Resume & Cover Letter Tips

Attract Favorable Attention - by making your resume & cover letter look professional and avoiding commonly made mistakes.

  1. Stationary - The quality and style of paper is important in providing a professional look from the start
    1. Good quality, 100 percent cotton paper
    2. Stick to neutral colors or white
    3. Make sure to use the same paper for both your resume, cover letter, & reference sheet

Resume Tips

  1. Length - Attempt to keep your resume to one page
      1. Adjust spacing and margins to fit
      2. If you must go over one page, make sure the information fills half of the next page and that all of it is relevant.
    1. Headings - Use them to divide your resume and make it look more organized
      1. Use bold font
      2. Space them apart
    2. Grammar - Pay attention to it!
      1. Be consistent, especially in verb usage
      2. Use the same tense throughout entire resume
      3. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!
  2. Know Correct Content - so that you can include everything a possible employer may need to know about you to make as favorable a decision as possible.
    1. Heading - Always make your name the focal point, do this by centering it at the top of the page and bolding it for emphasis
      1. Always include a permanent address, phone number and email address (professional sounding
      2. If possible, include a current address telephone (if it differs), and a second email address (if needed)
    2. Objective - Its purpose is to explain to a potential employer what you want and what you, if hired, can do for the organization
      1. Make it a brief and positive statement
      2. Be specific enough to tailor to individual employers but at the
      3. same time broad enough to fit several job possibilities
      4. Use "buzz words"
    3. Education - always start with your highest level of education
      1. List institution, city, and state first
      2. State major(s) and minor(s)
      3. Only include GPA if it is above a 3.0/4.0 (unless instructed otherwise)
      4. May also include sub categories like "scholarships" and "related coursework"
      5. Should not include high school information (unless you were valedictorian, attended a well known "prestigious" school, or are applying back to the school you graduated from)
    4. Work Experience - if you have had many experiences, consider splitting this category into two categories: Related Work Experience, and Work History
      1. List most recent first
      2. Include internships, volunteer experiences, and practicums also
      3. Include a description for each experience: position, organization, city, state, dates, job duties, scope of responsibility, and accomplishments
  3. Optional Information - certain categories can be created to add a little something more to your resume, if it fits. These categories are meant to make you look better and to highlight certain skills you may possess that could assist you in the work environment. Remember, the order may vary depending on a categories importance to the field you plan to enter.
    1. Honors/Award
    2. Certifications
    3. Community Service
    4. Activities
    5. Technical Skills
    6. Accomplishments
    7. Professional Organizations
  4. Be Aware of "Scannable" and Electronic Resumes - today many companies use these techniques to collect resumes, for this reason there are a few formatting tips to keep in mind.
    1. Font
      1. Use a minimum of 10-12 point
      2. Use Arial or Times New Roman
      3. No italic or underlining
    2. Margins
      1. Be generous, use a minimum of .75
    3. Bullets
      1. Will show up, so use them
  5. Final Things to Remember - When your resume is finished, have it reviewed (there are assistants in the Career Development Center on campus to help). Know that a resume is not forever, regularly update and revise it, for best results. Finally, know that most recruiters spend less than 30 seconds reviewing a resume, make sure you are not remembered for your mistakes.

Cover Letter Tips

  1. General tips for writing a great cover letter
    1. Addressing your letter - when done correctly, in itself, shows a certain professionalism that you should want to convey.
      1. Address it to a specific person
      2. Make sure all information is correct
      3. Include the organization's name and addressee's title (if unsure, call and ask a receptionist or administrative assistant)
    2. Employ the YOU Attitude - this will inform a company what you can do for them if hired, which is what they really want to know. Answer these questions:
      1. What can I do for YOU?
      2. How can I contribute to YOUR organization?
      3. How will my skills fit YOUR company?
    3. Follow the Four C's
      1. Be Clear about your purpose
      2. Be Concise and limit your cover letter to one page
      3. Be Concrete and specify your objectives
      4. Be Complete in the presentation of your thoughts and views
  2. Be Sure to Include the Correct Content - do this in three to four paragraphs
    1. Paragraph one - your introduction
      1. State your present status (student, intern, etc.)
      2. State position you are interested in at the organization (use the company's name)
      3. State who referred you to the position (or how you learned about the opening)
    2. Paragraph Two (two and three) - this is your sales pitch
      1. Explain why you want to work for the organization
      2. Demonstrate that you have taken the time to research something about the company
      3. Think about the skills that are needed for the position and give examples of those skills in jobs or positions you have held in the past (transferring skills)
      4. Do not repeat your resume, but set the stage
      5. Keep sentences direct and concise
      6. End with what you hope to gain from working at the company
    3. Paragraph Three (or four) - your conclusion
      1. Thank the reader for reviewing your materials
      2. Request a response (an interview)
      3. Mention when you will check back
    4. Keep in Mind - throughout the whole writing process that you are targeting your cover letter to the person who is actually hiring
      1. Demonstrate why are you special.
      2. Let the reader draw the conclusions you would like them to draw, by giving them examples.
      3. Show that you have researched the company and understand the skills needed for the position for which you are applying.
  3. Remember
    1. Keep your cover letter versatile enough to change it slightly for each organization
    2. Keep copies of everything you send
    3. Mark your calendar when you plan to follow up with a phone call