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Guide to Effective Resumes and Cover Letters

By Susan P. Joyce

Your resume is the document that opens the doors of opportunity in your professional life.

When you resume works, you work. When it doesn't, you don't either.

Put quite simply: your resume is the most financially important document you will ever own.

Show me a stalled job hunt, and one of the major causes will invariably be a resume that is inappropriate for it's task.

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  • Is your resume a general recitation of everything you have done to maximize opportunities?
  • Is your resume focused on the next rung up your promotional ladder?
  • Is your resume based on your potential rather than your credentials?
  • Does your resume explain what you want from an employer?

Answer yes to any of these questions, and your resume almost certainly isn't getting you enough interviews. A well-written resume should help you:

  • Become discoverable in resume databases from amongst millions of other resumes.
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the deliverables of your target job.
  • Accurately reflect employer priorities and word choice.
  • By being data-dense enough to rank in the top twenty in recruiters' database searches.
  • Tell a story that clearly qualifies you for the job, ideally within the first half of the first page.
  • Create a document that is succinct and visually accessible enough to demonstrate your suitability within the five to ten seconds a recruiter spends on an initial scan.
  • Tell what you can do (perhaps you earned the company a million dollars), but no how you did it.

Your resume is a tool to start conversations, not to preclude them. Specifically, the purpose of your resume is to get you into conversation with the people who can hire you.

Properly written, your resume demonstrates such a grasp of the job that it gets you the interview and sets the tone of that interview as a meeting between two professionals with a common interest.

Beyond this, a well-written resume works for you after job interviews as well. When the selection committee is making that final decision with nothing but the resumes of the final contenders before them, a professionally constructed resume works as your final spokesperson and cheerleader.

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Guide to Effective Resumes:

Making Your Resume Effective:

Cover Letters:

LinkedIn and Your Resume:

Sample Resumes:

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