As graduates head out into the job hunting market, resumes are high on their priority list. This time of year teachers and administrators also look for new career advancements as well. Adding a cover letter helps tell the story of how the applicant is uniquely qualified for that company’s position.

A resume and cover letter are marketing tools intended to pique interest enough to get a call back for an interview. Several key tips help applicants sell themselves to prospective employers.

When composing the resume use compelling words, cut extraneous ones and tailor content to the specific company and it’s available position. Readability is important so the document should be easy to skim. 

Recruiters spend an average of only six seconds reading a resume, so it’s critical to concisely quantify accomplishments in an impactful way. The top third of the resume should contain the most pertinent information so it doesn’t get skimmed over. Use vivid verbs to tell the story of skills, experience and work history.

Review industry examples of various formats and content for ideas. If the industry that’s being applied for places a high value on creativity, then that can be demonstrated in the color and structure choices for the resume. 

Some make their resumes stand out by displaying them on websites with options to navigate to electronic portfolios. Others create infographics that add a touch of graphics and color to tell their story.

Candidates can set themselves apart from others by describing how their current skills will translate into the new workplace. Putting one’s best foot forward involves displaying uniqueness.

Applicants should accurately reflect the work they have done but brag about performance and promotions. Starting with the skills statement helps employers know what they will be getting. 

By focusing on keywords from the job posting, applicants can carefully select the most pertinent personal facts to focus the future employer on their top-rate qualifications. Proofread for spelling and grammar errors which can quickly disqualify applicants.

Last year for the first time, people accessed the web from their phones more than from their computers, so the completed resume should be optimized for mobile viewing. Single column is best so reviewers don’t have to pinch and zoom.

Once it’s completed, email it as a PDF to oneself to see how it displays on a phone. It is also advisable to send it to a friend with a different operating system to make sure the formatting works there as well.

While human resource personnel require resumes to screen potential candidates, sending a cover letter that offers a more narrative introduction is also a good idea. This letter of introduction should clearly address the company, title of position, and requirements. 

Describing how personal skills relate to job responsibilities helps the interviewer see how the applicant might best be of service to the company. Communicating the excitement that this job would afford the applicant in terms of career advancement is another critical element of a cover letter. 

The cover letter and resume are marketing tools to sell oneself. They should be used intentionally to persuade the hiring manager that the skills offered make them one of the top candidates worthy of an interview. 

In order to impress the future boss, be a little flattering and acknowledge some of the company successes. Human Resource personnel want applicants to be the solution to their company’s problem. 

In the cover letter, convey enthusiasm for the job opening. Describe how your background experience and skill sets match the future employer’s needs. 

The recruiters first impression will be the cover letter and resume so make them memorable and convince the new company that you are the top candidate for their job.

Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at

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