Your Best Cover Letter and Resume Format

If you’ve applied to several jobs without hearing back or if you feel like your applications disappear into cyberspace, there may be a problem with your cover letter and resume. Your cover letter says why you want the position and who you are as a professional. Your resume proves that you meet the requirements for the position you are targeting. Follow these three tips to present a knockout cover letter and resume that grab attention.

Make It Relevant

Are you sending the same generic resume and cover letter to each position for which you apply? This mistake is common. Job seekers who take the time to tailor their cover letter and resume are more likely to get noticed. Recruiters and hiring managers are skilled at spotting generic resumes; they tend to throw them in the rejection pile. By submitting a unique resume and cover letter that are well tailored, you demonstrate that you have carefully considered the requirements of the position. Showcase your knowledge of the company in the opening paragraph of your cover letter. Be sure that your resume reflects how you are the perfect fit for this specific position.

Keep It Concise

Which resume format do you prefer? We don't recommend using a template from MS Word. Are your resume and cover letter longer than one page each? Don’t succumb to the pressure to explain everything you have done in your career. Instead, communicate only your most relevant experience. The job description for the position you are seeking will serve as your guide. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of the position and be selective with what you include. Your resume should only include the experience that relates to your target position. Use your cover letter to dive deeper and explain two or three of your most relevant accomplishments and how they match the job you seek.

Prove It

Your resume format should build a case for why an employer should interview you above all other candidates. Don’t forget that relevant experience can include both paid and unpaid work. If you struggle to come up with some related experience, maybe you are not quite ready to pursue this particular role. At this stage, it is time to think about how you can gain relevant experience through a volunteer opportunity or a more entry-level role.

Remember, first impressions are everything. While crafting a well-written cover letter and resume may take additional time and energy, you will find that taking this time will yield much better results in your job search. You’ve already invested in your education; now invest in creating a stellar resume and cover letter to land your dream job. It will be worth it!



Written by Kelly Dahlke
Kelly is a Career Services Specialist at Ashford University.

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