RESUMES and COVER LETTERS How to Maximize your Skills and Accomplishments to Land a Job or Internship
Introduction Objective Elements of a Good Resume The Employer’s Perspective Two Resume Types Formatting a Resume Qualifications Summary Accomplishment Statements Electronic Resume Cover Letter Basics Tips for Effective Cover Letters Summary OUTLINE OF TODAY’S SESSION
INTRODUCTION This workshop will help you create resumes and cover letters that will enhance your presentation of skills and accomplishments and become better tools in your job or internship search.
OBJECTIVE Upon completion of this workshop you will know: • The elements of a good resume • How to write a qualifications summary • How to write accomplishment statements • How to create an electronic resume • How to write an effective cover letter
WHAT IS A GOOD RESUME? • Marketing tool … you are the product, and your resume is part of your sales pitch • Highlights your unique qualifications and how they meet the employer’s need • Gets you an interview or moves you forward in the selection process
THE EMPLOYER’S PERSPECTIVE When reviewing a resume, the employer looks for answers to the following: • Is the experience appropriate; is relevant experience or skills missing? • Is length of time at the right level sufficient? • Is there a sufficient level of technical knowledge? • Is there a sufficient level of management or leadership skills?
THE EMPLOYER’S PERSPECTIVE-cont. • Is there a solid record of achievement? • How does the candidate compare with other candidates? • Is this a good career step for the candidate? • Does the resume have a focus, and does it demonstrate the candidate’s value?
ELEMENTS OF A RESUME • Heading • Qualifications summary • Education; honors and awards* • Professional experience • Volunteer experience** • Additional skills • Professional affiliations** • Publications and presentations** * If recent graduate, Education should be near top of resume; if not, Education placed near end of resume ** If applicable
TWO POPULAR RESUME TYPES • Chronological • Combination chronological and functional
CHRONOLOGICAL • Begins with your most recent job and goes backwards • Traditional resume format; preferred by conservative employers • Works best for people who have progressed in titles and responsibility in one organization or one field, or who have a good work history • Fast read; gaps and flaws are obvious • If it doesn’t work don’t use it
COMBINATION RESUME • Quick synopsis of your market value followed by employment history • Promotes assets, key credentials, and qualifications • Supports your accomplishments that match employer’s needs • Utilizes benefits of both resume formats
FORMATTING A RESUME • Use letter size (8.5”x11”) paper • Print on high-quality printer • Choose easy-to-read font • Avoid point font size of 10 or below • Margins should be symmetrical • Bold section headers; use other formatting features
FORMATTING A RESUME-cont. • Double space between sections; single space between job statements • Use bullets to highlight accomplishments; avoid gimmickry • Limit to 2 pages, depending on years of experience, whenever possible
QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY • Succinct preview of, and substantiated by, what is presented later in your resume • Grabs the reviewer’s attention • Summarizes your value to an employer; explains what you can do for them now • Presents a clear focus or objective
WRITING A QUALIFICATIONS SUMMARY • Starts off with your current status • Shows years of experience in job target field • Includes transferable skills, strengths, traits • Can be displayed in short paragraph form or bullets
EXAMPLE OF QUALIFICATION SUMMARY • Financial executive with eight years of experience in healthcare, financial services, and public sectors. Ability to manage mainstream financial functions and perform in general management capacity. Effective leader and team builder with strong strategic and team management skills. Expertise includes controllership, financial planning and budgets, financial systems, and treasury.
EXAMPLE OF QUALIFICATION SUMMARY-CAREER CHANGER (from Monster.com) • Dedicated RN with 10+ years of experience in medical-surgical settings seeking career transition into clinical nursing research. Offers solid foundation in analytical tools and methodologies, current healthcare advancements, and surgical procedures. Strong background in diabetes education, with experience developing and delivering training programs to staff, community organizations and medical providers on a range of diabetes-management topics.
EXAMPLE OF QUALIFICATION SUMMARY- SOON TO GRADUATE (from Monster.com) • Communications major (graduation May 2006) offering proven skills writing press releases and feature articles generating favorable publicity and increased organizational visibility. Talented, experienced communicator, knowledgeable in press conference coordination and volunteer recruitment. Proficient in Microsoft Office, including PowerPoint, QuarkXpress, and Adobe InDesign software.
ACCOMPLISHMENT STATEMENTS • Showcase relevant achievements; don’t regurgitate job duties • Use action verbs and keywords in short phrases to demonstrate achievements • Show measurable results for actions that solved problems or addressed a need—use numbers when possible! • Use PARs Model (Performance-Action-Results)
ACCOMPLISHMENT STATEMENT EXAMPLES • Planned and implemented special event to increase membership and raise funds. Event raised $200,000 and attracted 200+ guests, 30% of whom became dues-paying members. • Designed and conducted training program on water conservation strategies for 120 citizens in three rural villages; after training, water usage in villages was cut by 24%. • Established a summer camp and offered courses in computer skills for 150 low-income children ages 6-14; improved computer skills resulted in enhanced classroom performance during school year.
FINAL ADVICE • Proofread, proofread, proofread!!! Your resume must be clear, visually appealing, accurate, and typo-free • Ask a friend, faculty member, peer, or colleague to review and provide feedback
ELECTRONIC RESUMES • Also called text-only resumes or ASCII • Used when sending your resume via e-mail and you don’t know if recipient has same software that you are using • Used when uploading your resume as part of an online application • Easier for employers to add to tracking databases
CONVERTING RESUME TO TEXT-ONLY • Save your resume file as a new document. • Set your margins so that you have 6.5 inches of text displayed. • Select all text, and then select font that is non-proportional 12 pitch, such as Courier 12. • Save as “text only” with “line breaks”. • Open this new file in Notepad, Simple Text, or whatever text editor you have.
CONVERTING RESUME TO TEXT-ONLY-cont. 6. Review your resume in the text editor. You will note that many of your formatting characteristics are displayed differently (e.g. bullets show up as ?). 7. Replace formatting with ASCII equivalent (e.g., replace bullets with * or hyphens). Use word wrap feature under the Edit menu if you see long lines of text (unless otherwise specified). 8. Test out the resume by copying and pasting it into the body of an e-mail message to see if you’ve corrected the flaws.
COVER LETTERS Purpose: • Your formal introduction to a prospective employer or internship host • Achieves interest • Summarizes and highlights what you can offer an employer
TYPES OF COVER LETTERS • Response to a specific available position • Letter of inquiry a.k.a. “broadcast” letter
RESPONSE TO SPECIFIC POSITION Important to: • Present your accomplishments and skills that best meet organization’s needs • Use industry-specific terms; mimic or paraphrase wording in ad
RESPONSE TO SPECIFIC POSITION - LETTER STYLES Three styles: • Narrative-use paragraphs to describe your skills and experience • Bulleted-use bullet points to highlight selected, targeted accomplishments • “T” letter-draws direct parallels between the employer’s stated needs and your experience
BROADCAST LETTER Useful for: • Networking and informational interview requests • Mail campaign targeting prospective employers or internship hosts to create interest; serves as introduction and conveys your potential value
BROADCAST LETTER STYLES Two styles: • Narrative-use paragraphs to describe your skills and experience • Bulleted-use bullet points to draw attention to targeted, selected, accomplishments
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS • Treat as a business letter; use business letter format, including: • Use of personal letterhead; include phone number and e-mail • When possible, address to a specific person (hiring manager preferable, HR manager if necessary)-try to include exact title. If unavailable, opt for “Dear Sir or Madam:” • After salutation, use colon, not comma • Close with “Sincerely yours,” or “Yours truly,” • After your signature line, indicate if there are enclosures or attachments • Letter should have polished, professional look and content; be sure to proofread!
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS-cont. • Customize each letter to the specific job (when responding to ads)—one size does not fit all! • Grab attention with your first sentence; start with why you’re the perfect person for the job, or how your background addresses employer’s need, or • If referred or recommended by someone the employer knows, start out with, “At the suggestion of John Doe, I am writing to apply for the position of…” • Be sure to reference the position you’re applying for-don’t leave the employer guessing!
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS-cont. • Keep to one page when possible • Make the connection between your work experience and the stated requirements of the position. Tie your experience to your skills, then tie your skills to the job description • Use action words to describe your accomplishments
TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE COVER LETTERS-cont. • Convey confidence and enthusiasm! • Indicate that your resume and any other requested credentials are enclosed • Close by ASKING for an interview! • Keep a copy of all letters that go out, including your e-mails
SUMMARY • Best resume format for your background and experience • Create a summary statement • Write measurable accomplishment statements • Write cover letters highlighting your most saleable skills and experiences geared to the type of search you’re conducting