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16 Résumé And Cover Letter Tricks Your Employer Wishes You Knew

Check all the boxes.

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2. Incorporate keywords that come up often in job postings...

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"Such as 'customer relations' if you're in sales, and 'creative' if you're in advertising," according to The Real Simple Guide to Real Life (Oxmoor House; April 7, 2015). "The HR departments of many big companies employ applicant-tracking systems to search for given terms on résumés. That way, they can immediately disqualify people who don't use the important terms and whittle down the pool by as much as 50 percent."

3. Write out the basics. And don't forget to add your skills.

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The core résumé ingredients: your name, mailing address, email address, and cell phone number; work experience; schooling; references; skills. Skills are important because they can really add value to your experience. Let's say you're great at PowerPoint (and your would-be boss is terrible at it); that skill can really place you ahead of the pack.

4. And include experience with uncommon software too.

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The hiring manager might ask you about it, which is a good way for you to talk about how great you are with tech stuff.

5. Save space in the education section.

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If you want to list a college and a high school, set up a two-column section so that the names can go side-by-side. But definitely don't list more than two schools. If you're someone who's transferred a lot, only list the one from which you graduated.

6. Include a hyperlink to your LinkedIn page or online portfolio.

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Add it to the contact info section so HR can get a closer look at some of your work. This can't hurt if you have a lot of LinkedIn skill endorsements!

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8. Put your most relevant experience first — especially if this is your first or one of your first jobs.

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Chronology is less important until you have a few career-oriented jobs under your belt. Employers want to see immediately that you have experience.

10. Don't overthink your cover letter...

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Why? Because no one really reads it, according to The Real Simple Guide to Real Life. "The only time I look at a cover letter," Aileen Joa, a human resources generalist from Fidelus Technologies, tells the book authors, "is when I'm not 100 percent sold on a résumé. But if your résumé doesn't say it, chances are I'm not reading it in your cover letter."

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11. But you should consider your industry.

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If you're applying for a writing job, employers might be reading with an eye for your voice. If you're looking for a job in fashion, awareness of trends or young designers can give you an extra edge that you can't convey in a résumé.

13. Don’t wax poetic about your goals and dreams.

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"I've noticed that applicants tend to ramble about what they want from their career paths, but I never want to read that," Joa says in The Real Simple Guide to Real Life. "I want to know what you are able to give the company. Why should I hire you?"

14. Keep it short — about two paragraphs total.

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"In that space, you should convey a few key points: why you want the job; what makes you best suited for the position and the company; and what you uniquely have to offer as a candidate," according to The Real Simple Guide to Real Life.

15. Give your references a heads-up before they get a call.

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And while you're at it, remind your reference of your accomplishments or maybe ask them to talk about a big project you helped them with when you worked together.

16. Avoid objectives — they're dated.

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Between your résumé and cover letter, they can imagine why you're trying to work for them. Your space will be better served describing responsibilities and accomplishments.

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