When graduating from college and stepping out into the real world, a good cover letter and résumé could mean the difference of being employed or jobless.
What most students do not realize is that a résumé and cover letter represents who you are and works as a stepping-stone to gain an interview.
“Your résumé represents who you are before you get a chance to meet face to face,” says Andrew Cronan, assistant director at Career Development Services. “So you must be concise and to the point without lying.”
Career Development Services, located on the second floor of Mitten Hall, assists students in revising or critiquing résumés and cover letters. The center offers express service and students are welcome to drop in anytime. The resources are sound and complete with experienced professionals.
Cronan offers some good tips on the do’s and don’ts for a complete résumé and cover letter.
“Never ever have typos in your résumé,” he said. “A great way to make sure there are no mistakes is to read it backwards. If you start at the end of the document and read to the beginning, you will be forced to look at it in a different way and mistakes will stand out.”
Most employers are looking for a solid GPA, preferably above a 3.0. If you do not have a cumulative GPA over 3.0, Cronan suggests calculating the GPA for your major.
Other things employers are looking for is relevant work experience including a co-op, part-time job or an internship.
Another part of your résumé should include Leadership/Teamwork abilities. “Always use the 20-80 rule. Which means 20 percent of people do 80 percent of the work, so if you’ve held leadership positions it is best to mention them,” said Cronan. It is more effective to include titles.
Another part that can be added to the résumé is cross-cultural skills including a fluent second language or a study abroad experience. Since the United States is such a melting pot, cross-language communication becomes vital in the workplace.
Along with a proper heading, which includes contact information, these other parts are the start to a complete résumé.
“In writing a cover letter, it is important to remember that this is not the place to sell yourself,” said Cronan.
The first paragraph of the cover letter should state your mission. This first paragraph usually determines the effectiveness of the letter, so it should be “to the point.” The second paragraph is the theme, and it should include positive characteristics about yourself that would prove beneficial for the position. The third paragraph should re-iterate the contact information, usually your most reliable e-mail or phone number.
In writing cover letters and résumés, it is important to remember that you are representing yourself. With help from Cronan and the staff at Career Development Services, the perfect cover letter and résumé are within your reach.
“Students could use the services more. We’re here to help you, we’re not over-taxed and our resources are sound,” said Cronan.
For tips on how to write an outstanding cover letter and résumé, check out these Web sites: