Letter Writing Practice Makes Perfect by pengxuebo


									   Letter Writing: Practice Makes Perfect
Some communications can be made informally--a phone call or an email is
sufficient. But for formal situations, only a letter will do. Letter writing provides both
you and the reader with a record of ideas, concerns, personal reactions, and
suggestions--a letter helps to avoid confusion. The discipline of carefully organizing
and expressing your ideas courteously on paper is an exercise that helps others to
understand your position in a positive and inoffensive manner. This article will give
you some easy guidelines for letter writing and help you to write a perfect letter.

Letters are an essential component of the job-search process. A crisp, well thought-
out letter will help advance you to the next stage; whereas a poorly written letter
reflects negatively on the set of skills you bring to potential employers and puts you
at a competitive disadvantage. Effective writing is a skill you will want to sharpen as
you proceed and you will want to make note of those letters that generate the
greatest results. The term “cover” letter refers to a letter that serves as an
introduction to enclosed material.

Whether you are writing a letter of introduction, a response to a job listing, or a
thank-you letter, all serve as a vehicle for your job search campaign. Each letter
should be written with careful thought and be representative of your style and
potential. Similar to a one-on-one meeting, a first impression can be made based on
the quality of your letter -- and every letter that follows will build upon your image
with the reader.
Before engaging in any letter writing, conduct the research necessary to present
yourself as an educated candidate. Position yourself as enthusiastic and informed,
with a specific motivation for writing to them.
Sample letters are available on the web for your reference. However, we give you
one note of caution: Do not simply copy these samples, change a few words here
and there, and recycle them for your own use. These samples are provided so that
you can get a feel for length and style. The cover letter is a marketing tool; as such,
it must be targeted to the intended audience. Each cover letter you send out should
address the specific needs of the hiring organization by answering the question
“why would we be better off if we hired you?” Recruiters often review hundreds of
resumes to find a handful of viable candidates; generic cover letters that don’t
answer this question eliminate people from consideration.

Tips for Perfect Letter Writing:

Getting Started

Always direct your letter to a specific individual and seek the decision-maker in the recruiting
process. Sometimes, companies have indicated a specific SOM contact. In many other cases, you
will look for the individual who is one or two positions above the job role that you are seeking.
This person should have the authority to hire you. Although you can locate names via directories,
annual reports, articles, etc., you should call the company to verify your data, confirm titles, and
identify nicknames.
All of your correspondence with prospective employers or networks should follow these basic

First thing to bear in mind is that just like a CV, a letter of introduction is a serious document.
And, like a CV, there are certain rules you must follow when writing a letter of introduction. First
and foremost you mustnt treat it as a normal letter you would send to a friend or family member.
Potential employers'arenґt interested in the state of the weather. A letter of introduction has a
definite job and for this reason you need to employ certain tried and tested formulas and
structures when writing it. The advice contained in the list below will help you produce a well-
structured letter of introduction.

               Use your own words on heavyweight, bright-white copy paper if using a computer,
               or use attractive stationery if you are handwriting the letter.
              Make it legible. Typed letters are usually better than handwritten letters.
              Keep your letter short, simple, and concise. Use short sentences and avoid long
              Make sure your letter is easily readable and clear in purpose. The reader shouldn't
               have to guess why you are writing the letter.
              When letter writing, consider giving specific examples from personal experiences to
               support your position.
              Make sure your letter is timely. Sending a letter too long after the fact is
               inappropriate and the reader may have forgotten the situation you are writing about.
               When you do write, give the reader ample time to respond.
              Date your letter (month, day, and year) in one of two formats.

           Example: June 30, 2007
                       30 June 2007

              Address your reader with the appropriate form of address.
              Include your full name, address, phone number and, if appropriate, your e-mail
               address and/or fax number-home address (top right-hand corner) and the address of
               the company or organisation to which you are applying (left-hand side, 2 lines below
               your addres)
              Be sincere and try not to include personal motives when asking for the job

               The style should be clear and concise. Only include pertinent information and donґt
                reproduce your CV, just make reference to it.
               The length of the letter is impotant. Ideally it ought to have 4 paragraphs of no more
                than 4 lines each paragraph. And remember, clarity and ease of understanding is the
                key to a good letter of introduction.
               Select with care the style and size of text (fount) you use and donґt use complicated
                phrases that
               Always sign the letter.

What Should You Say In Your Letter?

Asking yourself a few basic questions can be an excellent way to approach letter writing. Note
answers for your questions. You can incorporate these answers into the body of your letter.
Remember to keep the letter short, simple, and to the point. Here are some questions you could ask

                     Who are you? (An obvious question, but you may need to identify yourself right
                      away if the reader does not know you or does not know you well.)
                     Why are you writing this letter? What do you want? Keep your wording positive-
                      -for example, say what you want, rather than what you do not want.
                     What are your concerns? Be specific. After you identify yourself, focus on the
                      primary reason for your letter in the first few sentences.
                     What are your questions? Ask them clearly. Be polite, but don't make your
                      letter saccharine in tone. You don't want any misinterpretation of your purpose-
                      -someone might think an overly sweet letter expresses sarcasm.
                     How would you like the reader to respond to your question or situation?
                      Suggest the response you would like: a letter, a meeting, a phone call, an
                      email, etc. State exactly when you would like to receive the reader's response.

   Additional Tips For Successful Letter Writing:

    1. Good impression. You want the reader to grant your request and/or understand your
        concerns and point of view. Keep the tone of your letter pleasant and businesslike. When you
        communicate your thoughts, ideas, and concerns, you define your needs. Ultimately, the
        tone you take in your letter will help determine if you get the results you desire. State the
        facts without expressing anger, frustration, or blame. If you are feeling emotional when you
        write your letter, leave it and read it again in the morning. Reading it the next day will help
        ensure that your letter is courteous and cool-headed.
    2. The reader's point of view. Put yourself in the reader's place and try to be empathetic to
        his/her feelings. Read your letter with your reader's reaction in mind and ask yourself a few

                     Examples:      "Will the reader react positively to my letter?" "Is the tone of my

                                 letter businesslike, or have I used offensive language?"

    If you were offensive in any way, rewrite the letter! After you mail it, it becomes a permanent
    record of your thoughts and ideas.

3. Do not use clichés in your letter.Unsubstantiated claims, such as “XYZ is the best firm in
    the ABC industry” will always work against you.
4. Be brief. If you find yourself shrinking the font size to 10 points in order to get everything on
    one page, then you have probably written too much.
5. Make changes. Leave your letter for a few hours so that you can return to it with a fresh
    outlook. You will make changes--guaranteed! In the process of letter writing, always take
    advantage of the spell check and grammar check on your computer, or ask someone you
    trust to edit your letter before you send it.
6. Other opinions. Have someone else read the letter and make suggestions. Give them
    permission to criticize your letter constructively. You can give them a list of questions for a
    check list.

                  Examples:      "Is my reason for writing clear?" "Have I included all the essential
                                 facts?" "Does my letter ramble?" "Can my letter be improved in
                                 any way?" "How is my punctuation?" "How is my spelling and my

7. Consider every suggestion, but make the final decisions yourself--you are the one who is
     signing the letter.
8. Copy. Always keep a copy of each letter you send. If you are writing it on your computer, it
     will be easy to save the file.
9. End on a positive note. Always end your letter politely with an expression of thanks or
    another positive thought.

                  Example:      "Thank you for taking the time to consider my ideas."

10. Close: Type your closing, followed by four returns. Sign your name in the space between
    with a black pen. If you are sending copies of your letter to one or more persons other than
    the reader, you should list their names below your typed signature. Even though we don't
    send "carbon copies" anymore, "cc" has become standard for any copy sent--hard copy or
    email attachment.

                  Example:      Sincerely,
                                Your signature
                                Jane Doe

11. Spell and Grammar check. Proofread. Please. If English is not your native language, please
    have another student who is a native speaker check for errors and grammar.

Types of introduction letters

     1. Business-to-business introduction letters
These introduction letters are used to introduce a company, or one of its representatives, and/or
its products or services to another company or organization. Examples: introduce new sales
representative, new product, new branch manager, etc.
     2. Business-to-customer introduction letters
This type of introduction letter introduces a company or organization and/or one of its products or
services to individual clients and/or consumers. Examples: introduce new product/service, new
dealership, new location, etc.
     3. Personal introduction letters
These introduction letters are used to self-introduce the author to the addressee, or the author can
write one to introduce someone else who they know to another person or organization. Examples:
introduce former colleague, introduce former employee, introduce a friend or neighbor, self-
introduction of independent sales rep to new customers.
An introduction letter should not be written as a standard business letter or personal letter and
should not normally exceed one page. In some cases, introduction letters can include attachments
that relate directly to the contents of the letter such as: brochures, pamphlets, career briefs,
biographies, etc.
Introduction letters should not be confused with cover letters that are used to transmit resumes
and curriculum vitae and various business documents.

   7 tips for writing an effective introduction letter to introduce yourself

   1. Whenever possible, address your letter to a specific person.
   2. Begin your letter by stating your name and your position or role, if relevant.
   3. Tell how you got the reader’s name, if applicable.
   4. Give the purpose for your letter.
   5. Indicate what it is that you hope to accomplish by sending your letter (for example, setting
       up a time that you can meet in person with the reader) or what you would like the reader to
       do in response to your letter (such as grant you an interview).
   6. Include any other important information about yourself or the purpose of your letter (such as
       your contact information, brief history of your organization, your goals, or the like).
   7. Close by thanking the person, and end on a positive note.

   7 tips for writing a letter to introduce another individual:

   1. As you begin, mention the person by name.
   2. Identify your personal or professional association with the person. Briefly tell the reader
       about your experience with the person.
   3. For a business contact, you might want to include the person’s qualifications or positive
       qualities, or mention past projects he/she has worked on or companies he/she has worked
   4. Identify the purpose of your letter and what you hope to accomplish by sending it.

5. If you would like to give the reader the opportunity to meet with the person you are
    introducing, include the person’s contact information or mention when and possibly where
    the individuals might be able to meet. However, do not put the reader under any obligation.
6. Especially for business contacts, you might include the person’s business card, if possible.
7. Close your letter by indicating your confidence that the meeting would be a positive
    experience for both individuals, by reaffirming your hope that they can meet, by restating
    your esteem for the individual, etc.

8 tips for introducing a company, organization, product, or service:

1. Identify the name of your company or organization.
2. Tell about the company or organization. Mention how it was started, how long you’ve been in
    business, your mission or business objective or goals, and so forth.
3. If appropriate, identify the product(s) or service(s) you provide, and identify the benefits of
    buying or using these products or services. Tell why they are better than the competition;
    how they will save the reader time/money, make his/her quality of life better, or help
    him/her to accomplish a certain goal; and so on. In short, tell the reader why he/she must
    have the product or service you offer.
4. Invite the person to an open house, grand opening, sale, etc. if applicable.
5. If you represent an organization, describe the benefits of the organization, such as the good
    they do in the community, what they have been able to accomplish in the past, the benefits
    of membership (if applicable), and so forth.
6. Invite the reader to be your customer or to join your organization, or include information on
    how he/she can purchase your product or service, whether at a physical store, online, over
    the phone, etc.
7. Include information that will allow the reader to find out more if desired about your company
    or organization or the products or services you provide.
8. Close by expressing your hope that the person will want to join your organization or become
    a customer.

Writing a Letter of Introduction (the traditional “cover” letter)
Cover letters should be sent to:
    • People with whom you wish to speak informally or network, to learn more about a field
         or obtain contacts, feedback, etc. who can assist you in your job search regardless of
         whether you wish to work for his/her particular organization.
    • Organizations recruiting on campus, to express particular interest prior to their visits,
         and possibly to obtain an invitation to interview.
    • Organizations not recruiting on campus for which you would like to work.
Although each cover letter should be specific and targeted to a particular organization, job
role, or position, it is also possible to write a few “model” letters that you can modify slightly
for use in several different organizations within a general field. Just be very wary of “mail-
merge” and “cut-and-paste”! Make sure the text addresses the specific qualifications for the
position and proofread the letter carefully to ensure that all text has been updated
appropriately. Spell and grammar checks won’t catch the wrong company name, incorrect
job titles, erroneous positions, etc.

Cover letters should be brief and to the point, typically around 3-4 paragraphs and no more
than one page in length. Remember that this is an additional opportunity to present
yourself, beyond your resume. Consequently, you should consider providing additional
information, not solely repeating or summarizing your resume.
           • Paragraph 1
               − Begin by clearly explaining who you are and your connection to a person,
                 organization, or field.
               − If you are writing as a result of a referral, introduce the referral’s name as
                 early on in the letter as possible, and present the referral’s basis for
                 connecting the two of you.
               − Let the reader know why you are writing and what you hope to gain from
                 this introduction. Be specific about what you are asking him/her to do for
                 you (e.g., spend 15-30 minutes
               reviewing your job search strategy, put you on an interview list, invite you into
                 the office for an interview, etc.)

           • Paragraph 2
                − Discuss aspects of your education and/or experience that you feel support
                your career aspirations. Point to specifics in your career to validate your
                experiences. You may do this via bullet points or in a prose style, depending
                on the nature and tone of your letter. Your objective is to pique the reader’s
                interest in learning more about you.
                − If this paragraph becomes too long, divide it into two paragraphs, one
                discussing your strengths and one that stresses your particular fit with this
           • Paragraph 3
                − Inform the reader of your intentions for follow-up and thank them in
              advance for any assistance they may provide.
                − Follow up!

TIP- Differentiate Your Letter
     To differentiate your letter from the rest of the crowded student population, consider
using an introduction that focuses on your professional interest rather than on your status as
a student.
     You can create a more professional image of yourself with the reader and differentiate
your letter by starting it off with a more career-focused introduction. This approach can also
make your letter more distinctive and intriguing, which perhaps, will elicit a stronger interest
from the reader.

       You can do this by linking your identification to a particular career or the company
       For example:
“I am leveraging my legal experience, communications skills, and energy to pursue a career
in asset management.”
You can then go on to include your identification.
       Other examples could be:
“Drawing on four years of professional experience in the field of retail marketing, I am
preparing to pursue a career in the consumer goods industry.” or
“As a developing professional in the financial services field…” or
“From my perspective as…” or
”I am excited that Merrill Lynch is coming to campus and look forward to the opportunity to
interview with you. A financial analyst with X for three years, I am rounding out that
experience with a thorough grounding in strategy and marketing at Yale SOM.”
       You need to find your own way and take note of what works best for you and with
which types of people, organizations, or positions. Regardless, when you do speak with an
assistant, enlist his/her help in reaching the target individual and always treat this person
with respect. He/she is often your first introduction to the organization and his/her opinion
typically carries more weight than his/her position might otherwise suggest.
       It is not necessary to tell the reader that you have enclosed your resume for his/her
reference. Typically, it is assumed – or just obvious – that your resume is included; saying
so only takes up space without adding meaningful content.

                   How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

 Advertise your unique qualifications that no one else can offer by writing an effective cover

 Make yourself stand out from all the other job seekers, so your potential employer will move on
 to the next step--reading your resume!

 Get your foot in the door and secure that all-important job interview by following the tips below
 and writing the perfect cover letter!

             To mail or not to mail, that is the question!

 Be the exception, not the rule! Most employers get bombarded with a ton of email cover letters
 with attached resumes. If you really want to stand out, mail your prospective boss a cover letter
 and resume by snail mail--three days to the pile on his desk will be better than a forgotten folder in
 his hard drive!

             Use a font that will attract the reader's eye!

 Studies have shown that serif fonts such as Georgia or Times New Roman are easier to read in hard
 copy than a sans serif font such as Arial. The serif font uses small horizontal lines and flourishes
 that carry the eye along and make the text easier to read than the rigid vertical lines of a sans serif

          Address the potential employer personally!

Find out the name of the person who is accepting resumes for the job you want. Create a more
favorable impression by using his or her own name in your cover letter, rather than using an
impersonal greeting such as 'To Whom It May Concern.' When addressing a woman, it is safer to use
'Ms.' rather than 'Miss' or 'Mrs.' When addressing a man, use 'Mr.' with no nicknames. Use a comma
after the greeting, and make sure all names are spelled correctly!


Dear Ms. Thomas-Bentley,

Dear Mr. Benson,

          State which position you want and how you heard about it.

A large company may be hiring in several departments at once. In your cover letter, briefly state
which position you are interested in and how you found out about it.


I am responding to your ad in the Daily Herald for an editor/proofreader.

          Describe your most important qualifications--briefly!

Your resume should give your work history and qualifications in some detail. In your cover letter,
briefly mention only the qualifications that are most impressive and pertain exactly to the job
opening. Indented bullets or numbered lists of three or five items of fairly equal length are easy to
read and show your qualifications at a glance.


I am the ideal candidate for this position because I have:

1. Three years experience as a proofreader/editor

2. A bachelor's degree in English, summa cum laude

3. Strong English skills in grammar and composition

Alternate Method! You can accomplish the same purpose in your cover letter with a well-worded
sentence and not be restricted to making each item in your list a similar length.


I am the ideal candidate for this position because I not only have three years of experience as a
professional proofreader, but I also have strong skills in every aspect of English grammar and
composition, having graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English.

             Offer to provide an impressive reference.

Rather than just offering your personal assurance of your high qualifications, mention someone with
impressive credentials who has provided you with a positive reference in the past and who would be
willing to do so again. If this is the first time you will be asking for a reference from someone, make
sure you run the idea by them first before you use their name in your cover letter!


I also edited 36 articles that became two professional journals published by the university. Dr. Linda
Hendricks, Chair of the Linguistics Dept., hired me and supervised both projects. She would be happy
to provide you with a strong reference on my behalf.

             Express your eagerness to meet with the reader.

Now that you have peaked the reader's interest, don't overdue it! Use your cover letter only as an
overture to gain an interview.


I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience and answer any questions you might have.

             Don't forget your contact information!

End with your phone number and email address so that the reader can choose the method that is
most convenient. Mail your cover letter, using both a typed and hand-written signature. Enclose your



Janice Morton

Janice Morton


(555) 555-6954

             Final Tips for the Perfect Cover Letter:

Make sure both your spelling and grammar construction are letter perfect! Don't ignore error signals
from your word processing program such as green or red underlining. Right click and find out what
the problem is. If you do decide to send your resume by email attachment, make sure you send it in
the predominant Microsoft® Word format to avoid conversion problems on the receiving end.

                                       Action Verbs

Action verbs should be used abundantly throughout your resume and cover letters to promote your
achievements. They help make a strong impression.

Use action verbs extensively in sales copy. Begin benefit statements with action verbs but in the
active voice.

Management           Communication          Research            Technical           Teaching

achieved              addressed              clarified           analyzed           adapted
administered          arbitrated             collected           assembled          advised
analyzed              arranged               conceived           built              clarified
assigned              authored               critiqued           calculated         coached
attained              communicated           detected            computed           communicated
chaired               corresponded           diagnosed           designed           coordinated
conceived             counseled              disproved           devised            defined
contracted            developed              evaluated           engineered         developed
consolidated          defined                examined            fabricated         enabled
coordinated           directed               extracted           inspected          encouraged
decided               drafted                identified          maintained         evaluated
delegated             edited                 inspected           operated           explained
developed             enlisted               interpreted         overhauled         facilitated
directed              formulated             interviewed         programmed         guided
encouraged            influenced             investigated        remodeled          informed
evaluated             interpreted            organized           repaired           initiated
executed              lectured               researched          solved             instructed
handled               mediated               reported            trained            lectured
implemented           moderated              reviewed            upgraded           persuaded
improved              motivated              searched                               presented
incorporated          negotiated             studied                                set goals
increased             persuaded              summarized                             stimulated
inspired              promoted               surveyed                               taught
launched              publicized             systematized                           trained
led                   reconciled             wrote                                  updated
managed               reunited
motivated             renegotiated
organized             reported
outlined              researched
oversaw               summarized
planned               spoke
prioritized           translated
produced              wrote


Financial      Creative         Helping          Clerical or Detail

adjusted       acted             advised         activated
administered   applied           aided           altered
allocated      composed          assessed        assembled
analyzed       conceived         assisted        approved
appraised      conceptualized    brought         arranged
audited        created           clarified       catalogued
balanced       designed          coached         classified
budgeted       developed         coordinated     collected
calculated     directed          counseled       compiled
compared       established       dealt           described
computed       evaluated         demonstrated    dispatched
developed      fashioned         diagnosed       edited
estimated      formed            educated        estimated
forecast       formulated        encouraged      executed
forecasted     founded           enlisted        gathered
managed        illustrated       expedited       generated
marketed       instituted        facilitated     implemented
planned        integrated        familiarized    inspected
projected      introduced        guided          listed
reevaluated    invented          helped          maintained
reconciled     loaded            inspired        monitored
researched     molded            maintained      observed
sold           originated        modified        operated
               perceived         performed       organized
               performed         referred        overhauled
               planned           rehabilitated   prepared
               presented         represented     processed
               produced          supported       proofread
               refined           upheld          published
               rewrote                           purchased
               updated                           recorded

                              Additional Action Verbs

anticipated    experimented      lectured           received        scheduled
arbitrated     explained         lifted             recommended     selected
ascertained    expressed         listened           reconciled      sensed
charted        extracted         logged             painted         separated
checked        filed             maintained         perceived       served
classified     financed          made               performed       sewed
collected      fixed             managed            persuaded       shaped
completed      followed          manipulated        photographed    shared
conducted      formulated        mediated           piloted         showed
conserved      founded           memorized          planned         sketched
consolidated   gathered          modeled            played          solved
constructed    gave              monitored          predicted       sorted
controlled     generated         motivated          prepared        summarized
coordinated    guided            navigated          prescribed      supervised
counseled      handled           negotiated         presented       supplied
created        headed            observed           printed         symbolized
decided        helped            obtained           processed       synergized
defined        hypothesized      offered            produced        synthesized
delivered      identified        operated           programmed      systematized
detailed       illustrated       ordered            projected       talked
detected       imagined          organized          promoted        taught
determined     implemented       originated         proof-read      tended
devised        improved          painted            protected       tested
diagnosed      improvised        perceived          provided        trained
directed       increased         performed          publicized      transcribed
discovered     influenced        persuaded          purchased       translated
dispensed      informed          photographed       recorded        traveled
displayed      initiated         piloted            recruited       treated
disproved      innovated         planned            reduced         troubleshot
dissected      inspected         played             referred        tutored
distributed    installed         predicted          rehabilitated   typed
diverted       instituted        prepared           related         unified
dramatized     instructed        prescribed         rendered        united
drew           integrated        presented          repaired        upgraded
drove          interpreted       printed            reported        used
eliminated     interviewed       processed          represented     utilized
empathized     invented          produced           researched      verbalized
enforced       inventoried       programmed         resolved        warned
established    investigated      questioned         responded       washed
estimated      judged            raised             restored        weighed
evaluated      kept              read               retrieved       wired
examined       led               realized           reviewed        worked
expanded       learned           reasoned           risked

Template to Use When Writing a Cover Letter
The following cover letter template lists the information you need to include in the cover letter you submit with your
resume. Use the cover letter template as a guideline to create customized cover letters to send to employers.

Cover Letter Template

Contact Information
The first section of your cover letter should include information on how the employer can contact you. If you have
contact information for the employer, include that. Otherwise, just list your information.

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address


Employer Contact Information

City, State, Zip Code


Dear Mr./Ms.

Last Name:

Body of Cover Letter

The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select
you for an interview, and how you will follow-up.

First Paragraph:
The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are
applying for. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. Be clear and concise regarding your request.

Middle Paragraphs:
The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Convince the reader that
they should grant the interview or appointment you requested in the first paragraph. Make strong connections between
your abilities and their needs. Mention specifically how your skills and experience match the job you are applying for.
Remember, you are interpreting your resume, not repeating it. Try to support each statement you make with a piece of
evidence. Use several shorter paragraphs or bullets rather than one large block of text.

Final Paragraph:
Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how
you will follow-up. State that you will do so and indicate when (one week's time is typical). You may want to reduce the
time between sending out your resume and follow up if you fax or e-mail it.

Complimentary Close:

Respectfully yours,


Handwritten Signature (for a mailed letter)

Typed Signature

                         Is Your Resume Working for You?
10 Steps to a Killer Resume
Guest Author Louise Fletcher founded Blue Sky Resumes after leaving a 15 year HR career. She is a Certified
Professional Resume Writer and a member of the Professional Resume Writers Association, the Career Masters
Institute and Society for Human Resources Management.

You know the feeling. You spend hours, or even days, creating a résumé. You pore over every word of your cover letter
and agonize over what to say in your email. Then you hit „send‟ and wait. And wait. And wait. No one calls. No one
writes. You don‟t know if anyone even saw your résumé. When this happens, it‟s easy to get dejected and worry that
employers are not interested in you. Don‟t! Remember, they haven‟t met you. They have only seen your résumé and
that may be the problem.

An overwhelming majority of job seekers make basic mistakes with their résumés - mistakes that ensure that they will
not get the interviews they deserve. If you feel as though you‟re sending your résumé into a black hole, try this „Ten
Step Program‟ to diagnose problems and get your résumé working for you.

1. Is your résumé the right length?
You may have heard that your résumé should fit on one page. This is nonsense. Recruiter or hiring managers don‟t
care if your résumé is one or two pages long. But they do care whether it is easy to read and gives key information
upfront. Your résumé can be one, two, or (occasionally) even three pages. The only rule is that the length should be
appropriate for you. If in doubt follow the (very general) rule of thumb that less than 5 years experience probably only
requires one page and more than that may need two.

2. Does your résumé clearly position you as someone who can meet the needs of the employer?
Think of a résumé as an advertisement for a product, only this time the product is you. Just like any other
advertisement, positioning is everything. The person who receives your résumé will scan it quickly perhaps for no more
than 20 seconds to determine whether you can help her company. Your job is to say quickly, clearly and loudly that you

Don‟t just launch into a chronology of your career history. Instead, determine your own positioning by spelling out your
message at the start of the résumé and giving the reader your version of events upfront. For this reason, you should
use the first 1/3 of your résumé to create a compelling personal profile which highlights your key strengths in an
attractive, easy-to-read format.

3. Does your résumé begin with an objective?
Don‟t start with an objective. Recruiters and hiring managers don‟t like them because they focus on the needs of the job
seeker rather than the needs of the potential employer. Consider this objective statement: “Seeking a software engineer
position with a progressive employer where I can contribute to the development of new technologies and work with
bright, committed people.”

This may be very honest but it is irrelevant to the reader, who does not care what you want and only cares what you
have to offer. Instead of an objective, try using a positioning statement that clearly and concisely explains what you
have to offer.

“Senior Software Engineer with 10 years experience developing leading-edge technologies.”

Now the reader can immediately see your value to the company. (For even greater impact, tailor this statement for each
position so that the reader immediately sees a match between his/her needs and your skills.)

4. Does your résumé contain specifics?
You must place your achievements in context by providing specifics. For example, don‟t say something vague like
“contributed to product design.” This tells the employer nothing about your actual contribution. Instead be specific about
what you did: “Conducted market analysis for (name of product) to determine design and mechanics. Led changes to
original design spec. despite initial developer objections. Received critical acclaim and sold over 4 million units.” See
how being specific makes a difference? This level of detail shows the reader the contributions you have made in the
past (and therefore the contributions you can be expected to make in the future.)

5. Have you outlined achievements as well as responsibilities?
Don‟t provide a laundry list of responsibilities without showing what results you achieved. Most employers already know
what the main responsibilities of your job were. They want to know what makes you different from all the other
applicants. An effective résumé summarizes job responsibilities in a few sentences and then provides details of
quantifiable achievements.

Focus most of your résumé on the results you accomplished, not the regular duties of your job.

6. Are there any typos?
Your résumé has to be perfect. Proofread it over and over again. When you are sure it‟s perfect, have other people
proof it! If even one word is misspelled the reader will assume that you didn‟t know how to spell the word (this is bad) or
that you didn‟t care (this is even worse!) Nothing puts the reader off more quickly than misspellings or typos.

7. Is the résumé easy to read?
At least 50% of the impact of your résumé derives from design. A strong résumé design will pull the eye through the
document, making it easy to keep reading and will highlight your key strengths clearly. But if your résumé is badly laid
out, disorganized or hard to read, it will be discarded before the reader knows how qualified you are.

To see examples of how to lay out your résumé, go to the library or bookstore and look in the career section. You will
find collections of sample résumés. Take time to understand how the page has been laid out and then apply what
you‟ve learned to your résumé.

8. Have you listed irrelevant information?
Don‟t list your hobbies unless they directly support your qualifications for the position. Don‟t detail your marital status or
the number of children you have. Don‟t mention non-professional affiliations such as political or religious volunteer work
unless it directly relates to the position you are applying for. Any personal information runs the risk of turning the reader
off. However proud you are of personal achievements, you should not run the risk of alienating someone before you
even have your foot in the door.

9. Are you too modest?
Don‟t be uncomfortable about blowing your own trumpet. Too many people play down their achievements. While you
should never exaggerate on a résumé, you should definitely take credit for the things you‟ve accomplished. Some
people feel uncomfortable boasting on paper preferring to explain in an interview. But if your résumé doesn‟t spark
interest, you may never get that opportunity, so don‟t be modest!

10. Have you created an internet-ready version of résumé?
If you have to post your résumé online, or apply to a job via an online system, you will need to convert your résumé to a
text-only format. If you don‟t do this, your résumé will be almost impossible to read because most online systems
cannot support the type of formatting used in a résumé (bold, italics, bullet points, lines etc.)

When you send your résumé out, it must speak articulately for you. You can‟t explain inconsistencies, clear up
confusion or fill in things that are missing. Your résumé has to make your sales pitch in a clear and compelling manner
within 20 seconds. Invest the time to make it exceptional and you will see an immediate increase in the response rate.

Sample resume 1

Genise R. Caruso
910 Oak St., Verona, WI 53693
302-550-1111 or 608-111-1111

Marketing position that uses my writing skills and enables me to make a positive contribution.

Skills and Abilities

Writing Skills

        Wrote creative copy for catalogs, brochures and other direct mail projects.
        Researched and conceived newsletter articles.
        Produced variety of business materials, including: letters, reports, proposals and forms.
        Formulated employee policy manuals and job descriptions.
        Composed essays using APA or MLA format.
        Proof read and edited all referenced written materials.

Marketing Skills

       Designed, developed and implemented marketing and sales campaigns, fundraisers, employee
        incentive programs and contests.
       Evaluated target markets and proposed marketing strategies.
       Managed all phases of direct mail projects; monitored production teams; recruited and guided
        vendors; oversaw print operations and coordinated mailing process.

Communication Skills

       Promoted products and services; generated leads and initiated sales.
       Established and improved client communications; maintained ongoing relationships.
       Addressed customer inquiries; interpreted and delivered information; proposed suggestions;
        provided guidance; identified, investigated and negotiated conflicts.
       Conducted surveys and analyzed results.
       Coordinated, planned and contributed at trade shows and special events.
       Served as representative and liaison.

Business Administrative and Management Skills

       Hired, trained, coached, supervised and evaluated staff members.
       Led teams; chaired committees; initiated volunteer events and activities.
       Launched and operated sole proprietorship.
       Reviewed and analyzed insurance applications and documents; expedited materials; evaluated and
        audited medical data.
       Achieved computer proficiency; demonstrated knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
        Publisher, Adobe PhotoShop and all Internet functions.

Education and Training

Ellis College of New York Institute of Technology-online
B.A. in English-Professional Writing
Certificate Technical Writing
Anticipated Graduation in mid 2008
Current GPA: 4.0 (on scale of 4.0)

American InterContinental University-online
A.A. in Business Administration
Graduated April 2006, with honors
GPA 3.75 (on scale of 4.0)

Continuing Education

Customer Service Series 1, 2 & 3; Communication Skills; Sale Skills; Team Leadership; Diversity
Workshop; Management Skills; Conflict Management; Organizational Skills; Microsoft; Lotus Notes

Writing Training

Introduction to Fiction; Short Story Workshop; Creative Writing; Grammar 1 & 2; Revising and Editing; Short
Non-Fiction; Writing Magazine and Newspaper Articles; Non-Fiction Query Letter; Business Writing


5/2005 - present (part-time, as needed), Support Substitute
Verona Area School District, Verona, WI

01/2003 - present (part-time, when available), Freelance Writer/Administrative

04/1999 - 06/2002, Open Enrollment Specialist, Sales Coordinator
Humana, Madison, WI

08/1997 - 02/1999, Project and Office Manager
Print & Mail Advertising, Madison, WI

04/1988 - 12/1992, President and Owner
Caruso Marketing, Streamwood, IL and Madison, WI

Prior Experience:

Advertising Director, Consolidated Merchandising, Hinsdale, IL

Project Manager/Editor, Cooperative Marketing, Elk Grove Village, IL

Temporary employment was held while seeking professional work promoting skills in retail sales and
management, food service, administrative and customer service.

Additional Information

        Member, National Scholars Honor Society, 2006
        Awarded Certificates of Achievement for continuing education courses, 1999-2002
        Earned over 25 Brain Bench certifications, 2004-2006
        Passed State of WI Health Insurance License Exam, July 1999
        Offered time and services to community and charitable organizations, employer sponsored
         committees and children's school events and activities.


Will be provided upon request.

Sample resume 2

                                  Sample Resume - Information Technology

                                           RAJAN WHITEVAN
                                 2008 West 7 th Place ~ San Diego, CA 98876
                                        912-767-0087 ~ rwhitevan@msn.com

Solutions-focused, team oriented Senior Technical Support Analyst with broad-based experience and hands-on skill in
the successful implementation of highly effective helpdesk operations and the cost-effective management of
innovative customer and technical support strategies. Proven ability to successfully analyze an organization's critical
support requirements, identify deficiencies and potential opportunities, and develop innovative solutions for increasing
reliability and improving productivity. A broad understanding of computer hardware and software, including installation,
configuration, management, troubleshooting, and support.


                       Linux/Unix · Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP · Oracle · FoxPro · DBase II
                               C · C · BASIC · MS Office · MS-Money · Encarta


         2002 - Present

         Mentor/ Escalation Support (8/2003- - present)
          Promoted to Mentor, handling escalation processes and mentoring other support professionals while
              working via phone, email, and chat.
         Technical Support Manager for Microsoft Money account (6/2003 - 7/2003)
          Promoted from frontline support professional to second-tier technical support manager, supervising frontline
               phone support for Microsoft Corporation for Money, Encarta, PC Games, and other similar products.
          Responsible for the strategic development and implementation of cost-effective training and support
               solutions that are designed to provide improved productivity, streamlined operations, and faster access
               to critical information.
          Implement effective customer satisfaction strategies by identifying and eliminating the root causes of
               customer problems.
          Utilize NICE Application and AVAYA program to manage call center metrics, lead call calibrations, and
               perform random-sample audits on email and chat sessions.
         Quality Monitoring Lead (12/2002 - 5/2003)
          Participate in quality assurance procedures, verifying sales calls taken by the other agents, provide
              constructive feedback to agents, and adhere to the specific support levels that have been purchased by
              the client.
         Support Professional for Chase Bank (9/2002 - 12/2002)
          Provide comprehensive system support, configuration, maintenance, and training for Providian Bank and
              promoted value added products and services for existing clients.
         Hardware Engineer
          Performed hardware and software installations and provided high-level customer care, training, and
              technical support.
          Assembled and installed a wide array of computer systems, workstations, and peripheral hardware.
    Diploma in Computer Science

Sample resume 3

Sample Email Cover Letter With Resume Included

Subject Line of Email Message: Store Manager Position

Dear Hiring Manager,

I read your job posting for the Store Manager position with interest. I can offer XYZ Company:

- Over five years of retail management experience, including experience opening a new store location

- Ability to effectively hire, train, and manage staff

- Payroll management, scheduling, reports, and inventory

- Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items

In addition to my extensive retail experience, I have excellent communication skills. I always maintain a gracious and
professional manner when communicating with people, including customers and store staff. My broad experience and
range of skills make me a superior candidate for this position.

My resume, which is below, provides additional information on my background and qualifications. I look forward to
hearing from you as soon as possible to arrange time for an interview.

Thank you for your consideration.

Paul Jones
Email Address


Paul Jones Resume

Paul Jones
6 Pine Street
Arlington, VA 12333
555.555.5555 (home)
566.486.2222 (cell)


Assistant Manager
April 2000 – Present
- Opened new specialty boutique
- Placed orders to restock merchandise and handled receiving of products
- Managed payroll, scheduling, reports, email, inventory, and maintained clientele book and records
- Integrated new register functions
- Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items

Sales Associate
Nordstrom, Collectors and Couture Departments
July 1998 – April 2000
- Merchandised designer women‟s wear
- Set-up trunk shows and attended clinics for new incoming fashion lines
- Worked with tailors and seamstresses for fittings
- Scheduled private shopping appointments with high-end customers

Jigg's Corner
February 1996 – July 1998
- Provide customer service in fast-paced bar atmosphere
- Maintain and restock inventory
- Administrative responsibilities include processing hour and tip information for payroll and closing register

- Ramapo College, Arlington, Virginia

Computer Skills
- Proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, QuickBooks, and Internet



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