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Free Ebook Giveaway: Learn How to Write a Resume

How to Write a Resume

How to Write a Resume Ebook

Note: This giveaway has now ended. Be sure to check back to our blog regularly for more great discounts and giveaways. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with news and articles. Thank you!

To quote the wise and wonderful Oprah Winfrey, “You get a free ebook! You get a free ebook! Everybody gets a free ebook!”

Okay, maybe she said “car” instead of “ebook,” but nevertheless, we are channeling her generous spirit and giving away something of our own: knowledge.

Written by the experts here at Inklyo, How to Write a Resume: The Complete Guide to Modern Resume Writing is an ebook that contains all the resume-writing knowledge you will ever need to stand out in a competitive job market. It teaches you how to craft a beautiful resume that appeals to a wide range of employers and showcases your unique skills and abilities. A great resume is the first step in starting your dream career, and this book provides both advice and resume samples to suit any job.

We are even one-upping Oprah, because this offer is available for two days, instead of one. We’re giving the ebook away on March 1 and 2, so download yours as soon as possible!

To take advantage of this amazing offer, subscribe to our email list by filling out the form below, and we will send you your free ebook. How to Write a Resume: The Complete Guide to Modern Resume Writing is a resource that we are proud to share. Let us know how it works for you on Facebook and Twitter, or leave a review on Amazon!

Note: This giveaway has now ended. Be sure to check back to our blog regularly for more great discounts and giveaways. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with news and articles. Thank you!

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How to Write a Job Inquiry Email

The desk of a job seeker drafting a job inquiry email.

The desk of a job seeker drafting a job inquiry email.

What Is a Job Inquiry Email?

After scrolling through seemingly endless lists of jobs on hundreds of job websites, you finally come across a job opening that you know you would  fit perfectly.

So you prepare your resume, tailoring it to the specific position, and craft your cover letter to present your skills and illustrate your experience. At this point, all that’s left to do is to send the email and wait for your interview, right?

These days, most job applications are sent by email or through a job-posting website such as or This means that, in addition to sending your resume and cover letter, you’ve got to write a short job inquiry email introducing yourself and stating that the required documents are attached.

But what do you write in the job inquiry email? Haven’t you already said all you wanted to say in your cover letter?

It may seem like a hassle, but it’s important to put in the effort to make your very first impression the very best it can be. Here’s how.

Writing a Job Inquiry Email

As with most business emails, strive to be clear, polite, and concise in your job inquiry email. Your future employer should be able to understand the purpose of the email in the subject line and in the first sentence. Make it clear who you are and which position you’re applying for.

This is especially useful for employers that are hiring for more than one position, as it helps them to keep all their emails organized. Make it as easy as possible for your potential employer to start you on the right track toward being hired.

When writing the job inquiry email, use formal language and style. Try to match the email, however brief, to the tone of your cover letter, showing consistency in your writing.

It may seem obvious, but it’s also vital to ensure that you attach your resume and cover letter to the email and that you inform the reader the documents are attached. Forgetting to add the attachments or communicate what they are is a costly mistake, as potential employers will likely ignore your job inquiry email altogether.

Also note that you should never just copy and paste your resume or cover letter into the main text of the email. It ruins the formatting and can make your beautifully crafted application documents look sloppy. Save them as PDF files first and then attach them to the email.

After introducing yourself, stating the position you’re applying for, and directing readers to the attached documents, end the email with a polite goodbye and restate your name and contact information.

Here’s an example of a well-crafted job inquiry email. You can use it as a guide when writing your own email to a potential employer.

Hello Mr. Fuller,

My name is Jane Doe, and I am applying for the Marketing Assistant position offered by CompanyXYZ.

I have experience in the field of marketing, having graduated with a degree in digital marketing and worked as social media marketer for the past three years. I know you will see that my qualifications make me an excellent candidate for this position.

I have attached my resume and cover letter, as requested. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Jane Doe
111 Queen Street
Portville, ON X3X X3X
(555) 555-5555

Final Steps

Before you get excited and hit “Send,” be sure to reread the email to catch any mistakes you might have missed. Double-check that the correct documents are attached and that you are sending the job inquiry email to the right email address.

Now all that’s left to do is wait for your phone to ring! If you really want to increase your chances in the job hunt, explore Inklyo’s How to Write a Resume course and discover the difference a professional resume can make.

How to Write a Cover Letter

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The Small Business Guide: Tips and Tools for Building Your Business

A small business owner.

A small business owner.

This small business guide is the perfect reference for small business owners who must navigate marketing, accounting, sales, and customer service.

Don’t waste time toggling between tabs when everything you need to know is in one convenient location!

Business Writing Resources

Tools by Department

Efficiency Tips and Tricks

Resume Resources

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Effective Business Communication
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How to Use Keywords to Navigate Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems If you’re looking for employment, you’ve probably lost count of the number of online job postings you’ve answered. When you apply to an online posting, you may receive an email from the company acknowledging the receipt of your resume and noting that the document is currently under review. And then . . . crickets.


Weeks (and possibly months) pass without any additional contact from the company or hiring manager.

To understand this unfortunate, all-too-common issue with online applications, it’s important to consider how companies evaluate the resumes that applicants submit online. Does the image of an overworked hiring manager come to mind, anxiously sifting through emails and reviewing thousands upon thousands of resumes?

That image is partly correct.

Yes, the volume of resumes that companies receive in response to a single job posting is often overwhelming. And though it is true that finding the ideal candidate for a job is very strenuous, hiring managers use specific tools to make the recruitment process more efficient.

One of these tools is the applicant tracking system. If you’re not receiving responses from companies when you submit your resume online, then an applicant tracking system may be the culprit.

These systems automatically screen resumes well before they hit the hiring manager’s desk (or inbox, as the case may be). Applicant tracking systems identify the most suitable candidates and discard the resumes of those whom these systems classify as underqualified.

By eliminating the resumes of unqualified candidates, applicant tracking systems reduce the number of resumes that hiring managers have to review.

Keywords and Applicant Tracking Systems

An applicant tracking system determines the degree to which the information in an applicant’s resume matches the requirements outlined in the job description. The factors that these systems consider include occupational skills, employment history, past employers, and educational background.

The system then assigns a score to each applicant. These scores are used to determine which applicants will move on to the next round of hiring and, subsequently, which resumes the hiring manager will actually see. So, this basically means that your application may be eliminated from the pool of qualified candidates before it ever is reviewed by human eyes.

On top of that, these systems are not perfect and occasionally disqualify candidates who are actually ideal for the position.

Don’t lose hope!

Although these systems are growing more and more sophisticated (and sometimes cost companies millions of dollars), there are also many helpful techniques that job seekers can use to ensure their resumes get past the seemingly insurmountable barrier of applicant tracking systems.

Given that applicant tracking systems scan resumes for information related to the job posting, applicants must also learn to optimize their use of keywords within their resumes.

Keywords (in the context of applicant tracking systems) represent the primary job responsibilities and professional skills that are required for a position (e.g., “customer service,” “analytical skills,” or “strategic management”), as well as the appropriate employment history, years of experience, and education.

Applicant tracking systems use keywords to form a link between a candidate’s qualifications and the requirements outlined in the job description.

To identify the keywords you must use in your resume, your first step is to look to the job posting itself. The most relevant keywords will be the terms and phrases that are repeated throughout the description. The name of the position itself is a great indicator of the possible keywords that should be used (e.g., if you are applying for a position as a financial analyst, then these two terms should be considered relevant keywords).

Keywords can also be unique to certain fields. For example, in the case of information technology, a keyword may include the names of specific programming languages.

In some fields, certain acronyms are very common (such as “CPA,” which stands for “certified public accountant”). A great trick is to use both the spelled-out version of the term and the acronym itself. The hiring manager may have programmed the applicant tracking system to scan resumes for the acronym or the complete term. By using both, you can rest assured that you’ve got yourself covered.

However, a simple laundry list of keywords won’t cut it. When assigning a score to a resume, applicant tracking systems place more weight on keywords that are contextualized and are used in conjunction with other related terms.

And, yes, while you should use keywords in your resume, do not overload your resume with them. Try to ensure that the placement of keywords is appropriate and natural. Finally, remember: an applicant tracking system will not be able to process a keyword if it is misspelled, so always double-check that your spelling is correct.


Although issues such as formatting also play a big part in overcoming applicant tracking systems, you’re now a master of one step of the process: using keywords to help get your resume to the hiring manager’s desk.

To ensure that your resume continues performing once it’s there, check out Inklyo’s online course on resume writing, a research-backed and up-to-date guide for writing a resume, which includes resume examples, ready-to-use resume templates, and more.

How to Write a Resume

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23 Practical Resume Tips to Help You Get Hired (Plus a Resume Example)

A resume file folder.

Resume Tips

I’m just going to say this outright: resume tips are not going to get you hired. That is, resume tips won’t get you hired, but they will help get you hired.

The first step to landing a job is having a great resume, and having a great resume requires a lot of thought and effort put into every little detail. Tips are great for nailing down all of the details, and implementing many resume tips can add up to an overall better resume.

To help you put these tips into practice, the resume example below has been designed using the same tips offered in this article. Use this article and the resume example to guide you in creating a document that will land on the hiring manager’s desk instead of in the trash.

The Resume Tips

1. Choose the right format

There are four main types of resumes: chronological, functional, combination, and targeted. If you have a lot of experience in your field, you should use a chronological resume, but if your career path has been irregular or erratic, you should go with a functional resume. A combination resume lists both your experience and your skills, and the targeted resume is geared toward specific job requirements. You’ll want to choose the one that’s best for your background before you even begin writing your resume.

2. Make sure the style suits your background

Similarly, your resume should fit your background. There are a number of styles you can choose from, but three of the most common are classic, creative, and modern. A classic resume is best suited for professional jobs, as it provides a clean and simple format with information that is easy to find. A creative resume will help demonstrate your visual capabilities in an original and expressive way. Finally, a modern resume shows that you are up to date with current trends by providing a neat and refreshing document that avoids the outdated look of traditional resumes.

3. Know your audience

In any kind of writing, the best way to ensure you will write well is to know your audience. You should have a very good idea of what your potential employers do, how you can help them do what they do, and what you can get from doing something with them. Once you know these points, you’ll be able to begin writing your resume.

4. Look over your contact information

Write down your contact information at the top of the resume, where it will be easy for hiring managers to spot. Make sure you look it over several times. It’s a good idea to have somebody else look it over, too, because the last thing you want is to have written down the wrong information or to have left anything out.

5. List your experience, achievements, education, and skills

This is obvious, but outlining your resume in major sections will provide a clean document that is easy to follow and understand while providing all of the necessary information. You’ll need to include contact information, key skills, awards and achievements, education, employment, volunteering, and anything else that may be relevant for your prospective employer to know.

6. Only include what’s relevant

On that note, you should include only relevant information in your resume. If it doesn’t apply to the job at hand, that’s okay, but if it also doesn’t share any of the same skill sets, objectives, roles, responsibilities, or environment, you may not wish to include it on your resume. Conversely, if you don’t have a lot to include, be smart about how you use your time so you can include volunteer work or online courses that are relevant where nothing else is.

7. Use action verbs to describe your past roles

Action verbs draw the attention of your reader. However, avoid being too repetitive in your word choices. For creative jobs, you may wish to include verbs like brainstormed or designed. Similarly, if you are applying to a job with a leadership role, you’ll want to include words like established or improved.

8. Take keywords from the job description

If you’re struggling to come up with action verbs, you may want to take a look at the job description. Employers often, consciously or not, include action verbs that best suit the prospective employee’s skill sets. Since they know what they’re looking for, you can use these verbs to your advantage to come across as the perfect candidate.

9. Maintain a consistent tense

It’s important that you maintain a consistent tense in your action statements. You’ll use past tense for any jobs from the past and the present tense for anything you are still in the process of completing. Make sure you don’t switch tenses from bullet point to bullet point; doing so isn’t just wrong, it also gets confusing very quickly!

10. Avoid personal pronouns

Rather than using personal pronouns to describe your experiences, use strong, direct action statements to show potential employers what you have accomplished throughout your career and to give your main accomplishments the most attention.

11. Keep away from buzzwords

Stay away from overused descriptors like hardworking or team player. You can be hardworking and a team player, but instead of using watered-down, blanket terms, describe the accomplishments you’ve achieved through your dedication and ability to work with others.

12. Limit yourself to short and straightforward statements

Keep everything as brief as possible without losing context or necessary information. Include your core responsibilities in a detailed and concrete way. This will help you avoid generic statements (and the aforementioned personal pronouns and buzzwords). You should also try to remove any words that serve as filler, like unnecessary adjectives.

13. Only include what you can prove

For example, only list tangible skills or attributes, and avoid listing personal skills like adaptable or organized. Though these qualities are important, they are less impactful than tangible occupational skills because personal skills are much more difficult to prove.

Never lie on your resume.

14. Don’t lie

Never lie, exaggerate, or otherwise stretch the truth on a resume. Even if lying gets you to the interview stage, if employers discover that someone they have hired has lied about his or her academic or professional history, they will very likely terminate the employee immediately.

15. Choose or design a visually appropriate resume

An applicant may have impressive credentials and an extensive professional history, but without proper resume formatting, these credentials may be buried in an impenetrable block of text. You have worked hard to compile your resume’s content, so take care to ensure that you use proper formatting to grab a potential employer’s attention quickly.

16. Let the content speak for itself

Since your achievements and skills are the focus of your resume, you shouldn’t let its format consume the actual content. It is easy to get carried away with visuals, whether they’re colors, objects or fonts. However, your resume should be legible and professional rather than flashy or distracting.

17. Allow white space

Incorporating white space in a resume can be difficult; after all, you have a lot of information to include in a limited area. How can you make sure your resume is balanced? Use the quadrant test. Divide your resume into four equal sections, and make sure the text is evenly distributed in each section.

18. Customize your resume for every job

It’s a good idea to edit and revise your resume for every position you apply to, unless the resume will be submitted to several similar organizations with the same job requirements. This may seem tedious, but the more effort you put into creating your resume, the more you will gain from the entire job-seeking process.

19. Have references ready

You typically don’t have to provide your references on your resume, but you should prepare a list of references and their contact information so that they are available upon request. Ask the appropriate parties, and be sure that you notify your references when you are applying for a position so they can expect to be contacted in the near future.

20. Make sure nothing is missing

Ensure that all of the required sections are present, especially any information that is asked for in the job description or by the employer. In addition, make sure your name and contact information are there so the hiring manager can find you! When applying online, make sure you’ve completed all elements of the online application form, as the failure to do so demonstrates an inability to follow instructions.

21. Optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems automatically scan hundreds of applications for information related to job postings, including keywords, employment history, past employers, and educational background. So embed your resume with terms or phrases that represent the qualifications that are required for a position.

22. Think clean and simple

Look over your resume once it’s filled out. Are your name and contact information easy to find? Do the headings stand out from the body of the text? Is everything uniform? Is the formatting consistent? Have you used your white space efficiently? Are your statements short? Is everything legible? Are all of the fonts and visuals appropriate? Revise and make sure everything is clean and simple, from formatting to the actual content.

23. Have your resume professionally edited and proofread

It’s one thing to look over your resume for typos and errors; it’s another entirely to have a professional editor edit your resume. An editor doesn’t just catch spelling and grammar problems. He or she will also ensure that your biggest strengths are highlighted, everything is relevant, your resume is tailored specifically for the job at hand, the formatting is consistent, etc.

The Resume Example

The numbers in this resume example (the subject of which is Fight Club‘s own Tyler Durden, to keep it interesting) correspond with the above tips to show you how they can be implemented in your own resume.

Resume Example
Click to enlarge.


A resume on the hiring manager’s desk means your foot is in the door. After looking at the resume example and implementing these practical resume tips, you have a document that’s ready to land you a job!

How to Write a Resume

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14 Ways to Make a Bad Impression on Your First Day of Work

First Day of Work

First Day of Work

When you’re a kid, you have the first day of school to contend with. When it comes time to trying your hand at “adulting,” you have to meander your way through the first day of work. Your first day at a new job can be almost as anxiety-provoking as a blind date set up by your mom. It can be especially daunting if you’re obsessed with making a good impression. That’s why you should do what I do on all of my dates with my mom’s best friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s brother: go in as if you have nothing to lose.

Striving for success is a recipe for certain failure. Making failure your goal in the first place is not only a big time-saver but also a great way to alleviate your first-day-of-work jitters. So, without further ado, here are 14 ways to make a bad impression on your first day of work. You’re welcome.

  1. Start by forgetting to set your alarm the night before. There’s no start quite like a late start.
  2. Dress inappropriately. Everyone knows that personal style is more important than social conformity, and this rings especially true when you’re trying to make a bad impression on your first day of work. Yoga pants, anyone?
  3. Don’t just show up a bit late; commit to your tardiness. After all, you’ve already had a slow start—why stress yourself out by rushing now?
  4. Once you finally arrive at work, make an unfavorable impression on your coworkers by neglecting to introduce yourself to any of them. Ignore everyone who tries to make your acquaintance, or at most, brush them off awkwardly.
  5. Don’t ask any questions. Instead, when faced with an unknown, take your best guess and hope for the best.
  6. To continue your antisocial behavior, you should really consider eating lunch in the bathroom. Sure, Sally from the next cubicle invited you to join her in the break room, but you certainly don’t want her to think that you’re capable of normal social interaction.
  7. Demonstrate almost immediately how you may have slightly fudged the details of your resume to get the job. (Sure, you can type 70 words per minute, but only if “70 words per minute” is actually code for “40 words on a good day,” and only then after two or three lattes.)
  8. Show off your impressive multitasking abilities in the best way you know how: by texting throughout the entire day, of course. Your coworkers will be totally impressed with how you’ve managed to brush off their attempts at friendliness while clearly communicating with someone else throughout your entire first day of work.
  9. Take lots of breaks. There’s no need to be too much of a keener when you’re trying to make a bad impression. A work-to-break ratio of 1:4 should suffice.
  10. If you get bored with being antisocial and want to take a different route to making a terrible impression, mix things up by making off-color jokes by the watercooler.
  11. Don’t just swear like a sailor—swear like a drunken sailor who’s forgotten his manners.
  12. When your efforts (or lack thereof) start making you sleepy, go ahead and put your head down on your desk for a while. No one will begrudge you a short nap on your first day of work. Well, they will, but that’s the whole point, right?
  13. Ask your co-worker when payday is. Then ask your HR representative, just to be sure. Then, for good measure, ask your boss. Everyone knows that important information should be verified at least three times by three separate (but equally knowledgeable) parties.
  14. Leave early for an appointment or some other previous engagement, but be sure to reassure your boss that this kind of thing doesn’t happen often.

There you have it. Just follow these 14 tips and you’ll be sure to make a terrible impression on your first day of work, maybe even before break time. Once you’ve accomplished your goal and have subsequently lost your new job, you’ll be ready to return to the drawing board and revamp that old resume.

If you’re back to square one, or if you’re one of those rare enigmas who are actually looking for a job to keep, check out How to Write a Resume, an online course by Inklyo. With so many dos and don’ts to consider, you’ll gain all the know-how to either attain or lose any job you’d like. It’s good to have options.

How to Write a Resume

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How to Write a Resume Objective

How to Write a Resume Objective

How to Write a Resume Objective

A resume objective is a brief, clearly written statement that explains your main skills and career goals. It is traditionally included at the beginning of your resume.

Resume objectives get a lot of bad press.

Many career and job-hunting experts say that including a resume objective is a surefire way to make your resume appear outdated. Even worse, resume objectives often come across as self-serving, focusing entirely on what the job seeker wants rather than the needs of the employer. And in the early stages of the recruiting process, the hiring manager likely has little interest in what you want as a job seeker.

However, resume objectives do serve a purpose: they give potential employers an idea of how your career has been progressing and where you hope to go. They also let you clarify what you want in your career, and they can help you ensure that your resume and career goals match a position or company.

Do some research to get a feel for how resume objectives are perceived in your field, and if you choose to include one, make sure you know how to write a resume objective that will catch the eye of hiring managers and help you secure a job. Keep the following best practices in mind when writing your objective:

Be brief and clear

There’s not a whole lot that can kill your resume faster than a lengthy resume objective. It should be brief, lest the hiring manager skip over the entire resume. A few sentences should be more than enough to communicate your objective clearly and efficiently. Cut any fluff or unnecessary words and descriptors. Get to the point! Short and sweet is definitely the best way to go here.

Ensure relevance to the target position

Make sure you can link your resume’s objective directly to the position at hand. Your objective should be a good fit for the needs of the employer. You might even want to check out the job description and pull out words directly from there. And since a good resume objective is relevant to the target position, you’ll need to customize your resume objective every time you apply to a new job. It might seem tedious, but it will ensure that you get the most out of the job-seeking process.

Be specific (but not too specific)

Though you want your resume to be specific and relevant to the target position, you don’t want to be too obvious about it. If the hiring manager catches on that your objective is too on the nose, your resume objective will come across as disingenuous. So be sincere while you write the objective, as doing so will help you avoid writing one that simply attempts to butter up the hiring manager.

Link your career goals to those of the organization

The point of the resume objective is to outline your career goals. You should do this as earnestly as possible without coming across as unprofessional. Nonetheless, be sure your genuine resume objective demonstrates that you share the same goals as the organization. This shouldn’t be too hard because that’s likely the reason you’re applying to this job in the first place! If your goals don’t meet those of the organization, you might want to consider applying for a different job.

Set yourself apart from the other candidates

Everyone applying for the position will be aiming to make sure the resume objective is relevant and specific. That means it’s possible to have a resume objective very similar to many other candidates’ objectives. You have to make yours stand out if you want to be set apart from other prospective employees. Do this by being sincere, as aforementioned, and not just trying to fit into a box. Be yourself. If your resume objective is genuine, it’s impossible for it to be identical to another candidate’s.

Be honest (but not too honest)

Part of being genuine is being honest. You have to be honest in your resume objective, not just for moral reasons but to stand out from the other candidates. That doesn’t mean your resume objective should say that you’re simply looking for a way to pay down debts (even though that may be true). While you should never lie in a resume, you don’t always have to say everything, either. Remain professional and positive.

Demonstrate your qualifications

When thinking about how to write a resume objective, you should first think of the target position. Include it in your resume objective with linking words to connect the position to your qualifications. For example, your resume objective might begin with the following: “Experienced customer service representative [the target position] seeking to use my [linking words] interpersonal skills [your qualifications].”

Explain how you can benefit the employer

It’s important that your resume objective doesn’t focus on what the employer can do for you. While the resume objective is self-serving (as it’s helping you seem like the perfect fit for the job), it also helps the employer by summarizing what skills and goals you can offer the organization. If you aren’t able to articulate some kind of connection between your goals and the company’s needs, your resume’s objective will only demonstrate to the employer that you are seeking self-advancement rather than a mutually beneficial partnership. You should focus on demonstrating how you can benefit the employer, not on how the employer can benefit you.


It’s easy to write a bad resume objective. It’s a part of the resume that many people struggle with because it’s easy to slip into vague and conventional statements (“team player and detail-oriented”) instead of making your resume’s objective clear and concrete. If you choose to include one, it’s important that you know how to write a resume objective. To write an objective that is objectively good, follow the advice above, and you’ll write an excellent resume that’s ready for the competitive job market.

How to Write a Cover Letter

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The Ultimate Cover Letter Checklist: What to Include in a Cover Letter

The Ultimate Cover Letter Checklist

The Ultimate Cover Letter ChecklistPeanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Resumes and cover letters. Some things are just better together.

Now, it may not be delicious or sweet—or even very good to eat—but a cover letter is still one very important half of a perfect pair—at least when it comes to applying for jobs. A cover letter is a short, one-page letter that you send along with your resume when applying for a job. It allows you to showcase your skills, interest, and intent, and it is used to expand upon the information in your resume, particularly as it relates to your work experience. Crafting the perfect cover letter is extremely important because it gives you the opportunity to explain, in detail, how and why you are the perfect fit for a particular position. It also gives you a chance to show your personality and demonstrate to the employer why the company would benefit from hiring you.

The Cover Letter Checklist: What to Include

The same full contact information as your resume. Include your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address and a link to your LinkedIn profile or, if you have one, your personal website.

A consistent look. Make sure that your resume and cover letter match in style and presentation.

Paragraph sections. Include a salutation, opening (one paragraph), main body (one to two paragraphs), and closing (one paragraph).

  • Salutation: This is your greeting (such as Dear Ms. Meya Fransson). Try to get an exact name instead of using To Whom It May Concern.
  • Opening: Briefly introduce yourself. State the position you are applying for and why you are a great fit. Demonstrate to the reader your strengths in a few powerful lines.
  • Main body: Get to the nitty-gritty about how and why you are best for the job. Look at the qualifications, experience, and skills outlined in the job description and show the reader how you match these. Explain some of your greatest past accomplishments. Focus on the company’s requirements and what it needs; try to do so without the use of “I” statements. When writing this section, always keep the following question in the back of your mind: Why should we hire you?
  • Closing: This should be a quick summary of what you talked about in the body to reiterate what you bring to the table. Thank the employer and suggest a meeting. Sign off in a polite and professional manner.

The right amount of white space—not too much or too little.

A length of about half a page (one full page including your contact information and that of the recipient).

No spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

Personalization. The letter must include a salutation and be addressed to the right person.

Your key skills as they relate to the position being applied to, written in the same way that they are written in the job posting to increase your chances of making it through the applicant tracking system (ATS).

The reasons why you would be best for the position. Include knowledge, skills, and experience as they relate to the job posting.

  • NOTE: Each and every cover letter you write must be tailored to a specific job and employer. You cannot reuse a cover letter or work from a template, simply changing words here and there. The more customized your letter is, the greater your chances will be of making it through the system, getting your letter read by the hiring manager, and getting an interview.

What to Omit and Avoid

Avoid clichés, such as the following:

  • “To Whom It May Concern”
  • “My name is . . .”
  • “I am writing to express my interest in . . .”
  • “I’m probably not the best candidate, but . . .””I am applying for the role of [title] at [Company] . . .”

Never reuse a cover letter. Start fresh each and every time. It’s okay to use a guideline, but never use the same cover letter twice.

Don’t be vague. Be specific, especially in outlining your skills as they relate to the position.

Don’t repeat your resume. Instead, discuss your work history and emphasize any major accomplishments that relate to the position you’re applying for. Expand on certain aspects in detail to tell a story about your accomplishments, but don’t tell the reader what he or she already knows.

Design Elements

Be consistent. Make sure that your resume and cover letter match in style and presentation.

Keep it short. One page, at most (about 250–350 words). The hiring manager will admire your ability to be concise.

Keep it succinct. Try to use short sentences instead of long ones, and try to keep each paragraph to five lines or fewer.

Use numbers and metrics. These really make your accomplishments stand out and help draw the reader’s eye.

Use boldface if you want to emphasize something, instead of underlining or italics.

Avoid graphics, pictures, images, tables, etc.

Use a common document type. Unless the employer asks for a specific format, prepare your cover letter as a Word document (.doc or .docx). Word documents, as opposed to PDFs or other file types, are the most common and are therefore the easiest to be emailed/attached, opened, and read.

Format appropriately. Use a standard business letter format, listing your name and address, the date, and the recipient’s name and address first, followed by the salutation and substance of the letter. The main body of your letter will vary from industry to industry, but a rough outline looks like this:

  • Opening
    • State the position you are applying for, including any job posting numbers.
    • This is where you hook the reader in.
  • Main body
    • This should be one or two paragraphs in length.
    • How do you fit in? What do you bring to the table? How do your skills match those required for the position?
  • Closing
    • Thank the reader.
    • Show enthusiasm for the position.
    • Restate the best way(s) to contact you (phone, email).
    • Ask for an interview.

Include white space (or negative space). This refers to margins (the areas between the main content and the edges of the page), gutters (the vertical space between columns), and the spaces between lines of type and graphics or figures. Having a balance between white space and content will keep your cover letter from looking cluttered.

Use an appropriate font style, size, and color. Use a font that is easy to read and that doesn’t distract from your message. Fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Times New Roman, Georgia, Lucida, Tahoma, or Trebuchet were designed for the web and are commonly accepted. The font size should be between 10 and 12 point, and the color should be consistent throughout (black).

Use one-inch margins all the way around your cover letter. This will ensure that no information gets cut off if a paper copy is printed.

Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

Attention to detail. Spelling and grammar are important indicators of a candidate’s attention to detail; they highlight defects instead of spotlighting qualities. It is nearly impossible to recover from spelling errors in your cover letter.

Action words. Use words that convey action, such as advised, examined, oversaw, prepared, resolved, and compiled.

Consistency. Be consistent with your punctuation throughout. This includes using only single or double quotation marks, using the serial comma consistently, and using only straight or curly quotes.

Acronyms. Always make sure to spell out any acronyms in full upon their first use, followed by the acronym in parentheses.

Editing. Make sure to take the time to thoroughly edit and proofread your cover letter. Even the smallest spelling mistake can have a disastrous effect, so pay extra attention when reading through this document. You may even want to use a professional editing service such as to have an extra set of professional, discerning eyes catch any errors you may have missed. A hiring manager who sees mistakes in your cover letter won’t take you seriously and will think you are lazy, which also makes it more likely your application will be rejected.

Punctuation. Make sure to use punctuation marks properly. Know the difference between a hyphen (-), an en dash (–), and an em (—) dash; when and how to use a semicolon (;); how to use a comma properly (,); and that a period (.) goes at the end of each complete sentence.

Capitalization. Capitalize words correctly. Do capitalize names; proper nouns; names of cities, states/provinces, and countries; languages; company names; brand names; and months. Do not capitalize job titles (unless they come before a name); college/university majors; important-sounding career words that aren’t proper nouns; seasons; or directions.

Style. Be formal in your letter, but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Be true to yourself in your language and tone.

Bonus Tips for an Awesome Cover Letter

Get to know the company’s culture (read its website; look at its LinkedIn page) so you can write like one of the team members and show that you’d be a perfect fit.

Regardless of whether you’re fresh out of university or 10 years into the workforce, try to focus on your work experience, not your education.

Be a storyteller. If possible, tell a story. Explain how you came to learn about this company; what brought you here? Try to connect in a way that makes you stand out from the rest.

Show your future employer that: a) you’re going to excel in the position; b) you’re friendly and likable, and you get along well with others; and c) you’re going to be a great fit.

Write like a real person—don’t be robotic and overly formal, but also don’t be super excited and so over the top that you seem disingenuous.

Read over the company’s website and try to write in its “voice.”

Show interest and enthusiasm about what you have to offer and what the company can offer you.

Stay positive and focus on your strengths; don’t apologize for not having the right experience or exact educational background.

Use an active voice instead of a passive voice.

Be yourself, not fake or too formal. You want to appear sincere, approachable, and real, so make this come through in your writing.


If you’re looking for a quick reference to use when writing your cover letter, the following infographic provides a point-form version of this article. Go over this checklist before sending a cover letter out to a potential employer.

Ultimate Cover Letter Checklist Infographic

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So there you have it: the ultimate cover letter checklist. Remember, the cover letter is like peanut butter to jelly or cookies to milk—you can’t just submit one without the other when applying for a job. And, as you can see, the cover letter is a necessary (even mandatory) part of the job application process. Your resume isn’t enough, and most employers require that you submit a cover letter along with your resume to expand on your skills and to show how you’d be a perfect fit for the position. Taking into consideration things to include, things to avoid or omit, design elements, and spelling, grammar, and punctuation, you should be well on your way to crafting your best cover letter yet. But before you hit “Send,” make sure the cover letter is clean and error-free by having it edited by the professionals at You’re just a click away from landing that dream job!

How to Write a Cover Letter

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6 Job Interview Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

How to Botch an Interview

How to Botch an InterviewInterviewing for a new job is a stressful process. How do you convince a total stranger that you’re a competent, qualified adult? Well, start by making sure that you are, in fact, a competent and qualified adult, and then study these six job interview mistakes so that you can avoid them during your own quest for employment. We all make mistakes, but if you prepare yourself properly, you’ll never have to make these mistakes. Ever.

Mistake #1: Going in blind

Interviewer: So, what do you know about our company?

You: Oh. Um, I read that you, um, make cardboard boxes? You’re a cardboard box manufacturer.

Interviewer: Well, that’s not quite right, actually. What we really do is provide hospital supplies to third world countries. We do send the supplies in cardboard boxes, though.

You: I’ll just let myself out.

What to learn from this mistake: When you’re on the hunt for a new job, sometimes all the positions you’ve applied for start to blend together in your mind. It’s easy enough to get mixed up about which jobs you’ve applied for, but if you’re asked to interview for a position, you need to do your research before the interview takes place. If interviewers can tell that you didn’t even take the time to Google the company, they’re going to assume you’re lazy, an assumption that won’t be entirely off base.

Mistake #2: Not asking any questions, or asking irrelevant questions

Interviewer: So, potential employee-to-be, do you have any questions for me? Anything more you’d like to know about the position or about the company?

You: No, I don’t think so.

Interviewer: Really? There’s nothing you’re curious about?

You: Um . . . no, I think I’m good.

Interviewer: So you don’t want to know what kind of software we use, what your work schedule would be like, how large your team would be, or what I meant when I referred to your moral and ethical obligation to treat my pet iguana, Harold, as though he were your own child? You’re not curious or concerned about any of those things?

You: Nope. I honestly just need a job. I really don’t care what it is, as long as I get paid to do it. Plus, I think reptiles are where it’s at, if you know what I mean.

What to learn from this mistake: Again, this job interview mistake comes down to you looking like you don’t care about the position you’re applying for. If you don’t display genuine interest in learning about the job, why would the interviewer think you actually want that particular position? Don’t let the interviewer think you’re just looking for any old job.

Mistake #3: Not dressing properly

Mistake #3 is not dressing appropriately.Interviewer: Hi, I’m Mr. Stefanopo—is that a Led Zeppelin T-shirt?

You: Yes, yes, it is.

Interviewer: Are you aware that this is a highly respected law firm?

You: Yes. Are you aware that Led Zeppelin is a highly respected rock band?

Interviewer: I’m afraid we’re going to have to go in a different direction for this position. That being said, would you be interested in going out for drinks later? I’d like to buy you and your T-shirt a beer.

What to learn from this mistake: The solution to this one is simple: dress appropriately! Maybe you’re not after a law office job—heck, maybe you’re not after an office job at all. Even if you’re looking to get hired as a retail employee or a factory worker, you need to look neat, clean, and well groomed for your interview. If you can’t take the time to shave your stubble, trim your beard, brush your hair, or wear clean clothes to an interview, how on earth can an employer trust you to dress or behave appropriately when it’s time to actually start working?

Mistake #4: Lying or exaggerating

Interviewer: What would you say your flaws are as an employee?

You: Well, I’m definitely a perfectionist, and sometimes that makes it hard for me to have realistic goals and expectations for myself.

Interviewer: I see. Can you give me an example of a time when your perfectionism worked against you?

You: Oh—um, yes, of course. OK. So last week I was, um, finishing up this big project. It’s complicated, so I won’t get into the details now, but basically, the fate of my department rested on this work. Anyway, I wanted the uh . . . the one part . . . I wanted it done a certain way. But I didn’t have time to do it that way. So, like, that was pretty frustrating. Because, you know, I’m a perfectionist and stuff.

Interviewer: But did the quality of the project actually suffer?

You: Oh, no. No, I never actually let my obsessiveness affect my work. I’m far too much of a perfectionist for that.

What to learn from this mistake: Two lessons here: First, you will always find yourself caught in a lie you tell in an interview. It might not be right away, but sooner or later, it will come back to bite you, and not in a fun way. The second lesson is that your interviewer has probably been around the proverbial block a few times. Interviewers will know if you’re giving them the answers you think they want rather than answering honestly, and they won’t like it. Respect yourself and your interviewer: don’t lie. If you’re qualified for the job, your real accomplishments will speak for themselves.

Mistake #5: Bad-mouthing former or current workplaces

Mistake #5 is bad-mouthing former or current workplaces.Interviewer: So, why are you looking to leave your current position at ThisPlaceSucks Inc.?

You: It’s terrible there. Everyone is so petty and inconsiderate, and no one ever acknowledges all the hard work I do. Do you know that I haven’t had a raise in four years? Everyone is always complaining about something—you know how they say that small minds talk about people? Well, yesterday I heard Kevin tell Mark that Jamie hadn’t gotten his reports done on time because Carol didn’t send him the data quickly enough. That is so like Carol. I told my boss about all this, and he just shrugged. He never takes me seriously. Typical.

Interviewer: And you don’t think it’s possible that you might become annoyed by the people who work here as well?

You: Nah, I don’t think so. Things seem much better here. I think the people here are probably all actually robots, which is great because no one will ever make mistakes or get on my nerves. No mouth breathers among robots either, so that’s a win.

What to learn from this mistake: This job interview mistake occurs when people are frustrated with their current positions and are desperately seeking change. Regardless of your feelings of frustration, you shouldn’t bad-mouth past or current coworkers, bosses, or workplaces. You’ll just come off sounding either petty or mean—not exactly qualities employers are searching for. You also never know who your interviewer might be—it’s very easy to burn bridges when you don’t know you’re talking smack about someone’s sister-in-law.

Mistake #6: Not following up

You: Ah, what a wonderful interview! I’m so excited about how well that went. I think I will reward myself by sitting at home, watching Netflix, and definitely not sending a thank-you note to the interviewer. I look forward to her completely forgetting me by five o’clock tonight. Ah, what a great day!

What to learn from this mistake: The final major job interview mistake you can make? Allowing your interviewer to lump you together with all those other applicants. Send a polite note or email, depending on the circumstances, and then you can congratulate yourself on a job well done. Unless, of course, you’ve made one of the other five mistakes above, in which case, you may want to go back to the job-search drawing board.

How to Write a Cover Letter

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How to Be Productive While Unemployed

How to Be Productive While Unemployed

How to Be Productive While UnemployedIt can be difficult to be productive when you’re employed, but it’s even more difficult when you’re unemployed. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything constructive when you’re out of a job, especially if you’ve been in that situation for a while. But not to worry—it might just be a blessing in disguise. Although you might not be earning a regular paycheck, you do have the time to do many productive things—other than look for a job—that will keep you on track. In fact, you might even gain a new skill as you learn how to be productive while unemployed.

Read these 20 tips for how you can remain productive, learn new things, and check items off your bucket list while unemployed:

  1. Think about what went wrong at your previous job and why. Assess the situation so you can avoid the same thing happening in the future.
  2. Do you have any habits that may have caused you to lose your job or that are preventing you from landing one, especially in your field? If so, take this time to work on fixing them.
  3. Do you have a passion? Pursue it. Read about the skills and requirements needed to do a job in this field, and work toward obtaining them.
  4. Obtain further training. To brush up on your grammar skills, check out GrammarCamp, a comprehensive grammar training course that you can complete at your own pace.
  5. Read up on world and industry news; be informed about what’s going on and how you (and the industry you want to work in) might be affected by the current global situation.
  6. Make a list and plan goals for each day. Your list and goals need not be extensive, but knowing what you’re going to do on a particular day will help you get it done. Plus, who doesn’t feel good after crossing something off a list?
  7. Update your resume and have it edited and proofread by a professional editing company such as
  8. Search for small projects or freelance jobs to get by while you search for something more permanent.
  9. Talk to friends, family, neighbors—anyone you come into contact with who could potentially help you with your job search or connect you to someone who could help.
  10. Pay it forward and do your best to help those around you, even if they’re in the same situation as you are.
  11. Visit a career services or recruitment agency to help you spruce up your resume and get you started on your job search.
  12. Exercise! Make it a point to get out of the house and do something active at least once a day. Whether it’s walking your dog around the neighborhood or going to the gym, make an effort to get some fresh air and move your body. It will help keep stress away as well as break up your day.
  13. On the same note, why not try meditating? Melt stress away and calm your mind through some relaxing meditation.
  14. Stick to a schedule and treat your days as you would regular workdays. This way, it will be much easier to meet your daily and weekly goals.
  15. Get out of your comfort zone and try something different. This can include something you’ve always wanted to do, or something that will make your resume stand out. For example, teach yourself how to code, learn a new language, or start playing an instrument.
  16. Volunteer. This can be something in your desired field of employment or it can be a cause that you’ve always wanted to support. It will feel great to give back to the community, and you’ll be able to meet and interact with a whole new group of people who share your interests.
  17. Join a club or professional organization. Not only will this give you a chance to network and meet people, but it’s always refreshing to get out, learn new things, and indulge your interests.
  18. Create a profile on a career site such as LinkedIn. This is a great way for you to network, get a better understanding of your own skills and experience, and look for jobs in your field.
  19. Read, read, read! Read books and articles about your industry and how to land a job in your field. Read articles about things that productive people do. Read books about how to boost your career. Gather information from credible sources that will help you in your job hunt, and take this opportunity to increase your knowledge (and share it with others).
  20. Finally, spend quality time with family and friends. Relax and spend some time with your loved ones. You might not always have the time to do so, so use it to your advantage. They will appreciate it just as much as you do.

How to Write a Resume

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