Job Search 101

23 May

Part I: Resume and Cover Letter

During one of my first networking meetings, the guy I was meeting with offered to critique my resume. So I held my breath and handed him my most recent resume draft. A draft I’m sure I spent at least an hour or two perfecting. After 2.1 seconds he said, “This is boring, I would never have read all of this.” Ouch. But that, my friends, was a (mostly) friendly wake up call. After that meeting, I swallowed my pride and re-worked my resume and cover letter. Here are some elements that I made sure it had after that.

Resume Must Haves

1) Visual Style

Tactic A: I decided to ‘brand’ all of my job search documents with a simple milk and cookies logo across the top of the page. The idea was to connect these documents (writing samples, reference list, letters) with my blog title “Milk & Cookies.” The logo added just a little bit of color and sleekness to the design, which in turn added to its initial impact. Plus, all of my documents had a visual cohesiveness, and thus more power to stick in someone’s memory.

Tactic B: Font choice is probably not a deal breaker, but I made sure to pick something that was easy to read and not annoying. I used Garamond for all titles and Century Gothic for the body text. Just think clear and crisp.

2) Strategic Bolding

Once I had done some revamping, I sent my resume to a trusted friend for another round of edits. She sent it back with key words and phrases bolded. I think that was a genius move. If someone doesn’t have time to read the whole (beautiful) document, at least their eyes will be directed to the skills I want to highlight.

3) Personal Touch

I wanted a writing position, so I tried to feature good writing on my resume. Sorry, I forgot to set the obvious alarm off before that statement. So instead of an anonymous bulleted list of job responsibilities (“Chopped the wood” “Churned the butter”), I wrote a paragraph in my blog style describing my experience. “Not only did Farmer Fred appreciate my churning and chopping chops, but he also relished my ability to search the chicken coop for every last egg. He said I was a go-getter and I can’t argue with that,” or something to that effect.  So, when you are crafting your resume, make sure to infuse your personality into the document. Find a way to surprise the reader. Give them a reason to read it. You are not just a faceless list of skills, so don’t present yourself that way.

Cover Letter

Finally, follow the same rules for the cover letter. Be respectful, but do not be overly formal. Tell a story. Be bold. I had several interviewers tell me it was my cover letter that landed me the interview. So, remember that the cover letter is important. Avoid bland phrases and be confident.

If you are job searching, I hope this can help! Remember that even if you have a great resume, it might only get a 5 – 10 second glance. So make it eye catching and easy to read. And once someone starts reading, make sure it is an enjoyable experience. I’ve still got a couple more job searching tips I’m going to share throughout the week. Until then, have a great Monday!

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