#AskJUGS: 4 Ways to Create Compelling Resumes and Cover Letters


As a career strategist and resume writer, I love cover letters. In my view, there’s no better way to share your abilities, values and personality that a confident, clear and concise cover letter with a complementary and customized resume. But I have definitely noticed that most job seekers do not share my passion for resumes and cover letters!

Nevertheless, communication is key in the job search process and I firmly believe that the process of preparing these materials can not only help you get your foot in the door, but help you continue to communicate your value throughout the job search process.

If you’re struggling to feel confident about your resume and cover letter, you are definitely not alone. Here are my tips for writing compelling materials that will help you stand out from the crowd:

Prepare the right way

Before you sit down to apply for jobs, spend some time journaling about your recent experiences, your hopes for your next jobs, and what you consider your best skills. (I share some easy prompts in the free version of Uncomplicate Your Job Search!) This will help you get clear on what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.

It’s easy to skip this part and move straight to writing resumes and cover letters, but trust me, candidates that spend a little bit more time preparing for their search in this way ultimately stand out from the crowd.

Pay close attention the job posting and qualifications.

Clients often tell me they have no idea what the hiring manager wants to hear. Surprise! They literally tell you when you look at the job description and qualifications. This is all you have to anticipate what the hiring manager is looking for so share your skills and experiences as they are relevant to the particular role at hand.

Know the difference between a resume and cover letter.

If your cover letter is just your resume in narrative form, you’re missing an opportunity to say even more about what it’s like to work with you.

When it comes to your cover letter, of course you’ll want to concisely summarize your work, but don’t be afraid to also share how you work, the impact of your work or what your peers have said about your work.


Hit submit!

While I could share resume and cover letter tips all day long, here’s the deal: it ultimately needs to be submitted. Too many people worry that their materials aren’t good enough and don’t bother tossing their hat into the ring if things don’t feel “perfect.” At the end of the day, you stand a much better chance of being considered for the role if you submit something.

When I’m writing resumes for clients, it can take a few hours, so give yourself enough time to do the preparation, create your documents, revise them and go through the online submission process. It isn’t easy and it isn’t fast, but with the right approach, learning how to craft compelling resumes and cover letters can help improve nearly any job search.


Jenn Walker Wall writes a monthly career advice column called #AskJUGs for JustUsGalsBos.com and is the founder of Work Wonders Coaching + Consulting. You can follow her on Twitter: @JennWalkerWall. Ask your career questions here.