Skip to navigationSkip to content

How you should actually write your résumé and cover letter

Gosia Herba
Blind ambition.
  • Holly Ojalvo
By Holly Ojalvo

Talent Lab editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The switch from economic boom to economic shock in less than two months’ time has been whiplash-inducing. The skyrocketing unemployment rate and existential questions prompted by the pandemic are causing millions to seek work or consider career pivots. It may well feel more pressing than ever before in your career to burnish your résumé and cover letter (as well as your LinkedIn profile, personal website, and social media accounts) to make sure you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of getting noticed—for the right reasons—by hiring managers.

As talent lab editor, I lead newsroom hiring at Quartz, and in my career I’ve been involved in hiring over 100 people at all levels and reviewed thousands of applications. So I’ve seen it all—confusing cover letters that I have no idea what to do with, beautifully formatted CVs that help me digest the applicant’s experience, surprisingly compelling emails that make me want to pick up the phone right away and call the candidate for an interview.

In this presentation for Quartz members, I share some practical tips to help you make a good impression and, hopefully, improve your chances of getting that call.

The last slide is an actual (redacted) query letter a prospective staffer sent last year. I included it as a good example of a brief note that’s friendly, respectful, and succinct, briefly connects the dots between past experience and the position of interest, and makes it easy for the hiring manager to follow up by providing contact information and relevant documents. It also shows that your letter doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect in every way—after all, it does contain the very cliché I warn against!—to merit attention. And reader, I hired her.

(Scroll to the bottom to download the presentation as a Powerpoint or PDF file.)

To see all of the slides, you can view the PDF version or download the PowerPoint file. This is one of an ongoing series of member-exclusive Quart at Work webinars, which you can read, reformat, and use as you wish.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.