Trim down the resume to a concise overview of your credentials:
  1. Sell yourself on your qualifications and accomplishments.  If the hiring manager or human resources can not determine your credentials within 30 seconds, your resume may be put to the side.
  2. Use bullet points to describe your responsibilities and accomplishments.  Bullet points make the resume easier to read and follow.
  3. The day’s of one page resumes are in the past.  Today most resumes are 2-3 pages anything more is too much and anything less does not reveal enough details about your credentials.
  4. Keep the resume concise.
    1. Never include irrelevant information such as date of birth, marital status or outdated skills.
    2. Remove references available upon request.  Employers understand that they will receive this information at an appropriate time in the interviewing process.
    3. Eliminate old experience.  It is best to focus on the last 10-15 years.  If this experience is important to your career search, briefly mention without going into great detail.
    4. Avoid repeating information.  If you performed the same responsibilities for multiple employers, focus on your accomplishments within each company.
    5. Be brief when listing job responsibilities.  Each bullet point should have a concise sentence.
Resume Dont's:
  1. Never lie.  Several professionals seem to believe it is ok to smudge dates of employment or educational degrees in order to receive an offer, however, these are the first two items Human Resources always checks.  Once you are caught in a lie you can forget bout your potential offer or even the potential of ever working for that company.
  2. Don’t send your resume to every job posting.  Read each job opportunity and submit your resume only to those you are qualified for.
  3. Hiring managers are interested in your most recent relevant experience.  Don’t go into great detail with irrelevant job responsibilities that you had with a company 11 years ago.  Expand on your responsibilities with only your most recent and relevant positions.
  4. Personal information does not belong on a resume.  Leave out details such as: age, race, marital status or hobbies.
  5. Letters of recommendation or awards should never be sent with a resume.  Such papers would be appropriate to bring in to an interview.
  6. Always have a friend review the resume and use spell check on your computer.  Several hiring managers have been known to rule out a candidate with one misspelled word.
  7. Always present yourself as a top-notch professional.  When meeting a hiring manager face-to-face make sure to hand him/her a resume that is printed on quality paper.
What are your accomplishments? 
Accomplishments must be listed on your resume in order to separate yourself from the rest.  What accomplishments should you include on your resume?  Companies want to know why they should hire you and how you will save them money and time.

Every company is concerned about money and how they can save it.  So when preparing your resume, contemplate on how you saved or earned money for your previous employers.  Some examples are listed below.
·         Recommended a new service provider, which cut off-site recovery by 18%.
·         Completed delivery on a business continuity implementation project $10,000 under budget.

Companies are also concerned with how to become more efficient.  Time is of the essence and a very important factor to list on your resume.  Some examples are listed below.
·         Decreased recovery time by 10% in the previous 3 tests.

How to handle job gaps or a spotty work history?
Your work history is one of the first things Human Resources or the hiring manager will review in your resume.  Here are some tips to show you are still a valuable employee seeking a long time career opportunity despite your work history.
·         Leaving out the months is one solution to eliminating short gaps of unemployment.
·         Draw the reader’s focus away from your work history by adding a summary of your qualifications at the top of the resume.  It is important to sell your credentials so the employer will be more likely to bring you in for a face-to-face interview.  During the interview they will make the decision if they believe you are willing to make a long-term commitment with their firm.  It is also beneficial to add positive quotes from a reference letter as accomplishments.
·         If you have been unemployed for some time think about other activities that you can list, such as: volunteering, consulting, education or community involvement.
·         Do not list on your resume the reasons why you left a company, example: company sold or laid off due to a restructuring of staff.  Use your cover letter to explain your work history.
·         It is not necessary to include every position you have ever held.  Short-term projects may be omitted, however, must be included when completing an application.
·         If you are an independent consultant or contractor it is best to list your experience under one heading then bullet point individual engagements.
·         Never list “to present” on your resume if you are no longer with the company.  A hiring manager will question how you initially misrepresented yourself.


Believe it or not, cover letters can be great fun to write. Unlike resumes, in which specific information must be included (e.g., Experience, Education), cover letters are an empty canvas upon which you can create an image of a job seeker – an image that depicts the individual as he or she wishes to be perceived by a prospective employer. Consider these three different “perceptions” of the same job seeker, a 32-year-old sales representative named Alex, and how each cover letter differs.

If Alex wants to continue working as a sales representative, his cover letter will focus on his sales success – revenue performance, market growth, key account relationships and more. If Alex now wants to move into a sales management position, his cover letter will focus on his experience in training and mentoring newly hired sales reps, his public speaking skills (they’ve surely been important in his client presentations), his skills in budgeting and sales forecasting, and more.
If Alex now wants to change career paths and pursue an opportunity in special event management, his cover letter will focus on his organizational skills, ability to coordinate numerous ongoing projects (his customer relationships), his negotiating skills and more.
When you write a cover letter, you can “push” your reader to “see” the job seeker in a particular way by using the most effective writing strategies for that particular situation. Most significant, you must always remember that cover letter writing, just like resume writing, is sales and marketing. You have a product (a job seeker) to sell and you must write your cover letters as you would any other marketing communications – with power and confidence that your client is the “right” candidate for the position. You must highlight in each letter:

• The benefits the job seeker brings to the organization.
• The value the job seeker brings to the organization.
• The most distinguishing achievements of the job seeker as they relate to the organization.
• Relevant professional skills and qualifications of the job seeker.
• Educational and professional credentials of the job seeker that are relevant to the organization.
• Most important, in each cover letter, the job seeker must ask for the interview.
Employer’s Perspective

The cover letter is probably the most important document a job seeker will ever write. While a typical job search campaign may be conducted with possibly two or three resumes, a specific and skillfully crafted cover letter is necessary for each targeted employer. First, learn the specific needs and expectations of the hiring company. Then, write a cover letter that showcases the job seeker’s qualifications, accomplishments, educational credentials and more that are relevant to that position. If the cover letter can spark an interest, the employer will be motivated to extend an invitation to the applicant for an interview.
It goes without saying that each and every cover letter must be 100 per cent accurate. Incorrect spellings, improper grammar, poor organization and inappropriate language are never acceptable or even tolerated. Letters, just like resumes, are a direct reflection of the quality of work that individual will produce. Less than perfect will not communicate the right image.

Types Of Cover Letters
Following is a list of the different types of cover letters that are used in different situations. Each has its own idiosyncracies, yet all share the same bottom-line objective – to help the job seeker secure an interview. The most commonly used types of cover letters are:

• Ad Response Letters (written in response to a specific print or online advertisement)
• Cold-Call Letters (written to express interest in employment opportunities with a targeted company).
• Recruiter & Employment Agency Letters (written to investigate opportunities that recruiters and agencies may have that would be appropriate for a specific job seeker).
• Resume Letter (a unique resume/cover letter combination often used when job seekers want to share only select experiences from their past).
• Broadcast Letter (letter-only communication with no accompanying resume, often used by job seekers to “sell” themselves to a new career).
• Networking Letter (more “casual” letter written to individuals within a particular job seeker’s network).

Writing the Cover Letter

Plan & Prepare. It is important to be prepared prior to writing the cover letter. A candidate must research the company they are seeking employment with. This will assist in ascertaining contact names, what the company needs and how the candidate can be a good “fit.” Many Human Resource Departments have job announcements and/or full job descriptions available, and applicants can request them. This makes it easier to match requirements to the candidate’s qualifications. 

Opening Paragraph. This is where the candidate can pique the employer’s interest. This is the “sales pitch” and should be hard-hitting. The employer is informed in this paragraph, who the candidate is, why the candidate’s value would benefit the company above all other applicants and what position the candidate is applying for. This information should be concisely stated in this paragraph. If the candidate is responding to an advertisement, they should be sure to note the exact position title and name of publication. 

The Body of the Letter. This is the most important section of any cover letter, for it is where the writer will detail what the job seeker can contribute to the organization by discussing skills, qualifications, achievements, accomplishments, contributions and successes. These are essential to an effective cover letter and can be conveyed in a 

Paragraph Style, Comparison-List Style or Bullet Style. Appendices to this article are Letter 1: Paragraph Style; Letter 2: Comparison-List Style; and Letter 3: Bullet Style. If the writer uses the Paragraph style, paragraphs should be short. This is often the best style if the writer wants to “tell a story” by providing a summary of professional skills that accentuate the candidate’s career accomplishments and demonstrate a potential to repeat the same standards of performance. This strategy is extremely effective and enables the employer to actually visualize the applicant at work.The unique format of the Comparison-list style demonstrates the candidate’s ability to meet the job requirements. This format is easy to read, visually appealing and must be very organized to achieve the necessary impact. All skills, accomplishments and qualifications relate specifically to requirements outlined in the job announcement. The Bullet style focuses on the needs of the employer by outlining and listing all the relevant skills, accomplishments, specialized training and qualifications of the job seeker. This format has proven to be particularly effective for both graduating students and experienced professionals. In the “body” of the cover letter, the opportunity exists to communicate any knowledge of the company, familiarity with the industry, and how company goals and objectives dovetail with the candidate’s professional plans. This is also a perfect time for the candidate to convey enthusiasm for the position by continuing to relate details of why he/she should be considered for the position.
The overall tone of the cover letter should be confident, polite and professional. However, the tone can vary as it is influenced by the career stage a candidate is in. Recent college graduates are eager to begin their careers. A seasoned professional may communicate a more reserved confidence in his or her accomplishments and background.

The Closing Paragraph. The assertive approach – asking for the interview – works best in the closing paragraph. Write positive, proactive statements that entice the employer to want to meet the job seeker. You can include personal and professional references, emphasize the candidate’s flexibility for travel and/or relocation, or include a very brief recap of why the job seeker is an excellent match. Express confidence and enthusiasm. Then be sure to include a brief note that the job seeker will be following up within a specific period of time. 
Salary Requirements
It is never to the advantage of the applicant to discuss salary in a cover letter, even when it’s asked for. Study after study has shown that if an employer is interested in a candidate, they will contact that candidate, regardless of whether or not they have responded to a salary request. Employers use salary to screen applicants out before they even have the opportunity to discuss their qualifications. Obviously, as the resume writer and career counselor, this is exactly the opposite of your goal to help your client get an interview. Advise your client that salary will have to be discussed at some point in the hiring process, just not this early on. As such, they should be well prepared for that conversation when it arises. Candidates are strongly encouraged to research positions and their salary range prior to applying for a position. It is recommended, however, that when writing a cover letter to a recruiter (not an employer), the applicant should provide a ballpark salary range. That way, you’re not wasting the recruiter’s time or your client’s time. For example, if a job seeker is looking for a base of no less than $100,000 a year and the recruiter only does placements up to $60,000, it’s not a good fit. Conversely, an individual’s salary range may be lower than that which the recruiter places. By including salary range or a ballpark figure, job seekers can narrow their focus to the “right” recruiters.

Tips For Professional Cover Letter Development
Experts agree upon the following guidelines for preparing top-flight cover letters.
Length of Cover Letter. The cover letter should be neat, concise, well-organized and almost always fit on one page (except in unusual circumstances). This will enhance communication and the probability that the letter will be read.

Professional Appearance. A good layout and design provide an attractive appearance and create a favorable impression for the reader. Cover letters should be neat and clean. Avoid unusual typefaces or anything too fancy. If the letter will be mailed, good-quality stationery that matches the resume is recommended for the highest impact. 

Acceptable Letter Formats. Acceptable cover letter formats include the most widely used full block, block and modified block. If you’re not familiar with these, pick up a copy of an English textbook or a typing book for illustrations.

Salutation. The cover letter should be addressed to the person most likely to make the hiring decision. (Employer contacts can be researched through college campus career centers, libraries, yellow pages, friends, the internet, professional organizations and more). Use the name and title whenever possible. If you cannot locate it, you can use Dear Sir/Madam as a last resort. Avoid addressing the letter with To Whom It May Concern.

Convey Personal Warmth & Enthusiasm. “Reach out and touch someone.” Individualized cover letters should be very specific and communicate not only the applicant’s skills and qualifications but also the attitude employers are looking for. A letter seasoned with assertiveness and just a dash of personal pride in one’s accomplishments is a nice touch.

Proofread & Then Proofread Again. Looking over your cover letters several times for errors in spelling or grammar cannot be stressed enough. Avoid trite language and have someone else read the cover letter to react to its tone, content and mechanics. Two or even three proofreaders are recommended.

Many exciting opportunities have been lost because a cover letter has contained the usual ho-hum content. Skillfully written cover letters can successfully illustrate key qualities employers are seeking if they are brief, simple and customized for each position. The cover letter that captures the most attention will motivate the employer to move on to the resume. Applicants must design their cover letters with strategy and panache for today’s competitive and rapidly changing world of work.