The first impression people have of you can keep them from wanting to know you better or encourage them to seek you out.Your cover letter is that first impression for your resume and its quality will often determine whether or not that resume gets attention. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you are writing your cover letter:
Do your homework. Find out who to address the letter to, what style would be appropriate, and the job description. You want this letter to be personalized appropriately, professional in tone, and accurate in specifying what you are applying for. This is NOT the place for a generic “to whom it may concern” form letter that obviously is used on all your applications.
Identify your strong points and write a rough draft or outline matching those strengths to the job description. Now reduce that to one paragraph.
Keep it short. All you are doing is a three-paragraph overview to get them interested in looking at your resume. The first paragraph tells them what job you are seeking and how you heard about it (include any mutual contact people). The second is that paragraph you came up with from the previous tip. The third paragraph should be a “thank you for your time” and statement that you will be following up by the end of the next week. Be sure you do the follow up!
Proofread, edit, and proofread again! This is really important. If you know that you overlook mistakes, get someone to proofread it for you and check your corrections. Focus on being professional, polite, and concise. If your letter is on paper, hand-sign it. For an email, a typed signature is acceptable.
Think you have your perfect cover letter?Pretend you are the person getting that letter with your resume, along with hundreds of other applicants, and read it again. If you feel that you still need help, consider a professionally written cover letter. This is your potential employer’s first impression of you: big things are at stake. Make that first impression a good one so they will want to read your resume, call you in for an interview, and offer you the job!
10 critical mistakes to avoid when writing your resume
After talking with so many people, I know many of you work and work to create the perfect resume, only to look it over when you are finished and realize your resume doesn’t say, or reflect, just what you want it to. And often times, that keeps you from being called for interviews.
I’ve included a list of “deal breakers” that might hinder your chances for an interview: 1. Mizspelld Words or Bad Grammar
While spell-check is good, it doesn’t catch everything – there could be a word that’s spelled right, but not the right word for the context of the sentence. Keep that spell-check in action but don’t rely on it exclusively. Misspellings can be the death of your application, no matter how qualified you might be. Think of how embarrassing it would be if you have been a mechanical engineer for 30 years and spell it ‘michanical’ engineer on your resume. Lots of times we accidentally misspell words that are actually words themselves i.e. “manger” instead of “manager”.
There can be other consequences, as well–misspelled words could interfere with resumes being found in the key word search of a resume database. So, proofread your resume yourself – it’s important.
*Be sure to keep tenses consistent and check for the correct word usage (such as “counsel” versus “council”). 2. Using a Vague Job Focus
Be clear on the type of position you want to target – your resume should be geared toward that. If you just say “Medical Field” or “Manufacturing,” the reader does not know what type of position you want, so your resume will probably not be considered. Make sure you are specific as to the type of job you want, such as “Accounting Professional”, “Senior Management Executive”, or “Educator.” 3. Not Including your Personal Brand, or your Value
In today’s challenging job market, showing your uniqueness – your personal brand; and letting potential employers see the value you bring to a new position is essential. Your resume must reflect why an employer should pick up the phone and call you for an interview over the hundreds of other resumes sitting on their desk. You ultimately get hired for the value you contribute to a company, so make sure it shows on your resume. 4. Including your References on the Resume
YOU NO LONGER NEED TO ADD REFERENCES UPON REQUEST on your résumé. It is a given that you will bring a list of references to the interview. Only provide references when they are asked for. Never include them on your resume. It’s understood that if a company wants your references, you’ll provide them.
5. Adding Pictures to your Resume
This might sound like a good idea if you are good looking, but it can also work against you. Unless you are applying for a job as a model or actor, pictures on your résumé is not a good idea. 6. Making Reference to Political or Religious Organizations
A GIANT NO-NO!! Don’t scare off prospective employers by referring to your political or religious opinions or affiliations that do not directly relate to your ability to do the job. An employer might not agree with your politics or might feel that the workplace is nowhere to display attitudes that might alienate others. 7. Including your Salary Demands
This should not be put on the resume – it’s only used to screen a candidate out of the running or influence the employer to offer less money. Salary should not be discussed until you have had the opportunity to explain your value – in person or over the phone 8. Creating a Resume that’s Too Long
People do not have the time to go over resumes that state everything you ever did in your career. Edit your profile down to the most relevant experience for the job at hand. Employers often gauge whether an applicant can deliver information about themselves in a quick, clear and concise manner to sell themselves.
Your resume must be long enough to show your value, but not too long, or the reader will lose interest. 9. Using Incompatible File Types and Formats
Electronic resumes should be created in the most readable file for most [Internet-recruiting] systems, which is plain text or Microsoft Word.
Today’s resume needs to be readable by machines, which means text needs to have a font size between 10 – 12 and a simple font style, such as Arial, Verdana, Helvetica or Microsoft SansSerif. 10. Stick to the Truth
We’ve seen what happen with CEO’s who embellish on their résumés. If you lie on your resume, you will have to defend yourself and your résumé in an interview. Employers also do background and even credit checks, and inaccurate info could come back to haunt you. Plus a few more…!
11. Don’t Put your Reasons for Leaving on the Résumé
Save this for the interview. It doesn’t need to be on the résumé. 12. DO NOT Make Changes to the Résumé in Pencil or Pen
Add it to the document on your computer, not jotting it down or crossing something else out. This is never acceptable on a résumé. 13. NEVER send a résumé without a cover letter!
You must always have a cover letter. It states your intention to the reader. It’s expected and is important in job search etiquette. This is a powerful tool that can give you the competitive edge.