Resume and cover letter writing

 

The resume

When applying to graduate school, searching for an internship, or looking for full-time employment, a superior resume is an important tool. Use these resources to guide you as you write your resume.

Keep it professional

  • Always list information in reverse chronological order: present to past.
  • List all qualifications in order of relevance, from most to least.
  • References will be on the reference sheet, not directly on the resume. Use organizations not names of references.
  • Leave “what I like to do for fun” and hobbies off.
  • Double check grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Choose high quality paper in white, off-white or other conservative colors. Resume paper is available at the Concordia bookstore, Kinko’s and other paper stores.

Keep it concise

  • Consider what skills the reader is looking use boldfaced or capitalizing words to clarify.
  • Never use sentences. Use action phrases.
  • Resumes should only be one page.
  • Omit needless items.

 

Resume formats

Generally, there are three formats for resumes: Chronological, functional, and combination.

The chronological style is an account of positions you’ve held, what employers you’ve worked for, and your achievements in those positions. The account is listed in reverse chronological order. This style is common among recent graduates and those searching for a new job in the same profession.

The functional style, on the other hand, places the emphasis on what you've accomplished and de-emphasizes where you did it. This allows you to organize a variety of experiences, according to specific skills. Past employers are listed on the resume, but near the bottom, indicating only the employer's name, the candidate's position title, and the dates of employment. The functional style is commonly used by those changing careers. This style allows them to demonstrate how transferable their skills are from one setting to another. It is also used by someone who is re-entering the work force after a period of absence.

The third style is the combination resume. Job seekers using this style merge the elements of each of the other styles. They will include an overview or summary of qualifications at the beginning, in which they stress their skills and characteristics appropriate for the position, but they revert to the reverse chronological style for the remainder of the document. This overview section is used to "set the scene" so that the resume is read from a particular perspective.

(Adapted from http://www.unl.edu/careers/prepare/resume.htm.)

Reference list

This page should look very similar to the resume. The same header should be used, containing the same information. Helpful hints:

  • Always talk to your references before you put them on your list.
  • You should always have at least 3 no more than 5 references.
  • Do not use personal references, instead use previous employers or individuals who know your work abilities.
  • Make sure you have the exact title of your references and the correct spelling of names, etc. on the reference sheet. If you sell your references short, you'll be selling yourself short.
  • Here is a list of how your references should be presented:
  • Name
    Title
    Organization
    Complete address
    Phone
    E-mail

     

Cover letter

A cover letter should accompany each resume. It should be brief, businesslike, and addressed to a specific person. The purpose of a cover letter is to serve as an introduction to the resume. It should contain where you heard of the position, when you will be available for employment, why you are qualified for the position, and should end with a request for an interview.

  • A resume should never travel alone. Always send a cover letter with a resume.
  • Use the same paper as you did on the resume and the reference page. Also, use the same header. This will make your information look professional and organized.
  • Keep the cover letter short and to the point. Include information that would not be included on the resume, but would be relevant to the available position.
  • At the end of the resume, thank the individual for their time, and let them know you will be in touch. Never tell them you will wait for their call. More than likely, you will be waiting a long time.

Most cover letters consist of two to four paragraphs, in which you do the following:

  • State that you would like to work for the company, making sure to mention the company by name. This personalizes your letter and resume. Also, mention where you heard of the position.
  • Tell them what you want to do for their company. Give specific examples and try not to reiterate what was said on your resume.
  • Tell them how their organization will benefit from you and your skills.
  • Request an interview. Let them know when you will be available to speak to them and that you will be in touch to verify receipt of the resume.
  • Thank them for their consideration.