When you are looking for a job you need to prepare your resume and a cover letter. These two pieces of writing work together and complement each other.
Let’s take a look at the differences and how to make sure the cover letter and your resume virtually represent you in the best possible way.
A cover letter is an introduction and a summary of your resume. It should be a short letter that will emphasize your main strong points and resemble your personality.
Your resume contains the outline of your experience, skills, and achievements which helps in framing certain perceptions in the mind of the interviewer so it is necessary to give the appropriate information in a suitable format.
Resumes are written differently depending on the purpose. Generally, resumes are a single page as too much information is often ignored.
What means the use of ATS (Applicant Tracking System) for your resume?
ATS is software that helps recruiters find the most suitable candidates. The software looks for special keywords in your resume.
If you included these keywords related to the job in your resume, your chances of being invited for the interview rise.
Recruiters and ATS are searching for specific keywords on your resume that match the job description. You always need to adjust your resume for every job you apply to and simply replicate the description. Getting a job has become pretty challenging but if you make it to the interview, your future may be bright again.
Use the job ad to find the keywords to use in your resume
The job ad is your best tool for building your resume. As carefully as you are constructing your resume, the H/R people have poured over the job ad.
They want to attract the right candidates and waste as little time and money as possible so that the ad represents their very best effort to find you. Identify the keywords in the ad. They will be the most important aspects of the job and don’t forget that a background check is usually a standard part of the procedure as well.
In the case of an accounting manager position, the ad might say: Seeking highly experienced A/R Manager for overseeing accounts, managing billing, and collections, training clerical and accounting staff, developing status reports for management, and preparing monthly balance sheets.
You would focus on manage billing, accounts receivable, create and maintain status reports for management, balance sheets. Focus on what they are looking for. Incorporate the same terminology into your resume and show how you can fit those needs.
Write a compelling, engaging, and fluid cover letter
People just want to know who you are. Don’t write a stiff, canned letter where it’s obvious you never took the time to change anything but their name at the opening. Tell them why you would be a good fit for the job, why you’re interested, what you can offer the company, and how you can help.
Keep it professional, but conversational
Make them think they already know you and treat each word you write like gold. Make a few sentences say exactly what you want them to say, and in the tone, you want to say it in.
Address your letter to a real, living person
“Dear Sir or Madam” is the kiss of death. It’s what Nigerian bank scams use to address their emails and ends up in Spam folders. It shows you care absolutely nothing about that person whatsoever. If they have not left their name in the posting, open with “Greetings!” or something generic but personable.
If you don’t know if a person is a man or a woman (like Sandy or Pat), use the letter M
Example: Dear M. Smith. One of my clients has a unisex first name that most people associate with a man. So she addresses all of her outgoing correspondence starting with M. as the title to avoid having to use Ms., Mrs., Mr., or otherwise instead of assuming gender. And remember that even if you know the person you’re contacting is a woman, she may not want to be called Mrs., let alone Madam.
Keep a copy of your updated resume handy and tweak it according to the job description
If the employer wants someone who has moderated forums and blogged in the past, then highlight that in your correspondence early on and expand on it a bit without over-embellishing.
Don’t make your job as a cashier look like you were a hot commodity in ‘finance management procedures’. Otherwise, you might as well say, “I think you are unintelligent and will not notice I was a cashier.”
If a resume is required, keep it to two pages max
As a freelancer, it might be hard to do as you amass jobs, but weed out the less desirable. Check here for guides to finding a better job.
No one cares to know about every company you’ve ever worked at for your entire teenage and adult life. Or your special extracurricular activities in college (maybe if you spearheaded a campus movement, club, or assumed a leadership role). Or list the ‘Internet’ as a skill. That’s like saying “I eat food and dress in the morning.” This isn’t a background check or a checklist of everything you are remotely capable of doing.
Research the company and the person you’re applying to
Maybe the boss used to work for a company where your friend works, which would be helpful to know.
You might also find one of their blogs and realize they’re incredibly funny with a great sense of humor and can craft your email accordingly. Or you might see they’re into volunteer work and you can draw that into your correspondence as quickly as possible.
Just don’t make it too personal. If you start talking about how you read on their blog about their golf score, they may think you are stalking them and will be sufficiently creeped out.
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