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There are many rules out there about what to do and what not to do when it comes to writing cover letters and resumes. 

Let's start with the one-page resume rule. You will find advice stating to keep the resume to one page if you have less than ten years of experience or are a new college graduate. Some experts will advise keeping the resume to one page in length no matter how many years of experience you have. 

Which expert advice should you follow? Probably the majority -- which tends to advise on keeping the resume to one page if you have about ten years of experience in a non-supervisory role, and two pages if you are mid to senior level.  

Even the one-page rule can be broken for those with less than ten years of experience if they are in a very project oriented position such as information technology, engineering or construction. These positions tend to list many project highlights. 

If you are very senior level, you can get away with a three-page resume, or longer. For those in academia and scientific fields, a curriculum vitae is recommended, which can run up to ten or more pages. 

Okay, enough about resumes. There are just as many rules about cover letter too. Some say to keep it brief; others say to tell a story. Unlike the divided opinions about resume length, most experts will agree to keep the cover letter to one page. 

There are many different cover letter formats to use such as the resume-style that combines paragraphs with bulleted statements; a narrative that is all paragraphs and no bulleted statements; and the two-column approach that compares the company's requirements with your qualifications, side-by-side. 

A variation on the two-column approach is to use two separate paragraphs that are headed by titles. These include one for Your Requirements and another for My Qualifications. 

So what do you do when you have between 10 and 15 years of experience or too much information to fit on one page, but not enough to fill two pages? What length should your resume be then? Should you reduce the font size to force it on one page? That is not recommended. 

The solution to this sticky problem is to create a double-duty cover letter. The opening of the letter can read along the lines of:  

As an expressed interest in being considered for a position managing your company's global business development initiatives, I have attached my resume for your review and consideration. I offer twelve years of experience in sales and business development with major technology firms, with achievements that include global expansion projects.

I am confident that my qualifications are a good fit with your company's needs. For instance, in my career I have achieved the following results:  

* List a key achievement

* List another key achievement

* List another key achievement

* List another key achievement

* List another key achievement 

The advantage in this strategy is you will be able to include your achievements that might not have fit on your resume, whether one or two pages. Moreover, it will add value to the cover letter and avoid the risk of writing cliche statements for lack of something better to say. 

Whatever you do, make sure you list more about your achievements than you soft skills. It is okay to list that you are a team leader, effective communicator and business development strategist. But the reader will want to see more about what you've actually done and the challenges behind each accomplishment.  

Be sure to include dollar signs and percentages for greater impact aka quantifiable and qualifiable achievements. 


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