Is it short and to the point ? (preferably one to two pages long) Busy employers won't take the time to sift through a lot of information.
Is it printed on good quality white or off-white standard, business-size bond paper? Are the margins at least one inch?
Is it well organized and readable? Do key points and headings stand out? Is your eye drawn immediately to the information you want employers to notice first—your most relevant accomplishments and achievements?
Have you listed your name, address (including postal code), e-mail address (if appropriate) and a telephone number where you can be reached during the day? Don't include a photograph or unnecessary information such as height, weight, sex or state of health. Also, don't put the title Resumé at the top, or date or sign your resumé.
Is the language clear, simple and concise? Does every statement emphasize a skill or ability? Have you eliminated unnecessary words or sentences?
Is all of the information relevant and positive? Never include anything negative! Does everything you say about your qualifications relate to the requirements of the type of work you are applying for?
Does every item start with an action verb? (Avoid the pronoun "I" and inexpressive phrases such as "I was responsible for . . ." or "My duties involved . ."
Is the information accurate? (Don't exaggerate or misrepresent yourself—most employers check. On the other hand, don't sell yourself short by being too humble.)
Have you described how your work benefited your former employers? (e.g. you improved sales by a certain percentage, you made procedures more efficient, you developed an innovative program)
Did you check for spelling, grammar or typing errors? Are your tenses consistent? If you are not absolutely sure, ask a friend to proofread your draft.
If you have listed your references, put them on a separate sheet of paper. Are they people who can verify the skills you have chosen to emphasize? Always find out if the people you list are willing to provide a positive reference before you distribute your resumé!
Everyone who sends out a resume does. Even if the cover letter never "came up" in conversation or wasn't mentioned in an advertisement, it's expected that you will write one.
It is regarded as a sign of laziness to send out a cover letter that is not tailored to the specific company. In the days before word processors, you could maybe get away with it. Not anymore.
Yes, it adds to the wear and tear of looking for a job! But the good news is: the cover letter gives you another chance to emphasize what you have to contribute to the company or organization. Don't give the person screening the resumes a second to entertain the thought: "But how can this person help US?" Your cover letter will answer that question in your own words. Your resume will also answer that question but in a somewhat more rigid format.
Address it to the person who can hire you. Resumes sent to the personnel department have a tougher time of it. If you can find out (through networking and researching) exactly who is making the hiring decision, address the letter to that person. Be sure the name is spelled correctly and the title is correct. A touch of formality is good too: address the person as "Mr.," "Ms.," "Mrs.," "Miss," "Dr.," or "Professor."
Show that you know something about the company and the industry. This is where your research comes in. Don't go overboard--just make it clear that you didn't pick this company out of the phone book. You know who they are, what they do and why you have chosen them.