Sometimes resume and cover letter decisions that seem inconsequential can have a lasting impact on how you message is presented. And sometimes the smallest moves are the ones that can keep your application at the forefront of your reviewer’s mind.
The spacing between individual words, individual lines, and blocks of text can influence how your message is received. A paragraph break in your cover letter can indicate a pause or a transition, and it can also give your reader a chance to pause and process the last thought before moving onto the next one. As you format your letter, make sure you give your readers an opportunity to remember each important piece of information you pass on.
In your resume , make sure the line spacing you use between each title and subheading stays consistent throughout your document. If you use one line under each title and two lines between each subsection, maintain that pattern.
Font Choice & Size
Use a font style that’s professional and straightforward, one that disappears behind your message instead of standing out. And choose a font size that will let you get your entire message onto one or two pages without giving your readers a case of eyestrain. An 11- to 12-point font size usually works well.
Choose your verbs carefully and make sure each verb carries both impact and precision. Instead of words like “is,” “has,” “was,” and “did,” choose verbs that speak directly to specific actions. Try “managed,” “organized,” “built,” “held,” “led,” and “delivered.”
As you do this, make sure your verbs are clear, accurate, and strong enough to stand on their own without the help of excessive adverbs (“ly” words). These tend to weaken the impact of otherwise excellent writing. They also take up space that can be used to deliver more detailed information about your credentials.
As unfair as it may sound, there are some small missteps that can stand out as red flags to potential readers, even if they don’t directly suggest or imply a problem with a candidate’s credentials. Watch out for sentences that may be read as apologies or excuses. And be equally careful with language that sounds desperate. Avoid using words like “try” and “almost,” as in: “I’ll try to become the best account manager you’ve ever hired.” Or: “Our division almost delivered the highest numbers in the state last year.”
If the job post uses specific language to describe a credential, a degree, a certification, or a certain type of experience, try to use the same wording as you discuss this credential in your resume and cover letter. In other words, if the post requests “a CPR certified, Spanish speaking customer service specialist with five years of corporate experience,” then it’s okay to describe yourself in exactly these terms. In fact, this small move alone can help you move past keyword searches and it can also help you survive first-round reviews conducted by agents or assistants reading on behalf of the employers who will make the final decision.
Make Your Resume & Cover Letter Count
When it comes to your career and your professional future, there are no small decisions. Every move is important, and every detail matters. Stay ahead of your competition and give yourself every advantage by using LiveCareer’s Resume and Cover Letter Builder.