Resumes and Cover Letters
Resumes—Your Ticket to an Interview
Think of your resume as a quick commercial about you. Studies show that on average resumes get less than 10 seconds of a recruiter's time. Use the time wisely to convey your value through your relevant education, experience, and skills for your desired job. The most valuable real estate on your resume is the top left quarter—make sure yours is noteworthy and attention getting.
What to Include
- For most college students list your schooling at the top as it is probably one of your biggest selling points
- Include your school name, location, degree, major, and anticipated graduation date
- List your GPA if it helps market you. If not, don't.
- Include your organization, your title, location, and dates
- Go through the job description, if available, and highlight what is being sought and make sure those items are addressed. Consider the skills employers rate the most important and speak to those that are relevant for your desired position
- List accomplishments, not tasks. Use this section to market yourself for the job you are applying for.
- Use action verbs such as managed, facilitated, and collaborated. Don't say, "responsibilities included." Use present tense for current positions otherwise use past tense. Check out this list of action verbs to make your resume stand out.
- Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. This will show the scope of what you did and the impact of your actions.
- Include applicable computer, technical, lab, research and/or language skills.
What else will help get you an interview?
- Volunteer/Community Experience
- Leadership History
- Honors and Awards
- Should you list Interests? Do so, if you think your interests work to your advantage on your targeted resume
- Do have plenty of white space
- Do use a font that is easy to read with a size between 10 and 12
- Do send your resume as a PDF with a file name of FirstnameLastnameResume.pdf
- Do eliminate redundancy
- Do make it an appropriate length (one page for most college students)
- Do use bulleted statements for ease of reading
- Don't use I, my, our or other personal pronouns
- Don't say, "References Available on Request." However, have a reference sheet available when asked. for
- Don't include an objective. However, everytime you write a resume, you should mentally pencil one in and make sure that everything on your resume will help market you for that position.
- Don't have ANY spelling or grammar errors
- Don't overdo underlining, bolding, capitalizing and font changes. Use these sparingly to make your resume easy to navigate.
A well considered cover letter is essentially a sales letter about you and can often mean the difference between a quick glance or a careful reading of your resume. Use your few seconds with the recruiter wisely. Customize each letter to the specific needs of the employer so they will choose to read it.
A well-written cover letter
- illustrates the time you have invested in researching the company
- tailors your qualifications to the specific opportunity available
- reflects your personality, your attention to detail, your communication skills, your enthusiasm, and your professionalism
Cover Letter Suggestions
Address the cover letter to a specific person if possible. If you cannot identify an individual consider the following:
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Human Resource Manager
- Use a subject line in place of the salutation such as APPLICATION FOR THE SOCIAL SERVICES POSITION
- Do not say "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern"
Keep it brief. Limit the letter to one page of 3–4 paragraphs. The purpose of a cover letter is to highlight select information from your resume that makes you uniquely qualified for the position, not to repeat the entire resume.
Put yourself in the position of the recipient. Capture their attention from the start! Try to downplay "I" and "me" and emphasize the reader by using the word "you" as often as possible. Make your accomplishments and skills the subject of your sentences and focus on the recipient by emphasizing what these can contribute to the reader's organization.
Pay attention to detail. Employers want employees who write well, and your writing skills are displayed in your cover letter. Professional letter writing assumes no grammar, spelling, or typographical errors. Ask someone to proofread your letter for content, clarity, and correctness. Use plenty of white space and an easy-to-read font.
Consider putting the cover letter in the body of an email. When applying for most positions today the application process calls for you to email your resume. If so, you may want to include the points you would make in your cover letter directly in your email. If you are doing this you will not necessarily need to use the formal business style (with your address, date, company address). However, if you use email, still be sure to use professional language. Print it out before sending and read it carefully to make sure that the communication is error-free. With email it is easy to get sloppy, but you cannot afford to do be lax as your goal is to make a good first impression.