kefir, lemon juice, or something like that to the soaking water to help activate the enzymatic process.

    Some of you might be familiar with the Weston A. Price approach to eating. It’s basically a Paleo diet that also includes properly prepared grains and legumes. For example, if you’re going to eat oatmeal, you would soak the oats overnight in room-temperature water with maybe a little bit of kefir, and then you would drain that in the morning and then you would cook those soaked oats. Same if you eat brown rice or if you eat lentils or other legumes, you would soak them and prepare them properly.

    This is in fact what all traditional cultures who consumed whole grains and legumes did. Whether you’re talking about indigenous people in what is now Mexico or Central America, they did that with corn and cornmeal. People who lived in Africa who consumed various grains and legumes and people all over the world who Weston Price studied. People in what is now Switzerland, they made a natural sourdough bread, which is a fermentation process, of course, that would break down the phytic acid and make the nutrients more bioavailable. This is a common practice in any culture that traditionally ate whole grains and legumes. The problem is, today almost nobody does that except people who are aware of the importance of this or maybe even some traditional cultures … people living in the industrialized world who maintain some connection with their traditional ways.

    Reasons why you should limit or avoid legumes and grains

    Given everything that we’ve talked about so far, you might think I’m a fan of whole grains and legumes, but there are several reasons why I think many people may need to limit their consumption of these foods and why I still do recommend a Paleo template as the best starting place for most people.

    Nutrient density

    The first reason comes down to nutrient density and optimizing this, the amount of nutrients that we consume in our diet on a day-to-day basis, should be one of the main goals that we have comes to food. Micronutrients are the fuel for our bodies, and suboptimal amounts of any of them will cause significant problems. Nutrient deficiency is just widespread in the industrialized world. More than a third of Americans are deficient in essential nutrients, and that’s using the RDA, our recommended dietary allowance, which is the threshold at which acute deficiency symptoms occur. That doesn’t mean that the RDA is the optimal intake level of a nutrient; it’s just a level at which we start to see very acute symptoms of deficiency. If we used instead the optimal intake of a given nutrient, the number or the percentage of Americans and other people living in both the developed and developing worlds that are deficient in nutrients would be much higher.

    The most nutrient-dense foods are organ meats, shellfish, spices and herbs, meat and fish, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables. I shared some references to these nutrient density studies in my first book, Your Personal Paleo Code, which was later published as The Paleo Cure. If you’ve read that book, you’ve probably seen some of this research. Of course, those foods should sound familiar because they make up what we call a Paleo diet or a Paleo template. Whole grains and legumes do contain some nutrients, but they’re generally lower on the list than many of the foods I just mentioned when it comes to nutrient density. Organ meats and shellfish are orders of magnitude higher in terms of nutrient content than grains and legumes, for example.

    For that reason alone we shouldn’t base our diets on whole grains and legumes. This of course is one of the reasons why vegetarians and vegans do typically have much higher rates of nutrient deficiency because they consume significantly higher amounts of whole grains and legumes. Often their diet can be based around these foods—and that’s if they’re doing well! There’s of course also the junk food vegetarian who is eating mostly refined flour, sugar, and a whole bunch of stuff that’s not meat or animal products, but it’s not particularly … not only not nutrient dense, but also full of stuff that can be harmful.

    Autoimmune disease

    There are certain groups that also may need to limit or even completely avoid grains and legumes. One is people with autoimmune disease, which now affects up to one in six Americans. There is some evidence—a lot of it is anecdotal—but there is some evidence suggesting that compounds in these foods, including lectins, may be problematic for people with autoimmune disease. This is also true of other foods like eggs, nightshades, nuts, and seeds, which are proscribed on the autoimmune protocol, or AIP, which I’m sure many people listening to this have heard of and may even be on themselves. I think the evidence for the AIP has been mostly anecdotal so far.

    However, there was a peer-reviewed study recently done on at UC San Diego that I’m going to be writing about soon, and that study had actually pretty impressive results that I’m really excited to see. I mean, it’s kind of miraculous that that study got done in the first place because, as I’m sure many of you know, getting funding for a study that’s purely a dietary intervention, when most medical research is funded by pharmaceutical companies, is exceedingly difficult. But what happened is that a gastroenterologist at Scripps down in San Diego was introduced to AIP after witnessing one of her patients with ulcerative colitis, which is an autoimmune disease, made a really astonishing recovery using that diet, and so this GI doc decided to put together a study to formally investigate it both in patients with UC, ulcerative colitis, and also in Crohn’s disease patients, which is another autoimmune gastrointestinal disease. The results were pretty phenomenal, and I think it’s kind of a landmark study because it really, for the first time, showed that AIP was able to induce clinical remission by week six in 11 out of 15 participants, so 73 percent of study participants, and all 11 maintained clinical remission during the maintenance phase of the study. This is quite remarkable. A 73 percent remission rate rivals even the most aggressive drug therapies, steroids and immunosuppressive drugs like Imuran and Remicade, which have side effects leading all the way up to death, and they were able to accomplish this with just a dietary intervention. Even though most of the evidence is anecdotal in AIP, we now have some peer-reviewed evidence supporting its use in autoimmune gastrointestinal disease. Certainly in my work with patients in the clinic, I’ve seen it be incredibly helpful for people with a number of different autoimmune diseases.

    Other digestive disorders

    Another group that may need to limit their whole grains and legume consumption are people with gut problems independently of autoimmune gut issues. This is a huge number of people, frankly. IBS is now the second leading cause of people missing work. Virtually every patient that comes to my clinic has gut issues. Many people that I just talk to because of my profession, a lot of friends and family members, come to me for advice, and in many cases it’s related to gut issues. I think it’s pretty safe to say that a large percentage of the population suffers from dysfunctional gut to some degree or another. Grains and legumes are often hard on the gut, and many people with gut issues feel better when they avoid or limit these foods.

    One reason for that is that most legumes and some grains contain FODMAPs, and these are classes of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by some people and can provide food for bacteria that may be present in the small intestine where they shouldn’t be. So for people with SIBO or people with fungal overgrowth or other intestinal conditions, the FODMAPs can be problematic. In these cases, I’ve found that soaking and the other proper steps of preparation that I mentioned before for grains and legumes can help to some degree. I have patients, for example, who cannot tolerate unsoaked grains or legumes but can tolerate some amount of soaked and properly prepared grains and legumes. Experimentation can pay off there, but in general, I’ve typically found that people with these kinds of gut issues do feel better when they avoid these foods.

    Customize your diet to meet your individual tolerance

    Let’s just kind of wrap it up. When I wrote my first book, I suggested that the best approach is to start with a 30-day Paleo reset. I hope it’s clear why now. Even though whole grains and legumes … you may be able to include them in small amounts as part of an overall healthy diet, it’s best to try a period of time (usually 30 days, but sometimes more especially if you have an autoimmune disease), where you’re not eating them at all because that’s the only way you’ll get a chance to see how they are truly affecting you. And then, after you’re finished with that reset, you can start slowly adding back in the what I call “gray area” foods like grains and legumes, which we’ve talked about today, and also including dairy, particularly full-fat and fermented dairy, which I’ve written and talked about a lot in the past, and then see if you tolerate them.

    If you tolerate them without difficulty, I don’t see a problem with including these gray-area foods in your diet with two caveats, which are that they’re not replacing more nutrient-dense foods, and you eat them in relatively small or moderate amounts. I’ve never seen any convincing research that whole grains and legumes when they’re properly prepared are significant contributors to the chronic disease epidemic.

    Let’s face it, we didn’t get to where we are with two-thirds of Americans being overweight and one-third of Americans being obese by eating quinoa and lentils. We got here by eating pizza, drinking big gulps, having grain-based desserts, fried foods and all kinds of other processed and refined crap. That’s what has caused the chronic disease epidemic, not whole grains and legumes. The same is true for dairy, which I have talked about at length. If you look at the research on full-fat dairy overall, it’s very encouraging, and it really comes down to individual tolerance in that case. There are people who are intolerant of lactose, quite a few people actually, two-thirds of the population of the world, and there are people who are intolerant of the proteins in dairy. Those people obviously will not do well with dairy, but for people who don’t have either of those issues, and even for people with lactose intolerance, they can consume full fat from any dairy—foods like kefir and yogurt (especially if they’re made at home, where all are fermented to the point where lactose is removed), ghee, butter, and full-fat cream, which don’t have very much lactose or protein, but it’s really an individual thing. The research shows that they’re beneficial when they’re well tolerated.

    I think that sums it up here. The moral of the story here is that if you’re able to eat small amounts of properly prepared whole grains and legumes without any difficulty or worsening of your symptoms, and you’re still eating a very nutrient-dense diet that contains organ meats, shellfish, herbs and spices, meat and fish, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, then that’s fantastic. Lucky you, you have a broader and more diverse diet and fewer limitations. If you have autoimmune disease or gut issues, you may need to be more careful with these foods and it would be even more important for you to do a reset diet where you eliminate these foods for a period of time before adding them back in and see how you tolerate them.

    New book coming soon

    Speaking of books, I wanted to mention that my next book, called Unconventional Medicine, is coming out on November 7th. I’m really, really excited about this book. It proposes a three-part solution to the growing epidemic of chronic disease that’s destroying our quality of life, bankrupting our governments, and threatening the health of future generations. Our current conventional approach to what I call “sickcare” rather than “healthcare,” because that’s really what it is when you think about it. It focuses on suppressing symptoms and managing disease rather than preventing and reversing disease by addressing the root cause.

    We desperately need a new solution of true healthcare that can reverse these problems, restore people’s health, empower patients to take charge of their own health, and inspire healthcare practitioners to do the kind of work that they envision doing when they decided to enter medicine or healthcare in the first place. Unconventional Medicine lays out a vision for how we can do that. You can learn more about it and sign up to be notified when it’s released and for some really cool prelaunch stuff that we’re going to be doing with the book—free stuff, bells and whistles, that’s UnconventionalMedicineBook.com.

    It’s kind of a tight timeline here. We’ve got a lot of other balls in the air and things going on, but I’m super, super excited about this book. I think you’re going to love it, and I hope you can join us in pushing this movement forward to reinvent medicine and healthcare. I think it’s something … it’s really my purpose here to end chronic disease and to create a new way of doing this.

    Okay, everybody, thanks for listening. Keep sending in your questions to chriskresser.com/podcastquestion, and I’ll talk to you in a couple of weeks.

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  • How To Learn To Love Working Out When You Can’t Get Motivated

    Post From http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/PaleoPlan/~3/o6TWeUIEKgY/

    workout motivation

    Picture this: it’s the Monday morning after a relaxed weekend, where exercise was bypassed in favor of lunch out with friends, watching movies and sleeping in. The alarm buzzes not long after dawn, and as you open your eyes you’re hit with the weight of the working week ahead. You hardly have the oomph to get out of bed let alone head to the gym, so you plan to push your scheduled workout until tomorrow.

    Sound familiar?

    You’re not alone.

    For many people the desire to exercise doesn’t come naturally. Couple that tendency with a busy schedule—or a full social calendar—and skipping the gym can easily become a regular occurrence.

    The problem is that the less you exercise the less you want to exercise, which is why postponing your workouts is a slippery slope. On the other hand, the more active you can be (to a healthy extent, of course), the easier it is to stay committed to your movement routine.

    Finding The Motivation To Workout

    Contrary to popular belief, your motivation to workout doesn’t start with a great fitness instructor or buying a pass at the best studio in town. While those things help you build a habit, the initial motivation must come from you.

    In fact, what you do for exercise is actually less important than why you do it. Find your “why” and your love of fitness will follow. To do this, start by thinking about the things in your life that matter most to you, and how they would be improved or sustained by your ability to be physically fit.

    For example:

    1. You may have a health goal that you’re working towards—be that managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, or even reducing symptoms of chronic disease—and you know that exercise is a useful tool for reaching that goal. (1,2,3)
    2. It may be that you’re a keen traveller and have set your sights on hiking to Macchu Picchu with your best friends for your 35th birthday.
    3. Or perhaps your motivation to stay fit and active is born from the desire to play with your grandchildren as you age.

    Everyone has a different reason for wanting to exercise; make it a priority to find yours.

    There’s No One Right Way To Exercise

    Now that you’ve discovered the burning reason why YOU want to be fit and active, the next step is to actually take action and commit to working out on a regular basis.

    Here I want to point out that there is no one right way to exercise. While some people get a lot of joy from intense activity, many others are best suited to a gentle fitness practice. Luckily, fantastic results can be achieved from both approaches.

    Your next step is to experiment with your current workout routine and find what works best for your unique body type—this could mean swapping heavy lifts for Pilates and sweaty runs for long nature hikes, or vice versa.

    At the end of the day, success comes from doing activities that you enjoy, because you’ll want to show up for them on a regular basis. So if you haven’t yet been bit by the exercise bug, keep looking for the routine that feels right for you.

    Build Your Fitness From The Ground Up

    Having the freedom to pick and choose the types of exercise that you prefer is a game changer for your movement motivation. However, it’s easier to fall in love with working out once you reach a certain level of physical fitness. To get there as quickly as possible, all you need to do is keep things simple.

    Spending time on the basics will not only help you get fitter faster, it’s also vital for preventing injury and maintaining a lifelong love of working out. Start by conquering the most simple body-weight exercises, such as the squat, the back lunge, walking lunge, and a full plank.

    Next you can improve your cardiovascular fitness by gentle walking and incline walking for 30-60 minutes at a time (before you take up jogging).

    Finally, pay attention to mobility and stability exercises that keep your joints and muscles in tip-top condition.

    Realistically, it may take six weeks (or a little more) to build your base level of fitness, but once you’re done, you’ll find yourself wanting to pop on your sneakers every single day. Boosting your fitness levels will increase your motivation to stay fit.

    Redefine “Working Out”

    At this stage I think it’s important to note that “working out” doesn’t only mean going to the gym. An interesting area of research highlights incidental movement as being equally important for your long term health as the 30 minutes you spend on traditional exercise each day. (4) Great news for anyone who isn’t a fan of lycra pants and communal water coolers!

    So tell me this, is your lack of exercise motivation primarily associated with gym-specific workouts? Or does it extend to any physical activity?

    Would you prefer to skip barre class tonight, but will happily throw around a frisbee on the weekend or take your dog for a walk after work? Or do you really hate doing anything that gets your blood flowing?

    This is an important distinction to make because you may be already have more motivation than you think, and if you simply redefine your definition of “working out,” then you could fall in love with fitness as quickly as today.

    To get your brain buzzing, here are some of my favorite gym-free types of exercise:

    • Gardening
    • Hiking
    • Walking to the shops (and carrying groceries home)
    • Washing the car
    • Playing with the kids
    • Body surfing at the beach

    Team Up With A Friend, Coach, Or Class

    While the recommendations above will do wonders for getting you out the door, you may need a little more assistance to actually cross the finish line. This is where recruiting a workout buddy, hiring a trainer, or joining a group fitness class can really come in handy.

    You don’t need to go on this journey alone, and in fact you’ll likely achieve more—and have more fun doing it—when you have company and accountability. Think of one or two people with whom you can share your goal (to fall in love with working out!), and let them know about it today.

    Schedule It On Your Calendar

    The final piece of the puzzle is to actually make time for exercise. By scheduling your workout on your calendar you are showing yourself that you’re committed to following through.

    In fact, that would be a great activity for you to go and do right now. Open up your calendar and block out 30 minutes a day for the rest of the week for movement (gym class, solo workout, or non-gym activity). Invite company if you like, and most importantly, commit to yourself that you’ll show up for this meeting every single day!

    The post How To Learn To Love Working Out When You Can’t Get Motivated appeared first on Paleo Plan.

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  • How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application

    Post From http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/MnUqsOEhuHE/how-to-write-a-cover-letter

    One of the slyest tricks you’ll come across on a job application is the part where it says that attaching a cover letter is optional.

     How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application

    Sure, some companies genuinely may not care if you include a cover letter with your application or not, but most hiring managers use this as a way to weed out applicants long before anyone in HR starts sending out emails. They know candidates that care about the job will go the extra mile, and the cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression.

    Although there are as many ways to write a cover letter as there are to skin a cat, the best way is often the simplest way.

    In this article, we’ll show you how to write a cover letter that will send your job application to the top of the pile and land you that first crucial phone screen or first interview.

    Here are 10 things you need to know about writing a great cover letter. Let’s get into it!

    1. What’s the Point of Writing a Cover Letter?

    In brief, your job cover letter is a way to tell the people that you want to hire you why they should hire you. It should illustrate your fitness for the role, your professionalism, and your competence, all while revealing a little bit of your personality.

    It’s also your opportunity to provide some context for what’s in your resume, explaining anything your resume leaves out and highlighting the parts of your resume that are most relevant to the role.

    Sound tough? We promise, it’s not that hard, and once you get the basics down, it’s easy to modify your cover letter slightly for each role, so it’s as relevant as possible to the exact job you’re applying for.

    2. How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

    As with resumes, cover letters shouldn’t exceed one page in length; any longer and you risk turning off the hiring manager before they’ve even glanced at your resume.

    In terms of word count, this means that you should be aiming for around 500 words.

    As a rule of thumb, try to stick to around three paragraphs (four at most), not counting the salutation and sign-off.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application newspaper job advertisement 

    Apply today for immediate consideration!

    3. What Should a Job Cover Letter Include?

    A great cover letter for a job application includes the following parts:

    1. An address and salutation
    2. An introduction that tells the hiring manager who you are and what role you’re applying for
    3. A statement about your interest in the role, and why you’re the best person for the job
    4. A brief section outlining your qualifications and relevant past experience
    5. A quick conclusion that reiterates your interest in the job, the best ways to reach you, and closes with a friendly but professional sign-off

    4. What’s the Proper Format for a Cover Letter?

    A basic cover letter for a job application should look something like this:

    cover letter template

    As you can see, the cover letter includes your name, address, and contact information at the top, followed by the date and the recipient’s name and address. The body of the cover letter (again, three paragraphs should do the job) should all fit on one page with room for your sign-off.

    (Protip: You can find this and other cover letter templates in Microsoft Word.)

    5. What Salutation and Sign-Off Should You Use in a Cover Letter?

    As a general rule, you should tailor the language, style, and tone of your cover letter to the type of role and company to which you’re applying. A cover letter for a job at a prestigious law firm, for example, would be very different from a cover letter for a part-time retail position.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application old-timey Victorian gentlemen portrait

    “I say, old chap, did that candidate address you as ‘sir’ just a moment ago?
    I like the cut of his jib.”

    That said, the basic salutation that works in almost any situation is “Dear Mr./Ms. [Name].” If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, you can use a generic salutation like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiting Manager.” (Experts recommend avoiding “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” as they sound antiquated.)

    Note: You should also avoid using “Mrs.” when addressing a female hiring manager, even if you know for a fact that she’s married. Use the politely ambiguous “Ms.” instead.

    As a sign-off, stick to something simple and professional like “Sincerely” or “Regards.”

    6. How Should Your Open Your Cover Letter?

    How to write a cover letter for a job application introduction salutation 

    Solid advice. Image via WikiHow.

    Typically, a cover letter introduction (the first paragraph) should accomplish three goals. It should tell the reader:

    • Who you are
    • Why you’re writing to the recipient
    • Why that person should continue reading

    Although there are a few “clever” ways to open your cover letter, most tend to be pretty formulaic. For example:

    “My name is Dan Shewan, and I am writing to apply for the position of Staff Writer.”

    The line above addresses two of our three goals; it establishes who I am and why I’m writing to the recipient. It’s up to you whether to include where you saw the vacancy. (I don’t tend to include this, as the hiring manager already knows where they’re advertising, so why bother?)

    If you happen to be a referral or you know someone at the company, this would be a good place to mention that, i.e. “My name is Dan Shewan, and I am writing to apply for the position of Staff Writer, which I heard about from your magazine’s editorial assistant, Jane Doe.”

    We still need to deal with the third objective of our cover letter’s introduction, though, which is to give the recipient a reason to keep reading. This is where you get a chance to mention how awesome you are:

    “With more than a decade of editorial experience across a wide range of publications in print and online, I believe I would be an excellent candidate for the role.”

    By including this line, I’m giving the hiring manager that reason to keep reading. I mention how long I’ve been doing what I do, offer a glimpse of the kind of experience they’ll see on my resume, and conclude with a strong, confident statement of intent.

    At this point, I’m ready to segue into the real meat of my cover letter.

    7. What Goes in the Body of the Cover Letter?

    Remember, cover letters are an opportunity to prove you can be the very specific individual that the hiring manager is looking for. This is what the body of your cover letter, the second paragraph, should illustrate.

    A great way to do this is to picture yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes.

    The hiring manager responsible for screening candidates probably has someone pretty specific in mind. She knows what her ideal candidate’s major was at college, what specific skills they have, how many years they’ve been in their field, and the kind of projects they’ve worked on. When it comes to cover letters, hiring managers are looking for one thing – relevance. In short, the hiring manager knows exactly who she’s looking for.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application HR interview

    “It says here you can walk AND chew gum. I’m impressed – so impressed I’m
    going to continue leaning on my keyboard with my elbow absentmindedly.”

    Your cover letter is an opportunity to prove that you are that person, by aligning yourself perfectly with the hiring manager’s idea of her dream candidate.

    The second paragraph of your cover letter (which should be the longest and most substantial part) is where you should do that. Tell the recipient, in about 5-7 sentences, why you’re the absolute best person for the job, by highlighting specific elements of your education and past job or life experience that you can bring to the table.

    If you’re truly passionate about the job and your field, make sure that shows! Nobody wants to hire someone who’s just desperate for a job, any job.

    Here’s an example of a great cover letter body via Ask a Manager:

    As you will see from the attached resume, I’ve built my career in a variety of roles and industries, mostly in small companies where I was not just the admin but also gatekeeper, technology whiz, bookkeeper and marketing guru. I’m not only used to wearing many hats, I sincerely enjoy it; I thrive in an environment where no two work days are exactly the same. In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details – particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.

    Notice how the cover letter backs up claims (like “fanatic for details”) with specific examples and evidence ($1.5 million grant award).

    8. How Closely Should Your Cover Letter Match the Job Description?

    Pretty closely!

    Because the person making the decision on who to hire knows what they want, it’s a good idea to look for clues in the job description and mirror those back in your cover letter.

    Tailoring cover letters to the requirements laid out in the job description is one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the competition. In fact, many companies actually use software that scans applicants’ cover letters for specific keywords or phrases from the job description, and failing to include these keywords could exclude you from consideration altogether before the real screening process even begins. This is another reason why matching your cover letter to the job description is so crucial.

    We get it: If you’ve been out of work for even a moderate length of time, applying for jobs can be a soul-destroying grind, and after a few months on the market, it’s easy to see why so many people fail to customize every single cover letter they send out, especially if they’re playing a numbers game by applying to dozens of companies every week.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application writer's block classic painting

    “Must have a Master’s degree or greater, 10+ years of professional experience. Starting
    salary of $35,000 per annum.”

    Don’t make this mistake!

    Because the hiring manager has done the lion’s share of the thinking for you, the easiest way to make your cover letter more relevant to the specific job you’re applying for is to “mirror” the structure of the job spec in the cover letter. Let’s say you’re applying for an opening for an office and events coordinator role. Here are some of the key job functions and requirements:

    How to write a cover letter for a job application sample job description 

    You should use exact terms and language from this list in your cover letter to describe your own applicable experience and skills.

    For example, you could open your cover letter with something like this:

    “As an experienced events coordinator with considerable expertise in the planning and execution of ambitious corporate events including customer functions, conferences, and executive meetings, I believe I would be an excellent candidate for the role.”

    Notice how the list of events from the first bullet point is mirrored here?

    As above, you should back up your claims with examples, borrowing words from the job description itself so that the hiring manager can clearly see you’ve paid attention to the job listing and are a good fit for the job:

    “In 2016, I was responsible for the travel and accommodation arrangements of 40 staff members traveling from San Diego, CA to Boston, MA for the INBOUND marketing conference. My primary responsibilities included negotiating with commercial airlines to secure cost-effective flights, handling individual needs such as unique dietary requirements for several delegates for the duration of their stay, and liaising with several nationwide logistics firms to ensure conference booth materials were delivered and set up on time. As a result, we achieved a 35% reduction in year-over-year travel and accommodation expenditure, and secured a more favorable rate with a more efficient nationwide logistics operator.”

    In the paragraph above, we’re mirroring the original job spec, but we’re making it more interesting, specific, and relevant. We’ve demonstrated that we can definitely handle the rigors of the job and backed up our assertions with a nice little humblebrag about how we also saved the company a ton of money.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application INBOUND marketing conference show floor

    Mad props to HubSpot’s event planning team

    9. What’s the Right Tone for a Cover Letter?

    Pay close attention to the language used in the job listing, and reflect this with the language of your cover letter. Be formal when applying for a role with a formal job description. If the description is more fun and “kooky,” you can be a little more creative and casual (within limits).

    Many job descriptions reflect a company’s brand voice and values. This means that mirroring the kind of language used in the job description in your cover letter doesn’t just make sense stylistically, but also offers you an additional opportunity to prove that you’re a good culture fit.

    10. Do I Need a Cover Letter When Applying to Jobs on LinkedIn?

    This might shock you, but cover letters used to be actual paper letters that served as the cover of a person’s resume. That they would physically mail to an employer. In an envelope.

    Today, of course, most job applications are processed online, and a huge number of these are handled through LinkedIn.

    As you might already know, LinkedIn offers an amazingly convenient way to send prospective employers your information, known as “Easy Apply.” This essentially sends a truncated version of your LinkedIn profile directly to a hiring manager’s InMail inbox (LinkedIn’s internal messaging and mail service), from which they can view your entire profile and application package.

    How to write a cover letter for a job application LinkedIn Easy Apply

    A beacon of light amidst the darkness

    Remember how I said that one of the sneakiest tricks in a job application is the part where it says cover letters are optional? Well, I’ll be honest with you – I don’t think I’ve ever included a cover letter for an Easy Apply role on LinkedIn.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, however.

    How Do LinkedIn Cover Letters Differ from Regular Cover Letters?

    There are even fewer carved-in-stone rules about LinkedIn cover letters than there are for ordinary cover letters. There are, however, some unique considerations you should bear in mind when crafting a cover letter for LinkedIn applications.

    For one, there’s the fact that your LinkedIn profile itself combines elements of both your resume and a well-written cover letter. Your LinkedIn profile’s summary essentially functions as its own cover letter, and your profile hopefully contains a great deal of detail about your professional accomplishments (as well as those vital connections that are becoming increasingly important in today’s job market). As such, LinkedIn cover letters may be a little shorter and more rudimentary than the type of cover letter I’ve outlined above.

    However you choose to structure your LinkedIn cover letter, keep it brief; the hiring manager already has a lot of information to look over, so don’t waste time.

    Many Thanks for Your Time and Consideration

    There are almost as many ways to write a cover letter as there are jobs to apply for. However, as long as you manage to pique the hiring manager’s curiosity and maintain a professional and respectful tone, cover letters are just a chance to get your foot in the door.

  • Fat Chance (trailer)

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    The post Paleo Principles Pre-Order Bonuses! appeared first on The Paleo Mom.

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