First impressions matter. Your resume and cover letter are frequently the first and only chance you have to grab the attention of a potential employer. On average, employers admit to spending less than 30 seconds scanning a resume because they have so many to review.
Many industries now use Application Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter resumes and applications based on keyword searches to identify an initial pool of qualified applicants.
Now more than ever, you need a well-crafted resume and cover letter to make sure you reach the top of the interview list. So where do you begin?
An effective resume offers a simple and clear outline of your education, experience, activities, accomplishments and skills as they pertain to your career goals. It should be easy to read and emphasize specific accomplishments, skills and potential contributions relative to the requirements and expectations of a particular field or position. The steps below outline an easy to follow process for developing and designing an effective resume.
Complete the “Creating a Resume” online module. Once you’ve completed this, use the Resume Development Worksheet to begin developing and organizing your content.
Create a first draft. Once you’ve completed the Resume Development Worksheet, use this information to begin a first draft of your content. We recommend following the general outline linked below to organize your first draft. View the sample resumes as well as the demo videos to help you complete this if needed.
Customize your resume. The initial draft of your resume is the platform from which you’ll customize future resumes to meet the expectations of specific positions. Well before you apply for a specific position you should research the industry needs and expectations to make sure you include the skills and key words used in that field. Visiting industry related websites and reviewing job descriptions of companies in your field is a great way to begin. Look for industry buzzwords and lingo to make sure your resume matches their vocabulary. Talk to employers in your field well before you begin applying to find out directly from them what they look for most often.
At times, specific disciplines require a resume that includes additional information to a general resume example. Use the guides and samples below to assist you with developing a specialized resume. Please note that the following information is intended to be an addition to your foundation of knowledge about resumes, so be sure to review all general resume information first.
Curriculum Vitae, or a CV is a detailed resume used in many academic fields. Specific information about research, publications, presentations or classes taught are provided in detail in a CV.
Review and polish your resume. Make sure you’ve included the relevant information you want to convey. Proofread carefully. Your resume should contain no grammatical, punctuation or capitalization errors. Make sure you are consistent in your formatting throughout. At this point, it’s time to invite others to read and critique your resume to help you finalize it before submitting it to employers. You may want to share this with your parents, professors or someone working in the field you are applying to for feedback. Contact the Center for Personal and Professional Development to schedule an appointment with one of our staff to help you finalize your resume. Log on to WebbWorks or email us for an appointment.
Using your resume. Once you’ve finalized your resume, you may begin submitting it to potential employers or using its content to complete online applications. Make sure you follow the specific guidelines employers request when submitting. Preferences and expectations will vary by company and industry, so be attentive to these.
It’s a good idea to convert your Word document into a PDF to retain the original formatting when sending as an attachment. We suggest you save it as yourname.pdf to make it easy for employers to identify. You should backup your resume document and customized versions you create for easy access. You’ll need to continue to customize your resume for specific positions. Keep it up to date as you gain relevant education, experience, skills and accolades.
Consider the cover letter as an introduction to your resume where you are able to give specific information about how you align with the job description. Use the same heading and contact information, font, and formatting from your resume so your cover letter is consistent (see example). Be strategic and highlight your strengths, how you will be a good fit for the position, and why you are interested. Carefully proofread your document for grammatical errors, etc.
References should be a separate document from your resume and submitted when requested by the employer. Use the same heading and contact information, font and formatting from your resume so your reference page is consistent. Include the references name, phone number, email and address (if applicable). Try to use only professional references unless a personal reference is requested by the employer. Provide 3-5 references. Before including a reference, be sure to ask the professional if he or she is willing to serve as a reference and consider who will be a good choice to speak to your skills and accomplishments in the workplace.