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The Do’s and Dont’s for Resumes and Cover Letters

written by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Deborah Sweeney

With the weather still hot, hot, hot outside, daily visits to the pool and lounging around seem much more appealing than hitting the job search pavement. But summer season is almost over and with fall comes the perfect time to brush up on refreshing your resume and cover letter to land a plum position with the company you’re applying for a job for.

Getting back in the game of looking for the perfect (or any) job can be tough, especially after a summer break of BBQs and relaxation, but putting together a great resume is a much-needed step in the right direction. One of the best things you can do for your chances of getting hired anywhere is to pay attention to your word choice when crafting your resume and cover letter. Employers automatically have certain keywords that sit well with them, and some words that don’t.

Here’s a list of some repeat offenders I continue to see in resumes as well as winning words and phrases that make a cover letter come alive.


‘Salary desired’

Salary and hourly pay will be discussed in the interview. Putting it in ink on a resume or cover letter looks too concrete and lacks flexibility on your end.

‘Seeking a position where I can utilize my skills’

This is vague and impersonal. List those skills and apply them to the company you’re applying for!


It’s best to avoid words like ‘hardworking’ (‘driven’ or ‘motivated’ are just as bad) as all of these adjectives should be a given and apparent in the interview. They tend to appear as fillers and don’t add anything to the resume or cover letter.



It’s nice to see in print, it’s also nice to see in the actual organization of the resume itself. Saying that you’re organized will only help bring more attention to the organized nature of your resume and cover letter.


It’s always a positive sign to see that a person has done a lot of freelance work, depending on the field that they’re in. If you’re applying for a position in writing or web design, it’s good to include a list of places you’re work has been featured as well as links to some of your published work or portfolio.


To me, seeing balanced, is a sign of having your life together. Life/work balance has always been a hot topic in business discussion and if you show that you care enough about that balance to put it on your resume, you will automatically gain some respect from a potential future employer.

Implement these dos and don’ts and you’ll be on your way to a better resume!

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