Career & Education

Refining your résumé and cover letter in 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

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If making a career change is among your professional development goals for 2018, it is vitally important that your documents are crafted in order to at least get you in the door for an interview.

It is not ok to use one standard résumé and cover letter to apply for jobs, especially not if it's your dream job. Consider tailoring your résumé to reflect the requriements of the position for which you are applying and emphasise those experiences that ate most relevant to the job. In other words, make it functional.


There are two key actions you must undertake to advance this career transition:


i. Determine the skills needed for the specific job or industry you are seeking to enter.

ii. Do a self-analysis to identify which of those skills you possess, and determine what evidence you are able to provide that you do indeed possess those skills.


Your next task is the preparation of your application documents — your cover letter and résumé.

Ensure that your cover letter conveys your motivation and passion for the desired career. It should also highlight your transferrable employability skills and show that you are an excellent worker. Be specific.


As for the résumé, consider organising it thus:


• Identifier section — name and contact information.


• Branding Statement — craft a profile, using bullet points, that focuses on the skills, qualifications and activities that are most relevant to the new career.

• Skills Summary — highlight relevant skills developed from your training or experience (eg, project management, repairs or upgrade of equipment, problem solving).


• Experience — Be concise. Do not focus on the chronology of your employment. Recalibrate this section to present your accomplishments using terms that will be of interest to the prospective employer or recruiter. Think relevance, and be sure that, where possible, you quantify accomplishments (eg, Retrained a 10-member site upgrade team in trouble shooting strategies, consistently containing escalation costs by more than 20 per cent).


• Education & Training — In addition to formal education and training, be sure to highlight any professional development that would be of relevance.

• Optional categories — Appropriate captions include non-work-related activities and skills (eg, community service, volunteerism, membership in technical or professional associations).

It would be worth reviewing sample résumés to be clear on the format and essential elements for presenting a convincing case of your suitability for the chosen role. Also, we encouarge you to seek assistance from a career development officer at any parish or regional office of the HEART Trust/NTA. The service is free of charge.


Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student affairs at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Email her at

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