Employers and hiring managers to receive a mountain of resumes and cover letters every month, especially during job slumps. So how do you make your resume and cover letter stand out from the sea of other applicants? It may be easier than you think, and following a few simple tips can add the luster your materials need to land you that coveted interview slot.
Focus on Your Skills
Use the experience portion of your resume to focus on skills and past experiences that mesh well with those of the new job. For example, if you were a cashier for a traveling circus and are applying for an accounting position, you may want to highlight the money handling aspects of your job instead of your experience cleaning up after the Tigers.
Highlight Your Education
Do the same thing with your education background and hobbies – highlight what is most relevant to the job. If you want that accounting job, list your duties as treasurer of your local tiger appreciation club, or showcase your financial management coursework. Now is not the time to show of that A+ you received for underwater basket weaving – though that may be a point of interest in a face-to-face interview!
Keep Your Writing Short and to the Point
Use active words that get your point across in a limited amount of space. For example, rather than writing, “I was responsible for handling the money for Fun Times Circus, working with the tiger cage cleanup crew, and acted as a carnival game barker for the ring toss,” use, ” Managed finances, supervised game booth, and staffed tiger pens.” Sounds a bit more impressive and saves that valuable resume real estate. There’s especially no need to reiterate where you worked since that is already included in the main bullet point under “Employer.”
After you look at your resume and cover letter a few times, hand it off to a friend or family member, or even to a professional writing service. You have been looking at it for days, so the typos may start to blend into the background as you read it. Your friend or family member, however, can often catch errors you missed since this is fresh reading for them. You would be shocked how many grammatical errors and typos slip under the radar and wind up in front of potential employers. Show off your attention to detail and your dedication to a job well done by turning in your best, most error-free work.
Choose a Font That isn’t Obnoxious
Have you ever tried to quickly decipher tiny, scrolly font? It is a nightmare, especially if you have a stack of resumes to get through by the end of the day. Use crisp, sharp lettering that is professional and easy on the eyes. Trust me, those of us who read a lot of resumes really appreciate it! If you want your materials to stand out, choose a heavyweight paper, and experiment with the different professional fonts. We see a lot of Times and Times New Roman, so when Courier or Arial font crosses the desk it definitely stands out.
If you have implemented these steps, congratulations! You are on your way towards a great new job!