Crash course: Writing a Winning Application


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Supplemental slides from UBC Career Services' Crash Course on Careers

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Crash course: Writing a Winning Application

  1. 1. crash courseon careersWRITING A WINNING APPLICATION
  2. 2. WHAT ARE EMPLOYERS LOOKING FOR?Photo credit: Okko Pyykko via Flickr
  3. 3. Employers expectations• Employers do not expect you to have 5+ years of working experience as a new grad
  4. 4. Employers expectations• New grads typically have 0-2 years of related experience considering their: – Labs, group projects, individual classes, volunteering, internships, family business help, work study, part-time work, summer jobs, co-op
  5. 5. Employer expectations• Not everyone has done all of these experiences, but usually some people have had one during their studies – Labs, group projects, individual classes, volunteering, internships, family business help, work study, part-time work, summer jobs, co-op
  6. 6. HOW DO EMPLOYERS SELECT CANDIDATES?Photo credit: Alex012 via Flickr
  7. 7. Criteria for selecting interviewees• Employers will usually judge candidates on their resume and cover letter• They are looking for candidates that – Meet 50-75% or more of the qualifications – Demonstrate relevant experience for the particular position – Write a unique and customized resume and cover letter for each particular position
  8. 8. TARGETING YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTERPhoto credit: leeroy09481 via Flickr
  9. 9. Now… lets look at your documents• How many times did you send out the same resume?• How many times have you used the same cover letter?
  10. 10. What your resume maylook like now
  11. 11. Targeting Your Resume• In order to emphasize your most relevant skills and experiences, first think of yourself as the hiring manager.• Write a list of all the detailed skills an ideal candidate would have. Be really specific here. • Avoid “communication skills” on your list. They may have listed this, but get more specific. • Think about what kind of communication you would need to do in this job… – Communicate within a team? Communicate with clients? Write technical reports? Prepare presentations?
  12. 12. How do you share this experience?• With your detailed list of skills, emphasize which skills you have that this particular employer is looking for Job My Skills Skills
  13. 13. Writing it on your resume• You can summarize your skills at the top of your resume in the “Summary of Skills” or “Highlights of Qualifications” or “Profile” section• Also add technical skills, language skills, or other certifications that may be useful (First Aid, HAACP, WHIMIS, Driver’s License, etc.)• Avoid highlighting points like “Honest,” “Dependable” unless asked for in the posting
  14. 14. Writing it on your resume• Consider changing your “work experience” and “volunteer experience” categories – Some options are: • Relevant Experience / Additional Experience • Laboratory Experience / On Campus Involvement • Professional Experience / Community Involvement • Academic Experience / Volunteer Experience
  15. 15. Writing it on your resume• If you plan on applying for a job that requires your lab skills and technical knowledge, you’ll want to write them in two sections:1) Below your “Highlights” section include a “Technical Skills Summary”2) Place your most relevant experience in a heading after your education on the first page (i.e. Laboratory Experience, or Related Experience, etc.)
  16. 16. Example of Lab Class on Resume• Here is a sample resume section• Note a few things that they have chosen to share with employers and HOW they have done it Heading is relevant to the job Course Title and Year is used Description of work performed
  17. 17. Example of Coursework on Resume Heading is relevant to the job Highlights accomplishment and shows relevance for job being applied for
  18. 18. Example of Special Projects in Class Course Title and Year is used Description of work performed And project that makes class relevant to job being applied for
  19. 19. Example of Involvement on Campus Description of work performed And project that makes experience relevant to job being applied for
  20. 20. PRIORITIZING CONTENT ON YOUR RESUMEPhoto credit: pshutterbug via Flickr
  21. 21. 1. NAME – Make it big andnoticeable2. Objective – List the jobtitle and employer. Keep itshort and sweet3. Skills – Target the job.Prioritize your skills from theemployers point of view4. Formatting – Useconsistent formatting in youreducation and experiencesections4. Experience – Bring yourmost relevant experience on tothe first page in one section.Order all of the experience inthis section by reverse-chronological order.
  22. 22. MAKING YOUR COVER LETTERS STAND OUTPhoto credit: derekGavey via Flickr
  23. 23. Employers get bored• 90% of cover letters look exactly the same• Nearly every cover letter has this sentence on it: – “I feel that my academic background and skills are a good fit for this position.”
  24. 24. Common Mistakes• Most people try and summarize everything from their resume on to their cover letter – This adds no new information, thus adding no new value of a cover letter to your application• If you try to summarize everything, you end up describing your experience very quickly and with little detail – Employers can read your resume faster than your cover letter. Its formatted to be read quickly with bullets and small sections of text
  25. 25. New Approach• Take the time to write more detail in to your cover letters – as if you were practicing for the interview• Delete the general or introductory sentences. Instead, get more specific within the one page limit
  26. 26. Strategy Broken Down• Paragraph One: – Write down which position you are applying for. In one or two sentences explain why you’ve picked this kind of work over any other option in the world• Paragraph Two/Three: – Take your two best skills for this job, and tell me about a time when you used those skills. Get into more detail than what I can read on your resume. Tell me about a particular aspect of the project you worked on. Tell me about a particular day that went really well. Tell me about one of the biggest road bumps you hit and how you overcame it. – Imagine that I am sitting in front of you and you are telling me the story as if you were in an interview – This usually takes 5-7 sentences• Paragraph Four: – Describe why you’ve picked this employer. What do you know sets them apart? How can you contribute to the team? – Try looking at the company on LinkedIn for interesting stats and information about their staff (it’s a lot like Facebook stalking)• Paragraph Five: ― Request an opportunity for an interview.
  27. 27. SampleCover Letter
  28. 28. Final Tips• Resumes – Bring only your relevant experience together – Target your resume with the specific information that the employer is looking for• Cover Letters – Get specific with an example to demonstrate your skills – Expand on content from your resume – Avoid some of the general sentences or phrases that waste valuable space