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Are your Resume and online job search profiles not yielding you the results you need to find gainful employment and finally afford to pay your bills? No doubt about it; it’s tougher to find a job now than it’s been in decades. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t give yourself every fighting chance of snagging the next available job.

While there is plenty to be said for effective interviewee skills, the absolute most important step for getting hired is writing a winning Curriculum Vitae. Without a highly attractive C.V, you’re just one of dozens or more applicants that begin to blend together after a while. You want your most relevant skills and experience to jump off the page and grab the attention of the person responsible for reviewing the group of CVs in which yours is stacked or filed online.

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How To Write a Winning Curriculum Vitae

how to write a resume

Understand What Makes a Great Resume

Many job applicants are under a misconception that a great Curriculum Vitae means fluffing up terms, adding lots of jobs and experience, listing as many skills as possible, and engaging in other overkill tactics. Excessive and irrelevant information only clutters the page and makes it more difficult to find the skills and information for which your prospective employer is searching.

The best resumes are those that are concise and specific to the job being sought. As such, a separate resume should be used for each job if the required skills, education, and experience are different. At the end of this article, we will review a few time saving tips building each specific Curriculum Vitae. First, though, let’s take a look at how to write a winning CV.

Review All Job Description Material and More (If Necessary)

While some employers seem to be in the habit of posting as little information as possible, others provide a great deal of valuable information relevant to not only the skills, experience, and education of a desired employee, but also the description, expectations, and demands of the job itself. Acquire as much information as you can about the position. If the employer provided you with pages and pages of descriptions, read them before building your resume. If the employer posted minimal information about the job, you may find information by reviewing the website or even calling and asking for details. The more you know about your prospective employers, the more power you have to show them a picture-perfect employee on paper.

Stay Realistic

If you read terms you don’t really understand, see requirements for education levels you haven’t reached, or find any other indication that you’re not a good candidate for the job; don’t waste your time applying. Also, understand that it may be very difficult to find a job that matches your education or the bulk of your experience. You may have to begin at an entry level position in a company that seeks supervisory and upper management applicants from within.

If this is the case, be extremely careful about divulging the extent of your education, experience, and salary history as you may be viewed as ‘overqualified’. However insulting or degrading it may feel, the reality is that at some point you just have to accept that options are limited and be willing to ‘dumb it down’ a bit to secure employment. Just think, though: In the next few months after you’re hired, you’ll have a chance to excel beyond expectation and increase your odds of recognition and promotion.

Use Only Relevant Terms, Skills, and Experience

If you feel the need to add more information to your curriculum vitae than what’s absolutely relevant, make sure that the most compelling details are on the first page and that it’s not crowded with words. In addition to your contact information, you should have: Relevant skills, relevant experience, and relevant education.

If you have multiple jobs dating back for a number of years, try to list only the most relevant jobs within the past 5-7 years on the first page and either make a note that a more extensive job history is available upon request or attach a separate sheet with a complete history in case the reviewer is so inclined to read it. Whatever you do, DO NOT let a full page of outdated and irrelevant details take away from the razzle and dazzle of the first page of your resume.

Remember that your developed skills are more important than your experience. Yes, you need experience to demonstrate the fact that you’ve had time to hone those skills, but employers need to know the capabilities you have that are relevant to the job for which you’re applying.

The Verbiage of Your Curriculum Vitae

You want your C.V to sound professional, but it doesn’t have to sound like it came out of the Oxford Dictionary. Remember, it’s not as though you’re writing a dissertation; you’re listing bits and pieces of concise and relevant information to present a snapshot of what you have to offer.

Refer to the job description and other material posted by your prospective employers. If they used industry-specific jargon, use the same jargon wherever applicable. Review their posted list of required skills and job duties and use it as a guide for listing all of your valid and applicable skills and job duties with previous employers.

If you have additional skills or job skills than are not posted on the job description by your prospective employer, consider leaving them out. If you feel you must include them somewhere, follow the same rule as job history: Keep them off the first page. Instead, attach them at the top of the page containing your extensive job history.

Font and Design

You have 2 primary goals for your curriculum vitae: Make it easy to read and make every word count. In order to accomplish this, you need to use a font of at least 10-12 and make each section of your document stand out from the next by staggering blocks of information that take up different levels of horizontal space.

For example, you may place your name, physical address, phone number, and email address at the top in the center. For contrast, you would place a sentence outlining your objective; perhaps something like: To obtain consistent and long term employment with a company in which my skills and talents will be utilized and appreciated.

Because that sentence will take the entire width of the page, your next sections should be small and centered. This would be a great place to list your skills. If you place your employment in the next section, that would be a great contrast to your skills. Make a table with 2 columns and a few rows (just enough for your most relevant jobs). Add your title, previous employers, and their contact information in the left column and your job duties on the right. Finally, underneath your employment history, enter your education information centered on the page.

Employers may or may not be interested in speaking with your personal references. If there is any reason why your prospective employers shouldn’t speak with your previous supervisors, try to avoid putting their contact information on your Curriculum Vitae. Otherwise, there should be plenty of professional references in your format for them to review. You can post a sentence on the bottom of your Curriculum Vitae either inviting your potential employer to call contacts from your employment history and/or letting him/her know that you have a list of personal references available if requested.

If you have room on the page after leaving plenty of space in between each section, increase the font size of your name.

Consider a Cover Letter

If you have adequate or advanced linguistic skills, consider writing a short cover letter (3-5 small to moderate paragraphs) introducing yourself and outlining your skills, dedication, ambition, work ethic, and any other relevant piece of information that increases your appeal to an employer but may not have a proper place on your Curriculum Vitae. Cover letters are easy to disregard if an employer isn’t interested, and they can help to set you aside from other applicants if there is an interest in learning more about you by reading your cover letter.

Time Saving Tips

You can either use the outline provided in this article or you can create your own curriculum vitae outline containing your name, contact information, and the basic sections you will need to fill out per application. Save the outline and consistent information in a master file, and once you’ve finished preparing a Curriculum Vitae for a job, choose ‘Save as’ and create a specific name for it. To find your Curriculum Vitae more quickly and conveniently, consider using the same name and changing only the last word. For example, you may save your resume as ‘MyResumeCompany.doc’. Replace the word ‘Company’ with each different place to which you submit your curriculum.

How to Write a Great Cover Letter

how to write a good cover letter

Landing a job is undoubtedly difficult in today’s economy. Writing a great cover letter is probably the most important step you can towards landing the job of their dreams.

Why is writing a cover letter so important? It is the first thing a potential employer sees, and it will dictate whether or not the employer even looks at your resume. Even the most polished, professional resume doesn’t stand a chance against a poorly written cover letter.

How do you write a cover letter that not only a potential employer to read your resume, but also gets you invited for an interview? Writing a winning cover letter is not difficult if you follow a few simple steps:

Professional Appearance

Just like an employer won’t look at a resume that’s attached to a poorly written cover letter, the employer won’t even bother to read the cover letter if it’s a messy jumble of text. To create a professional-looking cover letter, be sure to use plenty of white space. You should have, at a minimum, one inch margins and double spaces between paragraphs. Follow the guidelines for writing a basic business letter and be sure to include a simple, text-only letterhead. Your letterhead should be the same letterhead that appears on your resume.

Introduction

This is your one and only chance to name drop, so take advantage of it. Potential employers want to know how you heard about the position. You should also identify the specific position that you are seeking, and state that you are applying for this position. Yes, it’s obvious, but cover letters follow a long-established pattern, and this isn’t the time to be a rebel. Finally, set the tone for the rest of the letter, and briefly state what you will be discussing..

Employment Paragraph

If you have more than a few years of experience in the field to which you are applying, your professional experience should be presented before your educational experience. First, write a topic sentence that presents one unified idea. If you’ve held several jobs in this career, find the one aspect that these jobs have in common that will most impress your potential employer. You also need to link this paragraph to your educational experience.

Education Paragraph

Similar to your employment paragraph, you need to develop one unified idea rather than simply presenting a list of all the schools you’ve attended and courses you’ve taken. Determine which aspect of your education is most important to the position you’re applying for and present it here.

Optional Paragraph

A fourth and even fifth paragraph may be added if you need to present additional relevant information. Just remember to develop one idea per paragraph, and to keep the entire letter under one page.

Conclusion

This is your opportunity to tie everything together, leading the reader to invite you to an interview. You need to reference your resume and any other included attachments. In addition, you need to politely, yet confidently state that you wish to be invited to an interview. Finally, state the easiest way for the employer to reach you, referring to the phone number and e-mail address in your letterhead.

Editing and Proofreading

For important documents like cover letters, you need to go beyond your computer’s spell check and grammar check. Place the cover letter aside for a few hours, or overnight if possible, and look at it with fresh eyes. You might find errors that you didn’t see previously. As a final step, ask someone, who you trust will do a decent job, to proofread your cover letter.

Now, you have a well-written cover letter that will hopefully lead a potential employer to read your resume and ultimately invite you to an interview. The rest is up to you!

How to prepare for a winning job interview

Good job interview

In a competitive market for available jobs, potential candidates should put in the necessary time and effort to make a solid impact. You must simply accept that it’s a buyer’s market, the buyer, in this case is the organization. Your first job as the seller is to sell yourself. You need to stand out from the other candidates like a house with a shiny red door in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. Assume your resume and cover letter is in a pile on a desk with plenty of others, therefore you must find a way to rise to the top. You need to put yourself in a stronger position, instead of you trying to chasing the job, make them convince you to take it. Your mindset dictates the demeanor you portray. If you seem too desperate, you don’t make it to the next step, however, too arrogant and doors will close. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and determine your moves every step of the way.

Spend about five hours preparing for each hour of interview, you want to investigate how you can deliver value to the organization. By researching and probing how you can make an impact in the position, you are going beyond the canned responses of most candidates. Your resume should announce that you are qualified for the position. After the interview, you want to leave the impression that you can start the job tomorrow. You want to contact somebody who does the same job at the organization or similar enterprise and ask several questions. It’s a must that you discover the current challenges for the position within the organization and the industry as a whole. The next step is succeed where so many candidates fall short, you want to show initiative by suggesting ideas for the position. Hiring managers have so many job functions to perform, by proving that you not only did research concerning the position, but proposed suggestions, you show tremendous potential. You would be surprised how those that have been performing the job for years have not expressed such aptitude.

Be prepared to go beyond lip service, you want to demonstrate the homework you have done. Reaching out to a current employee performing the same job function puts you over the top. Don’t be shy or feel like you are intruding. Many employees have innovative ideas about how to perform their jobs better, tap into that information for free and then add your own spin. Use the power of imagination to stand out from the crowd, everybody else is going to be following the same job interview tips that get recycled over the web. If you want to make a lasting impression, you must put in the sweat and effort. Find someone who you can practice with until it comes out natural. Landing an offer in a tough economy requires considerable effort. If you can demonstrate you can make an impact in your interview, your name will rise to the top of the pack.