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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers


Resume and Cover Letter Tip: Tell a Great Story!

17 Dec 2015 10:09 AM | Anonymous

By Brenda Bernstein
The Essay Expert

When we were kids, we all loved stories. Well guess what? That hasn’t changed! The fact is, we all still love a good story. Hiring managers love good stories. Customers and clients love good stories. Always remember: the person you’re writing for is a human being! How do you get another human being to read your document? Spin a good yarn!

All kinds of people are saying “No one reads cover letters anymore.” Well, of course no one is reading them – because they are stilted and boring and no one can get through them! Have you ever considered that if you write a good enough story in your cover letter that it really *will* get read!

For instance, I worked with an architect on a cover letter that did much more than list his accomplishments. Rather than just stating that he worked on a project on a college campus, he shared what it took to ensure that the building fit with the existing architecture on the campus. This story showed the consideration and creativity he puts into every project. And it got him several interviews and ultimately his dream job.

Do you have an example of a time when a project was failing, and you stepped in to fix it? That makes a great story! Is there an example of something you achieved that relates to the job you’re applying for? Don’t be afraid to tell these stories in your cover letters!

On your resume, too, tell as much of a story as you can in a bulleted statement.

What not to write: “Assisted scientists with their research.”

What to write: “Conducted genetic, epidemiology, and behavior research on sport fish in Illinois, Canada, and the Bahamas.”

(Ah, now that sounds interesting!)

What not to write: “Increased EBIT $3.6M.”

(While this accomplishment is impressive, it doesn’t tell the whole story.)

What to write: “Increased EBIT $3.6M by negotiating cost incentive clause and motivating workforce to contain expenses; turned around project experiencing cost overruns to an $11Msurplus, a 28% improvement.”

(This bullet provides context, making the $3.6M sound even more impressive.)

Whatever the reason, we all love a good story. Tell one in your resume and cover letter. If you do it well, your readers will want to give you a chance to write the next chapter.

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