Getting your cover letter and resume in gear

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Before you can wow them with your charisma, you need to land an interview. Career search counselor, John West Hadley, founder of John Hadley Associates, has easy-to-follow advice on creating a cover letter and resume that spark interest, but leave employers wanting more.

Cover letter

A cover letter should be tailored to the specific job for which you are applying. “Tell me a few key things that will get me excited to talk to you,” Hadley suggested. He said to use the template “ICPQRS.”

  • “I see”:
  • “P- Passion.
  • Q- Qualification
  • R- Results (Examples of relevant results).
  • S- Self Confidence.

“It doesn’t matter how long it is, as long as every part leaves someone wanting to read more,” said Hadley.

Your cover letter is a marketing letter that gets someone interested in reading the resume, Hadley said.


“The resume is your sales brochure. It’s your chance to get an employer really excited about you,” he said. “A lot of people see it as a bio, but as an employer that’s not what gets me excited. What I care about are the results you might bring to me.” Hadley, a former hiring manager, said there are three fundamental questions you can use to guide your resume building.

Does it give off a strong professional image?

“I’m drawing a picture about how you go about your work and how you present yourself from everything you send me,” Hadley said. On a basic level, he said that means making sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. The next level is a professional look —Are things aligned properly? Does it look neat? Is it edited well? Is the right stuff included? “You want to prove you’re someone who can communicate well with potential superiors,” he said.

Does it pass the 10-second test?

“Right away it should give a clear picture of the package that you bring to the table and why I should be interested,” Hadley said. He also stressed not to include an objective on your resume. “That’s important once we meet and I want to know more, but what’s really important at this stage is what you bring to the table and what you can bring to me and my company. What are the types of problem you might solve for me?”

Does it prove you will deliver?

Give a clear picture of the actual results you have produced so the employer sees a strong, result-oriented professional. Hadley suggests that instead of saying, “I was responsible for management of the compliance unit of my company,” say “I was responsible for increasing productivity by 60 percent over two years without increasing headcount.” “When you throw a simple metric into your resume, it makes it much more believable,” he said.

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