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Building your resumes and cover letter

Having your application tossed in the trash is definitely degrading. It will hurt your feelings and your profession. Your resume and cover letter will determine if you land an interview or not. You may not even get that far.

The cover letter and resume are the first impressions you give to potential employers, so it’s important to get them right. A lot of people know they need to write resumes and cover letters, but what do you say? How do you say it? What do you include? What don’t you include? If you don’t have experience yet or if you’re transitioning careers, you may feel confused about what to include in your cover letter and resume to get noticed by hiring managers. Here are some tips and mistakes to avoid so you can stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs.

Tips in writing a strong resumé

The stronger the better. It’s a must. When you are job hunting, your resume is your most important tool. It’s your chance to show employers what you’ve accomplished and why they should hire you. So, it’s worth taking the time to make sure it’s as strong as it can be. Here are some tips for creating a compelling resume: 

  1. It’s not a 5th grader’s project. Use a professional-looking font and layout.
  2. Messy sentences will not work. Stick to the most common and easiest-to-read format, which is reverse chronological order.
  3. This is not the place to tell the story of your life. Use clear, concise language and action verbs to describe your accomplishments.
  4. Nobody wants to read a novel-looking resume. Quantify your achievements with numbers whenever possible.
  5. Stay in the right lane. Tailor your resume to each job you’re applying for, highlighting the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.

Cover letter writing guidelines

Don’t be lazy. It takes a lot of hours, effort, and stress to write a great cover letter, which is often a waste of time. In today’s competitive job market, a poor cover letter can do more harm than good.

  1. Missing your opening act will ruin the flow. Start by introducing yourself. 
  1. Mention the job you’re applying for and where you found out about it. 
  1. Use the next few sentences to explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the role. 
  1. Highlight your key skills and experience relevant to the job. 
  1. Use concrete examples to demonstrate your suitability for the role. 
  1. Close by thanking the employer for their time and expressing your excitement about the opportunity to join their team. 
  1. Edit, edit, edit! Make sure your cover letter is free of typos and grammatical errors before hitting send.

Tips and mistakes to avoid

You know what sucks? The fact that there’s a whole bunch of other people out there looking for the same job as you. So when it comes time to write your resume and cover letter, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of standing out among the crowd of other applicants, but you don’t want to come across as a pompous jerk.

But don’t worry! The Job Shoppe is here to help. Here are the top tips and mistakes to avoid when writing your resume and cover letter:

Don’t try too hard. You will be rejected if your resume looks like it was written by a teenager who just discovered Microsoft Word’s “Bold” button for the first time. Your resume should be professional, but not so formal that it sounds like every other applicant’s application.

Don’t forget about yourself. The best way to stand out from the competition is by showing off who YOU are as an individual—your hobbies and interests, your skills and accomplishments—and how they relate to the position you’re applying for.

Don’t lie. Because employers tend to check references, lying on your resume will only backfire in the long run. And no one likes being lied to.

Don’t repeat yourself. This is so important that it bears repeating! You don’t need to say “I’m a hard worker” in every section of your resume—just show it by listing all of your accomplishments and certifications.

Don’t use an objective statement on your resume or cover letter. These are outdated and boring, and they tell the reader nothing about who you are or what you can do for them. Instead, use an introductory paragraph that tells them why they should hire YOU instead of someone else (you can include this in both documents).

Don’t make spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in either document—it shows that you don’t care about details or taking care of business properly (and also makes employers think that maybe they shouldn’t trust any other work product from you).

Don’t write your resume in first person. It’s not about YOU, it’s about the company or organization that is hiring you! You don’t want to sound like a braggart—you want to sound like someone who will be a great fit for this particular job. 

Don’t use clichés or buzzwords (e.g., ‘I am a team player,’ ‘I am highly motivated,’ ‘I have a proven track record’). These things should be evident in your resume/cover letter already! Instead, focus on what makes you unique, what makes your experience relevant for this position, and why you’d be a great addition to their team.

Don’t just copy and paste from other resumes/cover letters! This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when writing their own resumes—they simply cut-and-paste information from other sources.

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Now that you know the drill, it’s time to make it happen. If you’re looking for the perfect job that fits you, The Job Shoppe has multiple opportunities to help you build your portfolio. Apply for any of our jobs at our Job Portal here or email your resume to jobs@thejobshoppe.com.