Friday, June 12, 2015

How to: Write a Resume + Cover Letter:


Oh resume's, I  used to see them all the time because people would hand them in at my day-job of burger aficionado - a roll I tossed (oh my god) up between the hours of 'university student' and 'freelance writer'.  If you're looking to switch jobs you might need a refresher course in how to write a resume.

I've been using the same template to write out resume's since the age of fourteen. It goes something like this:

If you want to know how to write a resume, or update one these are my top five tips:

1. Make it relevant:

Updated, recent and relevant to the role you're interested in - not just generalised. When writing a resume use key words from the advertisement of the job you are looking for and add them in for the respective applications. Your resume should also contain demonstrative language and actionable skills so that prospective employers can see you in the role.

You don't need to list every job you've ever had while writing your resume, this becomes tedious for your employer - especially if the list is five pages long because you've been working since you were fourteen. Use your most recent roles, use the roles you felt you performed best in, and try to cut the list so that it shows you have experience in, or have been building towards, the fields you are applying for.

2. Make it you:

Yes, my resume is bright purple. Don't be alarmed. I've scored two jobs this year, one in my field of writing/copywriting and one as the aforementioned burger bitch. Upon interviewing for my copywriting job I was told I was the first interviewee picked because my resume was 'interesting and colourful'. So don't be afraid to actually put some personality into your resume. It is actually supposed to represent and sell YOU - not give your potential employer a headache and sweaty palms upon looking at it. 

When you begin updating your resume, however please do not panic and think, 'how am I going to inject my personality into this devilry?!' just get the bones out first. You want all the basic lists of skills/experience/etc in there first and foremost. The fun part comes after you've written the basics out.

3. Do NOT Skimp on the Cover Letter!

As a teenager I used to hate writing cover letters when applying for jobs. However, when my sister got her first job I remember her saying, 'listen to Mum and use a cover letter - she knows what she's doing' (seriously though, was writing resumes like a family fun day activity in our house or something?) So, over the years I've perfected a half-decent cover letter template which goes something like this:

And yes, once again mine is pink. 

The basics of what you'll want to include in a cover letter are as follows:

Overview: Who you are, what you're doing, why you're looking for work. 

About Yourself: The more personal overview, e.g. 'I am a friendly and energetic personality, covered in glitter and frosted with fabulousness.' - but like, make it a bit more professional here. 

Previous Experience/Achievements in said Roles: Here's your time to shine. Go off about your favourite jobs and what you achieved from working there. Achievements are the best thing to include in your cover letter as the resume doesn't really have room for them. Think hard, did you get hired as a protege? Were you offered the chance to turn your casual job into a full-time position? These are all brilliant things to include.

Why you would make a great fit for the company: You don't want to conform, but you do want to fit. Your experience, personality, ability to think on-demand, creativity and other factors should help you determine the right sentence to put here. 

What you would bring to the company/ideas for it: So, following on from what you've just said you should be able to think about something you can bring to the company. Have you been trained in visual merchandising, marketing? etc. Maybe you could suggest a store-wide contest for seasonal decor or a newsletter for another company. Do you have any special skills the company might benefit from? Talk about them, explain their relevance.

You don't need the cover letter to be any more than 500 words. 500 words is about a page length in MS word.

4.  Make it neat: 

The format, layout, spelling/grammar and presentation of your resume is important, hence why spellcheck and those squiggly green lines are always handy. Try to use a cohesive formatting that matches as well as it can throughout the entire document. Although to be honest this step is probably left best for last. Also, don't use overly flowery language, even if you're a great poet. Fuck that shit right off, you're writing a resume. You can make it fun, but it doesn't need to be a masterpiece of artistry.

5. You Might Need More than One Resume:

If you're a university student like me who is applying for writing, editing and journalism jobs, but sometimes has to suck her eggs right down in order to pay the bills, you might need a second resume. The first pictured above has all my retail/hospitality/part-time/casual/store bitch work written on it. This is what I use when I'm applying for whatever job wherever. However, when applying for jobs in the field I'd like to work in, I use this one, which documents all my paid and volunteer writing experience, as well as any other experience I have working in creative fields.

 I also choose to link prospective employers to my blog and article directory because showing evidence that you're a self-starter, a creative thinker and a problem solver is invaluable on a resume. A full body of work readily available for your employer to peruse is more evidence than they need that you're excited about work and life!

It's not that hard to write a good resume, it's just ... well, it can be really bloody boring. You've just got to write the damn thing. Just do it. Nike that mofo up.