Resume and cover letter tips that will make you stand out from other candidates

Whether you’re still a college student or a recent college graduate, you’ll need a solid game plan when you begin job hunting. For college students, resume and cover letter tips are essential to your success.

Stand out from the crowd with a great resume. (Credit: TARGETjobs)

Stand out from the crowd with a great resume. (Credit: TARGETjobs)

Although you may not have as much experience that other candidates have, there are ways that you can spruce up your job application materials and write a cover letter in a creative way to help you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Read on for the best resume and cover letter tips and advice.

Resume and cover letter tips

By following these suggestions, you place yourself ahead of those who are too lazy or unskilled to go the extra mile. Daniel Scocco at offers his advice in “44 resume writing tips.”

Basic resume tips include:

  • Keep your resume to one page (easy to do if you’re just starting out): no need for long explanations about past experience, just stick to the facts.
  • Use keywords: because most employers run the resumes through a database, you have a better chance of standing out if you use keywords, usually nouns found in the job description, that are related to the job that you’re applying for.
  • Proofread: even the best qualifications will fail you if your resume is littered with spelling errors; proofread it twice and then have a friend look it over too.
  • Make sure it’s readable: avoid fancy fonts and keep the font size to 12 points.

Finally, in one very important tip, Scocco warns “Even small lies should be avoided. Apart from being wrong, most HR departments do background checks these days, and if you are buste[d] it might ruin your credibility for good.”

How to stand out from the crowd

Nancy Schuman literally wrote the book on how to write an outstanding resume. In The Everything Resume Book: Create a Winning Resume That Stands out from the Crowd, Schuman explained how different types of resumes can be useful to the job seeker. There are four categories resumes fall into: chronological, functional, combined and targeted.

According to Schuman, “A powerful, targeted resume is a sign to yourself and others that you are engaged in a serious job search. It is powerful as a direct contact tool and as a means of networking.”

Cover letters

In almost all situations resumes must be accompanied by a cover letter. This is your chance to convince the employer to read your resume and call you for an interview. Susan Ireland offered rules for writing an effective cover letter in her article “Four rules of the road for cover letters and job search emails” on Susan Ireland’s Resume Site.

Be sure to research the employer so that you know how to target your letter. Ireland also advises you to start your letter with a beginning line that will grab the reader’s attention. Ireland’s site also includes many examples of cover letters for different job types.

Sample resumes and cover letters

  • Stanford University Career Development Center’s Student Affairs page offers many tips in “Resumes/CVs and Cover Letters
  • Harvard University Office of Career Services provides resume and cover letter templates and how-to tutorials at “Resumes, CVs, Cover Letters
  • University of California Santa Barbara Career Services article “Resumes & cover letters” includes advice on how to create resumes and cover letters along with samples and quick tips.

Read more about employment and the workplace on Questia where you have access to millions of full-text books and articles.

What is your most successful resume writing tip? Tell us in the comments below.

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