Resume and Cover Letter Writing

The first thing you will need when you apply for a job is a great resume and cover letter. This guide will help you to:
write a professional resume
write a tailored cover letter

There are many free templates online that you can use, but a word of caution. HR managers don’t want flashy, colourful, generic resumes with creative fonts. You are much more likely to impress with clean, clear, accurate, and relevant documents.

How to write a professional resume

1.) When you sit down to write your resume, start by compiling a list of your education, volunteering, and unpaid and paid work. You’ll need the names of the institutions you worked for, as well as the start and end dates of your jobs.

2.) Next, make a list of any courses, trainings, awards, abilities, and accomplishments.

3.) If your email is very long, or doesn’t sound professional, set up a new one.

4.) Now, you are ready to start building your resume. Here is a basic template:

resume and cover letter

6.) Compose a professional summary. Here you want to provide a snapshot of who you are, and what you can bring to the table. Try to avoid generalities and cliches.

7.) List your employment history, starting with your current or latest job. Add your key duties and responsibilities for each position that you have had. Be specific, and add numbers. For example, don’t say, ‘I supervised a sales team and increased profits’. Say, ‘I supervised a sales team of 18 people, and increased profits by 40%’.

8.) List your higher education, again, starting from the most recent.

9.) Finally, add the strongest or most relevant skills (from point number 2 above), under the heading ‘Skills and Certifications’.

10.) Once you have the basic resume drafted, it’s time to go through it again, to check for typos and formatting errors, and to strengthen your wording.

Review the adjectives and verbs and that you use, and replace them with stronger ones. Here are some examples of ‘power words’:





It is great to have a general resume on hand, so that you are ready to apply for opportunities as they arise. However, don’t stop here. You can increase your chances of being called for a job interview by tailoring your resume to reflect the needs of each potential field and employer.

If you are looking for work in more than one area, consider having a resume that is geared towards each of these different fields. For example, if your long term goal is to be an office manager, but you are willing to work as a secretary in the meanwhile, have a resume for each of these roles.

Read each job posting carefully, and take note of the words that are used. Select some of the keywords and repeat them in your resume.

Remove any information that isn’t relevant to the posting you are applying for. Remember that HR managers are busy, and aren’t likely to spend a lot of time on each of resumes they receive. Make it clear, easy to read, and relevant.

Know the rules, and them break them strategically, and with caution. A classic example of a rule you might consider breaking, is the rule that we never use ‘I’ in resumes. For further reading on this, check out this great article in Forbes Magazine.

How to write a tailored cover letter

People often underestimate the importance of a strong cover letter. However, taking the time to craft a personalized, strong letter is well worth it. Is shows that you value and understand the company, and that you are have considered the position and know that you are good fit, and that you are a serious applicant.

Let’s take a look at the template, and talk about what we want each paragraph accomplish.

cover letter example resume and cover letter

Paragraph 1

Try to answer the follow questions:
– Why are you excited about the job posting?
– What do you admire about the company?
– Why are you the right person for the job?

Paragraph 2

Hard skills are the specific competencies needed to do the job. Demonstrate that you have the education, experience, and abilities that the position requires.

Paragraph 3

Soft skills refer to your personality traits and interpersonal style. Look at the examples below, and rank the soft skills in terms of the ones you are your strongest to weakest in.

problem solving
dealing with conflict
working under pressure
innovation and creativity
giving and receiving feedback
collaboration and team work
motivation and working independently

There are many other soft skills. Read through the companies values and mission, and through the job posting, and note down the skills they are looking for. ‘Mirror’ the language that you read, when you decide what soft skills you want to highlight.

Paragraph 4

Here, you have an opportunity to stand out, by sharing a brief, relevant story or achievement. One good model for this section is PAR. Outline a problem, the actions you took, and the positive result.

Revise, revise, revise!

Keep reviewing and reworking your resume. Aim to make it is as concise, relevant, and representative of your strengths as possible.