Resumes and Cover Letters
The importance of a resume cannot be over-emphasised as it is the first impression you will leave with a prospective employer and in many instances will determine if you secure an interview. Below are some tips and a suggested format for a resume.
- Keep your resume simple, orderly and easy to read.
- Use standard formats, white paper and include page numbers.
- Do not include photographs or pictures – these are not necessary and clutter the appearance of a resume.
- There is no need to include details of gender, age, marital status and health (these are optional).
- Ensure that your resume provides contact numbers with an answering machine where you can be reached.
- Ensure you include details of the companies with which you have worked including turnover, number of staff, ownership structure.
- Clearly set out your technical, administrative, computer and staff management skills and strengths.
- Include specific achievements such as involvement in special projects, streamlining procedures, computer system implementations or developing new initiatives.
- Include responsibilities as dot points, ensuring they are not too long – 2 sentences per responsibility is sufficient.
- Tailor your responsibilities to the position for which you are applying. This may mean certain tasks are further expanded or achievements amended.
- Do not include company specific jargon, including job titles. This is confusing and may not allow easy interpretation of your tasks.
- Include two or three business, work related referees who should be recent superiors, not colleagues.
- Ensure someone else reads your resume to ensure it makes sense and there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Ensure your resume is the appropriate length – a one-page summary will not allow you to sell your experience adequately. Conversely, a 15-page resume with copies of results from every exam, certificates and references dating back to primary school are not necessary. Approximately 5 pages is usually enough to cover everything.
When sending a resume to a prospective employer, you need to attach a covering letter setting out why you think you are suited for a particular role. This letter should be succinct and total approximately 3-4 paragraphs and should address key issues noted in the advertisement.
Tips on writing a Cover Letter
- Establish exactly to whom you should send the covering letter and ensure the correct spelling of their name and title.
- Include the purpose of your letter, why you believe you are suitable and what you expect to happen.
- Tailor your covering letter and resume to suit the position for which you are applying. Refer to your resume in the cover letter and highlight your skills.
- Remember to sign your letter and check spelling and grammar. It is useful to have someone read it to ensure that it makes sense.
- After sending your resume, a follow up call is appropriate after one week.