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Optimize Your Resume and Cover Letter—Together

Optimize Your Resume and Cover Letter—Together

Your resume may make some powerful and well organized points that support your case and help employers understand your fitness for a specific position. And your cover letter may be articulate, convincing, and a genuine work of art. But while each of these important players can make key contributions to your job search, are they working well as a team? Do they work together to present a consistent and compelling picture of who you are and what you can do? Or do they work at cross purposes with each potentially undermining the impression created by the other?

To make sure your cover letter and your resume sell you well and support a shared set of claims and impressions, keep these simple tips in mind.


1. Read your resume carefully with the eyes of a potential employer, and make note of anything that might lead to questions or require further explanation. These things may include employment gaps or a career path that doesn’t seem to match your major or degree program. Once you’ve identified these questions, make an effort to address them briefly in the body of your cover letter.


2. Keep your tone consistent. If you seek editing help for either your resume or cover letter, that’s okay. But make sure these two documents don’t sound as if they were written by different people. Maintain the same areas of emphasis, basic sentence structure, tone, and writing style in both documents.


3. Don’t accidentally contradict yourself. Life is complex, and so are life decisions and their outcomes. It’s not easy to capture every choice you’ve made, responsibility you’ve held, and lesson you’ve learned in two one-page documents. But make sure you list the details of your work history in a way that makes sense—For example, if you held two positions at the same time, reviewers may experience confusion regarding your employment dates. Don’t let this confusion cost you a job.


4. Be consistent with your links. If you decide to include a link that sends reviewers to your online portfolio, website, or blog, include the same links in both your resume and your cover letter. This will make it easier for separate reviewers of one or both documents to compare notes.


Most important, make sure your strongest arguments and most relevant credentials appear in both documents—don’t expect your resume to do all the heavy lifting and neglect your cover letter as a result, or vice versa. In the meantime, reach out to the IT staffing experts at Techneeds for specific guidance with both aspects of your application.