Writing a Cover Letter and Resume
How Do I Write a Cover Letter?
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter, or letter of interest, is essential to include when not hand delivering your resume. The letter needs to include an introduction of yourself and your resume, while explaining both your reasons for writing and your qualifications for the position.
It is important that your cover letter is typed in business format and printed on the same color and quality of paper as your resume. Be sure not to write a general or generic cover letter and send it to multiple employers; they can quickly spot a form letter! Always tailor your letter to the employer and position for which you are applying.
What should I include in my cover letter?
Call the employer and request the name, spelling and title of the person responsible for hiring professionals in your area of interest. Address your cover letter to a particular individual; do not state "To Whom It May Concern." If the employer has stated "no phone calls" be sure to honor their request. If you cannot get the employer's name, address your salutation to the title of the person, e.g. "Dear Project Manager." As a last resort use "Dear Sir or Ms."
In the opening sentence of your letter, your purpose or objective should be clearly stated. Be sure to specifically name the position for which you are applying.
Explain the way in which you heard about the job and why it is of interest to you.
If possible, mention a name. For example, "David Tidwell suggested I contact you regarding the position for . . . ." Make sure you have permission from the person to whom you refer, and that the contact knows the person to whom you are sending your letter.
Show the company or organization to which you are applying that you are familiar with its product or progress. Indicate what makes this employer one you would like to work for. For example, discuss that you are familiar with their future plans or current issues or problems and demonstrate your willingness to assist.
Highlight your strengths which qualify you specifically for this job. It can also be effective to expand on one or two related experiences listed in your resume. Be very careful not to reiterate information already provided in your resume.
Your letter should conclude thanking the employer for their consideration and time and finally requesting an interview.
Be sure to include your own contact information on both your cover letter and resume. This is essential in case your resume and cover letter become separated.
How Do I Write a Resume?
What Is a Resume?
Your resume will serve as your "product label." It outlines your qualifications and skills. Its primary function is to get you an interview. It should succinctly summarize your qualifications and experience for a potential employer and make him or her interested in finding out more about you. In combination with a good cover letter and appropriate personal contact, a well-written resume will help you to get the interview you want.
How Do I Write a Resume?
Your employment information should provide details describing your employer in terms of employee or revenue size.
Detail your responsibilities and accomplishments.
A summarizing statement at the top can be helpful to direct the reader. Three or four lines summarizing your relevant experience can attract the reader's attention.
Your resume should be tailored to the type of position for which you are applying. The more specific your resume, the more clearly it will communicate your ability. Emphasize your education, experience and the skills that are particularly relevant to the position. Be sure to write each resume with the individual employer in mind. Tailor it to his/her specific needs and requirements.
Your resume should accurately reflect your experience, education and qualifications. Promote yourself and be truthful. It is important that you feel confident about everything you include on your resume.
Components of a Resume
- Contact Information
- Objective Statement
- Background Summary
- Work Experience
- Education and Training
A Few Guidelines for Experienced Alumni
As someone who has gained a few more years of experience in the working world, your resume can be longer than one page in order to include experience, professional accomplishments, and memberships in organizations.
The more relevant information should be placed at the top of your resume. If you have recently finished an undergraduate or graduate program you will want the education portion of your resume to precede your experience. If your experience will be a more valuable tool your experience should precede your educational training.
If you are an alum who has graduated within the past five years, you may call the Career Development Center to make an appointment to review your resume. The staff will be able to look at your resume and provide suggestions and feedback. The staff will also give you suggestions on items to include or exclude and ways you can improve your writing and formatting. You may fax your resume to the Career Services Office or reach them by phone at (949) 214-3042, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.