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Make a Memorable First Impression with a Winning Cover Letter & Resume

Many of our interactions come down to the crucial first impression. Our facial expressions, our mannerisms, how we speak, and even our fashion choices—it takes just 7 seconds for someone to make an assessment of you (Psychology Today). Now imagine, your only chance to make a great first impression is distilled down to a couple sheets of paper (your cover letter & resume). How would you convey your skills and strengths? Next, picture your cover letter and resume in a giant stack of other cover letters and resumes. How would you stand out? We’ll share a few tricks to make that great first impression for your next job search.

Breaking Down the Cover Letter

The Anatomy of a Resume

Create Your Winning First Impression


Breaking Down the Cover Letter

There’s some debate on whether or not recruiters read cover letters and whether or not you should you still write one. The answer is YES, absolutely. As a hiring manager, I would always read them to get a sense of the candidate’s communication skills. Having one could also help you stand out across other resumes.

  • Craft Your Opener: This is your creative hook or what makes you stand out. This can be completely free form and tailored to the company you’re applying for (e.g. how you were introduced to their product or service or why you would be a strong fit).

  • Background Builder: Think of this as the heart of your letter, the section where you provide highlights of your career and why you’re right for the job. List your achievements, metrics, skills and any other details to build your case as to why you’re qualified. Be concise and make sure the examples you provide are relevant to the role.

  • The Close: The final section is your chance to finalize the reasons why you’re the perfect candidate. This is also your opportunity to set expectations on follow up and to show your expressed interest in the role.

The Anatomy of a Resume

Following your cover letter is a winning resume. Resumes can vary in look and feel, but they follow similar structures. The goal of a resume is to showcase work experience and build a story on why you're qualified for the role. You should have different versions that are tailored to each role you're applying for and ensure your file format is compatible for various employer's application systems and platforms. Below are the most common elements to include in your resume.

  • Impact Summary: Although optional, having a headline that explains your skills and reveals your value is a great way to capture a reader’s attention. This replaces the traditional resume objective. Rather than expressing what you’d like to gain in a role, the impact summary places the focus more on the skills you can bring to the organization (some great examples are provided by Indeed).

  • Experience Highlights: The foundation of the resume is focused on your relevant work experience that supports the role you’re applying for. Be concise and include 3-5 bulleted highlights and accomplishments for your previous jobs (from most recent to oldest). A great tip is to review job descriptions and include common buzzwords that align with your work experience. Make sure to write in vivid language that is action or metric based and eliminate any passive words (e.g. instead of “led” try “executed”).

  • Education & Skills: If applicable, include sections focused on your education and skills. This can be a mix of degrees, certifications, trainings and/or achievements that would be relevant for the role.

Create Your Winning First Impression

WIth a bit of effort, you can make your cover letter and resume shine in a sea of other applicants. If you’d like more guidance on crafting the perfect cover letter and resume, we've provided a workbook (button below) to highlight your qualifications and work experience—illustrating to a recruiter or hiring manager that you’re a perfect fit for the job. Our goal is to set you up for success in crafting your story. Questions? Please reach out at

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