“How do I write a great resume and cover letter?”

This is a questions asked of recruiters on a daily basis, and candidates often comment on how much conflicting advice they receive. Then, when they turn to Google, they are confronted with literally thousands of templates, some free, some not, and a myriad of articles and blogs giving tips and insights into the perfect format. Confusing, yes, but navigable, and all part of the process.

If you are serious about your job search then take the time to do the research.

We say making the most of all available resources is critical. Search out different opinions, speak to recruiters, colleagues, mentors, coaches and use what’s available online. Many of your competitors will be, and they might just beat you to your dream job because of it. 

Your resume and cover letter tells your story.

You should be looking for feedback that is specific to you, so rather than ask questions like “How many pages should a resume be?”, ask for feedback about your content, the relevance of the information you’ve included, and whether it reads well.

 

There are too many variables to look for simple answers. Focus on finding what works for your career history, what suits the role you’re seeking and the sector you work in. As you do this, the format and length will take shape. 

Be professional about it.

Your approach to this (and the entire recruitment process) should reflect your potential approach to the new role you’re hoping to find. Showcase the everyday attributes that all employers want to see; attention to detail, honesty, courtesy and commitment to the task at hand. It’s about representing yourself and the value you can add to an organisation.

Submit clear, concise, easy to read documents.

A cover letter should be tailored to the position you are applying for, clarifying any relevant points that are not going to be evident in your resume and providing insight into your professional personality. A resume should list your achievements, work experience and education in a manageable number of pages and leave the reader feeling they know enough about your career journey to determine whether you have the potential they are looking for.

There should be no spelling and grammatical errors, the job title and name of the recipient should be correct, and the addition of photos, graphics and complicated formatting should be well considered.  You’re trying to catch the reader’s attention in a positive way, satisfy their mental checklist and make them curious enough to want to learn more.

The only thing that stands out about a poorly written application is that it is poorly written!

Keep working on it.

Treat your resume as an evolving document and be prepared to review your cover letter for every role you apply for. If you’re not successful with an application, reflect on the experience with an open mind and start the process again. Seek out more feedback, and think about what you might do differently.

Your application is the first impression.

Its purpose is to start a conversation that might provide you an opportunity to tell your story in an interview. That is, by the way, the next step in the process, and it will require further research and preparation. A candidate recently asked for feedback on her resume and cover letter because she   was  frustrated she wasn’t   progressing  past

first interview stage. It hadn’t occurred to her that if she was getting to interview stage, her application was actually doing its job! Her question actually should have been about preparing and performing in an interview….a separate topic for another article, look out for it.