Job Hunting on the Cheap: DIY Resume and Cover Letter Tips

By Raechel Conover, Cheapism.com

New year, maybe new job? If you're on the hunt for a job, you need a resume. Perhaps you're wondering how to improve one that already exists. Perhaps you don't have a resume and need to create one. You have two options: You can send your credentials off to a resume writing service and pay big bucks -- figure on at least $100 -- or you can do some research and tackle the job yourself -- for free. Frugal consumers will clearly opt for the latter.

Landing a great job starts with a well written resume.

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Here are some tips to help you write a resume that could put you in the running for that next big employment opportunity.

Remember the basics. It's truly amazing how many people forget to include the easy stuff when they write a resume. Don't, under any circumstance, send a resume without including your name, address, phone number, and email. And place this vital information at the top of the page where it won't be missed.

Rethink your objective statement. The old-school resume-writing formula calls for plainly stating the type of position you're seeking and why. The more modern approach involves explaining why you're the best choice. For example, instead of saying you desire a job in marketing that utilizes your skills to the fullest, write a statement that specifies the marketing skills you have that will be useful in this open position.

Use relevant keywords. If you're already working in the field in which you're applying you should have a good grasp of the keywords and jargon. Sprinkling them around your resume shows career savvy and also speaks directly to the hiring manager. If you're trying to break into a new field, research the buzz words before you write a resume. You can find a lot of cues by looking over job postings.

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Highlight your accomplishments. When writing a resume many people fall into the trap of simply listing their day-to-day responsibilities for every position they've held. This is not what a hiring manager wants to see. If you're experienced in a particular field, the hiring manager has a pretty good idea about your daily tasks. Make yourself stand out by highlighting your big moments - the process you improved, the contributions you made to the bottom line, the efforts that advanced the company's overall performance. Try to list several big accomplishments for each position, especially the most recent or current position.

Keep it short and sweet. A recent study conducted by job-search site TheLadders.com reveals that hiring mangers spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a resume before deciding if the applicant has the correct skills for the open slot. To say that your resume must be simple is an understatement. Write a resume that is extremely easy to navigate and read, with sentences that are short, sweet, and to the point. Pare it down to one or two pages, tops, regardless how much experience you have, and include the information recruiters are looking for: current job title, current company, current position start and end dates, as well as your previous title, company, start/end dates, and education.

Don't forget a cover letter!

Include a resume cover letter. Always. Nothing says you're ambivalent about the job more than the lack of a cover letter. Failing to send one suggests you didn't really have the time or care enough. A resume cover letter should only take about 10 minutes to write. Use the resume cover letter as a way to sum up your experiences and demonstrate why you're a good fit for the position at hand.

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Spell check. This may be obvious, but we're totally serious: You must spell check. This doesn't mean merely running the spell check function and sending off the resume. It means reading your resume thoroughly, word for word, to check for spelling and grammatical errors. These errors can cost you an interview, so make sure there are none and then make sure again.


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