Resume / Cover Letter Preparation
The goal of your resume is to effectively communicate your qualifications to prospective employers. In many cases your resume will determine whether or not you are granted an interview. The resume by itself, however, will not get you a job. If it gets you in the door, then it has served its purpose.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO OFFER?
To develop an effective resume you must first have a thoroughknowledge of the product you are selling - you! What are the talents, skills, accomplishments, and experiencesthat you are marketing? To adequately answer this questionyou may want to sit down with a counselor who will assist you with the self- assessment process.
Once you have clarified what skills and knowledge you have to offer, the next step is learning what qualifications are valued by employers in your field. Do different organizations in the same field look for similar or different qualifications?How much do you know about the position for which you are applying? Are any specific skills stressed inthe job description? Make sure you emphasize the aspectsof your experience which are most relevant to the job.
Visit the Career Resource Center to research your field(s) of interest. For each occupation, try to answer the following questions:
- What are the typical career paths and responsibilities for this occupation?
- What skills and training are required?
Talk to at least three knowledgeable people in your field of interest to supplement
your library research. Consider speaking with panelists, NYU mentors, internship
supervisors, professors, and members of professional associations.
WHAT FORMAT SHOULD I CHOOSE?
There are basically two resume formats—the Chronological and the Functional.
The Chronological resume is arranged in time order, with one's most recent experience listed first. This format works well for students whose work experience is directly related to their professional objective. Chronological resumes are most often used by recent graduates.
The Functional resume is organized according to specific skill categories which allow the writer to highlight particular areas of competency that may have been gained through a wide variety of experiences. This style can be beneficial for students whose work experience is not directly related to the career field which they have chosen to pursue.
HOW LONG SHOULD MY RESUME BE?
A resume is a summary of your relevant qualifications and is most effective when concise and direct. For most fields, a one-page resume is standard. However, consult with a career counselor regarding your particular situation.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SAY IT?
The best resume is clearly written and speaks the language of the employer. Avoid repetition, wordiness, cryptic abbreviations, and jargon. Start your phrases with action verbs.
ARE LOOKS IMPORTANT?
Although your resume's content is paramount, its appearance can determine whether or not it gets read.
Your resume must look professional. It should be printed on high quality paper of neutral color with high quality print (we recommend laser printing). Make the resume inviting, but not flashy.
WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE?
- Name, Address (local and/or permanent), Phone Number (day and/or evening), Cell or Mobile, and E-Mail.
- Objective (optional)—What is your job objective for this resume (e.g., paralegal, editor, finance intern)?
- Education—List the schools you attended (with dates, degrees, honors), classes you have completed that are relevant to your objective (you may want to describe any special projects, papers, or presentations that were part of your coursework). You may want to include your GPA if it is over 3.0.
- Experience—List the positions you have held (include paid, volunteer, and intern positions).
Arrange these in reverse chronological order and for each position, ask yourself:
- What were my major accomplishments? (if possible,quantify)
- What were my main responsibilities? What skills did I acquire, improve, utilize?
- What special knowledge did I gain?
- Activities (optional)—Were you a member of any clubs? What about other on- or off-campus organizations (e.g., fraternities, student publications, charitable groups, etc.)? Were you a member of any athletic teams? Were you elected or appointed as an officer of a club organization? Describe your accomplishments in the above activities.
- Skills (optional)—What skills do you possess (e.g., language ability, computer skills, and other technical skills)?
- Interests (optional)—What do you like to do outside of work and school? Are you a weekend athlete or a midnight Mozart? Be specific.
COVER AND THANK YOU LETTERS
The cover letter is probably the most underrated componentof the job search. This is true whether you are applyingfor positions via email or standard mail. If written well, itcan pique the curiosity of the employer and motivate him/her to carefully read your resume. If written poorly, the resumemay never get read. Be sure to include a cover letterevery time you send a resume, unless you are using InterviewNet(for on-campus recruitment).
Write to a specific individual—use "Dear Sir or Madam" if it is impossible to get a contact name. Tailor your letters—donot mass produce them. Keep it brief—three or four paragraphswill suffice. Use paper and font type which matchyour resume.
HOW DO I START?
Your introduction should answer the following:
- For what position are you applying?
- How did you hear about it (e.g., through a friend, an ad, Career Services, etc.)?
- What is/was your major and degree?
- What is/was your graduation date?
THE BODY OF THE LETTER=YOUR SALES PITCH (sample)
This is where you need to describe your strengths (specific skills, personal attributes, experience) and relate them to the requirements of the position. You may emphasize some items from your resume, but try not to be too redundant. Use specific examples from your academic or work experience that address the employer's stated requirements. Be sure to thoroughly research the employer. Your letter should show that you are a “good fit” with the mission and culture of the organization.
THE FINAL PARAGRAPH
Close by requesting an interview. Lastly, always thank the employer for his/her consideration and mention that you are looking forward to hearing from them.
THANK YOU LETTERS (sample)
Send a thank you letter to everyone who interviews you. The letter is an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position and to show your appreciation for the interviewer's time. This will also contribute to your leaving a positive impression with the employer. The letter should be brief, only 2-3 paragraphs, and should be sent within 48 hours of the actual interview. You should also send thank you letters to anyone who has assisted you with your job search.
Emphasize the skills that you have and demonstrate how they relate to the position. Remember to state what you can do for the organization, as opposed to what the organization can do for you. Additionally, you may want to remind the reader of an important point you made in the interview or mention something you may have neglected to discuss in the interview.