Job hunting can be extraordinarily exhausting. It can be especially taxing when you feel like you’re not getting much response. Submitting your resume to dozens of employers week after week can feel like you’re fishing without a hook. However, one of the most effective things you can do to get a bite from potential employers is to spruce up your resume and cover letter. Let’s take a look at exactly what it takes to get the sparkling resume you’ve been dreaming of.
Cover letters are truly commonplace in the job-seeking world these days. As such, it’s important to make sure that yours stands out. Essentially, what you want in a cover letter is a little bit more detail about who you are, what experience you have, and why you’re a great candidate.
Since this page should go before your resume, it is a first look into what type of employee you are and what professional experience you have. As a result, it can be quite easy to go overboard and provide the recruiter with too much information or irrelevant information. To avoid this, keep a few things in mind while writing your letter.
Keep your cover letter at a page long if you can. All of your job history, schooling, and references should be included in your resume, so you don’t have to go into detail about those topics in your cover letter. This is a great opportunity to tell your employer just a little bit about yourself. You might have some hidden talents that you practice as hobbies or you might want to explain your career goals or just expand on some awesome opportunities you’ve been able to be a part of in the past. Just make sure that you keep it short, concise, and to the point. If it doesn’t have a direct correlation with the potential employer hiring you, it doesn’t need to be in your cover letter.
References & Recommendations
Asking someone to be a reference or offer their personal recommendation for you as a spectacular employee is a tricky business. However, there is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. Namely, who you choose and why you choose them. Just because your good friend will say good things about you doesn’t necessarily mean you should put them on your resume.
Try to choose a reference that has worked with you in some sort of professional capacity. Ideal candidates for this task would be previous/current managers, teachers/professors, or other professional mentors. Let’s put it this way, putting down your parents or best friend from elementary school can come across as a bit childish. There are people in your life that know you have done great things and will go on to accomplish much more. It’s okay to let someone brag about you.
In addition, you shouldn’t need too many references. A good middle ground is about three references and/or recommendations. Unless they are going to list particularly amazing accomplishments of yours, I wouldn’t go above five. That just creates more work and research for your potential employer. Lastly, choose people that don’t all know you in the same way. For example, choosing three managers from the same job is not the way to go. Choosing one teacher, one manager, and one volunteer manager would be a great setup. They will all have unique things to say about their experience with you.
Once you decide on the best people for the job, you really need to make sure you have their permission before you let people give them a call or assume that they will explicitly recommend you for a position. Get in contact with that person and ask for the recommendation based on your previous professional interaction. Keep the request short and sweet. If they get back to you in a timely manner (probably a couple of days) then they are a good reference and will be responsive when potential employers give them a call. If they don’t respond or take too long, thank them for their time and move on.
There are tons of fancy templates available on the web, but don’t be coaxed by all the frills you see on the page. Remember, your potential employer is probably looking at tons of these every single day. Keeping the page as de-cluttered and sleek as possible is the best plan of action.
Stick with simple black font on a white page. Obnoxious colors and themes are sure to turn off recruiters quickly. This doesn’t mean that you have to stick to New Times Roman size 10 or anything like that. There are plenty of downloadable fonts that look crisp, but also modern instead of dated and tacky. Try out a few before you decide on just one.
Your resume is simply to list your accomplishments. Again, try to make yours look as clean as possible. If you have additional information that you think is crucial for the recruiter to read, put it in the cover letter. Try not to expand too much on job details, personal reasons for starting or leaving school or a job etc. If there is information that the potential employer is curious about, it can be discussed in the interview. Although, you should feel confident that they have all the necessary professional information right in front of them already.
Creating the perfect resume takes years of experience. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you have to make changes from time to time. As you grow in life and professionally, so will your ability to market yourself effectively to potential employers. It’s okay to ask for help from time to time. Co-workers and mentors can usually give you some insight into what a great resume looks like. However, take pride in your own style, accomplishments, and creativity. Making your resume your own is exactly what will attract the perfect employer. Good luck!
****For this post, Campus to Career thanks Trisha Miller!!****