Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

Finding a Job

For a period of time, I was actively searching for employment. While searching, I would always look for ways to improve the content of my resume, the design, the fonts – anything that could improve my chances of finding employment. Additionally, there was the cover letter – its length,  style, content and so forth. Each time I applied for a job, I would always revisit all the aforementioned considerations and thus the process was tiring and not always pleasant. I would seek out people’s advice, look at websites on the subject  and do anything I could to make my resume as attractive possible. However, the same uncertainty remained – was I doing enough and were the changes and improvements that I made the right things to do.

Finally, I found a job, and later opened my own company. After opening the company and looking to expand, naturally I had to hire workers. Placing ads for workers and receiving so many resumes that I now had to review and process was the best lesson that I could have ever learned on how best to write a resume and a cover letter. The following are some lessons I learned on writing a resume and cover letters that might be of value to those still searching for employment.

  1. Length – Although I was careful to keep my resume to one page, that is not clear to everyone. No matter how interesting a person thinks they really are – and they may be very interesting and well accomplished – no one really has time to read a two or three page resume. Just the thought of having to read two pages is tiring. Your resume isn’t the only one and in a pile of 50 resumes one cannot read all the content.
  2. Structure – When a person is writing his resume, for each bullet or point you want to make, do not write more than one sentence.  It is very difficult to follow. One might say: what is difficult about reading two sentences? It’s hard to explain, but a person wants to start from the top and move down reading the resume without having to move their eyes to much to the right or left. When a person writes two sentences or one very long sentence, it means that the reader cannot catch the point of the sentence while browsing and must stop to read it line by line. In general that is not a problem for a short document, but when you are an HR person trying to find a diamond in the rough, you can’t go through every piece of sand.
  3. Catch The Eye – The content needs to have something that will catch the eye of the reader while he/she is browsing the resume.  The point is that if you can catch the reader’s attention, then they will actually stop and read the content, but if not chances are unlikely that they will actually read your full resume. Therefore, don’t rely on content alone to attract the reader. There must be something in the content that sticks out: A strong sentence, something unique, easy format to follow.
  4. Content – Many people write that they performed certain tasks at previous places of employment. For example, someone managed part of the sales department, ran ad campaigns, researched a topic. All these things mean nothing on their own. It must be explained, how these tasks that a person performed led to a certain outcome. A person can say that they managed an ad campaign which led to an increase in sales by 200%. He researched a topic which influenced the company direction on a certain issue etc. Without that, saying what one did means nothing. So you researched a topic – who says you did a good job? You ran an ad campaign – maybe it was a total failure and thus your experience is not worth anything.
  5. Content II: A person might want a job in which he doesn’t really have the appropriate background to make him qualified. If that’s the case, it would be very important to focus on your personal qualities in the resume as a reason for why you would be good for the job. Sending a resume and hoping the reader will have insights as to realize that if you did one thing in your last job , then you would be probably be also suited for a totally different position requiring similar skill sets is probably not going to happen.

Just a word about the cover letter: Ask yourself, if I had to read 50 resumes and cover letters, what might catch my attention? What could be written on this letter that would cause me to want to learn more about this person.

Much success in your job search!!

About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.