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Resume Tips

How to Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter allows you to personalize your resume when it is sent to prospective employers in response to advertisements or to inquire about possible interviews. The letter's main purpose is to advertise your strengths and assets in a way that would interest employers in interviewing you. It is also useful in that it can save valuable time by enabling you to visit only the most promising prospects or helping you avoid places where there is no interest in you as a prospective employee.

To attract the reader's ATTENTION, the cover letter must look good and be easy to read. Use of quality 8 1/2" X 11" paper, correct English, spelling, spacing, paragraphing, margins and above all, flawless typing is a must. Address it to a particular person by name, making sure that the spelling and title of the individual are correct. The person addressed should hold an influential position in the company. A good cover letter is not too long, so try to limit yours to only part of a single page.

The first paragraph should arouse the reader's INTEREST. This can be done by stating some particular knowledge you have of the reader's business, by a comment on some "timely" issue relating to the company's operation or by an impersonal statement of some outstanding fact relating to your ability that would probably appeal to the employer.

The body of the cover letter should make the employer DESIRE to interview you by explaining what you can do for his/her company. Put yourself in the employer's position as you write and present facts that will both be interesting and accurately describe your assets and qualifications. Your prospective employer will be interested in your ability to make and/or save money, to conserve time, to effectively assume and discharge responsibility and to produce results more rapidly and economically than anyone else. Do not stress your bad points, such as lack of experience or unemployment.

The last paragraph should request ACTION. Ask directly for an interview stating specific times and dates when you will call to arrange an interview. In all circumstances be courteous but use a direct approach.

The letter should end with the formal salutation, "Sincerely yours." Below the salutation, type your name and then add your signature. Remember the use of AIDA (ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE,  AND ACTION) will result in a cover letter that is both pleasing to read and effective.

Tips on Writing a Resume
Get Noticed
Your resume is your greatest marketing tool in any job search. A good resume should tell, in a clear and concise manner, what experience you have, why that makes you unique, and how that makes you the best person for the job. Don’t be afraid to brag a little! But before you can prove to anyone that you are the best candidate for the job, you need to get them to actually read your resume. And in order to do that, your resume must be in tip-top shape so that it avoids being filed away in the trash. Here are a few hints, tips, and techniques that will help you get your foot in the door. 

Different Types of Resumes
When it comes to resumes, one size does not fit all. A recent college graduate’s resume and a senior level executive’s resume should not look alike. They represent very different careers and are geared towards very different jobs. So how do you decide which resume is best for you? There are primarily two types of resumes out there: The Chronological Resume and The Skills Resume, with a lot of resumes falling somewhere in between. The following is a rundown of what makes these resumes work and guidelines on who should use them:

The Chronological Resume
This is the classic resume that your mom taught you. It includes a chronological list of your job experience, starting with the most recently held position. Listed under each job should be the dates of the jobs, the title of the positions held, the location of the job, and a short description of duties. It can also include education level and a short list of relevant skills.

The advantage of this type of resume is that it is the “industry standard” and familiar to most resume screeners. This is a good type of a resume for a recent college graduate or someone who has worked consistently in the same field. People who have long breaks in their work career or switched jobs or careers frequently might find this type of resume a little too revealing, since it relies on dates to organize itself. For these people the Skills Resume might be the way to go.

The Skills Resume
As the name implies, this type of resume is organized according to job skills instead of job positions. Groupings of jobs are listed under the appropriate skill that they helped develop, including a detailed explanation of the relevant skill set and how each job contributed to that skill proficiency.

This is a great resume for someone with a long career, whose relevant experience might not be so recent. Freelancers also find this resume to be the most helpful. The important thing about a good skills resume is that it specifically addresses the skills required for the prospective job. The disadvantage is that some wary resume screeners might be suspicious of the lack of dates on the jobs.

Most resumes, however, fall somewhere between these two styles. The best way to decide which resume is right for you is to look at what the job is, take into account your job history, and figure out which resume style would sell you as a better candidate.

The Objective explains what kind of job you want and why. It is usually one sentence long and is presented at the beginning of a resume. It is useful in giving a potential employer a quick snapshot of what kind of a position a candidate is looking for. The usefulness of the objective, however, has been questioned in the past. The debate over the objective is basically this: the objective can be very helpful to someone picking up a resume for the first time, but if you have a poorly written objective it will do you more harm than good. The objective is a great place to explain, in one sentence, exactly what you are looking for in a job. However, an overly general objective that reads “To obtain an upwardly mobile position in a company in which my skills and experience are utilized to their fullest,” tells the person who looks at your resume nothing about you or the job you’re looking to obtain. Overly general objectives will only increase the odds of getting your resume tossed in the recycle bin.

If you can make your objective clear, concise, and specific to the job being offered, it can only help you. A nice alternative to an objective, however, is to use a Summary at the top of your resume. A Summary gives a quick synopsis of your primary skills and explains the type of position you are looking for. Summaries are generally a little longer than objectives and address specific abilities. A hiring manager should be able to look at your summary and know immediately if they want to continue reading. Hopefully, they will!

Tailor Your Resume
Hiring Managers can smell a generic resume a mile away. Take the time to customize your resume to the position that is offered and you will get a lot more call backs. A good way to research a company is by looking at their website. Remember, the more research you do, the more you can tailor your resume to that company and position, and the more prepared you’ll be if you get the interview.

List Your Skills
Don’t forget that lists are a nice way to cram a lot of information into a small amount of space. You should list all your relevant skills at the bottom of your resume, especially including a list of software programs you know. But be careful about listing programs you don’t actually know because a lot of hiring managers require a software proficiency test before hiring an employee. You wouldn’t want to make it through the interview only to be thwarted because you lied on your resume.

Follow Up
Hiring managers receive numerous resumes every week. A quick call to remind them who you are and get them to dig your resume out from under the pile is not a bad idea. Too often people are worried they might be bothering the person who is responsible for hiring. More often than not it shows that the candidate is competent and follows through on their actions, which is a valuable asset for any employee.

There is no perfect resume for everyone. Each person must assess the needs of the position as well as their own skills when creating a resume. These are guidelines that will help you assess what type of resume works best for you. But remember, there are no rules that cannot be broken, so use your head to determine what works best in your specific situation.

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