Writing Cover Letters and Resumes


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Writing Cover Letters and Resumes

  1. 1. 1 Composing Job Application Materials: Cover Letters & Resumes
  2. 2. Preparing  for  a  Job  Search 2 } Keep  a  professional  data  file  and  update  it  regularly. } Employment } Course  Projects } Volunteer  or  Unpaid  Work  Experience } Awards  /  Activities } Compose  a  working  resume  and  adapt  for  each  application. } Organize  working  resume  using  headings/subheadings.  Write  concise,   detailed  descriptions  of  past  employment,  course  projects,  etc.   } Find  position  descriptions  in  job  announcements. } Internet,  newspaper  classifieds,  UI  Career  Center
  3. 3. 3 Write  a  Targeted  Cover  Letter  and  Resume Recruiters  spend  about  30   seconds  reviewing  a  resume   before  making  a  decision. Maker  sure  your  resume  is   effective  by  tailoring   resume  and  letter  for  the   position.
  4. 4. How  to  Write  a  Targeted  Resume 4 } Analyze  position  description  to  identify  qualifications  and  skill-­‐sets. } Create  a  list  of  qualifications  and  skills  employer  wants  and  in  order   of  importance  in  position  description. } Analyze  your  qualifications  and  skills  -­‐-­‐ what  matches  or  closely   matches  items  on  the  list  from  your  employment  history,   coursework?  Identify  applicable  transferable  skills. } Use  language  from  position  description   } Decide  how  to  organize  body  of  resume.  Adapt  working  resume  by   choosing  those  skill  sets  and  experiences  that  will  target  the   position.
  5. 5. Identify  Your  Transferable  Skills 5 } A  transferable  skill  is  a  skill  you  have  used  in  one  situation   or  experience  that  applies  to  another.     } Identifying  transferable  skills  will  help  you  decide  how  to   organize  the  body  of  your  resume.
  6. 6. 6 Three  Ways  to  Organize  Resume • Chronological • Functional   • Combination
  7. 7. Chronological  Employment  Focus 7 } Lists  and  describes  employment  history  in  reverse   chronological  order  (starting  with  the  most  recent  job).   } Works  well  if  you  have  employment  experience  that  fits   potential  employer  needs.   } Poor  choice  for  recent  graduates  because  a  student’s  job   history  often  reflects  part-­‐time  work  not  in  his/her  field   of  study.  As  a  result,  it  is  difficult  for  a  potential  employer   to  see  how  you  would  fit  the  position  description.
  8. 8. Functional  or  Skills  Focus 8 } Organized  to  emphasize  course  work,  particularly,  large  projects.     Allows  you  to  showcase  the  knowledge  and  skills  you  have   developed  in  pursuing  your  degree  that  fit  position  description. } A  functional  resume  does  not  mean  that  you  should  ignore  your   employment  experience.     } After  all,  if  anyone  has  employed  you,  it  is  relevant  to  a  potential   employer,  but  you  want  to  de-­‐emphasize  those  positions  (such  as   that  pizza  delivery  job,  wait-­‐staff  positions  etc.)  that  do  not  sell  your   qualifications  well.     } Typically,  you  can  list  employment  that  is  not  directly  relevant  at  the   bottom  of  the  resume  and  limit  the  content  (generally,  you  will  want   to  just  state  the  name  of  the  position,  employer,  and  dates  of   employment.
  9. 9. Combination  Employment/Functional  Focus 9 } If  you  have  experience  in  your  field  (such  as  a  previous   internship  experience  or  other  position),  you  may  want  to   choose  a  combination  of  targeted  employment/functional   focus.     } Body  is  organized  around  work  history  that  directly  relates  to   the  position  you  are  applying  for  and  also  includes  a  section   that  emphasizes  course  work,  particularly,  large  projects   where  you  collaborated  with  others.       } Again,  this  type  of  resume  does  not  mean  that  you  leave  off  all   other  employment  experience,  but  you  de-­‐emphasize  it  as  in   the  functional  resume.
  10. 10. 10 Pay  Attention  to  Document  Design Headings/Subheadings Bullet  Points White  Space Horizontal  Lines Typography Color
  11. 11. Resume  Design 11 } Design  for  eye-­‐at-­‐a-­‐glance-­‐appeal.   } Use  headings  and  subheadings. } Bullets } White  Space } Horizontal  lines } Use  keywords  (nouns  and  noun-­‐phrases)  and  specific   descriptions  of  skill  sets  using  strong  verbs.  Write  fragments   not  complete  sentences. } Choose  typography  wisely.    Consider  serif  font  for  headings   and  sub  headings  and  san  serif  for  descriptions.     } If  you  use  a  template,  modify  it,  so  you  don’t  look  like   everyone  else  who  is  using  the  same  template.
  12. 12. Standard  Resume  Sections 12 } Name  and  Contact  Information  (top   heading)   } Objective  (optional) } Education } Awards/Scholarships } Relevant  Courses  (optional) } Body:  Skills  and  Experience } Chronological,  Functional,  or   Combination   } Activities  and  Interests  (optional)
  13. 13. Name  and  Contact  Heading 13 } Include  permanent  and  local  addresses,  e-­‐mail  address,   and  phone  number.   } If  using  two  addresses,  indicate  dates  you  can  be  reached  at   each. } Avoid  centering  all  of  the  information.     } Use  a  table  to  justify  some  information  to  the  left  and   some  to  the  right.    Eliminate  table  borders  when  finished.
  14. 14. 14 Objective  Statement:  Don’ts } How  to  tell  an  employer  you  don’t  really  want  this  job: } Objective:  seeking  position  in  publishing  business  with   opportunities  for  advancement. } How  to  tell  an  employer  you  want  to  use  them. } Objective:  to  gain  useful  tutoring  experience  that  will  help  me   to  become  a  great  teacher.
  15. 15. 15 Objective  Statement  Do’s Objective:  To  produce  effective  technical  documents  that   meet  the  needs  of  audiences. Objective:  Assist  students  to  become  successful  learners   while  challenging  and  expanding  my  knowledge  and   understanding  of  teaching.
  16. 16. Education   16 } Degree  and  Major } Last  degree  earned  first } Do  not  list  high  school  information } Where  Earned   } Graduation  Date } GPA  (if  3.0  or  higher)    
  17. 17. How  to  Write  Your  Degree  Information 17 } Spell  it  Out } Bachelor  of  Arts  in  English,  Literature  Emphasis } Bachelor  of  Arts  in  English } Abbreviate   } B.A.  in  English,  Teaching  Emphasis } B.A.  in  English,  Professional  emphasis
  18. 18. Second  Language 18 Rate  level  of  proficiency • Basic • Conversant • Fluent
  19. 19. Second  Language  levels  of  proficiency   19 } Basic   } Able  to  speak  simple  phrases  and  sentences  to  communicate  basic   communicative  tasks.    May  have  some  difficulty  understanding   native  speakers,  elementary  reading  and  writing  skills. } Conversant } Intermediate  level  of  language  proficiency.    Can  easily  participant  in   conversations  but  may  be  less  skilled  at  reading/writing. } Fluent } A  high  level  of  language  proficiency  (speaking,  reading,  and  writing).
  20. 20. Relevant  Curriculum 20 Relevant  Curriculum  (Optional) } Create  a  list } Use  course  names  not  numbers } Use  table  or  column  feature  to   structure  the  list  into  two  or   three  columns. } Don’t  take  up  valuable  real-­‐ estate  with  your  list.
  21. 21. Resume  Body 21 } Use  keywords  in  headings  and   subheadings. } keywords  are  nouns  or  noun  phrases   that  organize  the  focus  you  have   chosen  for  the  resume.
  22. 22. 22 Descriptions  should  answer: What?  Who?  For  Whom?  Where?  Why?  How? Write  fragments  not  complete  sentences.    Punctuate  consistently. Relevant: • Skills • Experience  (Paid  or  Unpaid) • Course  Work  /  Projects
  23. 23. Example  1:  Prior  Employment 23 Relevant  Employment  History Researcher  and  Writer   Summer  2010 Pennsylvania  Resources  Council                                Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania                   } Compiled  comprehensive  guide  to  recycled  products  for   consumers  and  small  businesses.   Composed  questionnaires   sent  to  over  500  companies  nationwide  for  product   verification;  designed  database  for  storing  information.   } Edited  articles  for  PRC  newsletter.  Researched  legislation  on   environmental  issues;  attended  and  reported  on  EPA   conferences.
  24. 24. Example  2:  Internship  Experience 24 } Engineering  Intern Summer  2008 Energy  Systems Spokane, Washington Assisted  in  the  design  of  transmission  lines  throughout   Washington.  Used  Microstation  to  update  standard  structure   drawings  for  transmission  lines  and  substations.  Completed   an  individual  project  and  gave  a  presentation  at  the   conclusion  of  the  internship.  
  25. 25. Example  3:  Course  Project  Description   25 Writing  Experience } Senior  Capstone  Project.    Collaborated  with  mentors  and   professors  on  campus  to  produce  a  20  page  analytical  report   on  the  topic  of  technical  communication.   Research  included  scholarly  articles,  books,  surveys,  and   interviews  with  professional  writers  across  multiple  disciplines. Analyzed  research  findings  to  identify  and  explain  skills  and   work  ethic  needed  to  be  successful  as  a  technical  writer  across   multiple  emphases.    
  26. 26. Example  4:  Course  Project  Description 26 Wildlife  Course  Projects } Golden  Eagle  Research  Project-­‐ (Fall  2012) } Organized  semester  long  research  on  golden  eagles } Wrote  proposal  for  research } Created  data  analysis  using  Microsoft  excel  and   PopGrowthAnalysis
  27. 27. Example  5:  Course  Project  Description 27 Wastewater  Treatment  Projects   •  Lab  Research  with  Alternative  Carbon  Sources:  Currently   evaluating  PHA  (polyhydroxyalkanoate)  production  in   microbes  utilizing  alternative  carbon  sources,  such  as   glycerol  and  dairy  waste,  in  UI  CE  Environmental  Lab  with   Dr.  Erik  Coats.  Lab  procedures  include  COD,  DO,  pH,  and   solids  testing.  Research  is  conducted  in  academic  journals.  
  28. 28. Review  descriptions  for  this  problem 28 Not  parallel: Responsibilities  included:  recruitment of volunteers;   coordinating  fund-­‐raising;  and  distributed  promotional   materials. Parallel: Responsibilities  included:  recruiting volunteers;  coordinating fund-­‐raising  activities,  and  distributingpromotional  materials.
  29. 29. Additional  Sections 29
  30. 30. Length  of  Resume 30 Page Entry  level  resumes  are  often  one  page,  but  they  may   be  longer.   Page Research  shows  employers  prefer  two-­ pages.  Even  when  they  claim  otherwise. Avoid  crowding  on  a  single  page  or  “padding”  resume  to  meet  two  pages.
  31. 31. References 31 Okay  to  use  if  you  don’t  have  room,  but  most   employers  know  that  references  will  be  given  if   asked,  so  it’s  a  choice.
  32. 32. Cover  Letter 32 • Creates  the  first  impression  of  your  writing  ability. • Sells  your  qualifications. • Targeted  just  like  the  resume.
  33. 33. 33 Use  standard  business  letter  format.    But  .  .  .  .  . A  simple  search  will  yield  hundreds  of  examples.
  34. 34. Consider  using  the  same  heading  from  your   resume. 34
  35. 35. The  Shrinking  English  Sentence 35
  36. 36. Lucius  Adelno  Sherman Analyzed  the  length  of  English   sentences  beginning  with  Pre-­ Elizabethan  times  and  published  his   findings  in: Analytics  of  Literature  (1893) 36
  37. 37. } Pre-­‐Elizabethan 50  words  per  sentence } Elizabethan  Times 45  words  per  sentence } Victorian  Times 29  words  per  sentence } Late  19th Century 23  words  per  sentence } What  do  you  think  it  is  today? 37
  38. 38. Today } Average  written  sentence  length  is: } 14  to  22  words } Average  spoken  sentence  length  is: } 7  to  10  words 38
  39. 39. Writing  a  Cover  Letter } Doesn’t  mean  you  can’t  write  a  sentence  longer  than  22   words,  but  vary  sentence  length. } Keep  paragraphs  short. } Use  single-­‐spacing  for  text  with  one  line  of  white  space   between  paragraphs  (standard  formatting  convention). 39
  40. 40. Here’s  why: 1. A  densely  packed  document  without  short  paragraphs   and  lacking  white  space  is  hard  and  uninviting  to  read. 2. A  document  that  pays  attention  to  sentence  and   paragraph  length  is  easier  to  follow  and  has  a  better   chance  of  keeping  a  reader  interested. 40
  41. 41. 41 Please  accept  this  letter  and  attached  resume  as   my  expressed  interest  in  joining  Q105  FM  as  an   intern  in  the  promotions  department.  As  my   resume  indicates,  I  am  a  candidate  for  a   Bachelor  of  Science  degree  in  Public  Relations   from  the  University  of  Idaho.  My  experience   includes  radio  dispatching,  writing  press  releases   and  promotional  copy,  and  assisting  in   coordinating  press  coverage  of  the  UI  Jazz   Festival  which  attracts  over  15,000  participants.   I  also  have  a  working  knowledge  of  audio/visual   equipment  and  computer  operation  and  have   demonstrated  excellent  verbal  and  interpersonal   skills  in  my  key  leadership  roles  in  the  Public   Relations  Student  Society  of  America  and  my   living  group.  My  leadership  and  technical  writing   skills  make  me  an  excellent  candidate  for  this   position.  I  would  welcome  the  opportunity  to   meet  you  and  further  discuss  my  qualifications.  
  42. 42. 42 Please  accept  this  letter  and  attached  resume  as  my   expressed  interest  in  joining  Q105  FM  as  an  intern  in   the  promotions  department.   As  my  resume  indicates,  I  am  a  candidate  for  a   Bachelor  of  Science  degree  in  Public  Relations  from   the  University  of  Idaho.   My  experience  includes  radio  dispatching,  writing   press  releases   and  promotional  copy,  and  assisting  in   coordinating  press  coverage  of  the  UI  Jazz  Festival   which  attracts  over  15,000  participants. I  also  have  a  working  knowledge  of  audio/visual   equipment  and  computer  operation  and  have   demonstrated  excellent  verbal  and  interpersonal   skills  in  my  key  leadership  roles  in  the  Public   Relations  Student  Society  of  America  and  my  living   group.   My  leadership  and  technical  writing  skills  make  me   an  excellent  candidate  for  this  position.  I  would   welcome  the  opportunity  to  meet  you  and  further   discuss  my  qualifications.  
  43. 43. Writing  a  salutation  (Dear  …..) 43 It’s  not  a  term  of  endearment. Avoid  “To  Whom  It  May  Concern”  (too  generic) Use  Person’s  Name  (if  known)  or  Name  of  Company Avoid  Miss  and  Mrs.  (I  don’t  really  have  to  tell  you  why  do  I?) Avoid  Sir  and  Madam
  44. 44. Writing  the  introductory  paragraph 44 } State  the  position  you  are  applying  for   and  where  you  learned  of  it.     } Helps  the  employer  know  which  ads   drew  the  most  qualified  candidates. } Compose  a  “thesis  statement”  that   serves  to  interest  reader  and  forecast   what  is  in  the  letter.
  45. 45. Example  1:  introductory  paragraph 45 I'm  writing  to  express  my  interest  in  the  Editorial  Assistant   position  listed  on  Monster.com.  I  have  a  bachelor’s  degree  in   English  from  the  University  of  Idaho  where  my  course  work   provided  applied  practice  in  many  areas  important  to  this   position.    I  have  strong  skills  in  writing,  reviewing,  and  editing   a  wide  range  of  documents  for  a  variety  of  audiences  and   purposes.    
  46. 46. Example  2:  introductory  paragraph 46 } I  am  applying  for  the  tutoring  internship  position  posted   at  IndeedJobs.  My  coursework  here  at  the  University  of   Idaho  has  prepared  me  well  for  this  position  and  includes   experience  in  critical  thinking  and  problem  solving,  as   well  as  knowledge  in  providing  help  to  disabled  and  low-­‐ income  individuals.
  47. 47. Example  3:  introductory  paragraph 47 } I  am  applying  for  the  student  practicum  position   recently  posted  at  the  University  of  Idaho’s  College  of   Forestry.  My  coursework  has  prepared  me  well  for   this  position  and  includes  extensive  study  in  all   aspects  of  rangeland  ecology  and  management.    My   senior  class  projects  were  focused  in  areas  important   to  your  organization:  wild  land  vegetation  restoration   and  forest  ecosystem  management.
  48. 48. Example  4:  introductory  paragraph 48 } The  enclosed  materials  are  in  application  of  the   project  engineering  position  recently  posted  in  the   Civil  Engineering  Department  at  the  University  of   Idaho.    My  strong  background  in  construction  and   engineering  education  make  me  well  qualified  for  this   position.
  49. 49. Writing  the  Body  of  Your  Letter 49
  50. 50. Elements  of  the  body  of  your  letter. 50 } Education  – focus  on  advanced  course  work,  particularly   projects. } Employment  – Internships.  Explain  what  you  did.    Be   specific.     } Highlight  accomplishments.    Be  specific. } Avoid  writing  about  your  hobbies  (especially  if  one  of   them    is  hang-­‐gliding)  -­‐-­‐-­‐ J).
  51. 51. Paragraphs  in  your  letter 51 Education:  course  work,  projects,  collaborations. Relevant  employment,   internships,  paid  or  unpaid. Explain  relevant  accomplishments  with  specifics.
  52. 52. Example  1:  paragraph  in  body  of  letter 52 } For  a  professional  writing  course,  I  composed  a  technical   white  paper,  marketing  brochure,  event  flyer,  press   release,  and  a  public  policy  report.     } [Go  into  more  detail  about  one  of  these  that  would  be  of   interest  to  employer.    State  what  you  did,  how,  etc.] } These  and  other  samples  of  my  writing  can  be  viewed  at   my  e-­‐portfolio. Be  certain  to  test  that  the  link  works.
  53. 53. Example  2:  paragraph  in  body  of  letter 53 } As  part  of  course  work  in  education,  I  tutored  third  grade   students  over  a  span  of  four  months  in  reading  and  math.   [describe  a  specific  tutoring  session  you  led].
  54. 54. Example  3:  paragraph  in  body  of  letter 54 } For  one  of  my  most  recent  projects,  I  created  a  shell  to   run  in  a  Linux  environment.  This  shell  supports  path,   history,  and  tripwire  functions.  I  thoroughly  researched   the  strategies  necessary  to  implement  the  shell,  like  to   use  of  fork()  and  exec().  The  result  was  a  shell  that   reliably  executes.
  55. 55. Example  4:  paragraph  in  body  of  letter 55 } For  my  senior  design  project,  my  group  worked  on  a   model  power  system,  and  we  set  up  the  protection   scheme  using  all  SEL  hardware.  We  learned  how  to  use   relays,  switches,  data  concentrators,  security  gateways,   and  how  to  wire  everything  together.
  56. 56. Writing  the 56 } Indicate  when  you  are  available  for  an  interview. } End  on  a  forward  looking  note.
  57. 57. Example  1:  closing   57 } I  am  available  for  an  interview  upon  your  review  of  my   enclosed  resume.    I  welcome  the  opportunity  to  discuss   my  qualifications  for  this  position  in  person.      
  58. 58. Example  2:  closing 58 } In  closing,  I  would  like  to  note  that  I  am  available  anytime   after  11:30  Monday  through  Friday  to  further  discuss  my   qualifications  the  tutoring  position.    I  welcome  the   opportunity  to  contribute  my  tutoring  skills  to  help   students  are  your  school  to  be  successful  life-­‐long   learners.
  59. 59. 59 Closing  Phrase Sincerely is  most  common Best  Regards  (not  bad  but  maybe  not  you)
  60. 60. End  Note 60 } Serves  to  explain  what  is  included  in  your  application.     Place  underneath  your  name. Sincerely, Jane  Doe Enclosed: • Resume • Three  Letters  of  Reference
  61. 61. Signature: 61 When  submitting  to  an   employer  or  graduate   school  Sign  your  letter. If  uploading  or  sending  as   an  attachment,  scan. NOTE:  DO  NOT  NEED  TO  SIGN  YOUR  LETTER  for   the  purposes  of  this  project.  The  information   below  is  for  future  reference.  
  62. 62. Reviewing  Letter  and  Resume 62 } Proofread.  Proofread.    Proofread. } Ask  others  to  review. Where  letters  and  resumes   with  errors  wind  up.