June 2, 2012

Beyond Business: Cover Letter & Résumé

Here are some tips from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Career Center on how to put together a strong cover letter and résumé. Remember, Market Yourself:

Every job on the planet will require a résumé. Every résumé should be accompanied by a proper cover letter. Preparing, proofing, and perfecting your cover letter and résumé is time well spent when it comes to a successful job hunt.

Your résumé is more than a one-page summary of your education, skills, and work experience. Similarly, the cover letter is more than an introductory greeting. These documents create a first impression on potential employers. Think of the cover letter/résumé package as a marketing brochure advertising you and your strengths. If your job experience is limited, don't be intimidated. The cover letter and résumé are tools for stating your case and winning the job.

The Cover Letter
Use the cover letter to make employers curious to know more about you. Draw them into your résumé by highlighting your strengths and explaining why you are perfect for the position.

  • Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern." Do the necessary research to find out the person who is hiring for the position. This may involve contacting the company's Human Resources Department. 
  • Keep the letter to a single page with no more than four paragraphs. 
  • Proofread the letter. It must be free from spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and typos. Have three others proofread the letter, as well. 
  • Use high-quality matching stationery. If faxing, make be sure to use clean, white paper free from creases, textures, or patterns. 

Click here for a Cover Letter example.

The Résumé 
The goal of a résumé is to get an interview. Its job is to get you in front of someone who can hire you. Résumés must be clear, concise, and consistent.

  • List your most impressive or recent information first. 
  • Keep your résumé short and to the point. 
  • Do not fill the page with long paragraphs. 
  • Use bullets to mark each fact. 
  • Do not include information that is not directly related to the position for which you are applying. 
  • Do not list any personal information such as height, weight, age, marital status, number of children, or sex. 
  • Avoid using pronouns (my, I, he, she, they, etc.). The employer knows you are speaking about yourself. Sentences should read: “Improved sales by 30%” or “Promoted to head designer.” 
  • Keep margins clean. 
  • Look over your résumé and decide for yourself what stands out. Employers spend 10-30 seconds scanning a résumé, so use that time to make an impact. Use boldface or capitals to highlight key points. 
  • Proofread your résumé. It must be free from spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and typos. “After the fact” is never a good time to discover you've misspelled your own last name. 
  • Use high-quality matching stationery. If faxing, make sure to use clean, white paper free from creases, textures, or patterns.

Click here for a Resume example.