Having worked for more than 2 years sifting through hundreds and hundreds of really, really terrible resumes, I've decided to put up a personal post to help other resume and cover letter writers STOP THE KILLING OF INNOCENT RESUME READERS. Seriously, I sometimes nearly put out my eyes from the agony of seeing yet another badly written cover letter.
Most resume writing sites miss this section. THIS IS TERRIBLY IMPORTANT. No matter how wonderful your attached file is, I see four things first before touching anything: EMAIL NAME, your EMAIL ADDRESS, your TITLE, and the NAME OF YOUR ATTACHED FILE. Then maybe I'll move on to the EMAIL BODY.
Email Name: your email service provider asks you for your name in your “settings” or “options” function. Send an empty email to yourself, or your best friend and check if it’s your full name, properly capitalised. It’s a massive red flag to me when someone’s email name is “Lory FIRST NAME, LAST NAME HERE”.
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org is not a good email address. Neither is email@example.com nor firstname.lastname@example.org nor email@example.com. Webmail is free. USE IT.
Email Title: If you type "application for internship", you are among - ballpark figure - maybe 50 others who have the SAME title. Try something unique - maybe your NAME? "TAN AH KOW: Internship Application for the ABCD Fellowship Programme" makes me much, much happier.
Attachment Name: Same problem as above - nearly all attached resumes that come with applications are titled the same way - "resume.pdf". Saving them one by one makes me annoyed. Suggestion: title your documents "Surname_FullName_Resume2010.pdf" or something along that vein. It makes it easier for me to just right click and download into a folder.
Email Body: I have gotten strange messages in the email body. "I have compiled my documents into a single pdf file for the internship application. Thank you for your kind patience and understanding." Am I supposed to be impressed with your ability to compile all your documents into one PDF file, when it was expressly requested on the internship application page? Cut and paste your cover letter into the email body instead.
B) The Resume/CV
Plenty of sites cover the next two parts, so I'll be brief.
- Never, ever go beyond 2 pages. You are not that fascinating. REALLY. If I really like you, I’ll facebook you. (Yes, which means, clean up your facebook act. Stop putting up drunken/smoking photos of yourself - or if you do, please make them super duper ultra private so that a non-friend/network can't see the photos. You may want to add a LinkedIn link on your public profile.)
- Photo - professional-looking please, not something you took at a birthday party. Please. PLEASE.
- Format it well. Neatly.
C) The Cover Letter
- It’s REALLY not about you. “This is the type of organization where I am confident my skills and knowledge would be best suited.” Wow. I have been waiting my whole life for you.
- It’s all about me. I don’t care if you are “looking for somewhere which will help me grow as a person”. I want to know how YOU can help ME. So write with that in mind.