Great resumés and covering letters: your key to more interviews!
Applicants frequently ask us for assistance with the format and content of their resumés. We are pleased to offer the suggestions listed below:
Cover Letters: Do I need one? Absolutely!
A cover letter is an especially important way for you to introduce yourself, and is the place to emphasize the characteristics that set you apart from other applicants, highlight your qualifications specific to the position in question or to include information not found in your resumé.
Your GENERIC cover letter, used when you are not applying for a specific position, should contain all that you would say as an introduction. Include a description of the kind of position you are seeking, your major strengths, significant accomplishments and what makes you special. Also give information about your desire or willingness to relocate if there is a geographical area that you would consider. Your compensation information is also needed.
A JOB SPECIFIC cover letter must explain why you are very well qualified for the position being applied for and must address how your experience fits each of the requirements listed in the job description. Click here to see the “World’s Best Cover Letter”.
When preparing a resumé, most people make the critical mistake of detailing their duties and responsibilities instead of highlighting accomplishments. Potential employers have only a secondary interest in the duties and responsibilities you performed in a previous job. Titles and duties say nothing about actual performance or what you can bring to this new employer that is unique and worthy of consideration. On the other hand, if your resumé indicates that you increased sales by 20%, receiving “Salesperson of the Year” honours, or designed a new production system that reduces material costs, saving $200,000 annually, you can bet an interview will follow.
Your accomplishment statements need not be dramatic, but they should always be quantified by adding numbers or percentages, when possible. Answer the questions “How much, of what, by when?” And don't forget the results of your actions!
When describing accomplishments, the use of action verbs can make the difference between a statement that attracts attention and one that seems commonplace and uninteresting. Some examples to get you thinking:
The DO'S of resumé preparation
- Make your resumé easy to read
- Keep the overall length of your resumé short – two or three pages is ideal
- Use concise sentences and avoid overwriting
- Know your audience – use the vocabulary of your targeted field
- Stress past accomplishments and skills you used to get the desired results
- Focus on information that is relevant to career goals
- Stress skills that are transferable to the new career
- Accuracy counts – proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.
The DON'Ts of resumé preparation
- Include your salary information
- Include personal information (date of birth, weight)
- Stretch the truth! Misinformation or untruthful comments will come back to haunt you.
Sample Resumé Format