Cover LEtter Writing
It is essential to send a cover letter with your resume to provide a recruiter with insight into your qualifications, experience, and motivation for seeking a position. The letter also conveys your personal communication style, tone, and professionalism. An effective employment letter should:
- Be targeted and personalized
- State why you are interested in the company
- Explain how you can fill a need
- Convey your enthusiasm about the opportunity
- Suggest next steps for communication and action
Guidelines & Examples
Start With Research
Investigate your target company. What is the company's "breaking news?" What drives their business? What are their greatest challenges and opportunities? How can you contribute? The Job/Career Research section of eBaker can help with your research.
The Attention-grabber Approach
Outline your objectives using relevant information that attracts the attention of the reader.
Address the letter to a specific person. Capture the reader's attention and briefly introduce yourself.
Mention the referral/company contact, if applicable.
State the purpose of your letter.
Describe relevant information you discovered about the company.
Discuss the position offered or the position you are looking for.
Detail how your skills will benefit the company.
Convey your enthusiasm.
Pay close attention to sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation. Always print your letter to check for typographical errors. Have a friend, colleague, or family member review your letter whenever possible.
Advice Regarding Employment Gaps
Cover letters are the place to briefly and directly address the gap in your career. For example, "I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children." Then address your strengths, qualifications and goals. Emphasize your excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now.
Response to Identified Advertisement
RESUME SECTIONS, TEMPLATES & SAMPLES
The resume is an opportunity to market yourself to a prospective employer. It should be succinct, target an employer's needs, and distinguish you from your competitors. Before you get started, think about your strengths, weaknesses, personal preferences, and motivations. You should also consider the company's needs, who your competition might be, and your unique skill set. The best way to convince employers that you will add value is to show them that you've done it before.
Contact details - Let others know who you are and how to get in touch with you. In addition to your name, you should list your mailing address, phone number, and email address. It is expected to be found at the top of the page. No need to include it on additional pages.
- Professional history - Start with your most recent role and list in descending chronology. For each role, provide a sentence or two that describes the scope of your responsibility. Then in bullet format, provide accomplishment statements. To write an accomplishment statement, state the problem you encountered, the action you took and the result or impact of your actions. For example, "Led team in implementing a new general ledger package by providing expertise and encouragement which contributed to a successful, on-time project completion."
- Education - Spell out your degree so it will stand out better. It is not necessary to include your GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles or study abroad experiences
- Summary/Profile - A great opportunity to tell the reader exactly what you want them to know. It should be 3-4 sentences in paragraph form following your contact information. Be careful not to load up on overused resume jargon and avoid listing previous jobs/education as it is redundant. Instead, focus on your branding statement, unique themes in your career path, and skills.
- Key skills - Listing your skills is a great way for the reader to quickly evaluate your skill set. List skills that are relevant to your next position. For each skill, you will need a proof statement in the form of an accomplishment stated in the professional experience section. A good way to set up this section is in 2 or 3 columns with 3-4 skills in each column. The heading could be "Key areas of expertise" or "Core Competencies".
- Personal/Interests - Only include if it helps tell your story.
- Additional roles - If you participate in organizations outside of your professional employment, you may list these in a separate section. Headings are typically "Volunteer Leadership Roles" or "Community Service".
- Licenses and Professional Certifications - If you possess a license or certification, these should be called out in a separate section.
- Objective - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
- References available upon request - No longer in style. Do not include in your resume.
Chronological - This is the most commonly used layout. Recommended for a mostly consistent record of employment showing progression/growth from position to position. Not recommended for gaps in employment dates, those out of job market for some time, or changing careers.
Streamlined Chronological - This layout also shows progression from one job to the next, but does not include extra sections such as Summary/Profile or Areas of Expertise. Recommended for recent alumni.
Chronological/Functional Hybrid Resume - In this layout, you can highlight your employment history in a straight chronological manner, but also make it immediately clear you have filled a variety of roles that use different but related skill sets. This is useful to provide a few accomplishments in the beginning to show a theme. Each role would also have specific accomplishment statements.
Resume Writing Tips
Creating Visual Impact
A concise, visually appealing resume will make a stronger impression than a dense, text-laden document. Respect page margins and properly space the text. Learn to appreciate the value of "white space." Limit a resume to 1-2 pages - but not one and 1/4. Ensure content is balanced on both pages. A CV is typically longer because it includes additional sections such as publications and research.
Use Parallel Construction
Select a consistent order of information, format, and spacing. If one experience starts with a brief overview followed by bullet points, subsequent experiences should follow a similar form. Parallel construction—including the use of action verbs (login required) to start all phrases—greatly enhances a resume's readability.
Pay close attention to margin alignment, spelling, punctuation, and dates. Read your resume backward to check for typographical errors. (You will focus on individual words, rather than the meaning of the text.) Better yet, have a friend, colleague, or family member review your resume.
Use Action Verbs
Action Verbs List (login required)
- What is an appropriate length?
- One or two pages for a resume - but not one and 1/4. The content should be balanced on both pages. A CV is typically longer because it includes additional sections such as publications and research.
- Should I include internships?
- More recent graduates may want to include internships to enhance their experience. One may also want to include an internship if it was with a "brand name" firm or to illustrate a significant accomplishment.
- Should I include graduation dates?
- It is common to include the year of graduation. Not including dates could be seen as a candidate hiding their age. As with many resume decisions, you should do what makes you feel most comfortable.
- How do I deal with a gap in employment?
- If you've taken time away to care for family, accommodate a spouse's or partner's career, or for any other reason, your resume is the place to demonstrate the contribution you can make to an organization's goals. Keep the focus on the value you will bring to the organization and demonstrate how you have kept up-to-date with changes in your industry. Detail is not always necessary. For example, simply stating "Parenting leave" or "Elder Care leave" with dates may suffice. If the leave is extended, describing your role and the skills applied can bring it to relevancy.
- Should I include my entire work history; How far do I go back?
- The resume is a relevant history. Therefore, older roles that do not contribute to the story can be included without much content (company name and title only). Leaving out early roles to conceal ones age can later be taken as deceptive. Additionally, many people are on to this trick.
- How can I quantify results without using numbers?
- Results and impacts do not need to always be in numbers. It may result in improvement in customer satisfaction, increased employee engagement, or adoption of a new policy.
Managing Your Brand: Differentiate Yourself and Land the Perfect Job. Learn how to accelerate your career success through creating a personal brand. By identifying your unique skills and talents, you can land your ideal job by creating a personal brand that allows you to stand out from everyone else.
View Webinar Slide Deck (2010) (login required)
- Phyllis Korkki. Writing a Résumé That Shouts 'Hire Me', The New York Times, February 2010.
- Kerry Hannon. Want an Unbeatable Resume? Read These Tips from a Top Recruiter. Forbes, August 2011.
- Sarah E. Needleman. Creating a Résumé That Sells, The Wall Street Journal, November 2009.
- David Silverman. How to Write a Résumé That Doesn't Annoy People HBR Blog Network, June 2009.
- George Anders. Spotting the Great but Imperfect Résumé, HBR Blog Network, December 2011.
- Anne Fisher. Top 5 Mistakes on Executive Resumes, CNN Money, June 2011.
- JoAnn S. Lublin. Finding a Master Résumé Writer, The Wall Street Journal, October 2008.
- Tom O'Neil. Write a Résumé that Travels Across Countries and Cultures, HBR Blog Network, May 2012.
- Elizabeth Garone. Creating a Winning Finance Resume, The Wall Street Journal, March 2010.
- Alina Dizik. Five Questions to Ask a Résumé Writer, The Wall Street Journal, August 2010.
- Tammy Erickson. The Case of the Rolling Stone (that Gathers No Moss) Résumé, HBR Blog Network, February 2012.