Resume and cvletter

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a guide to resume/cover letter writing

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Resume and cvletter

  1. 1. Resume A Google search for "résumé" results in over 178,000,000 hits, whereas "possum" nets only 5,340,000. Thus the documentation of work experience is 33 and 1/3 more popular than arboreal marsupials. But what does this really tell us? Not much, but neither does the average résumé that comes across my desk. Some excerpts: "Administered resolution of issues and implementation of ideas surfaced by individuals." "Partaking in meetings designed to enhance collaboration, identify and develop strategies to ensure success regarding the accomplishment of goals." "Experienced leader with superior interpersonal skills and business acumen talented at building productive relationships across a global organization." Huh? We all know that there are more jobs being lost than created, and that an opening will get dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants. But in our fear to avoid saying anything that might get our résumé tossed out of the pile, we end up saying nothing at all. As a result, the hiring manager feels like she's reading tea leaves, not CVs. One feels forced to come up with arbitrary rules to narrow the field. Nobody with an objective statement, no résumés longer than 3 pages, no serif fonts. I'm not immune. Personally, I look at the width of the dashes. Microsoft Word will helpfully attempt to make a hyphen, n-dash, or m-dash based on the spacing you use when writing . Many people don't know this, and they don't notice that their dashes are all different lengths. Does this mean they are more or less qualified to be a project planner? I don't know, but it's easy for me to say, "If you don't know that your own résumé is inconsistent, how can you be expected to supervise a multi-million dollar project?" Other people have their own peccadilloes. The best you can do is try to achieve the maximum content with minimum peculiarity. Here's a list of nine things to make your résumé stand a better chance of survival:
  2. 2. Heather’s Resume Tips (Frequently asked questions from last year’s class) In general, a resume is a standard ingredient to any job application or interview. It is important that you have a good resume, but I think people will look at your work before they look through your resume. How should I design my resume? Similar to your portfolio, you want to put a little personality into the design of your resume. BUT this is to be done very in a very subtle way…like with a color or a line or a font that you just use for your name. Since we are not graphic designers, to be honest, I would find a great looking resume on line—or a few, and use them as Inspiration (read: copy the parts that you like). Can I print it on pink paper with kittens? Be tasteful in your design, and the fonts and colors you choose. You are a designer, so your resume shouldn’t be in Times New Roman -it is a default type which would communicate that you didn’t consider it at all. But it also shouldn’t be in Hobo either! …think of the basic design principals. Everything should have a purpose. Stay away from clichés, keep it simple. What should I put on my resume? In general, you want to put your contact information, your working experience, your education, and your skills. You can choose to add things like interests, awards, speaking gigs, etc, if you have them. I would be careful about a statement of intent at the top…they can come off as arrogant as everyone knows you are coming out of school, But I don’t have any design jobs… Yes, employers would certainly like to see some internships, but they understand that you are coming out of school and may not have design experience. But think about the jobs you have had, and how what you were doing might relate to design. Like, when you were working at Blockbuster, did you observe customers and re-design the shelf to make more sense for people to use? When you were lifeguarding, were you in-charge of managing the schedule and negotiating tradeoffs between your peers? When you were scooping ice-cream, did you draw the chalkboard specials every day, or name the new flavors? Employers won’t care about the company you worked for, but they could be interested if you tell them a good story about your design sensibilities. My resume is two pages, is that ok? No! Edit your resume so that it fits on one page. Choose your most relevant jobs—this shouldn’t feel like a laundry list of jobs dating back to your lemonade stand. In general, I would be critical of things you want to include from high school. Make sure it is really extraordinary. Ok, I think I’m done… Did you proofread it? Did you give it to a few people to proofread. I can’t tell you how many people handed in their resumes with obvious misspellings. This is a deal-breaker, it shows who ever is reading it that you are careless.
  3. 3. Resume 1. Get the formatting right. Line up bullet points, dates, headings. Wacky spacing will get you questioned about skills that have nothing to do with what you can do on the job. And please learn to put dates flush against the right margin. The right-aligned tab stop remains a mystery as deep as an ocean for many resume writers. 2. Insert dates for everything. If you've got a gap, explain it in your cover letter. But don't leave the dates off a job or a degree. Maybe you're worried they'll think you're too old or too young — but at best you'll look sloppy. At worst, sneaky. 
 
3. Fill up on the buzzwords. Yes, buzzwords are typically "bad" for clarity , but you have to get past the HR department first, and they're screening for matches with the words in the job description. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), consumer goods industry, certified project manager, SPL, BMN, FLB...whatever it is that matches the requirements, put it in. 4. Choose verbs that mean something. "Assisted," "Worked on," "Contributed to" and so on don't convey much to a prospective employer. Instead, say what you did: "Wrote," "Designed," or "Managed." The more specific, the better. 5. Rewrite your résumé for each job application. If you really want a job, your prospective employer isn't going to be impressed by your inability to adjust one 3-page document to meet their needs. Highlight the top 3 to 7 things you've done that match up with the requirements of the job. 6. State career objectives or outside interests — but be very careful. Do you know that they're looking for a "motivated team player who wants to excel in international fashion and likes skiing and hot tubbing?" Great, put that in. Otherwise, save the non-job stuff for the cover letter. Or better yet, the interview .
 
7. The further into your past, the less detail you should have. Don't have 13 bullets on a job from 10 years ago.
 
8. Keep it short. A five-page résumé may be justified, but you've got to make it clear through headings and organization why you need so much space. If you've got a list of publications or industry conferences you've spoken at, great, but put it at the end as a separate section. Consider the résumé of a CEO. He doesn't need to say that he "attended meetings, assigned work" and whatever other tasks. He ran a company. One line. 9. No typos. Your résumé is like the restroom in a restaurant — as Anthony Bourdain says, the one room everyone sees. And if you can't keep that clean, what's it like in the kitchen? What do you think? Are there things you see in résumés that cause you to toss them in the "probably not" pile? Have you ever had your résumé prevent you from getting a job?
  4. 4. Consider a few conflicting thoughts: Over 50% of people lie on their resume. , A Monster.com blog about the dangers of lying on your resume elicited 60 comments from job seekers recommending lying and only 46 discouraging it. Recommenders justified lying by claiming: everyone else is doing it, companies lie about job requirements, and it's hard to get a good job. Executives caught lying on their resumes often lose their jobs. Consider the high profile exits at Radio Shack , MIT , Notre Dame , and Herbalife .If you are reading this blog, you probably are not tempted by outright fabrication. But what about the following: Claiming a degree that was not earned because you did most of the work and were only a few credits short, Creating a more impressive job title because you were already doing all of the work of that position, Claiming a team's contributions as your own, because other members did not carry their weight. Inflating the number of people or range of functions for which you had direct responsibility because you really did have a great deal of influence over them These are called rationalizations - constructing a justification for a decision you suspect is really flawed. By devising specious but self-satisfying reasons for acting you purposefully blur right and wrong. You create a story that is seemingly legitimate, but upon any close examination doesn't hold up. Rationalizations are insidious because you begin to fool yourself. You develop habits of distorted thinking. So where is the line? You need to decide that for yourself. Here are some tests to keep your thinking clear: Other-shoe test. How would you feel if the shoe were on the other foot and you were the hiring manager looking at this resume? What assumptions would you draw and would they be accurate? Front-page test. Would you think the same way if your accomplishment in question were reported on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? Or your prior employer's internal newsletter? But wait, you say. My resume doesn't quite pass these tests, but there is something real underneath my claims, and I do not want to sell myself short. When in doubt, ask an old boss. While asking an old boss may be difficult, it has many benefits. Precisely because it is difficult, it forces you to think clearly and sometimes creatively. Asking also verifies the accuracy of your claims, trains your prior boss in how to represent you during reference checks, and sometimes your old boss may give you better ways to represent yourself. A former VP of Engineering from one of my startups recently asked me if he could call himself a co-founder even though he joined nine months after the company started. Given his months without salary and his co-founder like commitment to the company, I enthusiastically agreed. I now think and talk about his employment differently. But if he had joined a few months later or had been on salary a few months sooner, I would have said "no." What do you think? Is there ever a time when it is ok to lie on a resume? How have you resolved questions of how to tell the best story possible without crossing the line? 
 
Clinton D. Korver is co-author of Ethics for the Real World, to be published by Harvard Business Press June 24, 2008. See www.ethicsfortherealworld.com for more information. He is also CEO of DecisionStreet, which builds online decision tools for consumers and a partner at Decision Quality International, an executive training firm.
  5. 5. <ul><li>Cover Letters </li></ul><ul><li>Explain why you are sending a resume . </li></ul><ul><li>Don't send a resume without a cover letter.  </li></ul><ul><li>Don't make the reader guess what you are asking for; be specific: Do you want a summer internship opportunity, or a permanent position at graduation; are you inquiring about future employment possibilities? </li></ul><ul><li>Tell specifically how you learned about the position or the organization — a flyer posted in your department, a web site, a family friend who works at the organization. It is appropriate to mention the name of someone who suggested that you write. </li></ul><ul><li>Convince the reader to look at your resume. </li></ul><ul><li>The cover letter will be seen first. Therefore, it must be very well written and targeted to that employer. </li></ul><ul><li>Call attention to elements of your background — education, leadership, experience — that are relevant to a position you are seeking. Be as specific as possible, using examples. </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect your attitude, personality, motivation, enthusiasm, and communication skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide or refer to any information specifically requested in a job advertisement that might not be covered in your resume, such as availability date, or reference to an attached writing sample. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate what you will do to follow up: Often, people end with “I look forward to hearing from you”. This puts the burden on the receiver. If you have specific contact information, and the company’s website doesn’t say ‘no calls’, feel free to say something like, “I will call you in the next two weeks to see if you require any additional information and answer any questions you might have” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Cover Letters-format Your Street Address City, State Zip Code Telephone Number Email Address Month, Day, Year Mr./Ms./Dr. FirstName LastName
Title
Name of Organization
Street or P. O. Box Address
City, State Zip Code Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. LastName: Opening paragraph: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself. 2nd paragraph: Tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter). Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume. Refer to the fact that your resume is enclosed. Mention other enclosures if such are required to apply for a position. 3rd paragraph: Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. State what you will do to follow up, such as telephone the employer within two weeks. If you will be in the employer’s location and could offer to schedule a visit, indicate when. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for her/his consideration. Sincerely, (Your handwritten signature) Your name typed Enclosure(s) (refers to resume, etc.)
  7. 7. <ul><li>Cover Letters </li></ul><ul><li>E-2 Apartment Heights Dr. </li></ul><ul><li>Blacksburg, VA 24060 </li></ul><ul><li>(540) 555-0101 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>February 22, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Michael Jr. Rhodes
Principal, Wolftrap Elementary School
1205 Beulah Road
Vienna, VA 22182 </li></ul><ul><li>Dear Dr. Rhodes: </li></ul><ul><li>I enjoyed our conversation on February 18th at the Family and Child Development seminar on teaching young children and appreciated your personal input about helping children attend school for the first time.  This letter is to follow-up about the Fourth Grade Teacher position as discussed at the seminar.  I will be completing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Family and Child Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education at Virginia Tech in May of 2007, and will be available for employment at that time. </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher preparation program at Virginia Tech includes a full academic year of student teaching. Last semester I taught second grade and this semester, fourth grade. These valuable experiences have afforded me the opportunity to: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>develop lesson plans on a wide range of topics and varying levels of academic ability, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>work with emotionally and physically challenged students in a total inclusion program, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>observe and participate in effective classroom management approaches, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>assist with parent-teacher conferences, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>complete In-Service sessions on diversity, math and reading skills, and community relations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Through my early childhood education courses I have had the opportunity to work in a private day care facility, Rainbow Riders Childcare Center, and in Virginia Tech’s Child Development Laboratory.  Both these facilities are NAEYC accredited and adhere to the highest standards.  At both locations, my responsibilities included leading small and large group activities, helping with lunches and snacks, and implementing appropriate activities.  Both experiences also provided me with extensive exposure to the implementation of developmentally appropriate activities and materials. </li></ul><ul><li>I look forward to putting my knowledge and experience into practice in the public school system. Next week I will be in Vienna, and I plan to call you then to answer any questions that you may have.  I can be reached before then at (540) 555-7670.  Thank you for your consideration. </li></ul><ul><li>Sincerely,
(handwritten signature)
Donna Harrington </li></ul><ul><li>Enclosure </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Cover Letters </li></ul><ul><li>The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received </li></ul><ul><li>1:18 PM Monday June 15, 2009  |  Comments (71) </li></ul><ul><li>In my last post I talked about how to make your résumé more likely to catch the attention of a hiring manager . As a follow up, I'd like to discuss cover letters. Here's my basic philosophy on them: don't bother. </li></ul><ul><li>That's because the cover letters I see usually fall into one of three categories: </li></ul><ul><li>The recap: The résumé in prose form. It's redundant, harder to read than the résumé, and provides no additional insight.
 
The form letter: This says, essentially, &quot;Dear Sir or Madam: I saw your ad in the paper and thought you might like me.&quot; And it's clearly a form letter where maybe they got my name and company right. If they're lucky, I will still take the time to read their résumé after being insulted with a form letter.
 
The &quot;I'm crazy&quot;: This one's rare, and it expands on the résumé of experience with some personal insights. Examples range from the merely batty (&quot;I find batik as an art form has taught me to become both a better person and project manager.&quot;) to the truly terrifying (&quot;I cast a pentagram hex and the central line pointed towards your job listing. I know you will find this as comforting as I do.&quot;)
 
There are really only a few times to use a cover letter: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When you know the name of the person hiring, When you know something about the job requirement, When you've been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Under those conditions, you can help your cause by doing some of the résumé analysis for your potential new boss. To illustrate, here's the best cover letter I ever received: </li></ul><ul><li>Dear David: </li></ul><ul><li>I am writing in response to the opening for xxxx, which I believe may report to you. </li></ul><ul><li>I can offer you seven years of experience managing communications for top-tier xxxx firms, excellent project-management skills, and a great eye for detail, all of which should make me an ideal candidate for this opening. </li></ul><ul><li>I have attached my résumé for your review and would welcome the chance to speak with you sometime. </li></ul><ul><li>Best regards, </li></ul><ul><li>Xxxx Xxxx </li></ul><ul><li>Here's what I like about this cover letter: It's short. It sums up the résumé as it relates to the job. It asks for the job. </li></ul><ul><li>The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me. Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on. </li></ul><ul><li>And that means the writer isn't just showing me skills related to the job, he's showing me he'll be the kind of employee who offers up solutions — instead of just laying problems on my desk. </li></ul><ul><li>What do you think? Have you ever secured a job thanks to a cover letter? What's your view on the value — or lack thereof — of cover letters? </li></ul>

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