The She Spends Guide to Refreshing Your Career

Resumes, cover letters and thank you notes are the worst part of the job application process. We get that, so we pulled together some tools, tips and tricks to make the process just a little easier for you. 

Resumes

  • First, a few tools. You can create standard resumes using Microsoft Word or Google Docs templates. If you don’t love the standard templates, consider usingCanva or Resume GeniusEtsy also sells resume templates if you want something more visually interesting. 
  • If you want to create an online resume that’s different than your LinkedIn page, check out Standard Resume. It’s a really beautiful website and gives you a URL for free, which is helpful for a lot of online job applications. 
  • Keep your resume on one page. Only put the most important information on it. Most employers do not need to know your high school GPA (and if they do, they’ll ask). 
  • Quantification is key. Enumerate every achievement that you can (just like you do when you negotiate for a raise). Potential employers like to see solid results. 
  • Your resume is a living, breathing document. Don’t use a standard copy for each job application. Instead, tailor the document to the job’s requirements. Mirror words and phrases in the job description. 
  • Delete two phrases: “References available upon request” and “Objective: To do X, Y and Z.” If a prospective employer wants references, they’ll ask for them. If you’re sending a resume, they know your objective is to get a job. 
  • Finally, proofread your resume several times. Print it out, read it backward, ask your bestie to look it over, and run it through several spelling and grammar checkers. Accuracy pays off. 

Cover Letter

  • We get it, writing a cover letter sucks. Keep it short (three or four paragraphs should do), and do your best to let your voice shine through the writing. 
  • Start with a greeting that addresses the potential employer by name. 
  • Your first paragraph should explain why you are contacting this person. If you have a personal connection to the job listing or employer, let them know. 
  • The next two paragraphs are for you to explain why you’d be the perfect person for this job. Use your resume strategies: enumerate any accomplishment you can, and mirror words and phrases from the job listing if you can. Pick maybe three things to highlight in the body paragraphs. 
  • In the final paragraph, reiterate why you want to work for the employer and why you’re uniquely qualified to do so. Finish with a “thank you” and go on your merry way. 
  • Like resumes, cover letters should be personalized, proofread and polished. They should also tell a story that encompasses how you will succeed in the role you’re applying for.

Thank You Note

  • Once you’ve secured an interview, thank you notes are a vital way to make a great impression on the potential employer. 
  • The first thing you should do when you get home from an interview is write a brief, personalized thank you email to your interviewer. 
  • This should include references to a few things you discussed during your interview, as well as a reiteration of your excitement for the job. 
  • You can also send a handwritten note (in addition to the email) if you like. Be sure to send it as you’re sending your email to leave a strong impression.

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #35