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Resume and Cover Letter Writing Tips

Resume Writing Tips and Guidelines

A resume is a professional summary of your experiences and qualifications for the position you are seeking. It informs an employer of your accomplishments, educational and personal background, work experience, and interests. It also serves as your opportunity to sell YOU!

A good resume should detail the following to an employer:

  • Who you are
  • What you know
  • What you have done

Download a sample resume template

Top 10 Do’s When Preparing Your Resume


Limit yourself to one page. As a rule, two-page resumes are acceptable ONLY when you have more than 10 years of experience. Be accurate and truthful. Use bulleted statements where possible. This makes it easier to scan your resume. Begin sentences with action verbs instead of “I.” Customize your resume to focus on your skills and qualifications related to the position. You can do this by scanning the job ad for keywords and phrases. Describe significant contributions at your current and previous positions and, if possible, how they impacted the bottom line. Another tip: quantify your experiences. For example, “Directed the activities of 12 Associate Appraisers and seven Appraiser Trainees.” Proofread carefully. Don’t depend on the computer to fix all of your errors. It’s also helpful to read your resume aloud or ask a friend to proof it. Prioritize the content by listing the most important data in the upper sections. If you have relevant work experience, list this above your education, etc. Be sure to mention software and product applications with which you have experience. List any professional certifications or designations you have achieved or are working toward such as MAI, SRA, etc. – and any involvement with professional, trade and civic associations.

Top 10 Don’ts When Preparing Your Resume


Lie about your work experience or education. Period. Provide exact dates. Instead list months and years, which are sufficient. Detail every aspect of your career. If your resume exceeds one page you’ve probably listed too much information. Remember, your resume is a summary of your work experiences. Disclose reasons for being terminated or leaving a job. (This will be discussed in the interview) Include high school education if you’re a college graduate. Supply personal information like height, weight, health conditions or individual beliefs. List references or state “References available upon request.” Hiring managers assume you will provide these when asked. Disclose salary information. If an ad requests a salary range, include it in your cover letter. Use professional jargon unless you’re sure the resume will be read by someone who will understand. Use lofty, redundant language, puns or wordplays (i.e. “repeat again” or “in light of the fact that”).

Robert Half Management Resources


Cover Letter Tips and Guidelines

A cover letter is a personalized summary of your intentions for seeking a specific position. It informs an employer of your accomplishments, educational and personal background, work experience, and interests. Since your cover letter is often seen first, it is important that it be well-written and targeted to a specific employer. It is also important that a cover letter accompany EVERY resume you send.

A good cover letter should detail the following to an employer:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re applying
  • What you have done

Top 10 Do’s When Preparing Your Cover Letter


Customize the letter to a specific job opening and company. Research the firm and the industry through the Internet, trade publications and the library. Within the letter, demonstrate your knowledge of the field and the position’s requirements, and explain why your background meets the organization’s needs. Be careful not to rehash your resume in the cover letter. Instead, focus on key aspects of your background that relate directly to the job opportunity. Address the letter to the person hiring for the position. Verify and double-check the spelling of the name and the person’s title. Take advantage of your computer’s spell check function, then proofread carefully. Read your resume aloud or ask a friend to proof it.

Top 10 Don’ts When Preparing Your Cover Letter


Use a general cover letter. Take the time to customize it; the reader will notice. Ramble. State clearly why the organization interests you and how your experience will benefit the company. Use flowery, rambling, fluffy, pretentious, showy language. Think short and snappy! Comment negatively about your current or past employer(s). Close by stating that you will wait for them to call. Be proactive and say you will follow up soon to confirm that your resume was received and to discuss the possibility of meeting.


Robert Half Finance & Accounting Web Site

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