Learning how to write an effective resume and cover letter, along with building an appropriate brand, are important skills job seekers should cultivate. LoveToKnow spoke with Evelyn Salvador, founder of Creative Image Builders. Ms. Salvador is a Certified Resume Writer and Career Coach as well as a Personal Branding Strategist and Marketer. Her experience includes over two decades of helping job seekers and sharing her expertise in resume writing. She's a member of the Career Management Alliance, National Resume Writers' Association, and Career Directors International. Her latest book is Step-by-Step Resumes, published by JIST Publishing and available on Amazon.com
How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
LTK: What is the purpose of a cover letter and resume?
ES: To get one's foot in the door of as many hiring managers as possible. The resume and cover letter package is the job applicant's introduction when it can't happen in person. That's why it has to be the best it can be insofar as making you shine…with no stone unturned.
LTK: Why is it important to have a powerful cover letter and resume?
ES: With so many applicants applying for positions, if it doesn't jump out at prospective employers as the one they must call before another hiring manager does, candidates will miss many opportunities. If you include your personal brand message (your assets / features, benefits, competitive edge, value proposition, and return on investment), it will put you in the top two percent of candidates applying for positions.
LTK: What are some common mistakes job seekers make when crafting their resume?
ES: Including too many short-term jobs (indicating job hopping), jobs with irrelevant functions that do not match open positions, not turning red flags into assets (such as explaining / converting years where no position was held into achievements), and going back too many years in their employment (10 to 15 years is a good number).
LTK: What pet peeves do employers complain about when they receive resumes?
ES: Misspellings and incorrect grammar can cause your resume to be screened out immediately. Cramming the resume onto one page without enough white space makes it difficult to read. Not enough keywords to match the position sought, and not seeing matching achievements that the candidate accomplished for other employers that help hiring managers see your value proposition to them.
Personal Branding for Job Seekers
LTK: What is personal branding?
ES: Personal branding is the marketing mix of assets job seekers have over other candidates converted into the benefits these features have to prospective employers. Add a strong value proposition and a high return on investment, and you will have a marketing-savvy cover letter and resume that will sell you well.Everyone has a personal brand. The problem is that 98 percent of people don't understand what personal branding is, so they fail to use it in their job hunt and career. This is unfortunate because personal branding is what sells candidates to hiring managers, wins job interviews and increases salary potential. Personal branding helps you establish a successful, credible identity that gives hiring managers insight into your value proposition and return on investment, making it cost effective for employers to select and hire you.
The five critical components to consider when developing your personal brand follows:
- Assets and features: These are the qualities, attributes, skills and know-how you possess that can be valuable or useful to a prospective employer.
- Benefits: These are ways in which your assets help employers. Benefits might include any type of assistance, advantage or contribution to the employer's mission, objectives and/or bottom line.
- Competitive edge: This is the clear advantage that you have over other candidates by way of certain unique strengths or aspects that make you stand out from others in your profession. It is your individual "marketing mix" of assets and benefits that others may not possess.
- Value proposition: This is the total worth of all of the benefits you can offer an employer in exchange for salary by way of promised deliverables backed by matching achievements. Employers seek candidates whose value is higher than the cost of paying them.
- Return on investment (ROI): This is a measurement of your contributions (expected future value) to an employer. You can get this number by dividing the amount of money you have saved or earned (or a similar measurement appropriate to your field) for your employers by the cost of hiring you. Naturally, prospective employers want this number to be high.
LTK: How and why is personal branding in a cover letter and resume important?
ES: It is important to develop your Personal Brand Message, incorporate it into your cover letter, and back it up with achievements in your resume because branding is what puts job candidates in the top 2% of candidates considered for positions-even in a tough economy! To maximize your interview potential, learn to develop your brand yourself or have it professionally created by a Personal Branding Strategist.To develop your brand yourself, use Step-by-Step Cover Letters and Step-by-Step Resumes to incorporate it into both your cover letter and resume using marketing-savvy language and design. The workbooks and foundations in the books and their accompanying CDs are laid out step by step and are very easy to follow.
LTK: What else would you like to say to our readers?
ES: Go out there and get that job you want! Remember to use your personal brand message in your cover letter, your resume, interviews, networking, in all aspects of your job search, and throughout all of your career management endeavors. This is the most critical information I can convey to job seekers everywhere. It will help you tremendously!
The author of this article received one sample copy of the book Step-by Step Resumes from the book's publicists.