Resume & Cover Letter Guide

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1 Resume & Cover Letter M I L L I K I N U N I V E R S I T Y C A R E E R C E N T E R S H I L L I N G H A L L ǀ ǀ M I L L I K I N. E D U / C A R E E R Developing and refining your resume or résumé is an important part of the career development process. A resume... Is a summary of your qualifications for employment Typically lets the reader know what type of position you are seeking Highlights your education, experience, skills and other relevant information Serves as a marketing tool to help you get to the next step in the hiring process Should be customized to meet specific industry standards/conventions (Contact the Career Center for more information) Is a living document that should be updated regularly Has no one size fits all perfect format Is just one way to present your personal/professional brand. Consider also creating a profile on LinkedIn, a portfolio featuring your work on Big Blue Jobs/CCN, and explore other opportunities to promote your personal/professional brand. Resume Quick Tips Consider the purpose and audience for the resume you are creating. Tailoring your resume to each and every opportunity is key. Use job/internship descriptions as a guide and do your best to highlight the skills you have that are most relevant to the employer. Proofread! Many times your resume is making a first impression or used to confirm /verify your skills and experience as a job candidate make sure you are exhibiting a positive image. Skills Employers Seek in New College Hires These skills include the ability to: Work in a team structure Make decisions and solve problems Plan, organize, and prioritize work Verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization Obtain and process information Analyze quantitative data Apply technical knowledge related to the job Be proficient with computer software programs Create and/or edit written reports Sell or influence others Source: Job Outlook 2014, National Association of Colleges and Employers Every year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers for the skills they seek in new hires. The list above comprises the most recent list from NACE. Consider the skills and qualities listed above and take note of experiences where you have been able to develop and demonstrate these skills and qualities then consider how you might include these experiences in your resume.

2 While there is no one size fits all resume format, this page outlines best practices and contains some guidance for each section of your resume. The Heading of your resume should contain your name and contact information. Be sure to use accurate information and have a professional address (no Also, be sure to have a professional sounding voic message for the phone number(s) you include. Your name can be in a larger font size than the rest of your resume and you may include more than one address, just be sure to include dates denoting where you will be available when. Refer to sample resumes for examples of this. Profile, Objective, or Summary of Qualifications sections can be focal points on your resume, but know that these sections are optional and may not always be necessary. A profile statement is a brief statement that allows you to highlight some of your key skills, expertise, and professional interests. An objective tells the reader about your career goals and/or expresses interest in a specific job or vacancy. A summary section can allow those with significant experience to highlight some of their key accomplishments. Each of the options have their merits and it really depends on what is the best fit for the job candidate and the position they are applying for. For these optional sections, and throughout your resume no personal pronouns (I, me, my etc.) are needed. Refer to samples for examples of each of the options described above. For most current students and recent graduates it is important to list the Education section toward the top of your resume. This section outlines your educational background by listing the degrees, certificates, or licenses you may have earned. You may call this section, or sections like it, a variety of things including: Academic Background, Academic Training, Additional Training, Certificates and Licenses, Education, Educational Highlights, Educational Preparation, Professional Training Required Educational Information Degree and Major (Bachelor of Science in Chemistry) Date of Graduation (Month and Year only) College or University (Millikin University) Location of College or University (Decatur, IL) Resume Formatting Optional Educational Information Overall Grade Point Average (should be included if a 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale) Major Grade Point Average (may be included if a 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale) Minor(s), Areas of Concentration or Curriculum Emphasis on Related Coursework (list no more than eight and do not include course numbers) *All information should be listed in reverse chronological order. Typically, when organizing a resume, the most recent information should be listed first. The Experience section or sections of your resume tell the employer what type of experience you have had that may qualify you for a position with the employer s organization. You may call this section, or sections like it, a variety of things including: Experience Internship Experience Required Experience Information Employment History Clinical Experience or Clinical Highlights Job Title Additional Experience Professional Experience Dates of Employment Career Highlights Classroom Experience Employer Career-Related Experience Teaching Experience Location of Employer (City and State) Experience Information, Continued Create brief descriptions of experiences using action verb phrases, refer to list of action verbs for ideas. Attempt to individualize this information so that you outline your actions and accomplishments, not a general job description. Example: Career Specialist, January 2013-June 2014 Career Center, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois Assisted approximately 100 students in resume and cover letter writing Acquainted students with effective job search strategies and office resources

3 Resume Formatting Continued Additional Resume Information Once you have listed your objective, education and experience, you will need to decide what else you want to communicate to a potential employer. You may want to consider grouping related information. Here are some common resume categories with sample headings: Awards/Honors Achievements Awards Distinctions Honors Scholarships Special Honors Professional Information Conferences Exhibits Performances Presentations Professional Affiliations Professional Associations Professional Involvement Professional Memberships Publications Skills Computer Competencies Computer Skills Computer Systems Equipment Competencies Language Proficiencies Software Special Skills Involvement/Leadership Activities Campus Activities Campus and Community Involvement Campus Involvement Community Activities Community Involvement Leadership Experience Volunteer Activities Volunteer Experience Other Areas International Travel Military History Resume FAQs When do I write a resume? NOW! A resume is a work in progress, and students who start early have the benefit of improving and refining the document over time. Students need to keep their resume regularly updated to reflect new experiences, ensuring that an up-to-date resume is available when needed. Students are encouraged to begin the process immediately. You never know when and where your resume will be needed! What if my resume isn t full? Don t worry if your resume does not take up a full page right away. As noted in response to the previous question, your resume is a work in progress. You want to accurately represent where you are but also consider your long-term career goals and what types of experiences you can seek out to help you achieve them. Creating a resume gives you the chance to take inventory of your experiences. Once you have your resume draft completed, look for areas of opportunity. For example, if you do not have any leadership experience on your resume, consider working to obtain a leadership position in a student organization. What is the correct way to do a resume? There is no single right way when it comes to resume content and format, though we do offer tips based on what employers look for in a resume. Each resume is as unique as the individual it represents. It is up to you to select the appropriate content that best highlights your skills for the employment you hope to acquire, and then effectively communicate your qualifications in a format that is clear and easy to read. Should my resume include everything I have ever done? Not necessarily. Note that a potential employer typically spends around 30 seconds (sometimes even less) when initially reviewing a resume. Therefore, it is important to carefully select experiences that emphasize the skills most relevant to the desired position. As you make your choices, remember to stress quality over quantity. If I have to pick and choose what goes on my resume, how do I make those decisions? Focus on the skills and attributes you can bring to the organization. Consider the perspective of the potential employer, and what he or she would desire in the ideal candidate for the position. Look at the position announcement or company s website. Reflect upon specific experiences from your college and employment history that demonstrate how you have gained and refined skills that will transfer to the job you desire. Customize a resume for every job application. This gives potential employers the impression that you have indeed carefully selected the most relevant experiences that portray you as the best choice. How can The Career Center help me with my resume? The Career Center has helped thousands of students draft and refine their resume. Attend a resume writing workshop during the academic year. Come into the Career Center for a resume critique it s free. You will meet one-on-one with a staff member.

4 M I L L I K I N U N I V E R S I T Y C A R E E R C E N T E R S H I L L I N G H A L L ǀ M I L L I K I N. E D U / C A R E E R Cover Letter Developing a captivating cover letter gives you a chance connect the dots between your knowledge, skills, and abilities and the employers needs (in addition to demonstrating your writing skills which are important to employers. A cover letter... Offers the chance for you to provide more in depth examples of what you can offer an employer Is considered an example of your writing skills, so take the time to develop and proofread your letter before sending it on. Allows you the opportunity to create content that speaks more directly to how you can benefit the employer and why you would be the best fit for the opportunity you are applying for. 10 Cover Letter Quick Tips 1. Use proper business letter format. (See formatting example on the next page) 2. Keep it to one page unless you have a very clear reason for going beyond that. 3. Write unique content. 4. Show don t tell 5. Establish a relationship with your reader/know your audience. 6. Write a targeted letter to each position 7. Plan to create a letter with three-to-five paragraphs 8. Try to avoid trite phrases/ cliché s Avoid things like In high pressure situations I stay cool as a cucumber 9. Use an active voice, with action verbs. Avoid phrases like "was responsible for, or "reports that were written by me...". 10. Edit. Proofread. Ruthlessly. -Adapted from Katherine Brooks Writing the Dreaded Cover Letter Resume Prep + Cover Letter Prep=Interview Prep Developing a customized resume and cover letter for a particular employer & position is a great way to begin your interview preparation. As you prepare your targeted resume and cover letter you should begin to develop compelling answers to the questions of: Why do you want to work for the company/organization? Research the organization, get to know their mission, vision, values and develop an understanding of the current successes the company may have had as well as challenges they may be facing. The research you do on the front end to help you tailor your documents will also help you consider how you might answer this question if it came up in an interview or networking setting. Why should the company hire you? Writing your resume and cover letter allows you to examine your experiences and can help you to derive the skills and strengths you developed through those experiences. Think of what are your most compelling attributes that would allow you to be an asset to the company you are interested in.

5 Cover Letter Formatting Applicant s Address City, State Zip Date of Letter Expert tip: When submitting a hard copy of your cover letter with your resume be sure to print both on the same type of paper. Also, be sure to use business block format (no paragraph indents needed) Hiring Official s Name Title Organization Address City, State Zip Salutation: Expert tip: Always try to find a specific contact person. In the salutation be sure to address the person formally such as: Dear Ms. Jones: *However, don t ascribe a gender pronoun if you are unsure. If that is the case, include the first & last name: Dear Pat Jones: First Paragraph: State the reason for the letter. If you are writing a letter of application, state the specific position for which you are applying and indicate where you learned about the position (career center, news media, friend, employment service, newspaper). State why you are interested in the position. If you are writing a letter of inquiry, define the type of position you are seeking and explain why you are interested in working for this organization. While writing either type of letter, try to attract the employer s attention in an interesting yet professional manner. Second Paragraph: Refer to your resume. Summarize your qualifications without detailing the information provided in your resume. If you know the requirements for the position, try to outline how your education and experience qualify you for the position. Third Paragraph: Provide supporting evidence of your qualifications. You can do this by describing specific accomplishments or highlighting skills you have developed through work experience, course work, campus or community involvement, or other activities. Make every effort to connect your qualifications to the job requirements. Final Paragraph: Establish a flow of action that produces a positive response. Suggest what you want the reader to do or what action you plan to take to keep the relationship alive and moving. Repeat your telephone number and offer any assistance to help in a speedy response. Remember, the most important purpose of this letter is to motivate the employer to interview you. Sincerely, (Your signature) Expert tip: Use your middle body paragraphs to highlight what you have to offer the employer that can add value to their organization. Use the internship or job description as a guide so you can speak to the skills/qualities/ experience the employer is looking for. Your Typewritten Name

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