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Each week, swamped human resources departments receive hundreds, possibly thousands, of cover letters and resumes; many are discarded or otherwise get overlooked or lost in the shuffle. You can stand out among the competition by showcasing your personality in your cover letter and detailing your success in your resume. Your ability to communicate common values and life outlook through your cover letter and resume can go a long way in making a memorable first impression.
Catch Their Attention
A cover letter must make a recruiter pay attention to you and your strengths. This can only happen when it contains two key elements: engaging content and stellar facts. Like a fingerprint, the letter needs to be unique and reflect your style. Write about your career goals as if the whole world will read it, and they may; cover letters have been known to go viral. Most importantly, be genuine. Career coach Dasha Amrom adding a creative ending to your cover letter such as a fun fact or a carefully worded thank-you; this strategy provided the momentum needed to encourage the recruiter to read your resume.
Tell True Stories
Write in a conversational tone and include anecdotes. In the book “Storytelling for Grantseekers” author Cheryl A. Clarke points out that businesses often use storytelling -- an ancient tradition -- in advertisements. Since a cover letter is a reply to a job advertisement, it should do just that: advertise. A mergers and acquisitions director candidate, for example, might share the victory about how she acquired a failing business that since has recovered with record gains. The story must be true and should highlight your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve success.
Check for Errors
Run-on sentences, too many roles at each job described and unusual fonts can clutter a resume. Being too vague and general about success also can cause a recruiter to lose interest in your resume. Instead, convey that you're a hard worker who makes an impact. Emphasize your strengths by describing your role on the job in specific terms. Instead of writing, “I cleaned the horse stalls" phrase the duty as, “Cleaned and maintained one dozen horse stalls.” The more specific description conveys a sense of industriousness and ownership.
Before writing a cover letter and resume, it's essential to know the hiring organization's mission statement. Use it to guide the themes on which you focus when drafting these documents. Incorporate the mission statement into your resume's first section, typically titled "objectives," "overview" or "goals." If a company has multiple subsidiaries in a variety of sectors, go ahead and list positions you've held in different industries, which may reflect your understanding of the bigger picture in the eyes of the recruiter.
- Storytelling for Grantseekers; Cheryl A. Clarke
- Mckinsey & Company: Improving your Resume
Kate Stepanski has been a professional writer since 2006. Her writing has appeared in media outlets like "The Oakland Tribune," “Mun2," “Not For Tourists," “Burner Magazine” and “San Francisco Bay Guardian." She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University.
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