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resume and cover letter tips

resume writing tips

To get that perfect job you must market yourself! One of your most important self-marketing tools is your resume. Your resume is your personal promotional brochure. It showcases your experience and accomplishments for potential employers and your strategy should be to emphasize experience and skills that employers you're interested in are looking for.

Remember that your resume demonstrates your communication and organizational skills. Before placing it in front of those potential employers be certain that you've spent sufficient time preparing it for view, then go over it again. After you're satisfied with its perfection have a friend or colleague, whose analytical skills you trust, review it for you. Only after all of this preparation will your resume be capable of separating you from the masses and attracting the attention of employers.

Three major resume formats exist for you to choose from. Each possesses benefits and drawbacks. Your personal situation should determine which format you select. The Chronological format is the most common resume style, and the one that most employers prefer. If there are no valid reasons for not using it, then select the Chronological format.

1. The Chronological Resume
This traditional style resume lists your professional experience chronologically, with your most recent position listed first. In the Chronological format, the emphasis is on employment experience. Most employers are familiar with and prefer this format. BUT if you recently graduated, have held jobs with no relevance to the positions you're currently looking for, or you're re-entering the workforce after a long absence, then the Chronological resume will emphasize your lack of experience. In these cases you should consider the Functional resume format.

2. The Functional Resume
This format emphasizes your skills and achievements instead of your work history. If your work history is minimal, has gaps, or you're changing fields then the functional format will focus attention on your skills and any relevant experience, including your educational experiences. Your employment history is avoided completely or very briefly summarized at the beginning of the resume.

3. The Combination Resume
This format is primarily a Functional resume with a short chronological order employment history. Relevant skills and accomplishments are provided first, then followed by your employment history. This format has been gaining in popularity, but the chronological resume still ranks as the employer's favorite.

Writing Tips
Web Resume Keywords
are how employers find you in our database. For example if an employer is looking for a PhD with clinical research experience, then the terms PhD and Clinical Research must be in your resume for you to appear in their search results. If you are particularly interested in Immunology or Pharmacokinetics, then these terms must be in your resume for employers in those specific fields to easily locate you.

Keywords are usually nouns but may also include skill and experience verbs such as Diagnostic Development or FDA submissions. Acronyms and industry terminology are also important resume keywords. Some examples are QA, HPLC, ELISA, RIA, PCR, and SQL.

Keep it brief and concise. Avoid large paragraphs. If possible resumes should be on one page. Two pages are acceptable if you have extensive relevant work experience to describe. Never print on the backside of the paper.

Emphasize specific skills and achievements when describing your previous work responsibilities. Employers are particularly interested in candidates that exhibit self-confidence, written and verbal communication skills, initiative and motivation, analytical abilities, flexibility, and strong team working skills.

Use standard page margins and fonts. The standard page margins are 1" on the top and bottom with 1.25" on the sides.  Fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman are the most widely used and therefore will appear as you intended when an employer opens your emailed resume attachment. Keep all of your font sizes between 10 and 14. Stick with the same font throughout the resume.

Eliminate unnecessary resume details. Hobbies and other personal interests should only be included if they relate to the positions you're interested in.

Check your resume for proper grammar and correct spelling! This cannot be emphasized enough. Poor grammar and misspelled words cause a potential employer to question your attention to detail and the quality of your work. With a sea of applicants to select from why should they bother with an individual with a poor resume? Remember your resume is your personal promotional brochure. After checking your resume for grammar and spelling have some friends or colleagues look it over, the more the better.

With each viewing and edit your resume becomes more polished and will be more successful at its purpose- bringing you to employers' attention. 

by Dyanna Culp, MedZilla.com

5 critical cover letter mistakes

You’ve polished your resume to no end, especially after finding a job posting that precisely fits your skills.

But did your cover letter merit the same attention?

Many hiring managers use your cover letter to gauge your interest in the company, as well as your aptitude for the job.

Therefore, when you resort to “Dear Sir, I’m interested in your open job, here’s my resume”  you’re missing out on a critical chance to persuade employers to take you seriously.

Here are 5 of the most crucial mistakes made in cover letters—those that can quickly knock you out of the running for a leadership job:

1 – Your opening line was boring.
“I am a Clinical Research Director with 18 years of experience”  or "In response to your ad for Vice President of Clinical Research, I have enclosed my resume” really aren’t compelling enough to use as opening statements.

Instead, try a hook that makes the hiring manager sit up straight in his or her chair, as in these examples:

“Would a Sales Vice President who consistently pushes teams past quota (up to 52%) make a difference in your national rankings?”

“As a CIO for global company ABC Consulting, I’ve increased customer satisfaction to 97% in 3 outsourcing engagements—pushing our revenue growth to its peak despite the recession. I’m interested in creating the same results for you.”

The idea is to speak precisely to the employer’s pain points while describing the performance impact you’ve had in previous roles.

Note that each of these sentences contains metrics, a targeted job title, and a career-defining achievement that is framed in context and laid out quickly for the reader to absorb.

Your opening line should also leverage the research you’ve done on the company, per the next point.

2 – You didn’t demonstrate the ability to solve the employer’s problems.
Rattling off a list of competencies isn’t strong enough to distinguish you from other candidates, but speaking directly to the company’s needs will do the trick.

You have to dig into the company’s history, press releases, annual reports, and other news to figure out their pain points.

What type of expansion is planned? Were earnings down in previous quarters? What do industry analysts say about the company’s future and their business strategy?

Armed with this information, you’re able to connect your leadership skills to the employer’s needs much more succinctly:

“My ability to produce business development results (30% rise in cloud-based solution sales during Q4 2010) can address any struggles you’ve had in breaking into this market. Can we talk?”

3 – Your key points don’t match (or exceed) the job requirements.
Like resumes, cover letters must be precise and direct the reader… keeping them attentive to the reasons they should hire you and the edge your work can give them.

While you’re writing, put the job description in front of you to remind yourself what the employer is seeking. Then, look for ways to point out how you can surpass these expectations.

The following paragraph is taken from an IT Director cover letter:

“Your ad noted that you require a leader in service delivery and customer satisfaction. My career includes 3 years of 97% satisfaction ratings, achieved by improving infrastructure and network capacity, and I hold responsive service as my #1 priority.”

4 – You didn’t address the letter to an actual person.
Finding a contact name inside the company has never been easier. First, you can use LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search function to put in the employer name, then fill in the Keywords box to find potential contacts.

For example, a Business Development Manager might look for keywords such as “VP Sales or COO” to identify the next-level manager contact, while an IT Product Director can try to find the CIO’s name.

If you don’t find a name through LinkedIn, be sure to check Zoominfo.com, Spoke.com, or the company About Us page. If you have access to Hoover’s database or Dun & Bradstreet, you can also use these resources to locate company insiders.

In addition, ReferenceUSA.com is a free contact name database available through many public libraries, and requires only your library card for access.

Taking the time to locate a name (vs. resorting to “Dear Hiring Manager”) will help your letter create more impact at a target employer.

5 – You forgot to be assertive.
Especially if you’re pursuing an executive or senior-level role, employers like to see a take-charge style (the same one you’ll use to deal with vendors or your new team). If your closing line isn’t strong, you run the risk of looking too passive.

“Thank you in advance for reviewing my credentials”
is certainly polite and professionally stated.

However, “I plan to exceed your requirements as your next Vice President of Research and Development” and “I am confident that I can demonstrate the leadership you look for in your next CIO” are both stronger.

Even more intense, “I will follow up with you next Tuesday” shows definite intent on your part to influence the hiring audience, and gives them advance notice of the proactive steps you’ll take to secure the interview.

To summarize, there’s no reason to settle for a bland, one-size-fits-all cover letter that blends in with the others.

Your job search will fare better when you zero in on the hiring audience with an unforgettable opening—especially when it draws a parallel between employer needs and your unique value. 

by Biospace.com

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