Who knows how to write cover letters and résumés better than a recruiter who reads through literally hundreds of them every week? We can't think of anyone more fit for the job… So, to figure out what makes a candidate pop and what the biggest turnoffs are during this initial stage, we asked our very own Annie Kimsey, Clique Media Group's talent acquisition manager, for some guidance.
As cut and dried as cover letter and résumé building seems, her advice on the dos and don'ts prove that it's actually quite an art. And since it's the first hurdle you have to overcome during the job hunt, it's important you nail it. Luckily, Kimsey's advice walks us through the dos and don'ts. We also used her advice to create cover letter and résumé templates that you can use as reference guides for your own. All you have to do is copy and paste. We these templates handy, we promise your job hunt will be a lot less stressful and time-consuming. Scroll through for the full details.
Be Honest, and Keep Fluff to a Minimum
Right off the bat, you should be direct and to the point, keeping fluff to a minimum. You want to grab the recruiter's attention, and you want to do so quickly. But before you even introduce yourself, you should state your contact information. Now, how honest should you be about your location? If you don't live in the same place as your job of interest, should you borrow a friend's or just express that you'd be willing to relocate?
Kimsey believes you should "always be honest about where you are located" to prevent any awkward confrontations and disappointments down the line. "I have had so many candidates who apply for positions but aren't honest about their current location, and it's a turnoff," she clarifies. But there are exceptions. For example, "if you have the ability to travel to the location of the position within 24 and 48 hours and see the process through," then Kimsey thinks you can go for it. Just remember this will be on your own dime, so it's a gamble.
Show Your Personality, But Be Professional
You don't want to sound like a robot, but you also don't need to be Miss Congeniality. In other words, you shouldn't overuse humor if you aren't sure the joke will land, and you shouldn't be overly friendly and familiar to the point of being unprofessional. Rule of thumb: Don't include a joke unless it's short and certifiably hilarious (according to at least five people that don't happen to be your best friends). Also, know your audience. And not to sound like a grade school teacher, but repeat after us: Show, don't tell.
For example, if you're applying for a graphic design opening, let your aesthetic talent shine through in the visual format, not just in your written pitch. As far as the actual structure goes, Kimsey advises "a three-paragraph cover letter" with a "quick intro paragraph, a paragraph briefly describing [your] experience, and a closing paragraph." Based on our conversation with Kimsey, we created an example of a cover letter format that you can fill out and personalize.
The Cover Letter Template
Subject Line: Your Name — Name of Job Opportunity at Company (for example, Hadley Mendelsohn — Editorial Opportunity at CMG)
Dear Hiring Manager,
My name is (name), and I'm a (current role) interested in (industry). As a (career type), I was excited to see an opening for (open position) in (department) at (company). (Now provide one sentence that proves you aren't faking your excitement. Here's your time for a funny, literal one-liner if appropriate.)
I'm currently a (job) at (company), responsible for (say exactly what you do). Previously, I was a (job) at (company), where I (say exactly what did and achieved). I also worked as a (job) at (company) doing (list responsibilities and achievements). I think my background in (industry) as well as my interests in (relevant topic) make me a great fit for this role. I've attached my résumé here for further information.
Again, I really hope there is a place for me on your team as (open position), and I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
How to Write Your Résumé
First of all, you should always include a header that is bold and easy to see. It should include your name, location, and contact info. Then you should get straight to the point and present the information in a way that's easy to follow and digest. You can use bullet points for the sake of length. Kimsey says to "make sure your top three bullet points reflect the most important responsibilities for that role."
As far as organization goes, you don't need to include clever titles for each section. Instead, just break it down by professional experience, educational background, and relevant skills. Also, you don't need to include a photo on your résumé, because it can be distracting.
Use the template below to use as a reference to guide you while you write your résumé, and then share your own job-hunting tips in the comment section.
Original Graphic by Stephanie DeAngelis