Resumes and Cover Letters
A resume is a brief, informative document summarizing your abilities, education, and experience. It should highlight your strongest assets and differentiate you from other candidates.
A resume is a marketing tool and an extension of your professional brand. An effective resume showcases your experience, achievements and strengths, relating them to a specific position by using key words and highlighting relevant experiences. Remember, there is not one “correct” resume for you to use - the best resume is the one that clearly and effectively communicates your skills, abilities, and future potential.
When it comes to developing effective application materials, it is often a good idea to view templates and examples to develop strategies. Several are listed below. You can also view and utilize templates through Microsoft Word and Canva.
Ensure that your resume can pass the six-second test.
- Make your resume is highly “skimmable”
- The human eye works in a Z-pattern, think of this when organizing your resume.
- Forget the professional statement – Instead, open with a one-line “headline” stating your occupational specialty.
- Two Columns of bullet points with concrete skills.
- Don’t be a jack of all trades. Specify and tailor your experience to the position you're applying for.
- Avoid subjective, ambiguous language such as “a passionate self-starter”
- Use Numbers – A resume is about your hard skills best told through numbers.
Your cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to organizations in a narrative form that will accompany your resume. Use your cover letter to describe your qualifications as well as your interest in both the job and organization so the employer will want to interview you. Since the primary purpose of a resume and cover letter is to “market” you, always keep the organization’s hiring needs in mind.
Cover letters show your interest in a position and showcase your writing abilities. They link your resume and background to the position, showcasing your knowledge of the employer and highlighting relevant skills. Cover letters should be personalized for each position. Hiring managers may read hundreds of cover letters in a year and can easily spot a generic or poorly prepared letter.
Cover Letter Outline
Why are you interested in this position and employer? What in the position description got you excited about the opportunity?
- The main purpose of the first paragraph is to explain why you are interested in this position and employer, and to grab the reader’s attention.
- If someone has referred you to the organization (a current employee, friend, family member), you should include his or her name in the first sentence.
What 2-3 experiences connect your skills to those listed in the position description? What makes you a good fit?
- Tell your story: describe your qualifications for the position using specific examples from academic, work, volunteer, leadership, athletics, and student organization experiences.
- Connect your accomplishments, skills and knowledge directly to the position and employer.
- Focus on key areas of your background and do not simply repeat statements from your resume.
Can you summarize your interest/qualifications in one statement?
- Give a final statement of your interest and qualifications.
- Thank the employer for their time and consideration.
Resume and Cover Letter Feedback
Once you have used the above resume and cover letter advice, templates and samples to build or update your resume and draft your cover letter, we recommend that you share your drafts with the Vocation and Career Services to ensure that your resume and cover letter will stand out to employers.
Schedule an appointment with Vocation and Career Services to review your resume and cover letter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.