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How to Create a Great Resume and Cover Letter

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  • 0:02 Job Search
  • 1:21 Resume
  • 5:12 Cover Letter
  • 7:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

The first impression that a company has of you is your resume and cover letter. But how can you make them stand out from the crowd? Watch this lesson for tips on how to create a winning resume and cover letter.

Job Search

Martin is almost finished with college, and it's time for him to start looking for a job. But he's not sure where exactly to start. How can he let companies know that he's available to work? And, more importantly, how can he convince companies that he's the one they want to hire?

Martin needs a resume, which is a document that includes a person's education, experience and qualifications for a job. It is a way for employers to look at everyone who wants to apply for a job and see at a glance who is qualified.

But resumes are usually not sent alone. Most people applying for a job will also need to send a cover letter, which is a personalized letter to the person hiring to expand upon why you are the right candidate for the job. It often offers information that the resume doesn't or explains parts of the resume in more detail.

Martin should think about his resume and cover letter like they are an advertisement with him as the product. They should clearly tell the company, 'If you buy this product, you will get these specific benefits.' In other words, his resume and cover letter are meant to convince the company to hire him.

Let's look closer at what Martin should do to create a great resume and cover letter.

Resume

Martin is ready to apply for jobs, and he knows that he needs a strong resume. But how exactly should he do that?

Martin has looked online and in the career center at his college and has found several templates for a resume. That is, he knows what it should look like and how it should be laid out on the page. But he's not sure what the difference is between a bad resume and a good one.

There are many ways that Martin can make his resume a strong one that will make people want to hire him. They include:

1. A professional email

Martin should make his email address professional. 'partyboy69@whatever.com' is probably not going to make potential employers hire him. But he can use an email address that is a variant on his name, like 'Martin91@email.com' or 'MartinHaver@email.com,' to look more professional and give him a better chance of being hired.

2. A profile line instead of an objective

Some people write an objective at the top of their resume that says something like, 'I would like to find an entry-level position in the financial services industry.' But that only tells the company what you want. Remember that the resume is supposed to be an advertisement to convince them that they want you. An objective doesn't do that.

In contrast, a profile line answers the question, 'What can you bring to the company?' It might read something like this: 'Driven, energetic and well-educated entry-level applicant who can bring creative thinking to the financial services industry.' See how much more that tells the company about what Martin can bring to them?

3. Use strong verbs

When describing his experience, Martin should avoid saying things like 'I did this' and 'I did that.' Instead, he should use verbs that really give the hiring manager a strong image in his head: 'managed,' 'oversaw,' 'organized,' 'created' and verbs like those make for a much stronger resume.

4. Use buzzwords from the industry

Every industry has certain words or phrases that are often talked about and seen as positive things. For teachers and educational professionals, this may be 'differentiation' or 'standards.' For fitness professionals, this may be 'integrated movement' or 'functional movement.' And for the financial services jobs that Martin is applying to, the buzzwords may be 'valuation' or 'price-earnings ratio.' Martin should try to use the buzzwords in his resume. If he can, using them in his profile line is even better, but if not, including them anywhere on the resume is fine.

5. Prove your skills

If you say that you are a creative thinker, add information about a project you did at work that demonstrates creative thinking. If you have experience writing software, add in information about the software that you wrote. Trying to demonstrate you have sales skills? Put down the sales you got at your job. Martin should think about ways that he can prove his skills through projects or things he's done to show the skills that he has.

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