What If They Read Your Resume First?
by Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Your cover letter is a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to hiring managers, dazzle them with your credentials and persuade them to read your resume, right?

Sure — unless hiring managers never read it.

While it’s important that your resume is accompanied by a hard-hitting cover letter, busy hiring managers often review your resume before deciding whether or not to take the time to read your cover letter, which means they may never get to it.

Knowing this potential fate for your cover letter, the best strategy is to craft your resume with the assumption that your letter might not get read. If your resume omits important details found in your cover letter, revise the resume to incorporate any information you think would entice a hiring manager to call you for an interview.

Ask yourself these questions to determine if your resume needs to be modified:

Is Your Resume Up to Date?

If you haven’t updated your resume recently and are using the cover letter to explain your recent employment, educational credentials, etc., take the time now to update your resume.

What’s Your Objective?

Are you using a one-size-fits-all-jobs resume and relying on your cover letter to clarify your career goal? If your resume does not clearly spell out your objective, you could be overlooked. Job seekers with more than one career goal achieve better results when they set up multiple resume versions, each one targeting a different objective. You can easily add your goal to your resume’s Objective or Qualifications Summary section.

Have You Elaborated on Your Work Experience and Accomplishments?

When scanning through piles of resumes, hiring managers will review your last couple of positions to see if your experience matches their needs. Don’t skimp on your employment section. For your most recent (and most related) positions, write a paragraph that describes your primary job tasks so hiring managers understand the scope of your duties. Then show that you’re a top performer by adding a Key Contributions section for each position held. Write about challenges you faced in each of your positions, the results of your work and the ways your employers benefited from your performance. Don’t just rely on your cover letter for this in case it doesn’t get read.

Are Your Skills Clearly Listed?

Hiring managers are usually looking for candidates with a specific skill set. Create a bulleted section called Areas of Expertise that includes the keywords for your related skills and proficiency areas. Use the Skills section in your Monster resume to highlight job-related skills.

Are You Willing to Relocate?

While this may feel like it belongs in your letter, if you are available to relocate or have definite plans to move, include this information in your resume’s heading along with your current address. For example, put: “Relocating to Dallas, TX” or “Available to Relocate Internationally.”

Are You Reachable?

If your cover letter states the best way to reach you (e.g., by cell phone), be sure this information is also included on your resume. You want to make it as easy as possible for interested hiring managers to contact you.

Important: Don’t forget that hiring managers use different methods to select candidates. Some will read the cover letter first and carefully consider its content, so it’s best to always include a compelling cover letter.

This article was written by Kim Isaacs, director of ResumePower.com and author of The Career Change Resume book. Visit ResumePower.com to learn more about resume services to jump-start your career.

Copyright 2012 – Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster, the leading online global network for careers. To see other career-related articles visit http://content.monster.com.