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Resume & Cover Letter Writing


Resume & Cover Letter Writing

FAQ by Category

What are some common components of a resume?  

Identification Your name, address, and home and/or message phone number with area code, and e-mail address should be placed at the top of the resume.
Objective Describe your career or professional objective in clean and concise language. Be specific and include what you want to do for the employer -- not what you want the employer to do for you.

If you don't include an objective, you may lead the employer to think you do not know what you want to do or are unable to commit. Employers insist on knowing what you want.
Summary Used by the candidate with experience; briefly state your achievements, the range of your experience and the environment(s) in which you have worked.

If your background is so varied that the employer may be easily confused as to why you are applying for a particular position, a summary can often assist you in clarifying the information.
Employment Describe your work history in reverse chronological order, (most History recent first).

Be sure to include start and end date (month and year), name of organization, location (city and state), position title, description of duties, responsibilities, accomplishments and skills required.

Include action words and quantify when possible.
Education List educational experience, most recent first. List college or university name, city and state, degree conferred and date, major or area of study.

If you are currently working towards the completion of a degree, list it first and be sure to include projected completion” month and year.

Also list any certifications or credentials that you have obtained or towards which you are working.
Skills Include foreign language fluency, knowledge of computers including specific hardware, software, operating systems and anything else that may be relevant.
Community List any volunteer efforts, including name of organization, dates, Activities position held (if applicable), and a brief description of your (optional) activities and experiences.
Affiliations List professional organizations to which you belong or with which you were formerly associated, years associated with the organizations and tile held (if applicable).
Focus especially on those organizations related to your field of employment.
References List professional references on a separate page. If you have space at the end of the resume, you may want to state that references are "available upon request."
Do you have some examples of resumes and cover letters?
How long is the standard resume?

Most college graduates seeking entry level employment and students seeking internships and part-time employment utilize a one page resume. Sometime however, because of a greater amount of relevant experience, leadership, or co-curricular activity, resumes expand to two pages. The general rule of thumb is to use enough space to provide all relevant information about yourself.

What resume style is preferred by employers?

There are three resume styles; Chronological, Functional, and Combination. Chronological resumes present your work history and experience most recent first. Use this format when your career direction is clear and your employment goal is similar to your education and experience. Functional resumes focus on the skills and abilities that have been acquired and can be applied to new career opportunities. Use a functional resume when you lack direct experience and or when your educational experience does not match your career goal. Combination resumes combine elements of both the chronological and functional formats. Use this format when you have a record of strong performance in a career track and want to move up to a higher level in that field.

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

A cover letter tells a potential employer that you are available, qualified, and interested in employment. Cover letters personalize your resume by briefly highlighting your strengths as they relate to the position sought.

What are the basic components of a cover letter?

In addition to the return address, address of receiver, salutation, and signature, cover letters have 3 basic components, the Opening, Body and Closing paragraphs. Opening Paragraph - The purpose is to capture attention, set the tone for the letter, and begin to build a match of your qualifications with the needs of the employer. In the opening paragraph, consider: stating purpose of letter; naming position sought, department, and company; mentioning name of mutual friend; stating source of lead; stating your top credentials. Body Paragraph(s) - Here is your chance to communicate your main selling points. Use this paragraph(s) to demonstrate to the employer that you are the one candidate in 100 that can most benefit them. Prove that your skills match the employer's needs. In this paragraph you should: create interest; use action verbs; illustrate personality; point to achievements; offer proof of skills and abilities; and build credibility. Closing Paragraph - Use your last paragraph to reemphasize your strengths and make a request for further action. You may consider: asking for an interview/meeting etc; restating position and company name; stating time line for follow-up options; including specific contact information; and expressing appreciation of time/effort.

Should cover letters be personalized to match each job opportunity?
Yes! The cover letter is your chance to personalize the resume to highlight your strengths as they relate to the needs of an employer. Often this means simply changing the address, salutation and opening paragraph to specify the employer. When seeking several different types of positions, it is often necessary to personalize each cover letter. The rule of thumb is to personalize the cover letter in any manner that you can. Personalized cover letters assist in grabbing the attention of an employer. 
Should a cover letter always be included with a resume or application?
Yes! Cover letters explain what you are seeking, and relate your strengths to an employer's needs. Always include a cover letter when you send your resume or an application to a contact person or potential employer. 
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Last Updated: Sept. 13, 2006