First impressions count so make sure you get your resume and cover letter right. Some tips:
General Guidelines for Resumes:
- Edit and proofread multiple times. One typo, spelling error or grammatical glitch will send your resume into the trash.
- Tailor your resume to each job, highlighting skills or experiences and including keywords mentioned in the position description.
- Avoid jargon and buzzwords.
- Don’t oversell yourself or create a false picture.
- Don’t leave unexplained time gaps. If you took time off for family obligations, explain that in your cover letter.
- Keep resume to ONE PAGE by writing succinctly. In resume writing, less is more.
- Use easy-to-read fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial and Helvetica in 10- to 12-point type. Don’t use borders or graphics — unless you are a designer.
- Use boldface, italics or CAPITAL LETTERS to set off key information such as job titles, organization names and section headings. Be consistent with abbreviations, punctuation and spacing and adhere to AP Style rules.
- Use action verbs: created, wrote, produced, built, edited, developed, researched, reported, covered, broke. Avoid personal pronouns. Use short, punchy phrases instead of complete sentences. Use past tense for past experiences, present tense for ongoing activities.
- Omit mission statements or objectives unless you are switching careers.
- Don’t list references.
General Guidelines for Cover Letters:
- Keep it to one page — four or five paragraphs, at most.
- Complement and expand upon — but don’t repeat — information in your resume.
- Tailor each cover letter to the position.
- Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible — call the company for the name of the hiring manager if you cannot find it online. Use Mr. or Ms., not first names or “To Whom It May Concern.”
- Use a personal reference — if you have one — to explain why you are applying.
- Say where you are now and why you are applying for the position. Explain why your experience and skills are relevant, perhaps using an assignment where you excelled to show why you are a good fit.
- Refer in a sentence or two to specific, recent pieces produced by the outlet as examples of why you want to work there.
- Write concisely, clearly and conversationally. Avoid colloquialisms, cuteness, contractions — and too much alliteration!
- Show confidence. Don’t start sentences with: “I believe” or “I think.”
- Close the letter with a mention of any attachments and a courteous final sentence: “Thank you for your consideration.”
- Edit and proofread. Edit and proofread. Edit and proofread.