A New Year brings with it New Year’s resolutions. If finding a new job is on your list for 2015, here are some techniques for writing a resume and cover letter to help achieve your employment goals. In addition to writing for Your Calvert, I am also a freelance resume and cover letter editor.
- Your name should be easy to read at the center, top of the page. While you want it to be large, I do not recommend making it more than 14 point font size. You can bold it if you like, but no other fancy add-on’s like color or underlining.
- Avoid including an objective section. The goal of the objective is to tell the employer the position you are after and indicate your strengths. These are the jobs of the cover letter.
- The rest of your resume should be 10, 11, or 12 point font size. I do not suggest going with a font smaller than 10 because your resume will be less readable.
- Indicate your professional experience first, starting with your most recent, or current, position. I suggest focusing on occasions when you demonstrated leadership skills, but also highlight instances when you were part of an effective, professional group. For each job title you should have two-to-five bullet points indicating your responsibilities related to that position. If you have more than five bullet points per job title, try to combine the items, or save them for the cover letter. Also, no bullet point should be more than one line long, you are not aiming for complete sentences. You need to give the reader some white space, which provides a visual break.
- Be sure to include the entire proper name, city and state, and dates you were employed for each company listed in the professional experience.
- You only want to include relevant experience. If you were a waitress while you were in college in 1998, and you are currently applying to be a financial analyst, you can leave the restaurant experience off your resume.
- The professional experience section should be followed by any professional awards, certifications, or trainings relevant to the position for which you are applying.
- After all relevant professional experience has been addressed, you will include information about your education. List the degree you earned by its full title and follow up with two-to-five bullet points indicating specific classes, positions, or awards you held as a student.
- The resume should be one page, but for someone with more experience, two pages are allowable. Make sure your name is at the top center of the second page.
- The cover letter is the hardest to write because its goal is to highlight any major accomplishments not indicated on the resume, but still adhering to the one page rule. The cover letter should be made up of three or four paragraphs. The first will introduce who you are, the position you are applying for, how you found out about the position, and maybe a sentence about your current employment situation.
- The cover letter is also a great place to explain any gaps in employment. Each paragraph should be between five to seven sentences long. However, research by linguistic and reading comprehension specialist shows that people stop reading after the ninth line. This means you need to be concise and complete in your writing so you do not lose your readers attention.
- Finally, have someone else look at your resume and cover letter before you send it. Your computer’s spell check is a useful tool, but it should not be your only proofreading tool. At the very least, give yourself 24 hours between the time you write the resume and when you review and submit it to a potential employer.
If you have a specific resume question, please leave a comment below and I will respond.