Resumes, Cover Letters and More
Good, error free resumes and cover-letters are essential for career and professional development. Learn more below:
Anatomy of a Resume
The resume is primarily a marketing tool designed to interest a potential employer in your qualifications and skills. The resume is your advertisement and "selling piece" to persuade an employer to interview you. It is a summary of your experiences, not your full length biography. Showcase your credentials and achievement in ways that will make employers take notice. Based on assessments and your goals and objectives, create your application materials using themes. Build an effective resume by high lightening relevant skills, experiences (including leadership, school, and work experiences) to the position. The use of "Profile or Summary" at the beginning of your is now preferred over "Objective".
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Your resume must be neat. An initial impression is made in the first five seconds. If your resume is difficult to read, it may be thrown aside and not considered. Furthermore, even one error will make an employer question the quality of all your work.
You should ensure that your resume uses consistent verb tenses, font, and sizing. Avoid the use of templates since you have to make sure that your resume is distinct and not necessarily the same as the other candidates.
Maintain a positive word choice – Avoid saying “not” or “none”. The reader should feel that you are optimistic in your approach. Use "action" words and action – verb phrases in order to make your responsibilities distinct and powerful. Highlight any leadership involvement and opportunities you took to initiate or lead.
- Ensure consistent and correct use of punctuation and capitalization.
- Use the language of your specific industry when you are sure it will be understood
- Limit use of abbreviations/acronyms
- Avoid the use of pronouns ("I" and "me") and unnecessary articles such as "a” & "the."
- Use consistent verb tense (present tense for current positions; past tense for previous work)
- Use conventional abbreviations and capitalization for resumes
- Spell out months and street addresses (August not Aug; Street, Avenue not St., Ave.)
- Abbreviate states using the U.S. Postal abbreviations. Be sure to capitalize both letters in the abbreviation (AZ not Az; CA not Ca)
- Capitalize languages (i.e. Spanish not spanish)
- Write out all years fully in consistent format (1993-1995 not 1993-95 or 1993-5)
- Periods are not required when using bullets; periods may or may not be used, but you must be consistent throughout
- Be extremely careful when spelling and capitalizing computer software and hardware. Check the correct spelling and capitalization with the manuals. (COBOL not Cobol; PowerPoint not Powerpoint)
Cover Letter Development
Cover letters can distinguish you from other potential candidates. The cover letter is an important component to give you an edge on other applicants that may have similar experience. We have developed sample cover letters that can give you a better idea of what key questions to answer in your cover letter.
Cover Letter Guidelines
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- One page maximum
- 10 point font minimum, Times New Roman preferred
- Even margins, minimum of 1 inch around
- Well balanced use of white space
- Block formal letter format
- Clean grammar and spelling
- Avoid the use of acronyms that may seem vague
- Avoid the use of informal contractions
- Use paragraph breaks to make it easier to read
- Include return address, date and recipient address
- Letter is addressed to someone specific if possible
- Introductory paragraph introduces candidate and purpose
- Do not start with “My name is…”
- Avoid starting each sentence with “I”
- Body of document should include reference to specific examples
- Final paragraph should express appreciation for consideration
- Ask for specific action if possible
- Indicate how you will follow-up about the position
- Catch the readers interest by detailing your qualifications
- Avoid listing or regurgitating what is already on your resume
- Provide evidence that you surpass the other candidates
- Emphasize that you are a good fit with the organization’s objectives
- Focus on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you
- Compliment the company’s successes
- Make it clear that you understand the mission and company culture
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Line up your references. Make sure you ask several people; three to five is customary. Also, you may want different references for different types of jobs. Think about prior supervisors, professors, or anyone else who can provide a strong reference, attest to your reliability, initiative, work habits, knowledge, experience in the field and other relevant experience. Include the same header as you used on your resume.
Applying, the Mechanics (ATS)
Applicant tracking systems have a certain way of reading and deciphering information. It identifies your position by looking for a pattern of information like company name, title, and dates of employment – and they must be on your resume in that order. When you add other information like company name followed by some brief information about the employer (ex. “Leading provider in…), it messes up how the software is to read your information.
A business card is the first way to introduce yourself, especially when you don’t have a resume with you. Include your name and any initials you may have earned. Include your picture. Your preferred means of contact should go below the picture either email or phone. Also recommended is your address. On the back of your business card you can place your branding statement or leave it blank for “Note section” since people like to make notes. Also suggested is a matte finish so that people can write on it
Some employers might request a portfolio of your work and this can depends on the industry you are in. If you’re in the arts or journalism this may be necessary to showcase your work or writing samples. Consider using digication.com
For additional information, please contact us.