Rules of the Resume

Viewing posts from the Rules of the Resume category

What To Write In A Cover Letter : The Do’s and Don’t’s of Selling Yourself

2014-07-22 04.17.17
Writing a cover letter is something many employers will tell you is an essential part of the job process in order to get your resume read, and we have to agree. It’s something that shows you put the extra effort in, and sets you aside from the numerous resume’s that get sent through by themselves. A great cover letter complement’s your resume by highlighting your skills, and adds a personal touch by demonstrating your writing style in explaining why you make the best fit for a position. A cover letter is usually the first written contact you have with a potential employer, so naturally, you want to make a sure it has the best impact as possible.

Effective cover letters are no longer than a page (you don’t want to bore the reader) and no shorter than a paragraph. You want to get your points across, yet make it flow and enjoyable for the reader.

If emailing your resume to a potential employer, put your cover letter in the body of the email rather than an attachment. This way you are able to reach the employer with your words, and it will encourage them to open your resume.

Answer the question “Why should I see you?” This may be the most important thing to remember when shaping a cover letter. These employers are taking the time out to read your document, and make the executive decision whether or not to open their doors for you. Summarize your strengths, and include details about why you are writing: what exactly about the company excites and motivates you? Feel free to delve into details about what brought the role to your attention, how you became interested in the industry or company, and why your past experience makes you a perfect fit for a career within that realm. Make sure you use the right tone; you want to be professional yet carefully assertive.

Tailor your skills from the job description to fit into your explanation. You’ll want your experience, personality and capabilities to reflect what is asked for by the employer. Try and mirror what is in the job description.

Highlight details from your resume. Explain any gaps, mention additional accomplishments and correlate your experience that is relevant to the job or industry. You don’t want to explain your entire role at a company, that’s meant for the interview phase. Instead, touch upon a position briefly, and connect it to the current posting.

Stay positive throughout the note, after all you are selling yourself! Be enthusiastic, and never bad mouth your old company or boss, or explain why you quit your last job.

Thank the employer. Make sure you thank the reader for their time, and offer to provide any other information if needed. Sign off with an appropriate signature, such as sincerely or best regards, and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon!

Additionally, make sure you never lie about your experience, as this is a sure way to ruin any chance you had in the first place. And don’t sell yourself short – this letter is meant to boost your position, not lower you in the ranks! And always, always, remember to proof read! Spelling and grammatical errors are too easy to fix to get penalized for (and you will, if they’re that obvious).

You’ll want to make sure each cover letter is tailored for a specific job or company, so don’t get lazy once your start applying – each posting requires its own letter. Stay positive and remember, the more time and personalization you put into it, the more likely you’ll hear back!

How To Approach Being Given a Test Project

Thea8273As part of the interview process, clients will often include a test project to better evaluate a prospective candidate’s conceptual/strategic, executional and presentation/communication skills. It can be the defining factor in securing the position, and often times, justifying the salary one requests. How you handles this delicate time in the interview process is critical in either “making” or “breaking” the prospects for landing the job. Below is a brief checklist on “how-to” and “HOW NOT-TO” approach this segment of the interview process:


– Graciously accept the project and show your enthusiasm and excitement for tackling the creative objective at hand. Clients want to see that you are excited about their brand and feel the passion you have for your craft.

– Think strategically about what you are doing. Nothing irritates a client more than someone who does not demonstrate a higher-level of thinking when it comes to how their brand operates. This includes taking into account the competitive landscape and existing branding and marketing principles that already exist.


– The best way to show an employer that you do not want their job is to “pushback” in any regard to the deliverables of the project. Examples include: wanting to be paid, wanting an NDA signed so your work is not used and telling the client that the scope of the project is too large. While you might be 100% correct about all of these points, if you want the job, the project as it exists is mandatory. If you are not doing it, you have to realize that your peers and competitors for the role are. At worst, your competition will advance forward and you will be disqualified for the role. At best, it will definitely set you back in the employer’s mind, and give them a glimpse of both your disinterest in the opportunity or leave a “diva-like” impression. Not a good look.

In summary, if you want the job, my best advice after years of doing this is, put your best foot forward. Show your prospective employer that you are a strategic, teamplayer – at Every. Single. Stage. Of the interview process.

Resume Advice from Carolyn The Intern

Last week I sat in on an interview tutorial with Melanie and Nadine, during which Melanie covered the basics of the candidate interviewing process and shared some insight that she has acquired over the years. Throughout college I have attended interview seminars and tutorials, but never one focused on giving the interview and it was quite enlightening. One of the focal points of the training was resumes, and stressing the importance of reviewing it to ensure that it is a complete and polished document.


I cannot stress enough that in today’s ever-growing world of technology, it essential to be truthful when crafting your resume. Besides the fact lying on your resume is grossly unethical, it will not go unnoticed for the following reasons. In our daily lives we appreciate, even rely on how advancements in technology have given us access to what seems like boundless amounts of information at our fingertips. Companies value and utilize this technology too – especially when looking to fill a role. It is very simple to contact a candidate’s former employer for more interest about the candidate. In addition, you risk outing yourself during an interview with a company and destroying your professional credibility. In summary it is better for all parties if candidates are honest on their resume.


Another common practice when writing a resume is omission. Leaving off a former position or degree is a red flag to recruiters and companies. This is not typically thought of as dishonest behavior; though purposely leaving off key information alludes to the fact that you have something to hide. If you are forth coming about an uncomfortable or negative experience your recruiter can discuss it with their clients, instead of the company finding  “skeletons in your closest” at a later point in the interviewing process.


Be sure to match your LinkedIn profile and resume so that they provide the same information as well as any other paper or online bios. Controlling your image so that it is uniform across all public channels and documents is key. Companies and recruiters conduct extensive research and will inquire about inconsistencies.

Lastly always compared to every interview prepared with multiple copies of your resume and references.

Why you should list clients on your resume

The following piece of advice is very relevant to candidates in the advertising and design/branding industry. It is helpful and beneficial to include clients managed on the resume.

I often receive resumes from candidates that are great in terms of achievements and very thorough. However, they often lack a list of clients managed at each agency and in each role. The client list not only brings the resume to life but also helps a potential employer to get a better sense of the candidate’s experience and even interests. It is a very important detail that should not be excluded. It is even a good idea to list specific projects and initiatives for each client. For example– “oversaw flash banner production for Nike” or “owned all Spring 2013 print initiatives for Macys”.


Candidates should feel free to ask us whether or not certain client names should be included or excluded. For example, someone who is pursuing a fashion advertising role might not want to list Pfizer as a main account as pharma is not very appealing to the more fashion focused agencies.

This can be taken on a case by case basis but it is usually smart to list out clients on a resume to add flavor to the experience and grab a potential employer’s attention.

Revising your resume for a specific role

Do you need to revise your resume for a specific role or company? Sometimes yes.

A resume often times speaks for itself and needs no revisions when submitting to an employer. However, in some cases, a resume needs some tweaking before submitting for a specific role. As recruiters, we are presented with job briefs from clients that outline specific skill sets that a candidate must have. We share these details with a candidate and of course ensure that he or she “fits the brief” before presenting him or her to a client.

In some cases, even an on point resume must be revised to better fit the job description- certain achievements, strengths, and skills must be highlighted to show that the candidate is right for the role. So candidates should be prepared to listen to their recruiter and make minor resume changes in order to improve their chances of getting a first interview with a potential employer. We see many resumes each day and know which style and content our clients will respond to.

LESSON: Be prepared to revise your resume based upon a specific job description as it could improve your shot at getting the job!

Jodi Shapiro – Senior Consultant

Why you should have a one page resume

There are many reasons why you should have a one page resume. If Barack Obama or the CEO of Coca Cola can outline his or her experience in a one page resume, so can you.

The key to resume writing is relevance. The person reading your resume wants to be able to see quickly, and clearly, what your experience has been, and if this experience is relevant to the position that they are hiring for. People have short attention spans and often than not, not a lot of time. If a person is reading hundreds of resume at one time, you need to grab and keep their attention, and the easiest way to do this is by having a concise one page resume. Keep in mind that most people view a resume for the first time on a computer, and they therefore don’t want to be scrolling up and down various pages to see your education and experience, and a one page resume eliminates these distractions.

With a one page resume, it is important to be concise. You don’t need to include all of the work experience you have ever had. Definitely don’t miss out jobs that you have held, however if you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done in your entire career, you are not thinking about the reader and your potential employer. They are only interested in the experience that you have had that is relevant for the role they are hiring for. Remember that your resume is a sales document, and you should therefore expand upon the experience that is relevant for the type of role that you are looking for. Your one page resume doesn’t need to include all of the internships that you had back in the day, or that first job that has no relevance to what you are doing now.

Focus on your unique achievements and leave out the menial tasks that have no relevance. Eliminate soft skills such as “good attention to detail”, “good at multi tasking”, “organized” etc for two reasons. These are skills that every potential employee should have, and it is not a good use of space to include this. If a candidate includes a career objective on a resume, I generally don’t read this, as I am only interested in what a candidate has been responsible for and achieved. If you are including a career objective, do make sure that it’s in line with the role that you are applying for. I see a lot of resumes with career objectives that are totally out of line with a job description or company, i.e. don’t write that you are looking to join a large international company if you are applying for a role in a small start up.

In summary, when I see a clear, concise one page resume, my first impression is that this is a candidate who knows how to market themselves and their experience. They are likely to be good at their job and be a clear and succinct communicator.