Career Services

RESUMES & COVER LETTERS

The purpose of this material is to give you a general understanding of how to format and write a resume and cover letter that will highlight your skills, strengths, education and experience.  Because this is general, it is strongly recommended you review your resume and cover letter with a Career Services Coordinator at your earliest convenience.


Resume Checklist

Start with a brainstorming exercise to fill out these categories:
        Education
        Work & Internship Experience
        Relevant Course work & Study Abroad
        Activities/Involvements/Volunteering
        Certifications/Software/Technical Skills/Languages
        Leadership Experience
        Honors/Awards/Publications
        Interests


#1 TIP! Match it to the job!

When writing your resume, be sure to have a copy of the ad or job description with you.  You want to get the employer’s attention by using key words that match their ideal candidate.


Resume Writing 101


What categories should I include?

  1. Contact Information: Name, Phone, Email, Website & Address (optional) 
  2. Objective/Profile (optional): Brief, specific description of self or career goal
  3. Education: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, Associates degrees, Certificates
  4. Experience: Work, Internship and/or Volunteer
  5. Skills: Technical, Leadership, Language, Field Specific
  6. Others?: If you have room consider: Interests/Hobbies, Honors/Awards, Relevant Coursework, Involvements, etc.

What should my resume look like?

  1. Balanced: White space should be in all four quadrants, not lopsided
  2. Easy to read: 10 pt. to 12 pt. sans serif type font, clear category headings, equal margin size, majority bullet points over paragraphs, can gather main points in 10 second scan
  3. Consistent: Put the same type of information in the same place for each category
  4. Relevant content: Information supports requirements of job/internship/graduate school requirements.
  5. Concise: Rule of thumb--1 page for 4 years or less; 2 pages for 5+ years experience in field

What does good content look like?

  1. Quantifiable information: Numbers, percentages, amounts, increase/decrease
  2. Achievements/Results: Outcomes, recognition, awards, improvements, etc.
  3. Transferable skills: Communication, leadership, organization, problem solving
  4. Key words/Language: Words emphasized on job description, field specific jargon
  5. Action verbs: Past tense action verb begins bullet

What should I avoid?

  1. High school information: Awards, jobs, activities--anything from high school!
  2. Fluff: Over representing experience, Ex: all, many, successful, great, etc.
  3. Dishonesty: Including skills or experience you do NOT have
  4. Redundancy: Ex: Responsible for creating brochures vs. Created brochures
  5. Irrelevant Information: Wasting prime space with unrelated or unimportant details
  6. Poor Organization: Putting important information at the bottom of your resume


Chart showing attributes employers seek on a candidate's resume. Leadership, Problem solving skills, etc.

Print

Resume Writing Exercise: Duties vs. Skills



REFERENCES FAQ's

3 to 5 professional references.
Your references should be able to speak highly of your abilities and skills, as well as, be familiar enough with your work to comment.

Examples: Professors, Internship & Work Supervisors, Volunteer Coordinators, Coaches, Professional Colleagues, etc.

Ensure you contact your references ahead of time to verify that it is okay to use them as a reference.  If yes, then let them know the position you have applied for and that they might be getting a phone call. 

No.  References are a separate page and should only be sent when requested by the employer.  The reference page should have the same formatted heading as your resume & cover letter.
Include the following items for each reference:
  • Reference Name
  • Reference Title
  • Name and Address of Business
  • Reference Telephone
  • Reference E-mail

Cover Letter Writing Tips

A cover letter is different than the resume.  The resume is a list of data and concrete information.  The cover letter allows you to integrate, synthesize and energize your application.  It can go beyond what is on the resume and showcases your writing ability.  Warning: Not all jobs require you to submit a cover letter.


Use a traditional business letter format and heading/font/layout that matches your resume. 
For more information and examples visit: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/6/22/

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