Resume & Cover Letters


The Importance of a Resume

95% of your competition will be eliminated on paper. A Resume can get you past the first line of defense and into a face-to-face meeting with someone who has the power to hire you. Employers view hundreds of resumes a week and often make an interview/no-interview decision in less than 30 seconds.

Introductory Tips for Resume Writing

Always keep the reader in mind. The professional resume allows you to present your experience in a format that is easy to read and commands attention from the reader. Remember, this is not a job description but rather your personal marketing document. A reader should be able to put your experience into context. Make sure that after 30 seconds the reader has gotten to the bottom of the page and wants to learn more about you. Consistency is key! A resume should be free of grammatical and spelling errors.

RESUME WRITING OVERVIEW:

Purpose

The resume is designed with one purpose in mind—to generate enough interest to get you an interview. Do not send it out unless you are completely satisfied with the message it conveys. Most resumes are discarded. Give the prospective employer reasons to separate yours from the crowd by giving indications of how your background and skills are transferable to his/her work environment.

Format

There is no standardized format to follow, but what is critical is that it is graphically easy to follow, concise, and consistently formatted from one section to the next with appropriate headings and subheadings. Ensure that it is aesthetically pleasing to look at with careful use of “white space” and, above all, has no spelling or grammatical errors.

Content

The key is to highlight your background concisely, focusing on the items you feel would be appealing to a prospective employer. Use action words that convey a message of proficiency, accomplishment, and drive. What is most important is that the employer projects your skills, experience, and training as transferable to his/her work setting. The one compelling question you should ask yourself regarding whether or not an item should be included on your resume is “Will this enhance my chances of getting an interview?”

Style

The resume can be chronological, functional, or some variation of the two. The chronological approach (by dates) is generally used when there is a logical sequence of events to list and an historical perspective is most appropriate. The functional resume may be more appropriate when one wishes to highlight particular functions, skills, strengths, or areas of expertise.

Focus

Remember to tailor your resume to accentuate your individual strengths and significant features of your background that distinguish you from the competition. It needs to be a reflection of you and what you are capable of doing in the workplace. Sell yourself with confidence—with the primary focus being: experience, specialized training, and transferable skills.

Some items of “universal appeal” to consider when describing your experiences/skills include:
Suggestions
Honors, Awards, and Activities

Include items that are indications of you excelling and distinguishing yourself. Of particular interest to employers are group activities and leadership roles. Also, emphasize any activities that required voluntary involvement, whether school related, community related, or informal. Academic honors should be included, such as Dean’s list, honor roll, etc.

Additional Specialized Skills, Proficiency, Equipment, Procedures, etc.

Any additional skills, equipment worked with, familiarity of specific procedures, etc. that you feel you could bring to an employer in addition to what has already been mentioned. Include items that you feel would be transferable to the prospective position you’re targeting, even if you feel it is not necessarily a requirement of the position, but could be helpful (e.g. computer skills, speaking a second language, etc.).

Resume Do's and Dont's:
Do
Don't
Sample Resumes for Alumni

Cover Letter Writing

The difference between your resume and cover letter is that your resume should provide the reader with a better understanding of who you are. Your cover letter should connect the dots for the reader and show how your previous experiences apply to the job for which you are applying.

Developing the Body of the Cover Letter

Research – Read the job description.
Select – From the job description, select 2-3 key responsibilities or qualifications that you possess.
Substantiate – For each of the 2-3 responsibilities or qualities that you have picked, develop a specific example that represents how you have previously performed similar tasks or displayed similar qualities/skills. (This evidence can come from your previous work or academic experiences.)

Writing a Cover Letter
Sample Cover Letter Outline:

Your resume heading with contact information

Date

Name of contact person, Title
Organization name
Street Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear (contact person):

Identify the person with the power to hire (department heads, etc.), and avoid personnel or “Dear Sir/Madam”. Use the internet to do your research.

Opening Paragraph

Indicate the position for which you are applying or the general field to which your background applies. Mention how you became aware of the position (e.g. through advertisement, referral, etc). Next, in general, state the 2-3 job responsibilities or qualities you chose from the job description that distinguish your candidacy and meet the needs of the prospective employer. Here, you are providing the employer with a “thesis statement” indicating what you can bring to the company/organization in a general sense. (This will generate interest, if on target.) Also, you may want to indicate your availability, if it is not immediate.

For example: I am a senior at Temple University majoring in Communications. I am interested in ________ position and became aware of this position through _______ Corporation’s positing on the OwlNetwork. I believe that my organization, communication, and presentation skills make me an ideal candidate for the ______ position.

Body of the Letter

Provide evidence that supports the 2-3 job responsibilities or qualities you found in the job description and mentioned in the “thesis statement” of your first paragraph. In other words, you will be explaining how your experiences and training relate to the responsibilities or qualities that you have chosen to highlight from the job description. The purpose of the body of your cover letter is to briefly connect your experiences to the key responsibilities and qualifications of the job for which you are applying. The goal of your cover letter is to generate interest in the resume itself. Be sure you use the language (jargon) of your field. Also, use words that imply action.

For example: As a Marketing Assistant for Planners Inc., I demonstrated my organization skills by planning an event for 100 people. I was responsible for everything from the accommodations and the registration process to the programming and workshop schedule. The event was successful and registration numbers increased for the following year. Furthermore, I was asked to continue planning the conference annually.

Closing Paragraph

Refer to the documents you have enclosed, such as your resume and other requested materials and ask for a meeting (interview) at the employer’s convenience. In this paragraph, you should also provide your contact information again so that this information is accessible. You also want to avoid confusion if your resume and cover letter were to become separated. If the position was not advertised, you may want to assert yourself by indicating that you will call the employer within one to two weeks to determine if he/she has any further interest.

For example: Enclosed please find my resume and writing sample. I am available for an interview immediately and can be reached by phone at (215) XXX-XXXX or via e-mail at XXX@temple.edu. I will follow-up in two weeks to confirm your receipt of my resume and to determine if you have further interest in my candidacy. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


4 SPACES FOR YOUR SIGNATURE


Your name typed
Enclosure

Sample Cover Letters