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Write Resume and Cover Letters

To launch your job search, it's important to have a good resume that accurately and completely tells the story of your skills, abilities and education/training. A good resume can attract an employer's attention and lead to a job interview.

Before going on that all-important job interview, it's vital that you do your homework and be prepared for what will happen when you meet with the employer.

For personal one-on-one assistance in preparing your resume and cover letter, go to a Kentucky Youth Career Center.

If you'd like to work on your own, start by reviewing the tips below:

Resume-Writing Tips 

Overview A good resume is essential to your job search. Employers use resumes to find out about your credentials and qualifications. A properly prepared resume can lead to a job interview. A poorly prepared resume will reduce your chances of getting an interview. Remember – your resume is your marketing tool and is the employer's first impression of you.

Building Your Resume

Below are usual categories included in a resume. Depending on your situation, some of the categories may not apply. Use the Resume Worksheet along with the list below to build your resume. It's easier than you may think! Click here to download sample resumes – John Doe Resume  and  Janice Doe Resume.

Contact Information – Your resume should always start with your contact information at the top center of the page. It should be in bold face type.

  • Type your name (not nickname) on one line.

  • Below your name, type your complete mailing address with zip code, avoiding abbreviations. If you might move, use a relative's address, a post office box or arrange with the post office to forward mail to your new address.

  • Below your address, list your telephone number with area code. If a person or answering machine can't answer during the day, provide an alternative phone number that can be answered during business hours.

  • Finally, list your email address. If your email address uses any words or phrases that might be considered by anyone as offensive or inappropriate, change it. 

Objective – An objective statement is brief and tells the employer the type of position you are seeking and your skills that can benefit the potential employer or organization. State your career objective in a positive way and highlight your qualifications to support your objective.

The objective should have the following information in it: 1) The position you want; 2) the workplace you want; 3) the skills you have. Examples:

  • Seeking a position in which I can earn extra money while increasing my work skills and making a larger contribution to my employers.
  • Seeking a part-time job while I pursue my education. I am seeking to gain the job skills and build the work history that will prepare me for success as i move forward in life.

It's a good idea to customize your objective to fit the particular job for which you are applying. Carefully read the job description or advertisement and show how you have the required skills.

Summary of Qualifications – This section should be written in brief, clear, concise bullet points that are easily read. Be lively. Use action verbs and short sentences. Be positive. Do not exaggerate or lie.

  • List contributions and accomplishments in current and previous jobs. Be specific. Provide facts and numbers to support your accomplishments.
  • Give examples of talents and strengths.
  • Show what you will do for the organization.

Education – Include high school, vocational or technical school, college or university, apprentice training, on-the-job training, special workshops, seminars, military training, self-study and specialized credentials.

  • Start with your most recent school or program of study.
  • On one line, give the date of completion, the degree or certificate awarded, the school's name and the city and state address.
  • Under each school, list a few of your courses that would interest an employer or help you in the job.

Work Experience – Include all work experience – full-time, part-time, family business, civic, volunteer or charitable.

  • Start with your most recent employer.
  • On one line, list the month and year you started the job and the month and year you left (or state “present” if you're still employed there), your job title, the name of the company and the company's city and state address.
  • Under that line, list your most important accomplishments and job duties. Be specific and provide statistics, such as “increased my unit's productivity by 30 percent,” or “was leading salesperson 12 out of 18 months.”
  • Include promotions, awards, recognition.

Military Service – If applicable, under the heading of Military Service, provide your branch of service, your highest rank and the dates you were in the military.

  • Also provide your security clearance (if any), decorations or awards and special assignments.
  • List your technical training and on-the-job training under “Education” even if you received the training while in the Armed Forces.

References – List your references on a separate sheet of paper. Before you use someone as a reference, make sure to ask for that person's permission to do so. You should be 100 percent sure that your reference will give you a positive, glowing recommendation.

Making It Look Good - Appearance counts. Here are some tips.

  • Your resume should be printed on good-quality white, ivory or gray paper with black ink. Use standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper.
  • The printed resume should have one-inch borders on both sides and top and bottom.
  • Do not use a fancy or unusual type such as outline, script or other difficult-to-read fonts. Stick with Arial or Times New Roman in 12 point.
  • Use single spacing within sections and double spacing between sections. Click on links above to John Doe and Janice Doe samples.
  • Bold or capitalize section headings.
  • Use spell check but remember that it will not find every mistake. For example, if you meant to type “Work Experience” but typed “Word Experience,” spell check will not flag “Word” as a mistake.
  • Carefully proofread your resume for typos and have one to two other people proofread it. Just one error could prevent you from getting an interview.
  • Carefully proofread the resume for accuracy. Double-check dates, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. A mistake in a resume says to the employer that your work may be sloppy and inaccurate.
  • Carefully proofread for consistency in dates, addresses, abbreviations. For example, dates should be formatted the same way in the entire document. If the first date is formatted as May 1, 2006, the second date should not be written as 5/01/06.


Cover Letters – Tips for Success

Every resume you submit should be accompanied by a cover letter. A well-written cover letter can be just as important as your resume in marketing your skills and experiences.

The cover letter should be customized to each job for which you're applying. Using the advertised job description and qualifications, compose the cover letter to show how you perfectly match what the employer needs.

Cover Letter Tips

  • Keep your letter brief, clear and to the point.
  • Address the letter to the human resources director or the person who supervises the position.
  • Give clear, concise reasons stating why you should be considered for the job. Provide information about how you are right for the job, not how the job is right for you.
  • Specifically ask for an interview.
  • Make sure the letter is grammatically correct and all words are correctly spelled. Have someone else proofread the letter.
  • Review cover letter samples listed by type of candidate - students, entry level applicants, career changers, and experienced candidates.


Other Online Resources

There are other online resources for writing resumes and cover letters. Explore the links below.

CREW Career Center Resume Tutorial
Online step-by-step tutorial walks you through creating a resume. CREW Career Center services are free and available to students and alumni of Metropolitan College and Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Resume Tutorial
Build your resume step by step.

Career One Stop
Resume, cover letter, interview advice.

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