I regularly receive resumes from both new job hunters and those looking to move. When I’m looking at a resume or cover letter it’s my first glimpse into whether the applicant will be a good fit at BookEnds. I want to know a bit about their personality, communication style and experience and creativity.
Needless to say, I’ve become quite particular about what I’m looking for in both the resume and cover letter. Here is an inside peek of what I’m looking to see.
Whether we want to or not we all judge a book by its cover and your cover letter is, well, a cover. It is frankly, is far more important than your resume. It’s like a query letter for an author. If your cover letter doesn’t grab me I’m not going to bother looking at the resume. It’s really where I get most of my information about you.
The first thing I look for in a cover letter is personality. Throw out all the books that give you formal cover letter boilerplates and write from the heart. Wow me by showing how you are different from the other 24 resumes in my pile
- What makes you want to work at BookEnds?
- What makes you special from all my other applicants?
- What books are you reading right now?
- Why publishing?
- What experiences do you have that brought you here?
- What can you tell me that a very bland resume can’t?
Your cover letter should always be in the body of an email. I don’t want to have to open two separate documents, I want it handed to me easily.
Design matters. The first thing any of us notice is how something looks. There a million resume templates out there. Use one. Make it simple with an easy-to-read font, but also make it something that stands out. A plain Word doc with no fancy thingamabobs just looks bland and no one wants to hire someone who looks bland. I mean, you are looking for a job in publishing which is a creative field. We want to see creativity.
I go against the grain of what many career counselors will tell you. I don’t really care that much about your education, at least not enough for it to be at the top of the page. Most everyone in publishing has a college degree. What I want to see in your resume is what makes you stand out.
- What internships or jobs have you had that make you special?
- What extra-curriculars did you do in college that make you more than a student?
- How are you different from everyone else?
My biggest piece of advice is ignore you college career counselors and all of the bland resume books and make a list first of why this job/company needs you. Create your content from that.