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Resume and Cover Letter Writing

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Resume and Cover Letter

 

What is a Resume?

l    30-second infomercial

l    Marketing brochure

l    Door opener

l    Guide for interview questions

l    It should:

     summarize your qualifications and values

     Highlight the history of your experiences and accomplishments

Why Do You Need a Resume?

l    To market yourself to a potential employer

l    To summarize your skills

l    To identify your strengths

l    To fine-tune your career plans

l    To prepare for an interview

Launching the Product

l    Package yourself

    Know your product – Assessing Yourself

l   What are your strengths?

l   How can you differentiate yourself?

l   What makes your product better than the competition?

l   What are your accomplishments?

    Know your market

l   Do you know your target audience?

l   Have you done your research?

 

Package Yourself

l    Use terminology appropriate for the industry or job

l    Ensure content is relevant and marketable

l    Quantify your actions

l    High-quality product with no errors

General Guidelines

l    Length:  It is best to limit an entry-level resume to one typed page.  Be as concise as possible in stating information in each section of your resume.

l    Font:  Avoid fonts smaller than 10 point and larger than 12 point.

l    Paper:  Use 8 1/2” x 11” 20 lb paper. Print your resume with a laser or high quality ink-jet printer.   

Preliminary Research

l     Find out

     *  General job    

        information

     *  Desired qualifications

        and skills

     *  Key values and words

l     Check with

     *  Placement office files

     *  WWW

     *  Trade journals,

        magazines, and 

        newsletters

     *  Directories

     *  Professors

     *  Company literature

Identifying Information

l      Put your name, permanent and campus addresses, permanent and campus phone numbers, and email address prominently at the top of your resume.

l      Avoid using a nickname to identify yourself. 

l      Consider including your URL address or fax number if you have one.

 

The Objective Statement

What is an objective statement?

l    A short section (usually 1-3 lines), often in the form of a sentence fragment, immediately below your contact information

l    An “at a glance” picture of you and your career interests

l    Other names: Professional Objective, Resume Capsule, Career Goals, etc.

Why write one?

l    Emphasize key qualifications, skills and/or goals

l    Help your readers find what they need to know quickly

l    Make a good first impression

Q: Is this a good objective statement?

l    Well-written but raises too many questions

l    For example: What kind of internship? What knowledge? What kinds of expertise? Which areas?

A good objective statement answers questions

l    What position(s) are you applying for?

l    What are your main qualifications?

l    What are your career goals?

l    What is your professional identity?

The importance of tailoring

l    Sometimes one size does NOT fit all

l    Each person and employer is unique in certain ways

l    Aim for a custom fit when possible, but how?

Getting started...

l    Reflect on your overall qualifications and career goals: In what ways are they typical?  Unique?

l    Research individual employers in your field: In what ways are employers alike?  Different?

Questions about you

l    What are your main qualifications, strengths, skills, and areas of expertise?

l    What position(s)--or type of position--are you seeking?

l    What are some of your professional goals?

l    What type of organization or work setting are you most interested in?

Questions about employers

l    What qualifications are most desired by employers in your field?

l    What positions are available on the job market?  What are they titled?

l    What are some goals of the organizations that interest you?

l    What kinds of organizations are now hiring?

“Instant” objective statements

l    For practice, fill in the parts in brackets

     To utilize my [qualifications, strengths, or skills] as a [position title]

     A position as a [position title] for [company name] allowing me to develop my [qualifications, strengths, or skills]

     An opportunity to [professional goal] in a [type of organization, work environment, or field]

     [position title] with emphasis in [areas of expertise]

Which of your objective statements is “best”?

l    The one that best…

    Emphasizes your qualifications and/or goals

    Appeals to employer expectations

l    A trick question: You’ll probably need to write more than one objective statement.

l    Tailor for each type of position that interests you and, for best results, modify for each particular employer (as necessary)

Objective Statement

l    One to three sentence summary of your area of expertise and career interest. 

l    Write as complete sentences or as descriptive phrases with minimal punctuation.

l    Relate your existing skills directly to the job you are seeking.  Demonstrate what you can do for the company rather than what they can do for you.

Objective Statement

Avoid overgeneralized statements:

    A position allowing me to utilize my knowledge and expertise in different areas.

Avoid statements that focus only on what a company can do for you:

     A position where I gain experience in working on biological problems.

 

Make the statement as specific as possible:

     A position which allows me to apply my background in engineering and high performance computing to biological problems.

 

Education

l    This is an important section for recent college graduates or students seeking internships or summer jobs.

l    Beginning with the highest level of educational achievement, include information such as university attended, degrees earned, major, minors, grade point average, date of program completion, and so forth.

Education    

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN        Graduation May 2000

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering    

GPA:  3.2/4.0

Major GPA:  3.5/4.0

 

       You do not have to include your GPA on the resume, but if it isn’t included, employers may assume that it is lower than it really is.

       Always state the grade point scale your school is using.

 

Relevant Courses

l     List relevant courses that:

     Help you stand out from the crowd

     Have provided you with specific skills or knowledge

l     Consider including this information in the education section of the resume.

 

Spanish (4 semesters)

Computer Science

Business Writing

Business Law

Ethics

l     Only include courses taken in addition to your major or minor.

l     Refer to the course by name rather than by number.

Employment Experience

l    Include positions you have held which are related, in some way, to the job you are seeking.  These might be both paid and volunteer positions.

l    Be creative with this section of your resume by describing and emphasizing your experiences in the most relevant way possible. 

Employment Experience

Hospitality Intern

(May 1999-August 1999)

Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN

*       Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food

*       Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees

*       Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant

l     Include information such as company name and location, job title, dates, and duties performed.

l     Make this section easy to read by using spacing and bullets.

l     Use action phrases to highlight the duties you have performed.

 

Action Phrases

l    Action phrases will help you avoid being too brief and from understating your qualifications.

l    Think about your qualifications as a professional would. 

    

Hospitality Intern

(May 1999-August 1999)

Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN

*       Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food

*       Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees

*       Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant

Parallel Phrases

Hospitality Intern

(May 1999-August 1999)

Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN

*       Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food

*       Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees

*       Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant

 

l     Make your descriptions easy to read through parallel structure. 

l     Set up a pattern and stick with it.

l     In the example, all the verbs are parallel:  “oversaw,” “assisted,” and “created” are all past tense verbs.

 

Activities and Honors

l     Include relevant activities and honors that you could discuss with your prospective employer or that have given you valuable experience or skills.

Specialized Skills

l     Include skills that make you unique, such as computer skills, foreign language skills, or military service.

l     Be specific in describing your special skills; name computer programs you know, how long you studied a foreign language, or your dates of military service.

 

 

 

How to Differentiate Yourself?

l     Leadership

l     Teamwork/Building partnerships

l     Initiative and Follow Through

l     Communication

l     Decision-making

l     Learning & Growth

l     Creativity and Innovation

l     Analytical

l     Customer Service

Leadership/Management Skills

l     Has a vision or takes initiative to make improvements.

l     Aligns resources to achieve results

     Founded lawn care business and grew to a customer base of 30 residences

     Led a team of six to develop a marketing plan for club event resulting in largest attended event in 3 years

     Initiated philanthropy program for sorority to increase participation by 10%

Teamwork Skills

l      Works cooperatively and collaboratively with diverse people to seek their opinions to achieve a common goal and shares credit with others.

     Collaborated with camp staff to organize special events and educational programs for more than 20 children ages 5 – 12

     Managed and trained a lifeguard staff of 12 for a private club with a membership of more than 800 families

     Acted as a liaison between the floor governors, vice-governors, and the Executive Board in organizing meetings for 1,400 students living in residence hall

 

Communication Skills

l    Demonstrate verbal, written, presentation, and listening abilities

    Contacted customers by cold-calling to increase customer database by 5%

    Composed training manual for 60 employees to introduce new service

    Presented to groups of 40 persons using PowerPoint to explain product benefits

    Adapted rapidly to living in another culture during 6-month studies in Spain

Analytical Skills

l    Ability to synthesize information and form conclusions.

    Analyzed financial data for loan department to determine credit worthiness of commercial accounts

    Evaluated customer service by surveying customers over a 3 month period

    Researched market effectiveness for 2 products and reported results using spreadsheets, tables, and graphs

    Solved technical problems for up to 45 daily users of a computer lab

Decision Making Skills

l     Make rational decision based on factual information and logical assumptions

l     Ability to develop alternative solution to problems.

     Conceptualized new service offering to solve summer delivery problem

     Developed strategic plan for rush committee using strength-weakness-opportunity-threat (SWOT) analysis

     Planned layout for summer garden merchandise display in a 3600 sq. ft. area

 

Creativity and Innovation Skills

l    Takes informed risks and thinks out of the box.  Strives for technical and market leadership.

    Crafted set displays for local theater group using recycled materials

    Displayed merchandise to increase traffic through kitchen wares department

    Entertained groups of residents in a nursing home using music and drama

References

l    In general, do not include the names and addresses of your references on your resume. 

l    It is enough to state that references are available upon request.

l    Choose professional references rather than character references.  Employers and professors who know you and your work are the best references. 

 

Reference Sheet

Dr. Mary Delinsky

Heavilon Hall, Room 226

Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN  47907

(765) 494-3723

 

Dr. Delinsky is my current

academic advisor in the

Creative Writing and

Science Fiction Program.

l     Include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your references. 

l     Always ask permission before you include any information on your reference sheet.

l     Consider giving your references a copy of your resume so they will be prepared to talk to employers.

 

What Is a Cover Letter?

     A cover letter expresses your interest in and qualifications for a position to a prospective employer.

 

What Should My Cover Letter Accomplish?

l     Your cover letter should introduce the main points of your resume.

l     It should also help you to “sell” your qualifications to the prospective employer.

Header

Emma Markley

Human Resources Director

St. Luke's Medical Center

729 S. Paulina

Chicago, IL 60612

 

Dear Ms. Markley:

 

l     Address your letter to a specific person, ideally to the person who will interview you.

l     Look for the person’s name in company publications, or phone the organization and ask for the person’s name or for the personnel manager.

Introductory Paragraph

Your first paragraph should:

l    Get the reader’s attention, stimulate interest, and be appropriate for the job you are seeking. 

l    Make your goal clear to readers.

l    Preview the rest of your letter.  Highlight the qualifications you will discuss throughout the letter.

Solicited Application Letters                  

l     Solicited application letters are letters written in response to an advertised job opening. 

l     It is appropriate to mention where you learned of the opening in the first paragraph.

I believe that my knowledge

of public relations and my 

proven communication and

leadership skills make me a

strong candidate for the

position of Media Relations

Coordinator that was posted

by the Delta Airlines Job

Opportunities Program.

 

Unsolicited Application Letters 

l     Unsolicited application letters are written to companies that have not posted a job opening.

l     It is important to gain the reader’s attention and persuade them that you can contribute to the company’s goals.

As a member of one of the

fastest growing publishing

houses in the world, do you

have an opening in your

acquisitions department for

a recent college graduate

with a major in English and

publishing and editing

experience?

 

Goals of the Body Paragraphs

l     Highlight your strongest qualifications for the position for which you are applying.

l     Demonstrate how these qualifications will benefit the employer.

l     Refer employers to your enclosed resume.

Detailing Your Experience

l      Show (don’t tell) employers your qualifications

l      Include specific, credible examples of your qualifications for the position.

l      Use numbers, names of equipment you've used, or features of a project that may apply to the job you want.

     As a banking representative at Bank One, I provided quality customer service while promoting the sale of products to customers.  I also handled upwards of $20,000 a day and was responsible for balancing the bank’s ATM machine. 

Using Active Language—Don’ts

l     Don’t be vague in your descriptions.

l    Don’t use weak verbs such as endeavored, tried, hoped, and attempted.

l     Don’t use sexist language such as chairman and manpower.

 

 

 

Vague:  I worked as a ramp agent at Comair.

 

Weak:  I attempted to attract customers.

Using Active Language—Do’s

l     Use concrete words to describe your experience.

l     Use present tense to discuss current activities and past tense for previous job duties or accomplishments.

l     Be as specific as possible in descriptions; list dollar amounts and figures when you can.

 

Vague:  I worked as a ramp agent for COMAIR.

 Specific:  As a ramp agent, I assisted in loading baggage, oversaw fueling the aircraft, and stocked commissary items on the aircraft.

Weak:  I attempted to attract customers.

Strong:  I initiated a program to attract customers to Pizza Hut, which resulted in a 5% increase in sales for the month of June.

Organizing Your Letter

l    In general, cover letters should be no longer than one typed page.

l    Organize your body paragraphs to emphasize your strongest and most relevant qualifications.  Only include the two or three strongest qualifications from your resume.

l    Make it easy for readers to scan your letter by  beginning each paragraph with a topic sentence.

Concluding Your Letter

I would welcome the

opportunity to discuss

these and other

qualifications with you. If

you are interested, please

contact me at (317) 555-

0118 any morning before

11:00 a.m., or feel free to

leave a message.

 

l     Conclude by asking for a personal interview.

l     Be flexible regarding a date and time for the interview.

l     Be specific about how the interviewer should contact you.

l     Include a thank you.

Mailing Your Letter With Your Resume

l     Coordinate the design of your letter with the design of your resume.

l     Be sure to send both to prospective employers; they both reveal different kinds of information about you.

Key Points to Remember

l     Appeal to company values, attitudes, goals, projects, etc.

l     Elaborate on the information in your resume.

l     Provide evidence of your qualifications.

l     Proofread carefully for grammatical and typographical errors.  The letter should be error-free.

 

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