Job Seeker Resources
Tips for Writing Résumés, Cover Letters and Nailing Your Interview
Today’s job applicants need to be able to convey who they are in writing (résumés and cover letters) and in person (interviews). However, that is often easier said than done.
Writing a cover letter and resume and preparing for an interview can be intimidating tasks. Skywalk Group is here to help, offering a variety of resources for job applicants just like you. Select from the following tips for résumés & cover letters or interview tips to get the help you need to land the job you desire.
Nail the Interview
Interviews can be intimidating, nerve-racking and anxiety-inducing. But they don’t have to be. Let us show you how to:
- Prepare for an interview
- Dress for an interview
- Behave and interact
- Think of questions to ask
Learn how to nail your upcoming interview.
Write the Perfect Cover Letter & Resume
Our tips for writing the perfect cover letter and resume help answer questions like:
- What should I include?
- What shouldn’t I include?
- How should I format them?
- How long should they be?
- Prepare - this means writing down questions you want to ask, having extra copies of your resume in a portfolio, bringing two pens that work and paper to take notes.
- Dress for success - this may depend on the company and job and varies for men and women, but there are a few rules. Keep suits and shirt colors to lighter shades (you can add flashes of color), keep jewelry simple, don’t overdo hairstyles or makeup and look as professional as possible.
- Be on time - remember this phrase: early is on time, on time is late. Do whatever it takes to arrive 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time.
- Nail the introduction - a firm handshake, but not too hard, is appropriate. Make eye contact and try to repeat the person’s name (“Hi, Robert, it’s nice to finally meet you in person.”)
- Stay attentive - this means making eye contact when questions are being asked, nodding every once in a while, and writing notes down on the paper you brought.
- Avoid negativity - focus on skills you have and positive experiences you have had.
- Be detailed in your answers - remember the STAR approach to answering questions: S- Situation: what was happening or needed to be done? T- Task: what were you trying to accomplish? A- Action: what actions did you take? R- Result: what were the results of your actions?
- Be confident - even if you have to fake it, confidence goes a long way with interviewers. After a question, take a breath, relax and then answer.
- Ask questions - these can be the prepared questions you brought with you, or follow up questions to something the interviewer brought up.
- Take action - before the interview ends, ask about next steps, ensure you have given the interviewer all the information they need, and, if appropriate, ask for the job.
- Follow up - complete any of the action items you set with the interviewer, send a thank you note and follow up with a call.
A well written cover allows you to stand out from the pack of boring and identical cover letters. Here are a few ways to give your cover letter a little more zip:
- Avoid repeating your resume - Your cover letter shouldn’t be your resume in paragraph form. Show some personality, interest and curiosity for the job, company or field you are applying within. The key is to make your cover letter as interesting is possible so the hiring manager actually wants to read your resume.
- Research the company or job field - Example: you are applying for a job a tech company. Explain what put them on your radar, or how you first became fascinated with technology.
- Be concise - Limit your rambling. Hook them with a great introduction, rivet them through three or four paragraphs and wrap it up.
- Bring in your skills in unique ways - the job description should illustrate what type of person the company is searching for. Find creative ways to tie in your most unique or strongest skills.
- Edit, rewrite, then edit again - if you don’t like to read your own writing, have a colleague, family member or friend who has writing and editing experience to help you out.
- Make sure it answers this one question - when you think you have the perfect cover letter, read it again to see if it gives a compelling answer to this question: why should this company hire you?
Once you have a hiring manager’s attention from crafting an impeccable cover letter, your resume needs to powerfully illustrate your qualifications quickly. Here’s how:
- Keep it simple - your resume will get, on average, six seconds to impress whoever is reading it. A study from jobs-matching service TheLadders states that those reviewing résumés spent 80 percent of their time looking at these six things:
- Current title/company
- Previous title/company
- Previous start and end dates
- Current position start and end dates
- Avoid fancy layouts - make the above areas easy to find and read. Skip italicizing and underlining, and only bold when necessary. Stick to a simple font (Times New Roman or Calibri are standards) that is black, and print on white paper.
- List jobs in reverse chronological order - start with your current position and work backward. State the complete company name, what they do, duration of employment, your position and accomplishments during your employment.
- Forget the objectives and summary - to be blunt, hiring managers only care about their objective – to find a qualified person to fill this position so they look good – than your professional dreams.
- Use numbers and stats when possible - “came in under budget by 25%” or “increased profits by 27%” grab attention.
- Don’t use vague words and phrases - you’re “creative,” “an excellent communicator” and a “team player?” So is everyone else in their resume. Find phrases that help you stand out.
- Proofread your resume - comb it for mistakes; ask others to give their feedback.