We receive a lot of resumes here at Renoir Staffing. A LOT. We have a trained eye, like many employers out there, for what constitutes an impressive resume versus what is simply a mess of words. You don’t want all your experience, years of hard work, to be reduced to a mess of words, do you? Of course not! So let’s go over the basic format and content that will get you noticed, in a good way.

First, the cover letter. Not all employers require it, but in recent years as unemployment has soared, cover letters are used by companies to filter out the undesirable applicants. It’s recommended to always have one of these at the ready, just in case. Save a generic cover letter on your computer, one that can easily be adapted to the job description in which you’re applying. Cover letters are a great way to shine out from from the masses and they should follow a few simple rules:

1. Keep it concise. Granted, cover letters allow you to expand on the information in your resume, but don’t go overboard. Focus and elaborate only on the skills that really make you an asset to a company.

2. Keep it conservative. No, we’re not talking about your political views, but rather the way in which you talk about how fabulous you are (example: the word fabulous should not be found in your cover letter!). Avoid exclamation points, slang, and being overly confident. In essence, give yourself credit as an amazing employee but avoid coming off as obnoxious.

3. Know the job in which you are applying. This is critical. While it is time-consuming to research every company that posts a job you’re interested in shooting off a resume for, the current unemployment reality out there deems it necessary. You want the company to want you, right? You have to show them that you are interested in working for them, not just in working period. The cover letter is the perfect opportunity to show them that you know what they do, what their company culture is, and why you’d be the perfect fit. Do your research.

More tips on (and examples of) cover letters? Click here.

Secondly, the resume. Does it give you anxiety? That’s okay! The first rule is to take a deep breath and remind yourself that not only are there other people out there feeling your pain, but that you can do it! And it’s easier than you think. Let’s get started.

1. Content. Grab a sheet of binder paper and a pen, don’t immediately start typing, make a draft first! Write down your last three to four jobs that you’ve had and what you did for them. What was your title? And don’t make up something to sound fancy, employers see right through that. What were your main duties? Be specific but not wordy. And make sure to include two to three achievements you accomplished while on the job! In the case of property management, did you increase residency rates by 20%? Now is the time to write it down!

2. References. Sorry, but your uncle won’t work here, even if you don’t share the same last name. You need to come up with two to three professional references, people who can vouch for your strong work ethic and ingenuity on the job. Are you new to the job market and possess little experience? That’s okay! Put down your volunteer work or past internships. A job doesn’t have to pay you to be a worthwhile component of your resume. Don’t have any of these? There are plenty of volunteer/intern opportunities out there you can gain experience out of. For example, resident activities and office administration. Show up and ask how you can help. This also constitutes as networking, you never know who you’ll meet and who they know, unpaid work can lead to careers!

3. Editing and layout. Here is one that is OFTEN overlooked. Once you’ve typed out your resume, look at it with a microscope. Are there typos? Are you using the correct form of their/there/they’re? Do the sentences ramble on and on (big no-no!)? Have you used fancy font (simple, readable font works best). What are these questions leading to? Keep it neat and clean. Employers want to review resumes quickly and efficiently. If your layout is messy, e.g. wordy, aesthetically complicated, missing dates or full job descriptions, chances are your resume won’t be placed in the interview pile. You can easily search on the internet for examples of templates that you can use to organize your resume in a way that will entice employers to read it.

More resume tips? Click here.

Remember, a presentable resume is the key to getting those interviews, and subsequently, your next job!

Thank you to About.com for the supplemental cover letter and resume tips to this blog. Be sure to check them out!

Jessie Williams, Marketing Coordinator

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