Tips and Tricks of Great Resumes

How NOT to Write a Resume

You can learn a lot about how to do something right by first learning what NOT to do. Take resumes, for example. I review about 200-300 a month, and most have at least 2-3 mistakes. Yet, all those hundreds of mistakes can be grouped into just a handful of categories, which you would do well to avoid. Read on and learn how to write a better resume by avoiding the mistakes of others, some of them unintentionally hilarious ...

Mistake #1: "Golden Retriever Syndrome"

Never talk about yourself in terms that could also describe a hunting dog, like the following language, which appears in far too many resumes I see: "Hard-working, self-motivated and dependable individual." Tired phrases like that mean nothing to employers, because they could apply to almost anyone ... or almost anyone's dog. Instead, dump the empty assertions and back up the claims in your resume with facts, like this: "Proven sales skills. Ranked in top 3 among 78 reps for 5 straight years, exceeding sales quotas for 18 of 20 quarters." See the difference?

Mistake #2: A Verbal Jungle

To improve your resume (or anything you write), read it out loud. Since writing is just words on paper, reading it aloud will help you write as you would speak. Here's an example of language so dense, you'll need a machete to find any meaning: "Directed assembly of elements from business units in engineering, development, program management, distribution, and legal to effect market research, proposal responses, and contract management into comprehensive, virtual, successful teams ..." After reading that three times, I'm still baffled. Worse, do you think employers have time to read a resume three times to figure it out? No. As a result, that job seeker is still looking for work, I'll wager. Solution: read your resume out loud before sending it out. If you find yourself gasping for breath halfway through a sentence, stick a period or dash in there and break it in two. And if anything you write sounds less than 100% clear when you read it aloud, revise until it would make sense to your mother. Doing so will ensure that your resume resonates with readers at all levels, from HR managers to your future boss.

The Importance of a Great Cover Letter

You've seen a want ad for a job that seems to be the perfect fit for you. You really want to impress the employer, so you set out to write a cover letter that really sizzles. But, somehow, you can't seem to find the right words. You're not certain where the line can be drawn between recognizing your accomplishments and bragging. In short, you're stumped. It is important to realize that there is an art to writing an effective cover letter. However, you don't need to be born with this particular artistic skill. It can be developed in a relatively short period of time. Still, you might be wondering just how important it is to write a great cover letter. The fact is, without a stellar cover letter, chances are you will not be able to land an interview. While a resume is certainly important, it doesn't tell the full story. That's why you need an effective cover letter. It introduces you to the employer, outlines why you're the best candidate for the job, and encourages the employer to find out more about you. Obviously, without an interview, you can't hope to get the job. Therefore, you'll need a first-rate cover letter to display your qualifications to their best advantage. And, once you've crafted a cover letter you like, chances are you'll want to show it off to more than one employer. So invest some time in a cover letter. It's likely to pay off handsomely in helping you to secure future earnings.