Finding a new job can be a lengthy process – one in which you need to be on top of your game every step of the way. In a previous blog entry, I covered the major steps to finding a job and provided tips on how to start your search. Among the methods recommended to find job openings, job boards remain the main source of recruitment, according to the State of Recruiting 2012 Report. As a reminder, the job search process includes finding open positions, writing resumes and cover letters, building a brand and portfolio, interviewing and negotiating.

Once you find job openings in which you are potentially interested, you should complete the following:

  • Read the job description carefully.
    • What are the key responsibilities? Do they match your experience, skill set and career goals? (i.e., consider your present status versus where you see yourself in the future – will this position help you meet your career goals?)
    • What terminology is used to describe the position? Is it consistent with your experience? Is it modern and aligned with your current understanding of the field? (e.g., the use of the term computer-based training or CBT rather than e-learning may indicate the company has a more outdated perspective of the industry).
  • Reach out to your network.
    • Do any of your previous colleagues work for this company?
    • Does your alma mater have connections? Do your former professors?
  • Determine your non-negotiables.
    • What are your top requirements for the job? (e.g., ability to relocate, salary requirements, preferred industry, etc.)

Now that you have more thoroughly examined the job description, you can craft and tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly. It is imperative to tailor your resume for each position to ensure that it catches the eye of the recruiter. Steve Santiago describes the tracking software that many recruiters use in his article, “Tailor your resume to the job description”:

When you submit a resume for a job posting, the tracking system mines data from your resume by searching for relevant keywords or phrases. If the system determines that your resume is a close match, it will save your information in a database for recruiters to review.

Here are some tips for writing your resume:

  • Keep it short and succinct – avoid complete sentences and keep it to two pages maximum.
  • Skip the objective statement – this wastes valuable real-estate and is rarely meaningful to employers (it is obvious that your goal is to get the job).
  • Consider including a summary of qualifications, especially if your resume is two pages (create a bulleted list, using key industry terms, for optimized searchability and readability).
  • Write your accomplishments in actionable terms – show how you are an achiever, not just a doer.
  • Use terminology consistent with that referenced in the job description.
  • Present your education after your experience if you are not a student (work experience is more important to a recruiter than education).
  • Format your resume in a professional manner to increase readability (use a standard font style and size between 10-12 points, and leverage bolding and underlining to make key information stand out, such as job titles).

Once you are satisfied with your resume, you should work on your cover letter. Like your resume, you should avoid having a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Forbes writer Susan Adams explains the qualities of a great cover letter in her article, “How to Write a Cover Letter”:

Do tell a story and even crack a joke if you can. Always mention mutual contacts, and make sure you proofread carefully.

Here are some additional tips for writing your cover letter:

  • Keep it simple – use the following structure: start with an introduction that includes the job you are trying to get and the name of the company, follow with a paragraph or two that summarizes your career and relevant accomplishments, conclude with a request to meet and your contact information.
  • Use this as an opportunity to sell yourself – describe the ways in which you meet the job requirements that may not stand out in your resume.
  • Explain how your experience and skill set aligns with the responsibilities of the job – point out specific examples of how you have demonstrated your ability in previous jobs.
  • Describe how you will add value to the position and the company – highlight the accomplishments you envision achieving in this position.

Additional resources for writing your resume and cover letter include:

Stay tuned for part three of the job guide – advice on how to build your personal brand. This step in the job search is important because it provides additional evidence to potential employers on why you are the right candidate to hire.

Marci Paino

Marci Paino

Marci Paino is a senior instructional designer at Intrepid Learning Solutions. She earned her Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) designation from the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), M.A. in educational technology from San Diego State University and B.S. in organizational communication, learning and design from Ithaca College. Paino volunteers for ISPI, serving on several committees, forming the Emerging Professional Committee, and earning the Presidential Citation in 2009 and 2010. She is also a member of the eLearning Guild and American Society for Training and Development. Paino has written for PerformanceXpress, Performance Improvement Journal and She can be reached at

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