Depending on what you’re visiting the site to find, Reddit can be…a mixed bag. The best part of Reddit: anyone can weigh in on any topic. The worst part of Reddit: anyone can weigh in on any topic. That means you get great information and advice mixed in with people who don’t know what they’re talking about, or are just there to stir up problems. If you’re looking for resume tips, we’ve reviewed some of the burning questions on /r/resumes, and found some awesome advice there. Let’s look at some of the greatest hits:
1. How can I make my resume pop?
Three words: simplify, simplify, simplify. Making your resume easy to read (set headers, brief explanations, clear bullet points) can help get you in the “to interview” pile and out of the “tl;dr” pile.
2. What should I include in a resume when I’ve never had a job before?
This Redditor suggests emphasizing academic accomplishments (GPA, relevant classes, degree), volunteering experience (after all, it is experience), and technical skills.
3. How do I list multiple positions at the same company?
If the jobs were dramatically different, you can separate them out and treat them like separate jobs. If they’re similar positions, concentrate more on the top-line accomplishments and skills.
4. Should I include a cover letter even when it’s not requested?
This Redditor recommends going for it. It’s a way to give more information about yourself, and can help you stand out in a very crowded applicant pool.
5. Should I use a traditional resume format or a creative one?
It can be tempting to want to use a fun new format, but realistically, traditional is best. The creativity points you score for using something unorthodox might be canceled out by the disruption to the reader’s usual evaluation process.
6. All of my experience so far is from working at my family’s business—will this help or hurt?
Basically, experience is experience, and as long as you have the skills and experience you need for the new job, you should be good to go.
7. I have 20 years of experience. Should I do a two-pager?
Not if you can help it. If you can, condense the most important highlights into one resume page. The one-page rule is about readability and the reader, not about the writer’s experience.
8. How do I list colleges when I didn’t graduate?
This can be tricky—people don’t graduate for a variety of reasons, but you still want to include that you attended college on your resume. Try using words like “attended,” or “took X credits toward a Bachelor’s degree.” Just don’t suggest that you have a specific degree if you don’t, because that can land you in very hot water. Spin is okay. Lying isn’t.
9. In this digital age, do I still need to include my physical address in the header?
Short answer: yes. It’s tradition, but it also might be a factor for resume scanning programs to see whether candidates are local.
10. Do I mention why I quit my last job?
One Redditor puts it very succinctly: “First you get the date, then you tell them you're divorced.” You don’t want to set off any red flags before you even get an interview. It’s fine to keep it vague in a resume or cover letter, though you should be prepared to talk about it in an interview if necessary. (And always, always keep it opinion-neutral. An interview for a new job is not a venting exercise for the last one.)
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It’s a good time to be a job seeker: U.S. job growth is strong, unemployment is on a steady decline, and openings are at an all-time high.
That doesn’t make the search any less daunting. Differentiating yourself from every other job seeker on the market is no small feat, and the monotony of filling out online applications can make the task downright exhausting. That’s where a killer cover letter comes in.
Done right, a great cover letter is like a secret weapon for catching a hiring manager’s attention. Next to your resume, it’s one of the most important, underutilized tools at your disposal.
Here are some cover letter writing tips, and a free, downloadable template, to make yours stand out.
Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — just like your resume. Study the job posting carefully, and make a quick list of any essential qualifications.
“Job seekers really struggle with what to say on a cover letter,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “Taking a second to think about why you’re applying, and why you’re a good fit for the company, makes the process a lot easier.”
If you’re adding a cover letter to an online application, use a business letter format with a header and contact information. If you’re sending an email, it’s OK to leave out the header, but be sure to provide a phone number (and an attached resume, of course). Make sure you’re clear about the position you’re applying for.
Avoid nameless salutations — it might take a little Google research, and some LinkedIn outreach, but finding the actual name of the position’s hiring manager will score you major brownie points. “Do not start a cover letter with, ‘to whom it may concern,’” Holbrook Hernandez says. “It concerns no one.”
2. Tell a Story
To grab a recruiter’s attention, a good narrative—with a killer opening line—is everything.
“The cover letter is a story,” says Satjot Sawhney, a resume and career strategist with Loft Resumes. “What is the most interesting thing you’re doing that’s relevant to this job?” Use that to guide your letter.
Ideally, the story that drives your resume will focus on a need at the company you’re applying for. If you’re a PR professional, maybe you have a list of clients in an industry the team wants to break into. If you’re in marketing, a successful promotional campaign might be the ticket in. “A hiring manager wants to see results-driven accomplishments with a past employer,” says Holbrook Hernandez. “If you’ve done it before, you can deliver it again.”
If you have a career gap or are switching industries, address it upfront. “If there’s anything unique in your career history, call that out in the beginning,” says professional resume writer Brooke Shipbaugh.
(Here’s a downloadable sample.)
3. Use Bullet Points to Show Impact
Hiring managers are usually slammed with applications, so short, quick cover letters are preferable to bloated ones, says Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of human resources at job site Indeed.
“Make your cover letter a brief, bright reference tool,” he says. “The easier you can make it on the recruiter the better.”
Bullet points are a good tool for pulling out numbers-driven results. Job seekers in creative fields like art and design can use bullets to break down their most successful project. Those in more traditional roles (like the one in the template), can hammer off two or three of their most impressive accomplishments.
4. Highlight Culture Fit
It’s often overlooked, but a major function of the cover letter is to show a company how well you’d mesh with the culture.
As you research a potential employer, look for culture cues on the company website, social media, and review sites like Glassdoor. Oftentimes, employers will nod to culture in a job posting. If the ad mentions a “team environment,” it might be good to play up a recent, successful collaboration. If the company wants a “self-starter,” consider including an achievement that proves you don’t need to be micromanaged.
The tone of your letter can also play to culture. “The cover letter is a great place to show [an employer] how you fit into their world,” Shipbaugh says. “Show some personality.”
5. End with an Ask
The goal of a cover letter is to convince the person reading it to make the next move in the hiring process — with a phone call, interview, or otherwise. Ending on a question opens that door without groveling for it.
“You have to approach this with a non-beggar mentality,” Sawhney says. “Having an ‘ask’ levels the playing field.”
Related: What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2018