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Sell Yourself In Writing: Fine Tune your Resume and Cover Letter Amy McPherson Associate Director, VT Career Services October 16, 2007. Resume vs. Curriculum Vita. Resume Industry positions Concise (1-2 pgs) Focus on skills – What can you do?. Curriculum Vita (CV) Academic positions

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Sell Yourself In Writing:Fine Tune your Resume and Cover LetterAmy McPhersonAssociate Director, VT Career ServicesOctober 16, 2007

resume vs curriculum vita
Resume vs. Curriculum Vita
  • Resume
    • Industry positions
    • Concise (1-2 pgs)
    • Focus on skills – What can you do?
  • Curriculum Vita (CV)
    • Academic positions
    • Detailed
    • Research and teaching interests and experience
  • Both Resume and CV
    • Professional affiliations / activities
    • Publications / presentations
    • Easy to read
    • Error free
what is a resume
What is a resume?
  • An individually designed document
  • A sales presentation of yourself
    • Not a place for modesty
  • A marketing tool for opening the doors of prospective employers
  • A screening device for selecting candidates for interviews
purpose of a resume
Purpose of a resume
  • To state the type of employment desired
  • To present your academic training
  • To describe your work experience
    • related and unrelated
  • To show involvement in activities
    • campus, civic, volunteer, etc.
  • To show awards, honors, and/or special recognition / certifications
goal of writing a resume
Goal of writing a resume

To get an


types of resume formats
Types of resume formats
  • Chronological
  • Functional
  • Skills
  • Combination / Creative
  • Name
  • Current & Permanent Address
  • Phone Number
    • Cell phone
  • E-mail Address
  • Professional Web Site
common resume problems
Common resume problems
  • Content
    • Know your audience and from that understanding, create a resume
  • Format
  • One of the top 5 items employers look for on a resume!
  • First and most important step in designing your resume.
  • Indicates to a prospective employer the type of work you are pursuing.
  • State in terms of job title/field and special interests.
  • Problem
    • Not having a clear, concise objective
  • Example
    • To gain full-time employment with a growing organization where I can utilize my skills and educational background.
appropriate objectives
Appropriate objectives
  • Solution:
    • State your current objective.
    • Why are you writing this resume?
    • What do you want to do?
  • Statistician
  • An Internship in the area of Nutrition with an interest in Community Health.
  • Begin with the current degree pursuing / most recent degree earned. List additional degrees in reverse chronological order.
  • Include institution name, city, state, degree level, major(s), minor(s), and date of completion. Example:

M.S., Applied Economics, May 2008

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Thesis: “Framework for Economic Impact Assessment of IPM-CRSP: a GIS application”

Advisor: Dr. Robert Smith

GPA: 3.9/4.0

B.S., Economics, Minor: Chemistry, May 2006

James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

GPA: 3.6/4.0

where do you go to school
Where do you go to school?
  • Problem
    • Virginia Polytechnical Institute
    • Virginia Tech University
    • VA Tech
  • Solution
    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    • Virginia Tech
  • GPA - to list or not to list
  • Career Services recommends that you list your GPA on your resume for On-Campus Interviewing and for Career Fairs.
  • List in-major, overall or both.
related courses
Related courses
  • Problem
    • Listing every class you’ve had in your area of study
  • Solution
    • Remember that this is optional
    • List 4-6 classes that are advanced or show diversity in your background.
    • Make sure they support your objective
writing style
Writing style
  • Problem
    • Writing in complete sentences
    • Being too formal
  • Example
    • I was responsible for the professional enhancement of new employees.
  • Solution
    • Trained five new employees.
order of resume sections
Order of resume sections
  • Problem
    • Listing items as you think of them
    • Listing jobs by order of importance to you instead of reverse chronological order
  • Solution
    • Have all sections in order of priority as they support your objective.
    • Create additional headings if you need to highlight items out of chronological order.
being unique
Being unique
  • Problem
    • Attempting to make your resume stand out from the rest by using artistic fonts, graphics or a very unusual format
  • Solution
    • Make your resume stand out by the incredible information you include about your experience and skills
marketing yourself
Marketing Yourself
  • Acknowledge the fact that your experience counts
  • Use the vocabulary of your chosen field whenever possible
  • Examine and narrate your out-of-class experiences through the “lens” of your career goals
  • Convey what you learned as well as what you did in your job, internship, or activity
  • Quantify your actions whenever appropriate
  • Control the way your information impacts employers through sequencing and amplification
  • Problems
    • May not provide best set-up
      • ex. May find address information at bottom of page
    • Tend to be date driven
  • Solution
    • Create your resume on a blank document using tables (See sample in Career Planning Guide)
one page vs two pages
One page vs. two pages
  • Strive for a one-page resume. Two pages are acceptable if experience warrants
  • Look for places to cut information or be more concise
  • Don’t use a tiny font size just to fit more information on a page
  • Remember - your resume only gets an initial 20 second glance!
  • Individualize
  • Edit your writing
    • Grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Be yourself
  • Matching paper
  • Keep records
types of cover letters
Types of cover letters
  • Letter of application
    • Use when applying for a specific position
  • Letter of inquiry
    • Use when you are writing to express interest in an organization but you are not sure if there are current openings
purpose of cover letters
Purpose of cover letters
  • Explains why you are sending your resume
  • Tells how you learned about the position or organization
  • Convinces the reader to look at your resume
  • Calls attention to aspects of your background
more purposes
More purposes…
  • Reflects your attitude
  • Provides specifically requested information
  • Indicates what you will do to follow up
  • Writing sample
cover letter elements
Cover Letter Elements
  • Salutation: Use Office Title (Mr. Mrs., Dr. etc.) and last name followed by colon
  • Opening Paragraph
    • To capture attention, set the tone for the letter, and build a match of your qualifications with the employer’s needs
  • Middle Paragraph(s)
    • Communicates main selling points, proves that your skills match employer’s needs, creates interest, and illustrates personality
cover letter elements cont
Cover Letter Elements (cont.)
  • Closing Paragraph
    • Reemphasizes strengths and makes a request for further action.
    • State time line, specific follow-up information, and dates of availability
  • Signature
    • (double space after closing)
    • Sincerely,
    • (Three spaces for signature)
    • Typed Name
    • Enclosure: Resume, References (etc.)
common cover letter mistakes
Common cover letter mistakes
  • Sounds like a form letter
    • “To whom it may concern”
    • Not using the company’s name
  • Too long
  • Not demonstrating how your background and skills are a fit for the position
  • Using a stilted writing style
  • Usually 3 - 5 individuals
  • Choose carefully
  • ALWAYS ask first
more on references
More on references
  • Provide a copy of your resume
  • Keep references informed
  • List references on a separate page
  • Be honest
  • Don’t undersell yourself, but don’t exaggerate
  • Graduation date should be the only “projected” item on your resume
check and re check
Check and re-check
  • Read and re-read all of your job search correspondence to check for errors
  • Have faculty review technical sections of your resume or letters
  • Use Career Services’ walk-in critique service to have an advisor review your documents

12:00pm - 3:00pm M-F

1:30pm – 5:00pm Wednesdays in GLC-46

fall seminars for graduate students
Fall Seminars for GraduateStudents
  • 10 Steps to a Federal Job or Internship

Wednesday, October 17 GLC-B

  • Interviewing Skills

Wednesday, October 24 GLC-B

vt career services
VT Career Services
  • Located on the corner of

Washington St. and West Campus Dr.

  • Office hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, M – F
  • Walk-in advising:
    • 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, M – F in Career Services
    • 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm on Wednesdays in GLC – 46
  • To schedule an appointment call: 231-6241
  • Web site: