Believe it or not, there are thousands of people all over the country who make a full time living as professional resume and cover letter editors. Usually these people started their careers with a background in English, writing, journalism, technical editing, or a range of other language-based fields. Then they eventually branched off into full time editing positions with a specific focus on the job market. These people spend their working days examining resume after resume and cover letter after cover letter, and when we reached out to some of them and asked them to pass along their best advice, here’s what they shared with us.
“Before you submit, print out your letter and read it backwards. Move through the document one word at a time from the bottom of the page to the top. This will help you catch misspellings, repeated words, and missing words like nothing else can.”
“When you encounter a language conundrum (for example: Is this sentence too long? What’s the difference between you’re and your? Can I use a semicolon here?) get help and get the problem resolved. Don’t just guess and move on. These details matter.”
“Don’t ramble. A cover letter should be brief and it should stick to the point at all times, from beginning to end. If you aren’t sure your extra detail or side story counts as “rambling”, it does. Tighten up, delete, shorten, and stay on track.”
“If you’re chuckling at your own jokes in a self-satisfied way, something is wrong. First, jokes in written form are never as funny as they sound in your head. And second, cover letters are not the place for jokes. Showcase your personality without releasing your inner comedian. ”
“Vary the length and structure of your sentences. Follow a long, convoluted sentence with one that’s short and simple. This makes your information easier for readers to process and remember.”