Cover Letters & Resumes

The paperwork

In order to get the job you're looking for, you have to get your foot in the door. The best way to guarantee yourself some face time with the hiring manager is to look good on paper.

Get Noticed

Some students wonder if they really need a cover letter when they're preparing their resume. The answer is yes! A cover letter is the best way to introduce yourself to prospective employers. You can include all kinds of details that don't easily fit into your resume, and you can demonstrate a real enthusiasm for your work and for the company to which you're applying. You don't want to come across as someone who's looking for any job - you want to come across as the person who's looking for their job.

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Writing a Good Resume

Your resume is your chance to impress. If you don't present yourself well on paper, you can be sure you're not going to get a chance to charm your prospective employers in person! While the interview is usually the tool that employers use to select a candidate, a poorly written resume will seal your fate immediately.

Some tips for writing a good resume include:

  • Pay attention to detail. The best ways to get your resume tossed directly into the trash? Spelling mistakes, poor presentation (think wrinkled paper, fading ink), improper formatting. Anything that makes your resume look sloppy will suggest to employers that you don't care, and you won't be an asset to the company. Proofread, checking for spelling, grammar, punctuation and accuracy.
  • Make it clear. Have consistent formatting and choose a font that's easy to read. Consider the fact that most employers will be browsing through hundreds of resumes. That means that you're only going to get a couple of seconds on first glance - and if your resume is hard to follow, you won't be getting any more.
  • Focus on your assets. Make sure you present yourself as someone who will benefit the company, rather than coming across as if you're just looking for a paycheck. Highlight your best assets and experiences, and make sure to apply them directly to the position you're applying for.

There are several standard resume formats in use these days, and no clear consensus on which format is the best. It will depend partly on your experience and accomplishments. If you have a solid, consistent work history with several positions that are strongly related to the one you are applying for, a chronological resume may work best. If there are gaps, jumps or other irregularities in your work history, or if you have little or no work experience, a functional resume will help you to highlight your assets and camouflage any perceived flaws.

Example resumes can provide a jumping off point for organizing and formatting your resume. Take the outline, and plug in your own skills, accomplishments and experience. You can use the example as a guide for language use, as well, taking cues from the formality level and some key phrases to use. Don't follow the example resume too blindly, however. Make sure that your resume is customized exactly to you and to the job you are seeking. Be aware that other applicants may be using the same resume template, and take care to distinguish yourself from the pack.

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