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Guide to Effective Resumes and Cover Letters

By Susan Ireland

If your resume has been circulating in the job market for more than a month and you haven't gotten requests for job interviews, the problem could be your resume.

In this section, find articles, videos, and sample resumes to help you improve your resume. You will also find great tips for creating effective cover letters so your resume is read and you receive those job interview invitations.

Don't forget to ensure that your LinkedIn Profile is visible when searched for by an employer or recruiter (and over 90% of them will look for your LinkedIn Profile). It must be visible and it must support the facts in your resume. For more information, read the articles in Job-Hunt's free Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search.

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Does Your Resume Work for You?

Here's a quick quiz to identify if your resume needs to be improved to produce results:

  1. Is your resume a generic, one-size-fits-all document that focuses on your past?
  2. Is your resume composed of job descriptions instead of achievement statements?
  3. Have you used a resume format that highlights your weaknesses and downplays your strengths?
  4. Are there any red flags (such as employment gaps, age discrimination, job hopping, or appearing overqualified) in your resume that would make an employer think twice about inviting you to an interview?

If you answered "Yes" to even one of these questions, your resume could be your problem.

A bad resume can negatively impact your job search, sometimes eliminating you from consideration for your perfect job. They are viewed by many, on both sides of the hiring process, as a necessary evil.

For the job seeker, they are your opportunity to "make your case" for why you should be hired. Think of them as personal marketing or advertising, even "selling. "

A resume should summarize your achievements, skills, and education appropriate to the position you are seeking in the most positive way, but without being inaccurate or misleading.

People often reject the idea that a resume is a "selling" document, but, if it is effective, that's exactly what it does. You are marketing your services to employers. It's your job to show the employer that you are the right person for the job, and your resume is the starting point for that show.

The Purpose of Your Resume

Basic truth about resumes: The purpose for your resume is to get you invited to interview for a job.

People are very, VERY, *VERY* seldom hired based only on their resume.

Your resume should open the door to a new job for you by:

  1. Surviving the initial resume screening process (Do you meet the qualifications? Does your resume make a good impression? Does your resume contain the appropriate key words? etc. ).
  2. Keeping the hiring manager's attention long enough to see that you are (or are not) qualified for the job opening.
  3. Presenting the best picture of you (your skills, accomplishments, and education most relevant for the job you want).
  4. Presenting that targeted picture of you in a way that entices the hiring manager to learn more about you.
  5. Providing appropriate, accurate contact information so that the employer may reach you.

This section of Job-Hunt will try to help you put together an effective resume that will help you get to that job interview.

Cover Letters Create Connections

Fortunately, not every resume is submitted to a job board or captured by an automated system. [If job boards are the only way you make your resume visible, you need to change your approach to your job search!]

We still send resumes to people, like hiring managers and network connections, outside of the automated recruiting systems. And, both email and "snail mail" are used for the transmittal.

Effective cover letters create interest in the attached resume so that the resume is referred and, depending on the purpose of the communication, passed on to someone who can make a decision that may result in a job interview or a job offer.

More About Effective Resumes

More About Effective Cover Letters

About the author...

Susan Ireland is the author of four job search books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume. For more information about writing your resume, read Susan's books or visit Susan's website

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Guide to Effective Resumes:

Making Your Resume Effective:

Cover Letters:

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Sample Resumes:

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