How to Write a Resume and Cover Letter

Getting Started

The first step to writing an effective resume and cover letter is to understand the purpose of each of these documents.

The main purpose of a cover letter is to get the employer interested in reading your resume.

The main purpose of a resume is to get the employer interested enough in you to invite you for an interview.

Some Practical Tips

One approach to writing a cover letter is to have it highlight a few key points from your resume and state why you are interested in the position and the company. If this is done in a clear and convincing manner, you may generate enough interest to motivate the employer to read your resume.

When preparing your resume, be sure that the content is logically organized and clearly expressed. Furthermore, the statements you make in your resume should be credible. In other words, avoid obvious exaggerations. Finally, your resume should demonstrate that you have the education, training, experience, and/or potential to do the job.

The Three C\'s of Resume Writing: Clarity, Credibility, and Credentials

There are many styles for organizing the contents of a resume. This article does not recommend any particular style. Instead, we have attempted to summarize some basic suggestions for writing a clear, concise, and credible resume, with the assumption that a clear, concise, and credible resume will improve your chances of being invited for an interview.


Your resume should provide a clear presentation of your background. Avoid things that can interfere with clarity, such as:
- lack of organization
- a poor physical layout
- long sentences
- fonts that are difficult to read
- poorly written career objectives

In general, it\'s a good idea to keep the length of your resume to no more than two pages. This makes your resume easier to read and also encourages you to present only your main points. Readability also is enhanced by listing your responsibilities and accomplishments with bullets and short phrases instead of writing large paragrahs with numerous sentences.

A problem with many resumes arises in the "Career Objective" section. Candidates often state career objectives that are either vague, irrelevant to the job being applied for, or a statement of the candidate\'s personal philosophy towards work. Candidates sometimes make their career objective vague so that they can use the same resume for a variety of jobs. If this is your goal, you may be better off eliminating the career objective section entirely.

If your career objective is not relevant to the job, a prospective employer may not read your resume any further, assuming that you are not interested in the job that is available. If you want to include a statement of your personal work ethic, label it correctly or include it in your cover letter instead of your resume.


The person reading your resume should feel that your statements accurately reflect your experience and accomplishments. Frequently, resumes contain statements that strain credibility. So, try to avoid writing exaggerations. Most likely, exaggerated claims will negatively affect the credibility of your resume, and this will reduce your chances of getting invited for an interview.

Certainly, it\'s a good idea to present your background in the best possible light, but don\'t get carried away making fantastic claims about yourself. For example, if you state that you "took a company from loss to profitability in one year," and you weren\'t the president or COO, explain how that was possible, or you run the risk of loosing credibility.


Ultimately, employers are looking for individuals who have the requisite credentials to handle the responsibilities of the job. For most jobs, these credentials include the right mix of education, training, job experience, and a positive attitude towards the job and the employer. The resume typically summarizes an individual\'s education, training, and experience. An individual\'s attitude or interest in the job being applied for and the prospective employer is usually expressed in the cover letter or at the interview.


Some resumes emphasize accomplishments, while others emphasize education, job titles, responsibilities, or prior employers. What you emphasize in your resume depends on what you think will be of the most interest to the prospective employer and what your strengths are. For example, if you\'re a recent college graduate or in certain professions, you may want to emphasize your education followed by experience that is relevant to the job being applied for. However, if you are a seasoned employee, you might want to emphasize either you accomplishments or the job titles you held and the companies you worked for. Basically, it\'s a marketing decision you\'ll be making. If you\'re not sure what to do, you can always ask someone with professional resume writing experience.

Emphasis may be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as bold or large fonts. Additionally, emphasis is usually accomplished by placing the information you want to emphasize near the beginning of the resume.

Review your Cover Letter and Resume

A resume or cover letter with errors is not the best way to present yourself. After all the time you spend preparing and writing, a few extra minutes to review is a good idea. So, before you send out your cover letter and resume, thoughoughly review them for clarity and credibility, as well as any errors in spelling, grammar, or puctuation. You should also ask someone else to review your cover letter and resume in the same way.

In Conclusion

When writing a resume and cover letter, clarity and credibility are the tools you use to help communicate and convince an employer that you have the credentials to do the job. If your credentials are not expressed clearly and convincingly, you decrease the chance of a prospective employer concluding that you have the potential to do the job, and likewise, decrease the chance that you will be invited for an interview.

Writing a good resume and cover letter takes a lot of thought, preparation, and work. But, if it helps you land the job you want, it is well worth the effort.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Mobile Version
Copyright © 2000-2017 Pritchett Associates, Inc.