What’s a resume – and why have one?
Your resume (sometimes called a CV or curriculum vitae) is a marketing tool – a way to sell yourself. It has one main purpose: to win you a job interview. A good resume is crucial when applying for a new job - it’s your first chance to really impress what could potentially be your new employer!
It should summarise the following:
- Personal strengths
Based upon the strength of information in your resume, you will either be selected for an interview or passed over for another candidate.
Your resume is the only step in job hunting in which you have total power. Remember this is your personal marketing document, so make sure you stand out. Any jobseeker in today's job market is up against very strong competition.
Not sure where to start with your resume? You’ve come to the right place!
Download our Skillsroad resume template
A cover letter is a short (one page), tailored letter that should always accompany any resume or application documents that you send to a prospective employer. It is your cover letter that actually creates the first impression, as it's generally the first document that your future employer will read.
A few pointers to help create a cover letter with a difference
- Always address the letter to the person listed in the job advertisement or use the contact details of the person recruiting for the role.
- You need to tailor your cover letter to suit the position/industry. Refer to the job requirements or selection criteria listed in the advertisement and link these to your skills, qualifications, strengths, successes and experience documented in your attached resume. Make sure you complement your resume - don't duplicate it.
- When you have finished the letter ask someone who you know has an eye for detail to check the spelling and grammar.
Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. It should grab the employer's attention and point out why YOU, above all applicants, should be contacted and called in for an interview.
How to structure a cover letter
Always start by addressing the letter to the person who hires staff in the company. Address this person formally, e.g. Dear Mr <full name>, Ms <full name>, Miss <full name>, Doctor <full name>. Make sure the person's name is spelt correctly and the title is correct. You may need to telephone the company and check their details.
State why you are interested in the position, organisation and/or industry. Include the job reference number, if appropriate, and how you heard about the position. Link your experience to the specific vacancy. What study and/or employment are you currently doing?
Body (2-3 paragraphs)
This is the "why I am suited" section. Choose 2 - 3 key points you want to make about your specific experiences, achievements, strengths and personal qualities. Remember to provide examples to back up your claims, e.g. are you a good leader, team player, organiser or time manager? Emphasise the particular contribution you can make. Why are you interested in working in this particular organisation? Persuade the employer that you are suitable. Show enthusiasm.
In 2 - 3 sentences, refer the reader to your attached resume for more details, request an interview and mention you will follow up on your application with a phone call and thank the reader for their time and consideration. Remember to follow up with a phone call.
Check your spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sign your cover letter if possible (some online lodgement processes don't require signatures).
What makes a good cover letter?
- No spelling or typing mistakes. Not even one. Your spelling and the way the letter is written will be the employer's first impression of you, and you want that first impression to be a good one
- Have someone read it to check for grammar, spelling, content and style.
- Write it in your own words so it sounds like you
What makes a bad cover letter?
- A long-winded letter: The employer will lose interest and may throw it in the bin
- Rehashing your resume: The purpose of the letter is to introduce yourself, explain why you are sending the resume and to tell the employer why you want the job and how well you are suited to it.