Use the resources below for preparing your resume and cover letter and getting ready for your interview.
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How to create a resume
Identify the goal of your resume.
- What professional brand are you selling?
- What skill set are you marketing?
Define the target audience.
- What companies are you interested in?
- What qualities do they value?
- What skill set are they looking for?
Create your “branding statement.”
- Create a branding statement describing who you are as a professional
- Describe key skills and experiences as they relate to the position you are applying for
- What contributions have you made to your industry / previous employers? What is your value?
Reflect on your experience. What are some of your major contributions and/or accomplishments?
- Your bullet points should be accomplishments-driven. Avoid listing job functions.
List of guidelines
- Be sure to begin with action verbs to describe how you contributed to your employers
- Quantify whenever possible
- Show contributions / outcomes
- Prioritize information
- Keep resume 1-2 pages
- Avoid using “responsible for” “duties included”
- Avoid clutter
- Be consistent (fonts and formatting)
- Make your resume visually appealing (use bullet points, bold headings, use italics sparingly)
- Do not use templates
- Do not include personal information (age, marital status, social security number etc.)
- Use a professional email address
- Be honest and avoid embellishing
- Do not use “I” “My” or “Me”
- Do not include high school information
- References should be on a separate page, avoid using “References available upon request”
- Tailor your resume to your audience
- Keep it professional and PROOFREAD!
Additional Resume Resources
Tips for writing cover letters
There is great debate in regards to the significance of submitting a cover letter. Many job seekers have heard mixed reviews from recruiters and career professionals on the real value of a cover letter. However, there are many employers that still request cover letters and many have indicated in the job posting that they seeking “insightful” cover letters. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Tailor your cover letter
Do your research! Never use the same “generic” cover letter for each position you are applying for. Be sure to carefully read the keywords and specific qualifications that the employer is seeking. Highlight the main points from the job posting and integrate your skills, strengths, qualifications, and accomplishments as they relate to the employer’s main points. What does that employer value in an employee? Researching the company can go a long way when crafting a tailored cover letter.
Assess your professional brand
Why are you applying for this position? What skills, strengths and experience do you possess that qualify you for this position? Be sure you can make the connection for the employer. Remember that your cover letter is not a rehash of your resume. This is your opportunity to tell your professional story as it relates to the position. Use tangible examples!
Keep it short and sweet
Stick to the main points and refrain from going off on tangents. Your cover letter should not exceed more than a page. Break down your cover letter into 3 – 4 paragraphs. Keep the paragraphs short to avoid overwhelming the reader.
Use action statements
Refrain from using “responsible for”. Take ownership of your contributions and use strong action verbs throughout your cover letter.
Always ask for an interview!
You have taken so much time in making your case to the employer to why you are a strong fit for the position. Take the initiative and ask for the interview in your closing paragraph. Be sure to reiterate your contact information.
Tips for reviewing cover letters
- Include your name and contact information. Your cover letter format (header) should be consistent with your resume.
- Proof read your cover letter. Is the employer’s name spelled correctly? Have you addressed them properly? (Mr. Ms. Dr.).
- Does your cover letter showcase how you will bring value to the organization? Have you used examples to show evidence of how you have contributed to previous employers?
- Is the tone of the cover letter positive? Will the reader capture your enthusiasm for the position and field of work?
- Are you initiating an interview?
- Be sure to proof read for errors. Have more than one person review your final product.
Cover Letter Resources
About interview preparation
You got the interview
Think how recruiters spend hours screening candidates and scouring through so many resumes to identify strong candidates for the position and you have been selected. Obviously, your credentials, skills and experience have impressed the employer enough to invite you for an interview. This alone should be a confidence booster.
Think positive and believe in your skills and strengths. Due to the nature of our current job market, so many candidates are drained, self-defeated and discouraged from their job search experience that sometimes their frustration transpires in the job interview. Employers can quickly pick up on any negative signals that can be an indicator to weed out a potential candidate. Remember, employers are seeking candidates that will be a good fit in the organization and no one wants to work with a Debbie Downer!
Always be prepared (conduct a self-assessment and research the company)
Have you ever had to present on a topic that you are unfamiliar with or nowhere near expert in? Imagine being tasked to do so. If you are not confident in the topic, it is most likely that the quality of the presentation will be compromised and your lack of confidence will manifest in your body language therefore creating an awkward situation. The same holds true in a job interview. If you are not prepared to articulate to the employer how your background and skill set align with the position and organization, the outcome of the interview may not be in your favor. Always assess your skills and strengths as they relate to the position and be sure to research the company values and core functions of the position. Again, think positive and remember you were called in for an interview. Be confident in your abilities and show them why you should be selected for the position. Lastly, be sure to practice answering interview questions. I highly encourage practicing a video recorded mock interview with a career counselor or use a web cam to self-record your interview. This can help you identify areas that need improvement- whether it is in your body language, tone of voice or how you articulate your responses. This exercise can help you feel more prepared and as a result increase your confidence.
Know your value
Understanding your professional value is fundamental in all aspects of the job search process. Reach out to a trustworthy colleague or previous supervisor and simply ask “what are some important contributions I have made to our department/organization? What value did I bring?” This exercise can help in two ways 1) hearing positive comments about your work from a colleague or former supervisor can be a confidence booster 2) you will gain perspective on how others perceive your value and use that information to enhance your self-marketing.
Like a picture, body language speaks a thousand words
We all know that body language can send a plethora of messages – many times our exterior misrepresents our interior. According to Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, three body language essentials to focus on during a job interview are poise, interest and expression. The ability to display these characteristics verbally and non-verbally can indeed boost job interview performance.
Finally, take a glance at your resume and reflect on your unique experience- it helps to talk about it too. Think of your accomplishments, contributions and achievements. This will serve as a reminder of the value you bring to an employer. Get out there and be confident!