For college students, recent graduates and experienced professionals alike, a well-written resume and cover letter are essential elements when applying for a job or internship. When done correctly, a glowing resume and cover letter can be a great first impression for a potential employer, and an opportunity to showcase your unique skills and experiences. However, submitting a faulty resume can mean the difference between an interview and a rejection. According to Forbes, job recruiters can spend as little as six seconds scanning your resume before deciding if you’re right for the job. Before applying for your next job, use the tips below to optimize your resume and boost your cover letter.

Format Effectively

First impressions are important, especially when crafting a resume. A well-written resume is vital in any industry. Make sure that your resume does not exceed one page, and use a clean, organized template with consistent font size, making your resume easy to read and professional. Applying bold text to establish different sections helps guide the reader's eye. Be sure to save your resume as a PDF file to ensure your resume maintains the same format on any computer.

Identify & Quantify your Accomplishments
Employers love problem solvers. You can't provide solutions in a company without stating how you solved similar problems in other companies or situations. Stating how you solved a problem expresses your talent and grit. Focus on your primary objectives in each job on your resume by listing each responsibility as a separate bullet point. Then, find at least one accomplishment or solution you provided in that role. Accomplishments should be unique to you. Think of your resume as a marketing tool to market yourself. Sell your measurable skills and strengths, and quantify your achievements to ensure more confidence in the hiring manager. If you received any special awards in academics or the professional world, be sure to list them at the top of your resume.

Use Your Judgement

Submitting the same resume to every job you apply for can be detrimental to your job hunting process. Customize your resume and cover letter for each company and job title to prove you are a good fit. While most corporate employers prefer a traditional, clean resume, fields such as marketing, advertising and design may prefer to see your creative skills firsthand in your resume.

Express your Creativity

Cover letters are the perfect opportunity to express your individuality and truly tell a story. Use your creativity to showcase your personality, and share a unique experience that would make you perfect for the position you’re applying for. Your cover letter should not be simply a reiteration of your resume, but rather a snapshot of you who are as a person. A resume is a document that shows how you are qualified, and a cover letter shows why. Take advantage of your cover letter by elaborating on your strengths, skills, and traits you can offer to the company you wish to work for.

Revise, Revise, & Revise!

Once you have completed your resume and cover letter, it’s crucial to double check for any mistakes before sharing it with a future employer. Be sure to use proper tenses and avoid first person pronouns when discussing job tasks as they are common mistakes made by applicants. Print out multiple physical copies and share them with family and friends to proofread, or take your resume and cover letter to your university’s career center to receive edits if possible. Use colorful pens such as Sarasa gel pens to color code your changes.