I’ve had the pleasure of working with wonderful job seekers through Career Transition this year as a result of COVID’s impacts on various industries. I must commend them – everyone I have worked with is taking their next career steps with positivity and eagerness despite the circumstances. One of the components we discuss with groups and individuals is their resume & cover letter. There are a lot of “rules” when people think of resumes but as we all know, some rules are more like guidelines as opposed to actual rules.
The two-page maximum is one of them (a guideline not a rule) however you want to think of your resume/cover letter as valuable real estate. Every section of information and the way you lay it out is an opportunity to make a compelling case as to why the person reading should be interested in you. These documents don’t get you the job/opportunity/award but they help get you to the next step.
So, if you are trying to save a line or two or re-think space, here are three quick ways to change your resume / cover letter:
- References available upon request – I sure hope so, this goes without saying! If you don’t have a list of people who have experienced you positively in a work or volunteer capacity you have more work to do. Delete this line and make sure you have a good supplemental page of a minimum of three work related references (your best friend’s mom doesn’t count). This could be previous leaders, people you worked with, clients or people who reported to you.
- Dear Sir/Madam & To whom it may concern – If your intro statement is generic it gets passed by, and so could your application. You want to show enthusiasm towards the company and opportunity so better options are including the hiring manager’s name or at minimum “Dear (Insert Company Name) Team,”.
- Soft skills section – This is about as useless as the skill endorsements on LinkedIn.. Anyone could make a laundry list of all the things they think they’re good at but if you can’t substantiate that with where/when you demonstrated the skill (work, education or volunteer experience) it doesn’t tell the reader much. Save those action words for inclusion in strong bullet points under your job titles and delete this section from your resume.
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