If you are a college senior like me, you might be scrambling to find the many ways to enhance your resume and cover letter to land your dream job. It is that time of year when seniors around the country are starting the dreaded job hunt. It can be overwhelming to try and stand out from the crowd and make an impact with a potential employer. While a lot of your effort should be put into getting great experiences to help you stand out, there are many ways to enhance your resume and cover letter to help you get a start in landing your dream job.
1. Numbers Stand out
One of the easiest ways to enhance your resume and cover letter is to add numbers. It will attract the eye of potential employers and provide actual statistics of your accomplishments. How many projects did you produce? How many people were under your command? Statistics are great talking points for interviews and will show that you have concrete examples of your past experiences.
2. Tell a Story
Your cover letter should not just be a summary of what you have done and your skills; it should tell a story. Explain the reasoning behind your decisions and have a flow from start to finish. Create a theme for your entire letter and make that theme apparent in every paragraph. Refer back to that theme in your final paragraph and explain what your experiences have been leading up to.
3. Formatting is Everything
If your cover letter and resume do not look appealing to the eye, no employer will want to hire you. The key to great resume formatting is to not distract the reader from focusing on you. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but make sure to not use overbearing fonts, bright colors, or anything that can distract from your content. You want the focus to be on your accomplishments, and not on the formatting mistakes. A clean, crisp, and organized resume is a subtle yet important way to stand out to employers.
4. Personalize It for Each Specific Job
It may seem like a lot of work but it will pay off in the end. Employers will take notice if you personalize your cover letter and resume to the specific qualifications of their company and job. Go to the company’s website and read their mission statement. Then tailor your documents to the values they hold highest. Employers will appreciate you going the extra mile to impress them.
5. Use Action Words
Words like achieved, managed, and resolved are all action words to include in your resume and cover letter. They show achievements and leadership, which are great qualities that employers look for. But avoid the word “responsible.” Employers usually overlook this word because they have seen it so often. Use a variety of these action words throughout your resume and cover letter to let employers know that you play an active role in your success.
6. Play up Your Specific Strengths
Everyone claims to have good written communication skills and leadership qualities. If you really want to stand out, play up specific strengths that only you would have based on your experiences. How have you gone above and beyond to gain unique skill sets? Let employers know what you have done to create a unique skill set that makes you invaluable to their company.
7. Be Simple and to the Point
Don’t fluff up your cover letter or resume, it will just distract and turn off your potential employer. The easiest way to enhance your resume and stand out is to be simple and concise. Get rid of unnecessary descriptions and make sure you are maximizing your space. You don’t want the person reading this to get bored and stop reading before they have even finished.
8. Have a Theme
Both your cover letter and resume should share a common consistent theme. If you take the time to make sure that both documents complement each other, potential employers will definitely be impressed. Both documents need to play up the same strengths, highlight the same experiences, and frame you in the same light. And both documents definitely need to be tailored to the same values the company holds highest.
9. Make the Most of the Space
Since you have to keep your writing concise, you need to make the most of the space you are given. A good rule of thumb is to make both your cover letter and resume one page. If you have a particularly long list of experiences that are absolutely relevant to the potential job, you can maybe make you resume two pages, but no longer than that. Your challenge is to decide what information is relevant and what isn’t.
All of this work might seem a like a bit of overkill, but employers will take notice of the effort you put into your resume and cover letter. The best way to stand out is to dedicate yourself to the details and present yourself in the best light. What did you think of these ways to enhance your resume and cover letter? What are some other ways you can enhance your resume and cover letter? What do you think is the best way to stand out to potential employers?