Your résumé is one of the most important tools in your job-search kit.
Whether you’re a recent college grad or someone planning a career move, this slip of paper (or virtual document) must be polished if you want to impress hiring managers.
These career marketing tools often leave even experienced professionals scratching their heads, though.
Here are answers to a few common questions and how to make your CV work for you:
- What about that year I took off after graduating or between jobs?
It can be hard to sell this as a positive experience to a potential employer, but it can be done. Explain the benefits or life experience you gained from this time, and it could even be a good conversation starter during an interview.
Here is one way she says you could market this “time off”:
List your gap year under experience
If you worked, taught, or volunteered, this is a valuable experience. Why hide it? You can list this just like any other role in the “experience” section of your resume. Your gap year may also show that you’re a leader, independent, or possess other qualities desired at many companies.
As you write up a description of your gap year experience, take note of the job posting. Tailor your points to emphasize the skills mentioned in the job description as well as the required tasks. (Here’s advice on how to match your qualifications to a role.)
- Is my résumé too long (or too short)?
This can be tricky. There are no set rules for length, but you don’t want the hiring manager to be overwhelmed by an extremely lengthy document, nor do you want to be too brief and seem unqualified.
Isaacs breaks résumé length down into one, two or three pages, depending on your experience.
She asserts that if you have less than 10 years’ experience, keep your résumé to one page. If you have 10 or more years of relevant experience, your résumé can be up to two pages. Senior managers or executives could consider a three-page résumé.
Isaac also says that, especially early in your career, you should only include relevant experience. This will help keep your résumé more concise and make you more marketable.
- Do I even need a cover letter?
It affords you extra space to explain your career experience, especially if you’re constrained by length restrictions on your résumé. It’s another way for you to stand out amid a crowded job pool.
In her piece for The Muse, Alyse Kalish describes why cover letters are important and what yours should look like “The Best Cover Letter Examples for Every Type of Job Seeker.”
The following are two of the four examples she shares, along with when each type should be used:
The traditional cover letter
A traditional cover letter, is, as you guessed it, based on your average cover letter template. You’ll most likely write this version if you’re applying to a very traditional company (like a law firm or major healthcare company) or a very traditional role (like a lawyer or accountant), or when you’re just looking to lean more conservative and safe.
The writing sample cover letter
Often for roles where communication is king, such as PR, copyediting, or reporting, your cover letter will either substitute for or complement your writing samples. So it’s just as important to write eloquently as it is to showcase your skill set.
Are you a comms pro whose “gap year” brought you to “the land Down Under?” Nike is looking for a brand communications manager in Melbourne, Australia.
It summarizes the role:
Reporting to the Pacific Brand Director, the successful applicant will bring Nike’s innovative and distinctive brand voice to the diverse consumers of Australia & NZ. From briefing, ideating, developing and executing premium and purposeful storytelling, to delivering on Nike’s business and brand ambitions, this role will help drive alignment and quality across the entire creative process. This role requires strategic and business aptitude to partner and communicate within the broader marketing team and business. The role requires strong partnerships with Nike categories and cross-functional partners including Integrated Media, Communications, Editorial and Brand design.
Not the job for you? See what else we have in our weekly professional pickings:
If you have a position you’d like to see highlighted in PR Daily’s weekly jobs post, or if you’re searching for career opportunities, RaganJobs.com is the perfect place to find or post high-quality job openings.