Your cover letter and resume are your most important tools for landing an interview with a potential employer. The first contact employers will have with you is through your cover letter and resume. Your skills and experience are obviously important but these can only be conveyed through how you present yourself via the written word.
What to Include in a Resume?
To start, you might review other resumes that have similar skillsets as yours. Viewing sample resumes can help you see what formats and writing styles are effective for your specialized area. There are also several resume types to consider, depending on your experience and skill sets: Chronological, Functional, Combination, and Targeted.
Components of a Resume
- Professional Summary
The Professional Summary section of a resume is an optional customized section that lists your key achievements, skills, and experience relevant to the position for which you are applying.
The experience section of your resume includes your employment history. List the companies or organizations you worked for, dates of employment, the positions you held and a bulleted list of responsibilities and achievements. As a rule of thumb, place the jobs you have had in chronological order, however, if you have job experience more relevant to the new job you are seeking, then place this at the top of your list.
In the education section, list the schools you attended, the degrees you attained, and any special awards and honors you earned. Also include professional development coursework and certifications.
The skills section of your resume includes your abilities that are related to the jobs you are applying for. Include skills that are relevant to the position or career field that you are interested in, i.e. computer skills, software skills, and/or language skills.
Your resume should include the same keywords that appear in job descriptions. When you do this, you will increase your chances of your resume matching available positions - and of you being selected for an interview.
- Skills List
Another approach is to list all your technical skills and highlight them at the top of your resume. If you have special software skills or tools, for example, then you should take advantage of that and place that skill at the top of your list.
Why should I use a resume along with my application?
A resume can help the human resource staff and the hiring supervisor understand what skills, experience, and education you have that are relevant to a job. A well-written resume makes your application look more professional. You can use a resume to demonstrate your communication skills.
What should I include in my resume?
Use your resume to target your job search. Include relevant job history, education, volunteer experience, and memberships/associations. Use your resume to highlight important work experience and skills. Do not include information regarding marital status, parental status, religious affiliation, photos, age, or weight.
- Use action verbs such as "developed," "managed," "coordinated," and "maintained."
- Don't use the first person pronoun "I." Instead of saying: "I demonstrated professionalism and organization...," say: "Demonstrated professionalism and organization..."
- Use your own words to explain your experience
- Proofread very carefully.
- Keep your name, phone number and address current.
- Include dates of employment in a month/year format and be consistent (05/02 – 08/02).
- Include References. Use a separate sheet if necessary.
- Use 1" margins on all sides.
- Use a standard font that is easy to read.
- Use Headers and Subheads (bolded and italic fonts) to highlight information.
- Leave plenty of white space between sections.
- Don't label your resume. The title "Resume" is unnecessary.
- Keep your resume to 1 page.
Why should I include a cover letter along with my application?
A cover letter can be a helpful tool to highlight your skills. Use a cover letter to show how your skills are appropriate for the job. A cover letter can also be used as a marketing tool – think of it as your personal sales brochure! You should use a cover letter anytime you use a resume.
Can I use one standard cover letter on each of my applications?
You need to submit a separate cover letter for each application. The cover letter is the primary way to interest employers in your skills and how you are suited to the particular job.
What information do I include in my cover letter?
- Identify the job for which you are applying. Include the title and vacancy number.
- Mention where you found out about the job (newspaper ad, web page, etc.). If you were referred by someone, mention that person.
- Briefly highlight your skills and experience. Use only selected information in your resume.
- Tell the employer what he or she will gain by hiring you.
- Close your letter by stating that you are eager to speak with the employer about what you can bring to their organization and mention how you can be reached by phone or email.
Use a standard business letter format.
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