Preparing for a Job Search
Keep a professional data file and update it regularly.
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
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.
How to Write a Targeted Resume
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
Identify Your Transferable Skills
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.
Three Ways to Organize Resume
Chronological Employment Focus
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.
Functional or Skills Focus
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
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
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
Combination Employment/Functional Focus
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
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.
Pay Attention to Document Design
Design for eye-at-a-glance-appeal.
Use headings and subheadings.
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.
Standard Resume Sections
Name and Contact Information (top heading)
Relevant Courses (optional)
Body: Skills and Experience
Chronological, Functional, or Combination focus
Activities and Interests (optional)
Standard Resume Sections
Name and Contact Information (top
Relevant Courses (optional)
Body: Skills and Experience
Chronological, Functional, or
Activities and Interests (optional)
Name and Contact Heading
Include permanent and local addresses, e-mail address,
and phone number.
If using two addresses, indicate dates you can be reached at
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.
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.
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.
Degree and Major
Last degree earned first
Do not list high school information
GPA (if 3.0 or higher)
How to Write Your Degree Information
Spell it Out
Bachelor of Arts in English, Literature Emphasis
Bachelor of Arts in English
B.A. in English, Teaching Emphasis
B.A. in English, Professional emphasis
Rate level of proficiency
Second Language levels of proficiency
Able to speak simple phrases and sentences to communicate basic
communicative tasks. May have some difficulty understanding
native speakers, elementary reading and writing skills.
Intermediate level of language proficiency. Can easily participant in
conversations but may be less skilled at reading/writing.
A high level of language proficiency (speaking, reading, and writing).
Relevant Curriculum (Optional)
Create a list
Use course names not numbers
Use table or column feature to
structure the list into two or
Don’t take up valuable real-
estate with your list.
Use keywords in headings and
keywords are nouns or noun phrases
that organize the focus you have
chosen for the resume.
Descriptions should answer:
What? Who? For Whom? Where? Why? How?
Write fragments not complete sentences. Punctuate consistently.
• Experience (Paid or Unpaid)
• Course Work / Projects
Example 1: Prior Employment
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
Example 2: Internship Experience
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.
Example 3: Course Project Description
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
Example 4: Course Project Description
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
Example 5: Course Project Description
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.
Review descriptions for this problem
Responsibilities included: recruitment of volunteers;
coordinating fund-raising; and distributed promotional
Responsibilities included: recruiting volunteers; coordinating
fund-raising activities, and distributing promotional materials.
Length of Resume
Entry level resumes are often one page, but they may
Research shows employers prefer two-
pages. Even when they claim otherwise.
Avoid crowding on a single page or “padding” resume to meet two pages.
• Creates the first impression of your writing ability.
• Sells your qualifications.
• Targeted just like the resume.
Use standard business letter format. But . . . . .
A simple search will yield hundreds of examples.
Consider using the same heading from your
Writing a salutation (Dear …..)
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
Writing the introductory paragraph
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.
Example 1: introductory paragraph
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
Example 2: introductory paragraph
I am appyling 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-
Example 3: introductory paragraph
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.
Example 4: introductory paragraph
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
Elements of the body of your letter.
Education – focus on advanced course work, particularly
Employment – Internships. Explain what you did. Be
Highlight accomplishments. Be specific.
Avoid writing about your hobbies (especially if one of
them is hang-gliding) --- ).
Paragraphs in your letter
Education: course work, projects, collaborations.
internships, paid or unpaid.
Explain relevant accomplishments with specifics.
Example 1: paragraph in body of letter
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
Be certain to test that the link works.
Example 2: paragraph in body of letter
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].
Example 3: paragraph in body of letter
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
Example 4: paragraph in body of letter
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.
Indicate when you are available for an interview.
End on a forward looking note.
Example 1: closing
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.
Example 2: closing
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
Sincerely is most common
Best Regards (not bad but maybe not you)
Serves to explain what is included in your application.
Place underneath your name.
• Three Letters of Reference
Sign your letter.
If uploading or sending as
an attachment, scan.
Reviewing Letter and Resume
Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
Ask others to review.
Where letters and resumes
with errors wind up.