A misconception that many job seekers have is that your resume is a listing of all you have done and your cover letter is just a summary of your resume and job search objectives. These are two pieces are actually key marketing documents to showcase your skills and experience but most importantly your achievements.
Here are 3 approaches that will help you when crafting your documents for their intended target.
1. What’s in it for me?
While some hiring managers, HR personnel and recruiters may be looking to give someone their big break, stating this position will be a great way for you to learn about this type of job, or bring your academics to a work setting, or gain experience doesn’t really motivate me to hire you. To make it to the interview stage, candidates need to stand out and tell potential employers how they can benefit by hiring them versus someone else. Don’t wait for someone to look at your education, work or volunteer history and make links to the job description, make these clear linkages for them in your cover letter and in the points listed under each work or volunteer experience. Make a compelling argument of why you should be hired (or at least get me interested enough to move to the step – shortlisted for an interview!)
2. Show don’t tell.
Instead of just making statements. Such as, I have strong _________ skills. Show me you do by giving an example of when you used these skills and the result. Paint a picture with a solid example to demonstrate your abilities, tell me how you gained it and what you have accomplished with it. Go even further and tell me how this will help you if you are hired into the role. Of course in order to do this you will also have to do some research into the company, product, scientist, etc.
3. Help me navigate your experience by being clear, conscise and error free.
Don’t lose your message by having spelling, grammatical or glaring errors in formatting. If a qualification for the position is attention to detail, communication or editing abilities this contradicts any statement you make in your application. If you are applying to a position which asks for particular skills or experience you have them bring this to my attention, rather than waiting for me to figure it out because the 30 seconds spent scanning an applicaition there is a high probability this details will be overlooked. Put your unique message front and centre – in the first paragraph or in the highlights section on your resume.
You are the tour guide and expert on you – guide me to the key and relevant points. By connecting the dots and showing how your experience and skills match the qualifications being sought and clearing stating why you are the best candidate for the job there will be no room form misinterpretation.