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Your job search is in full swing, but is your resume getting noticed, or getting passed over? Savvy job searchers know that a well-written resume and cover letter are keys to landing that big interview. Take time to properly format and review not only your resume, but your accompanying cover letter as well. In doing so, you're one step closer to your next dream job!

Resume & Cover Letter Tips
Presentation & Proofing
Cover Letter


Resume & Cover Letter Tips
The purpose of a resume is to market yourself on paper and is your opportunity to sell yourself! It should serve as the "advertisement" that entices the "buyer" (the hiring official) to examine and evaluate the product (you).

Don't hesitate to get assistance. There are many free resources, such as your local library, the Internet, and staffing and placement services such as ours that can help you craft a winning resume.

Your resume should include only information related to your career goals. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to display your qualifications and what you have to offer in order to get an interview. The interview is the time to get all the details out.

Here are some tips to writing an exceptional resume - one that will catch the attention of prospective employers.

Format
Construct your resume in a clear, concise format.

  • Condense your resume to one page, two at the very most.
  • Set your margins at approximately 1 to 1.5 inches.
  • Avoid small or very large print - use a font size between 10 and 12 point.
  • Use a single, conservative font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Keep your type size consistent. Use bold lettering and italics sparingly, so they do not lose impact.
  • Include your name, address, phone number, cell phone number, and email address at the top of your resume. If you are planning to move in the near future, state this in your cover letter and include alternate contact information.

Content
Begin your resume by defining what you have to offer.

  • Make a strong start by summarizing your skills. This approach provides some opening sizzle and explains what you have to offer the employer, rather than what the employer can do for you.

List Your Work History or Professional Experience.

  • Start with your current or most recent position and list your job experience chronologically. Take every opportunity to emphasize your skills and accomplishments. This is your time to shine!

Summarize your education at the end of the resume.

  • List your highest degree first, followed by lesser degrees, certifications, and relevant coursework.
  • List any honors you received or honor societies you belong to.
  • If you currently belong to any professional organizations, include these at the end of your resume, but only if they are relevant and enhance your profile. If you held a position in any of these organizations, include the position title.
  • It is not appropriate to include hobbies, personal information, and political or religious affiliations.
  • It is unnecessary to offer "references upon request" as it is obvious that if you want the job, you will supply them.

Presentation & Proofing
Make sure to follow the instructions given in the job posting when applying for a new position. Most applications and resumes are now accepted online using a digital form or by emailing a copy of your resume. Make sure you fill out the online form completely and upload the specified digital format of your resume to ensure that it is transmitted, downloaded, and opened without problem.

Microsoft Word is widely used and will most likely be readable by the recipient. If you are using a recent version of Word, it's to your benefit to save it to a lesser version, as your recipient may not have undergone a recent software upgrade. The Acrobat PDF file type is a well-received document format as well.

If you are asked to mail your resume, make sure to print it on white or off white paper and that the paper you are using is clean, crisp, and without blemishes.

Font
As a general rule in resume formatting, classic fonts such as Times New Roman and Arial are universal on PCs. Use of designer fonts will run the risk of not being available on the recipient's computer and will likely be substituted, which may disrupt formatting. Therefore, if emailing your resume as an attachment, use of Times New Roman or Arial will best ensure that your resume will look as you intended when read by the recipient.

Use of Bullets
Use of bullets is a simple way to present your information in a clean, easy-to-read format versus a large block of text. This is especially true when detailing your past work experience. Choose the round bullet, as it's universal to most PCs as opposed to designer fonts such as check marks, arrows, or stars.

Other Considerations
Do not use tables or graphs as part of your resume. Separate sections with white space versus dashes and dots.

Proofing
Don't forget to check the spelling and grammar of your resume!

  • Run Spell Check on the document before you print.
  • Ask at least one qualified individual to read your finished product as an objective critique. They should look at the overall content and search for typos and grammatical problems.

Cover Letter
A cover letter should always accompany a resume, even if it is not specifically asked for and even when you are referred to a position by a friend or business acquaintance. A cover letter gives you another chance to emphasize your skills and discuss how you will contribute to the company where you are applying. Although these topics are addressed in the resume, a cover letter will allow you to provide more detail in a less rigid format.

  • Try to address your cover letter to a specific person, not "to whom it may concern." Contact the HR department in question to ask whom to address the letter to or use your network to get the name of the hiring authority. Double check the spelling and make sure the title is correct.
  • Typos and grammar errors are never acceptable. If you need help in this area, get someone to review your letter before you send it and always use your software spelling and grammar checkers.
  • Similar to a resume, highlight how your skills align with those required for the position (from the job description). Be sure to especially show how your skills relate to the industry and use terms that are meaningful to that company or that industry.
  • A cover letter should be specific and concise. Include all the relevant information, but limit the length to one page.
  • Use a strong opening sentence and always end with mention of the next step, i.e. "I would love the opportunity to meet in person for an interview", or "I will contact you soon to see if you require any additional information regarding my qualifications."
  • Reflect your own style and use your own words in your cover letter. Be professional, but not so formal that the letter is not personal.
  • Finally, make sure the letter looks good. Use a standard font (similar to your resume), one inch margins, and be sure to include your signature (for printed cover letters) and a formal salutation for email versions. This is a business letter, not a note to a friend.
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