7 ways to improve your resume and cover letter
How to Write a Resume and Cover Letter That Will Get You An Interview
You might be the most qualified applicant in the world and perfect for the position you are applying for, but, unless your resume and cover letter tell that story to the employer, you'll never get the chance to even interview for the job. Here are a few ideas that we've given in the past to improve a resume:
- Short and Sweet - Your resume should be 1 page long (1 page for every 10 year). If you've been working for more than 10 years, then maybe you can extend it to a second page (production resumes are excluded from this rule). If your resume is longer than 2 pages, know that the employer will probably never read past the first page and might not even bother with the resume altogether.
- Pretend You Are The Employer - Try not to read the resume like the applicant - pretend you are the employer hiring for the position. Most importantly: does the resume match the given job? The “jack of all trades” resumes don’t play well - have a resume focused for the area that you are applying to. For many of you, that means you will have 2 or more versions of your resume. Remember, the employer is checking off job requirements in their head as they read your resume. You see what they are interested in so reverse engineer to make yourself the ideal candidate.
- Have Your Resume Reviewed - We recommend getting 3 working professionals, in the area that you are pursuing, to review your resume (this is a good use of your network - or a good networking tool by asking people to give advice on a resume). It is best to choose friends of friends as they will likely be more honest with feedback. Loved ones typically don't give us the most honest feedback.
- Don't Use A Photo - Unless you are applying for an on-camera position, don't put your photo in the resume. Regardless of what you look like; it's seen as unprofessional in the recruiting world and you will only be hurting yourself when you include one.
- Use Standard Fonts - Unless you use a standard font, the employer won't see the same document on their computer. Bottom line: Use Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, or Georgia. PC's don't have Helvetica so those on a Mac should avoid those fonts.
- Use Microsoft Word and don't use columns - Again, so the employer sees what you created, you should use Microsoft Word. Any of the alternatives (Mac Pages, Google Docs etc.) just are not the industry standard. PDF have their own problems depending on how the PDF was created. Note: If you are using Pages, you can export a Word file but remember that it doesn't always match your original Pages file exactly. In many cases a computer will be "reading" your resume and so to be safe use a Word document and don't use columns.
- If It Isn’t Working, Then Change It - We all know the old adage "If it ain't broke, then don't fix it." Well, the reverse can be true too. If you are applying to jobs that you are qualified for and aren't getting any responses, then you should look at changing your resume and cover letter. Remember, the resume and cover letter are all that you have to communicate to a complete stranger that they should hire you. If you are 0 for 20 using your standard resume, then it's not a problem with the employer, it is a problem with your resume and/or cover letter.