7 Tips For Resume and Cover Letter Writing
When applying for a job, your resume and cover letter may be the very first chance you have to leave an impression, and as we all know, first impressions still count. With the job application and vetting process now carried out mostly online, there is scope for hundreds, or even thousands, of people to apply for a single role. This therefore means that you need to standout from the crowd from the beginning, and show that not only do your skills and experience shine, but that you would be a good fit for the company culture too. If you’re in the job market and are looking for tips on resume and cover letter writing, consider the below seven points.
1. Tailor the applications
This is a tip that cannot be stressed enough – there is nothing worse than a generic resume and cover letter that demonstrate little relevance to the role. Do your research on the organisation and take the time to tailor your text to the relevant key points. Address your application to the contact, rather than ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, and show that you are genuinely interested in the actual role, rather than just ‘a job’.
2. Differentiate the two documents
Your resume and cover letter should not be regurgitations of each other – they may have similarities, but ultimately they serve different purposes. Use the resume as a summary of your skills and experience, and the cover letter to show how that fits in with the company and role on offer.
3. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself
As explained, the resume and cover letter are your opportunity for a first impression, so you need to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to showcase your skills with practical results and be proud of the experience that you have to offer. This selling should be entirely truthful, so it’s important not to oversell yourself, but don’t undersell yourself either.
4. Triple check for errors
While we all tend to rely on spellcheck for our spelling, something as simple as a spelling or grammar error can immediately deter someone from employing you. Ensure that you have proofread your resume and cover letter thoroughly, and ask someone else to review the content as well – fresh eyes can often pick up something you haven’t.
5. Focus on achievements
When writing about your experience and skills, try to focus on your achievements, rather than what you were responsible for. Just because you were responsible for something, doesn’t mean that you were successful at it. Achievements demonstrate results and your ability to perform, whereas responsibilities just describe the past job descriptions.
6. Keep it succinct
When writing a resume and cover letter, you need to remember that someone else’s job is to read them. As such, keeping it to a combined maximum of 3 pages is essential. When an application drags on for pages and pages, the recruitment consultant is likely to switch off and stop reading. Try to highlight the most relevant skills and experience you have as early as possible in the piece, and in the most succinct way possible.
7. Use the right keywords
With most applications sought online, recruiters now have tools to scan the hundreds of applications for the key skills and experience they are seeking. As such, your resume and cover letter need to include keywords from the job description – not just similar words. Ensure that these keywords flow within the content, rather than just pasting them in, as this will be an obvious tactic.
Can you think of any other tips for our list? Resume and cover letter writing is never an enjoyable task, but when done well, it can achieve the desired results. I’d love to hear of any additional suggestions you have – comment your thoughts below and join the conversation.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.