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My conception of the resume and cover letter My conception of the resume and cover letter
by Joseph Gatt
2020-11-26 10:31:07
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Common sense “food for thought” on what a resume and cover letter should look like. Notes in no particular order.

-First one, big one. After putting my name, address, email etc. on my resume, I would start by a few key words to discuss my “personality.”

-What do I mean by personality? What I would do is I would ask my close friends to tell me what words they would use to describe my personality.  

-My friends would probably say that I'm “giggly” and “playful” and “altruistic” and “very casual” and “straightforward” and “to the point” and perhaps “optimistic” and “problem-solver” and “learner” and perhaps “very flexible” and “adaptable.”  

job001-When the person who wants hire me sees those attributes, that will tell them whether to hire me or not. If they are the kind of company where you get fined 100 bucks for being 3 minutes late and where they send you home because there's a coffee stain on your shirt, OK, they know they shouldn't hire me. If they get offended by laughter and to them a good laugh is a sign of laziness, they definitely shouldn't hire me.

-So the bit on personality saves me and the company some embarrassment, or perhaps on the contrary, we have affinities.

-At the top, I would add name, phone number, email, but also links to my social media pages. Some people think social media pages should be private, but employers tend to do their research and snoop around social media before they hire people. So you want clean social media profiles.

-What's a “clean” social media profile? You want the best possible posts and tweets, minimal spelling mistakes, something politically correct. If you have friends who like to use “aliases” and “strange profile pictures” you want to hide those friends because they tend to make a bad impression. And avoid anything suggestive or provocative on social media.

-The way you update your social media profiles will play a huge role on determining whether you get hired or not.

-Education: I'd leave GPA out of the resume, because some colleges inflate grades, others deflate them. Same goes for high schools.

-In the education part, I'd add a brief paragraph explaining what I did and what I learned in college. Some majors are a little confusing.

-For example, I studied “English and Spanish studies” in college but I did not study Cervantes, Garcia Marquez, Shakespeare or Dickens or Mark Twain.

-So I'd say something like: took intensive courses in translation (but not interpretation), conversation, grammar and linguistics, but also Latin American, Spanish, British and American law, economics and society, along with intensive courses in journalism and communication (writing and advertising) and very intensive courses in French law. And intensive courses in small business management.

-In sum, something to clear the confusion about what you studied in college.

-Experience. Again, rather than state the job description, you want to add a paragraph explaining more or less what you did and what you learned in your previous jobs.

-Recruiters should know that, when it comes to experience, you quit those jobs (or want to quit those jobs) for a reason. If they were great, rewarding, fulfilling jobs, you'd still be working there.

-So I would do away with “references.”

-Of course you don't want to criticize your previous employers, but you want to say a few things about what you did and what you learned.

-For example, for one of my previous jobs, I would say something like: “job involved checking email for correspondence with clients, phone conversations and order negotiations with clients, running small marketing and advertising campaigns, cold-calling potential clients, buyer searching, friendly calls to old clients and loyal clients, touring the city with visiting clients, some accounting and some financial operations. You get the idea.

-The “skills” part. I'd list the skill, and if necessary, I would add precisions at to what I can (and can't) do with the skill.

-For Microsoft Office software for example, MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint are pretty obvious and straightforward (although Excel can sometimes be complicated to use for advanced options). But some of the software is a little less obvious to navigate.

-If you're good at Adobe Photoshop for example, you could list what it is that you can do with Photoshop. You could for example state that you can design banners, posters, flyers, and perhaps even books and leaflets. If you can design logos and pictures, you want to explain how.

-With languages of course you want to be precise about the extent of your language use. You want to avoid the European classification or stating your “level” or saying things like “professional working ability” because those things don't mean much of anything. You want to say whether you can “write letters” and “translate” and “interpret” and “hold advanced conversations” and “negotiate verbally and in written form” in those languages.

-With computer and technology skills, you want to state what you can do, and perhaps your limitations. Perhaps you're more of a hardware guy or girl, or perhaps you're more of a lab chemistry kind of guy. Maybe you can operate a microscope but can't use a computer-assisted microscope. Those sorts of things.

-Hobbies. We all cook, exercise and read.

-But keep in mind that you are trying to tell your employer information he or she needs to know. So if you can make sandwiches and love making sandwiches, or love cooking course meals, you want to be specific, because that could come in useful one day, if a client needs to be entertained for example.

-Same goes for sports. Some employers like to play tennis with employees, and would love hiring someone who can play the sport. Other employers love to play an occasional round of golf, while other companies play soccer or basketball every Wednesday after work. Keep those small things in mind.

-Final notes: I've noticed the recent trend is for job applicants to “show off” their excellent graphic design skills when they send resumes by putting all sorts of fonts, colors and backgrounds.

-The problem with putting too much color and fonts and pictures and rainbow colors in resumes is that, personally, it distracts me from the content. I want to see who you are and what you can do, not how good you are with graphic design and how creative you are.

-The cover letter. I'd keep it short (two or three paragraphs). In the old days, the “cover letter” was a short, hand-written statement accompanying the resume sent by fax or mail, saying something like “dear Sir/Madam, thank you for handing over my resume to Mr. John Doe, head of the sales department. Wishing you a wonderful day.”

-Over the years applicants have been sending “two” cover letters with their applications: an email body, and an MS Word or PDF document telling the story of their life.

-So I'd keep the cover letter simple. I would simply thank the person for reviewing my email, invite him or her to contact me if they have any questions, and suggest that I'm available to hand over any documents or references that they might need.

-Voilà! Good luck!


    
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