Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don’t Lie But Don’t Be Shy: Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters

Don't be shy
on your resume!
A solid resume and cover letter are important for your job search. Notice I didn’t say they need to be perfect. Although resumes and cover letters are significant for job hunt success, please don’t agonize over them. Why? Because you’ll get hired only through job interviews. A good resume can help you get a phone call from an interested employer, but it’s unlikely that a great resume will get you hired if you flub the job interview.
As a shy or introverted job seeker, it’s likely you have strong writing and organizational skills, so your job search material probably is going to be better than average.

That said, here are a few quick but critical tips to keep in mind when writing your resume and cover letter:
  • Quantify your accomplishments and skills. Use numbers and percentages when you can.
  • Include information that shows you are problem solver who takes ownership of his or her work.
  • Do more than one version of your resume. Don’t make employers guess how your skills fit their needs. Take the time to tailor your resume to each job opening and target job.
  • Include key words from job ads to help automated systems find you.
  • Keep your resume current. Volunteer, take classes, freelance, consult, find part-time work, blog, learn social media, and do anything else you can to enhance your job skills.
  • Don’t lie but don’t be shy. Tell the truth on your resume, but now is not the time to underplay your accomplishments and skills.
  • Avoid listing references on your resume. Instead, add a brief endorsements section to your resume. These endorsements can be quotes from people who love your work, such as comments that others have published about you on LinkedIn or quotes from past job reviews.
  • Proofread your job search correspondence. Don’t rely on spell-check. Ask a detail-oriented friend to proofread your resume as well.
  • Be as concise as possible. I think it’s OK to have a two-page resume, but make sure it’s easy to read. I’d avoid more than two pages because hiring managers have very little time.
  • In cover letters, be sure to go beyond “my resume is enclosed.” Summarize how your key skills fit the employer’s needs to catch attention.
  • Include an action-oriented ending in your cover letters by saying how and when you will follow up.
A good cover letter and resume are the pillars of any job search, especially because you will be applying for jobs online and will need to be chosen by automated systems as a first step in the hiring process. But once human eyes see your job search materials, proving that you have the background to get the job done is all you need to do to get to the next step: the job interview!

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