Résumés and Letters
Job Search Documents Handbook
View the entire Job Search Documents Handbook 10-24-14 or choose a particular section from the list below.
The résumé is the centerpiece document in any job search. It is the paper employers will rely on the most in deciding if you are a person worth interviewing or not. A résumé by itself will not get you the job, but it can separate you from the thousands of others who might want the same job you want. Because it is so important, you want to take the time required to do an excellent job (mistakes on a résumé can also be embarrassing).
In writing a résumé, the first thing to consider is length. Generally, a résumé is one page. Occasionally, two pages will be appropriate. A young professional should never submit three or more pages.
The second consideration is content. Some experts recommend that a résumé include an objective section. A résumé should be well organized and easy to read.
Remember: a résumé must be perfect. Absolutely no typos, misspellings, or grammatical mistakes allowed!
A résumé is a personal document. It should reflect the person you are, or at least the person you want the employer to believe you are.
A résumé should be a short professional document clearly listing your work and professional history. Personal information such as hobbies or interests, unless it is specifically related to the job, should be omitted.
The traditional cover letter has three parts:
- The opening - This is where you explain why you are writing.
- The body - This is where you tell the person about your qualifications.
- The closing - Explain here how you will follow-up the letter.
There are a number of other things you might want to consider in writing a cover letter:
- Be as brief as you can without omitting information. Employers are busy people and can't or won't take the time to read a very long letter.
- Be specific about the position in which you are interested. It is probably not a good idea to say that you are interested in "any opening you may have" or "whatever positions are available".
- If you know someone in the organization or were recommended by someone, mention their name.
- Don't be shy about citing awards, results, or compliments you might have been given.
- Consider mirroring the words the employer used in the job announcement to describe yourself (but don't copy their announcement word for word).
- Check your spelling and grammar, then check them again. Ask a friend to proofread the letter for you. You are applying for a professional job, so you should sound professional. Along the same line, omit personal stories.
- Don't criticize current or past employers.
- Think like an employer. Ask yourself after reading the letter, "Would I hire this person?"