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Preparing Your Résumé and Cover Letter

Finally, list certifications and occupational affiliations in a bulleted list. List memberships in any associations relevant to your employment. These include, but are not limited to, organizations like the Society of Human Resources Management, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Society of Professional Journalists.

What Not to Put In

Do not include personal or family information. Include social and recreational activities only if they have a bearing on the position of interest (for instance, a leadership position if you are seeking a supervisory role, or if you have a hobby like camping, which would help you sell outdoor gear). Do not include references or even mention their availability; that step comes much later in the process. Do not include photos, colors, or insert graphic art.

Submitting Your Résumé

In general, you can submit your résumé by placing it on the prospective employer’s career Web page. It may be necessary to cut and paste it to match their format. It may be necessary to convert your Word-format document into plain-text format. Plain text is often required when pasting résumé content into online forms and databases. Just copy the text from the Word document and paste it into the notepad feature on your computer. Save the document as a ".txt," or "text," file.

Cover Letters

Cover letters are often overdone. Their primary purpose is to provide a sample of your best business writing skills and not to summarize your work history. Make every effort to address your cover letter to an actual person. Try to get the correct name and title of the employer’s contact. Your cover letter should not be longer one-half of one typed page.

If you were referred to the employer, be certain to mention the name of the person referring you. This could be a current employee or a person the recruiter may know. Even if it is only word of mouth, most recruiters will be favorably impressed to know you were inquiring about the organization and that it enjoys a positive reputation.

A bad cover letter, one that is too lengthy, too boastful, or too desperate, will hurt you every time.
Your cover letter should briefly but firmly state your interest in the employer and the position. Highlight two or three items from your background that may catch the recruiter’s eye. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t be reluctant to sell yourself. Show your enthusiasm for the job while maintaining a businesslike tone in the cover letter. Display confidence in your capabilities and in your belief that you are an ideal candidate for the position. The cover letter is an ideal way to begin displaying your self-confidence.

When submitting online, make sure you upload or attach your résumé and cover letter as one file. You can easily do this by pasting your résumé below your brief cover letter. Most application-tracking systems only allow for a single document per applicant.

Before submitting or sending any material, proofread your résumé and cover letter several times. Ask a friend or colleague to double-check them. Even one or two errors or typos can derail your application.

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