Gather your information. Find your last resume and review it to see if it still represents you accurately. Make sure your dates are correct, that you have noted any changes in responsibility during the course of your employment, and that you have listed everything that is relevant in an appropriate order.
Edit. On a notepad, update your skills, your references and other important information, including your address and contact information.
Take your time. Of course, you want to be sensitive to deadlines in the ads, but a poorly formatted and poorly proofread resume and cover letter will torpedo your chances faster than anything else.
Ignore advice to cram all your information onto one page; that is outdated in the age of internet applications. Write tight, but don’t feel compelled to leave out important information like awards, memberships and additional skills. You may be competing within the scope of a bigger field; make sure to include the best information available about you.
Type your first draft resume using all the information you’ve updated. Save it as Draft1, and create subsequent drafts as separate files until you reach your final. Save that as FINALRESUME with the date (i.e. FINALRESUME10913). This will save you some time when you have to search for the most recent version of your resume.
Do call those people whose names you would like to offer as references to make sure their contact information is still current. It’s also worth asking if they know of any openings that are applicable to your skill set.
Objectives on resume are a waste of space, especially if you are applying to a specific job. Your cover letter will make your objective clear; you want a job.
NOW, proofread, proofread, and proofread. It is also notoriously difficult to edit your own work objectively. Ask a friend or someone you don’t know as well to read your resume. And of course, ask College Essay Whiz to review your resume!
Edit again, being sure to pay attention to format, font and spacing. Save your resume as both a Word document and a .pdf file.
Take the time to check the details of the ad to which you’re responding. Be certain that if a name is given, that you spell it correctly and address your application to the proper person. This is often how applications are initially screened.
Online information can work for or against you. Google your name, and make sure that what is there is the way you want to be seen by a prospective employer. Make sure your Twitter feed, Instagram and Facebook presence are all G-rated. No racy pictures, no profanity-laced rants, no underage drinking…You get the idea. If you wouldn’t want to know something about your boss, he or she doesn’t want to know it about you.
Do your homework. Google the company to which you’re applying and the name of the person to whom you are sending your application if it’s in the ad. This will help you prepare for your interview. Take a look at the “Careers” or “Employment Opportunities” tab for the company to see if there are other openings that might suit you.
Apply. Take your brilliantly written cover letter (See our handy tips) and your properly formatted resume and email them to the company of your choice. Be certain to bcc yourself. Use your name and the source of the ad in the subject line (i.e. an application for the position of head juggler as posted on jobsearch.com).
Yes! You did it. Now take your interview suit to the dry cleaner, get a hair cut, and practice your best handshake.