Make Your Résumé and Cover Letter SHINE!

Post authored by Heather Kyler, Associate Director, Meeting and Executive Services, Mechanical Contractors Association of America

Whether you just graduated and are searching for your first job or you’re looking for a job or career change, writing a cover letter and résumé that will get you noticed can be tough…especially today!  You need to make yourself stand out above all the other applicants in order to secure a return email or phone call.  Consider the tips below before responding to that next job posting.

 Résumé Writing

Personally, I have found it more beneficial to write the résumé first and then the cover letter.  As it’s easier to write “the introduction” to your résumé once you know what you’re introducing.

Key Tips:

  1. Use an easy to read font and format.  Make it attractive, but not distracting.
  2. Include all of your contact information and make sure to use a professional email address (Example:  firstname_lastname@gmail.com vs. beachbabe1234@gmail.com).
  3. Keep it to ONE page (Two max – you need significant experience and credentials to qualify this).
  4. Don’t have a generic résumé that you submit with every application.  Employers can tell.
    • Customize the objective to fit each position
    • Customize your accomplishments by using keywords from the job description
  5. Try to limit your accomplishments for each job to 3 – 5 bullet points and make them specific (Example:  Assisted with concerts and galas ranging in attendance from 500 – 2,000 people vs.  Assisted with large events).
  6. PROOF READ!  Make sure there are no spelling, punctuation or grammar errors.  Have someone else review it before submitting it.  A simple error in a résumé gives employers an easy excuse to discard it.

Cover Letter Writing

Writing an appealing cover letter is the key to getting employers to move onto your résumé.  Tell them more than just your name is Bryan and you found the posting in XYZ Newspaper.  Tell them what you can bring to the company that another applicant cannot.  This is your opportunity to explain in a little more detail what qualifies you for the job.  Instead of repeating everything that your résumé says, write something that intrigues them to read your résumé.

Key Tips:

  1. When possible, address the cover letter to an actual person.  Try to avoid Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom it May Concern.
  2. Use the same font that you used for your résumé.
  3. Limit to ONE page.
  4. Customize each cover letter by using keywords and facts that relate to the company and position specifically.  This requires research, but it will get you noticed if done effectively.
  5. PROOF READ!  It’s just as important not to have any mistakes in your cover letter as it is for your résumé.

Want to try something completely different?  Check out a cover letter done using Prezi (http://bit.ly/blalock-cl13).  Don’t be afraid to get creative.  It might be just what you need in order to stand out above the rest!

Searching for a job can be intimidating.  Do your research, look at examples and feel confident it the applications you submit.  It will pay off!

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