STUDENT GUIDE TO RESUME & COVER LETTER WRITING. Suggestions for writing effective resumes & cover letters

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1 STUDENT GUIDE TO RESUME & COVER LETTER WRITING Suggestions for writing effective resumes & cover letters

2 STUDENT GUIDE TO RESUME & COVER LETTER WRITING Resume Writing Getting Started Anatomy of a Resume Resume Styles - Reverse Chronological & Functional Resume Action Verbs Resume Writing Tips Dos & Don ts of Resume Writing Preparing a Reference sheet Writing effective Cover letters Writing effective Thank you letters Appendix Samples of resumes and cover and thank you letters This resume is quite impressive Ms. Smith. You must have visited Oakland University s Career Services Office!

3 RESUME WRITING GETTING STARTED Career Services will offer some tips for resume writing, cover & thank you letter writing and interviewing techniques. We know people struggle with writing resumes because they don t always know where to start or they aren t sure if they are including everything they should. To get started, whether you have a current resume to build from or not, take time to do some brainstorming: Record all experiences that might be significant to include on a resume Brainstorm and organize ideas, thoughts and experiences Taking these steps will either get a great foundation started or enhance what you ve already built. Now let s talk about the sections and headings that belong in a resume.

4 ANATOMY OF A RESUME What sections & headings you need in your resume depends on your professional experience or educational status. Ex: a student is more likely to have a section called Related Course Projects. These are some key sections and headings typically used in a resume: Contact information Objective Education Skills Summary of Qualifications Computer & Language Skills Work Experience Additional Experience Activities/Honors Research & Publications

5 ANATOMY OF A RESUME Let s take a further look into these key sections Contact information name, street address, phone number and make sure that there is a professional greeting/message at the number you list for when a potential employer may call. Objective a clear, concise statement of the type of position you want to obtain Education Always list the university you are currently attending first with expected graduation date. See additional tips on how to list education and different institutions, in the appendix section Skills highlight a few significant skills/strengths that you have that will give you an advantage or edge Summary of Qualifications briefly highlight the reasons why you are qualified for the position or would be a good fit for the company (customize per job)

6 ANATOMY OF A RESUME Here s a few more key sections to review. Computer & Language Skills list the computer programs you know and the foreign language skills you have. When listing Microsoft Office, list out the specific programs you know, in case employer does key word search for specific skills Work Experience Unless doing a functional resume, list your most current job first and then all others in reverse chronological order. Additional Experience - Trainings, certifications, etc. Activities/Honors volunteer, community organizations, committees or awards Research & Publications any research or publications you have completed or have in progress Now that you know what sections you need, how do you arrange them..?

7 REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL & FUNCTIONAL RESUMES There are different ways to format your resume, but the most commonly used formats are the reverse chronological or functional resume The Reverse Chronological resume is where you list your most recent work experience and skills first and then work backwards. You don t need to include work experience that goes back more than 10 years (if it is relevant to the job you re applying for, consider keeping it as long as your resume does not exceed 2 pages. The Functional resume is most commonly used when someone is transitioning to another career. Ex: If someone is changing from Engineering to Nursing, all of their Engineering experience may not be so relevant to Nursing, so he/she will most likely just highlight the key transferrable skills. See Appendix for Reverse Chronological & Functional resume samples

8 RESUME ACTION VERBS When you create your bullet points for your work experience, you should have great action words that capture the employer s attention. See Appendix for a list of action verbs and how they are used in a resume

9 RESUME WRITING TIPS Now that you have decided on your resume headings, content and format, there are still some other important tips to know Because employers spend seconds on average reviewing a resume, it is essential that you organize your information to market and sell yourself effectively. Here are some ways to help do this Organize your experiences in a way that best markets your skills & abilities think about what tasks you did on your jobs that are the most closely related to your objective and work on how you will word them to directly relate to your objective Make sure that your first bullets under your work experience tie directly back up to your objective as much as possible List your skills section near the top of your resume (after your objective & education)

10 THE DO S OF RESUME WRITING If you want to increase the chances of being a top candidate, consider these tips when writing your resume. Do: Proofread! Spell-check doesn t catch poor sentence structure Make sure verb tense is appropriate & consistent in each section current experience should be in present tense & past experience should be in past tense List the city & state for each school/job ensure dates are consistently written in the same format throughout the resume State the ability to relocate/travel, if applicable this can make you stand out if this is required (you could include this under a section called Additional Information ) Decide if you want to use periods - they can be used, but are not necessary. If they are used, make sure you use them consistently throughout resume Create different versions of your resume if you are pursuing different types of positions or jobs in different fields

11 THE DON TS OF RESUME WRITING If you want to increase the chances of being a top candidate, avoid having these items on your resume. Don t: Include personal and/or descriptive information such as sex, age, etc. Include personal photos Include salary information Include references in the body of your resume Use abbreviations other than GPA always spell out any other abbreviations Use parentheses State your availability Include High School experience unless you are in your first or second year of college directly out of H.S.

12 PREPARING A REFERENCE LIST Now that you have put your resume together and are ready to present it to potential employers, you will need a reference sheet to go with it. When preparing reference sheets, do: Prepare them separately & do not include in the resume Prepare them in the same font and on the same paper as your resume Include your name and contact information Select 3-4 possible references that have knowledge of your work performance they can be supervisors & professors, for example Decide if you will list your current supervisor as a reference. However, if they are unaware that you are seeking alternate employment, be sure to include text that states: Please notify me if you are contacting Mr./Mrs. Always ask permission to use an individual as a reference. If it has been 2-3 years since your last contact with a reference, check in with them to see if it is still ok to use them Send thank you letters to your references once you have secured a position See Appendix for a Reference sheet sample

13 WRITING EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS A lot of students ask: Do I really need a Cover Letter? The answer is Yes! Here s why A successful cover letter tells a prospective employer who you are, what you've accomplished and why they should be interested in talking with you. If applying for an internship, the employer won't expect you to have as much experience in the field so talk more about your academic background and campus activities. Tailor your letters as much as possible to the employer and the industry Talk more about what you can do for the employer/position rather than what the employer can do for you Include problems you've solved or past accomplishments in other positions Make your letter visually appealing but limit to one page in length Let s take a look at the essential contents of a Cover Letter..

14 WRITING EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS Introduction Information Date Name of Contact Person Title Organization Address Dear (Contact Person s Name): Start with contact information, then the opening, body and closing paragraphs. Opening Paragraph Name the position/type of position for which you are applying Mention how you learned about the position Briefly describe why you are interested in this particular position Body of the Letter Briefly describe your skills and/or experiences that fit the position If you have related experience, mention your qualifications and achievements This is your chance to give the reader insight as to who you are as a person. Closing Paragraph Directly indicate your desire to further discuss your qualifications Make it easy for the reader to contact you by providing your phone number and Thank the contact person for their time and consideration See Appendix for Cover Letter samples

15 WRITING EFFECTIVE THANK-YOU LETTERS A lot of students ask: Why do I need to send a Thank you Letter? Send a thank-you letter within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after an interview with a company representative. It is a simple acknowledgment of appreciation and it is not only polite, but can leave a positive impression with an employer, therefore setting you apart from other candidates. It demonstrates that you were enthusiastic about the position and their company. Send a personalized thank you letter to each person who interviewed you, even if you follow a similar format for each letter Thank you letters are commonly ed or sent through the mail, just make sure they are business-like in appearance Let s take a look at the essential contents of a Thank you Letter..

16 WRITING EFFECTIVE THANK YOU LETTERS Introduction Information Date Name of specific contact Title Organization Address Dear (Contact Person s Name): Start with introduction information, then the first, middle and closing paragraphs. First paragraph Thank the interviewer for meeting with you. Express your enthusiasm about gaining employment in the organization. Middle paragraphs Restate your qualifications for & interest in the position. Include any personal skills you did not mention during the interview or anything about the position or company that was of particular interest to you. Emphasize achievements & skills that would make you an asset as an employee. Closing paragraph Briefly than the interviewer again for their consideration. Express confidence in your ability to perform well in the organization. State that you look forward to hearing from the interviewer. See Appendix for Thank you Letter samples

17 APPENDIX SAMPLE DOCUMENTS Here are some samples of resumes, reference sheets, cover letters & thank you letters to help guide you through the writing and development process.

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