Preparing your job application materials is an important step to gaining employment. Your resume, cover letters, and correspondence are opportunities to showcase your strengths, skills, and experience.
Each material you provide a recruiter and/or hiring manager throughout the hiring process is a chance to communicate what you will bring to the role. The Career Center can provide you with guidance and resources to help you with this important step in your job search.
Writing Your Resume
Your resume is a marketing tool that provides the reader with a clear and concise presentation of your professional experiences, background, and skills and highlights your qualities that are particularly relevant to the position you are seeking. Although resumes do not secure jobs, they can open doors to the interviews you want. The time and effort you devote to preparing your resume is a worthwhile investment in your future.
Since resumes are unique to the individual, there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to approach developing your summary. A resume can only be effective or ineffective.
Getting Started on Your Resume
Before you begin writing your resume, reflect and ask yourself the following questions:
- What educational experiences do I want to include?
- Do I have any special training?
- What jobs have I held?
- Do I want to include any internships or volunteer experiences?
- What skills, knowledge or abilities have I developed that are related to the positions I am seeking?
- What other unique experiences (study abroad, travel, awards, honors, etc.) set me apart from other candidates?
- Contact Information
- Activities and Honors
Additional headings to consider include:
- Technical Skills
- Clinical Experience
- Volunteer Experience
- Projects & Publications
- Tailor your resume for each occupation or job. Use language found in the position description and list relevant experiences near the top. You’ll end up having multiple resume drafts as you update them for different positions and as you add/replace experiences over time.
- The rule of thumb on the length of resumes is to keep it to one page. For some fields, such as teaching or nursing, two pages may be appropriate. LinkedIn is a place you can have expanded content beyond your resume.
- Quantify your accomplishments where possible. Highlight results and significant achievements.
- Be consistent in your style, verb tense, spacing, highlighting, and underlining. Do not mix too many font styles and sizes.
- Proofread your resume carefully! Spelling errors or typos may take your resume out of consideration.
Additional Resume Resources
Write a Cover Letter
If an employer requests or provides an opportunity to submit a cover letter this is a great opportunity to provide a sample of your writing, highlight some of your most relevant experiences and transferable skills, and express your interest in the specific opportunity and company.
Getting Started on Your Cover Letter
Address your letter to a specific person by name and title. If you do not have this information, look up the company on Handshake or LinkedIn to see if you can find the name of someone on the recruiting/talent team. Make sure you double-check the posting to see if there is a contact person listed. If a name is not available, use a gender-neutral title such as Employment Representative or Director of Human Resources.
Immediately come to the point. Reveal your purpose in writing. Identify yourself and the position for which you are applying, along with how you found out about the opening. End with a specific reason why that company/organization is a place where you would like to work (company values/mission, geographic location, reputation in the industry, something unique about their culture, etc.).
Body or Middle Paragraph(s)
Tell them what “sets you apart” and be explicit about how your strengths, experiences, and qualifications match the position description. Don’t just put your resume into paragraph form; make sure you make the connections for the employer between what you bring and how that meets their needs. Use language/terms directly from the job/internship posting.
- Outline your strongest qualifications that match the position requirements.
- Mention aspects of your work experiences, extracurricular activities, course work, or personal achievements that are relevant to the position.
- Share examples of how your experiences have helped to develop skills needed for the position.
- Convince the employer that you have the qualities and motivation to perform well in the position.
Show appreciation to your readers for their time and consideration. Also remind them you are eager to continue the conversation. Share the best ways to reach you, typically your email and phone number. End with a statement like, “I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
- Each letter should be an original. Duplicated, generic letters are not appropriate.
- A good cover letter will communicate your potential contribution rather than your current needs. Design your letters to be work centered and employer centered, not self-centered.
- Keep the letter to one page. Your letter should be an introduction to your resume, not a review of it.
- Your letter should be free of errors. Proofread. Remember this is a sample of your writing ability.
Additional Cover Letter Resources
Job Search Correspondence
Be attentive to communications that happen after applying. Here are some recommendations to help you send a thank-you, accept an offer, decline an offer, or follow-up to a rejection.
Employer Communication Examples
A thank-you note is used to express appreciation and to strengthen your candidacy. If someone is undecided about hiring you after the interview, a thank-you note might weigh as a positive factor in the decision.
- Convey gratitude for time spent on the interview.
- Email should be sent within 1–2 days.
- Restate your qualifications and interest.
- Indicate interest in hearing from them.
Congrats! Hopefully this is an exciting message to send. To begin with, you should refer to the letter or telephone call you received from your new employer that outlined the position offered and terms of your employment. Your letter of acceptance should confirm your date for reporting to work, as well as salary and benefits information. Express your appreciation and excitement at joining the organization.
- Accept the offer.
- Outline what you understand to be the parameters of your employment (salary, days of vacation, benefits package, compensation for moving, if provided, include details of any negotiated items).
- Confirm your start date.
- Express your appreciation and your pleasure at joining the organization.
It is a matter of common courtesy, as well as good business practice, to notify an employer once you have made a decision to decline an offer of employment. Express your appreciation for the interest and confidence the employer showed in making you an offer.
- Decline the offer.
- Convey your appreciation for the offer and the organization’s interest in you.
- Keep the door open for future opportunities, if applicable.
This is probably the most difficult of all job hunt correspondence to write. In your letter, acknowledge the decision of the employer. Express your thanks for their consideration and be sure to keep the door open to future prospects. While organizations have varying practices in sharing feedback with candidates, it is good to request it. At the very least, this important information will help you prepare for future interviews.
- Acknowledge the employer’s decision.
- Keep future prospects open.
- Request feedback.