Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Tips
Guide to Writing a Resume
Begin by doing everything possible to discover what the organization's looking for. The posted job description will reveal the initial clues.
- Read whatever information is supplied carefully, maybe asking someone you know to read it and verify your understanding.
- Discuss your impressions with a mentor or with someone from the Career Development Center to arrive at a clear understanding of what the employer is seeking.
- Study the organization's web site.
- Research the organization using outside sources.
- Discover whatever insider information you can via people you know.
Once you have a pretty clear idea of what they're seeking, your mission is clear: Address every aspect of the job requirements in your resume (and cover letter), and convince the reader to conclude that you definitely ought to be invited in for an interview. Another way to look at it: Don't give them a reason not to call you.
Remember: Many hiring managers and recruiters approach the task of sifting through sometimes hundreds of resumes by looking for red flags — instant disqualifiers such as lack of basic requirements, atrocious writing, sloppy mistakes, etc. These jump off the page in a few seconds and prevent good points from being taken seriously. So, the harder the readers have to search for red flags, the longer they'll end up spending on your resume and the greater the chances you'll make a favorable impression.
Once you're clear on the job description and organization, it's time to get to the actual writing. Again, remember that you will write several resumes, so discard immediately the notion that your goal here is to produce the perfect resume. It truly is a work in progress, and no matter how much effort you put into it now and how fantastic it may turn out to be, it'll be outdated in a few months.
You might find it easiest, as you start writing, to err on the side of overwriting. Include everything you can possibly think of in your background shows your skills, experience and education.
Next, you'll need to organize the information. There are many possibilities. The key is to keep the needs and interests of your potential readers in mind. Most top-notch resumes include the following sections.
State what you're seeking. Here is an example:
Economics graduate seeking analyst position in small-to mid-size Oregon-based company seeking international business. Particular interest in facilitating cross cultural communications and partnerships. Enjoy providing research and analysis to support business decisions.
Next, highlight the assets you're offering in a profile section. Here is an example:
Graduated magna cum laude. Able to sift through large amounts of data and competing priorities to deliver top-notch results. Speak Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese with native fluency. One-year of study at East China Normal University, plus extensive travel experience in Asia. Facility and interest in using technology to maximize results. Experience using pivot tables and other advanced Excel functions, as well as with using Access and SPSS to analyze data. Fluent with MS Office. Outstanding communication and presentation skills. Experience distilling complex information into readily understandable and compelling conclusions for general and specialized audiences alike.
Your highest level or two of education with some description of courses.
BS, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR | May 2003
Major(s): Economics, Chinese | Minor: Philosophy | Study Abroad, East China Normal University July 2016 – April 2016
Courses in language, culture, economics, and business.
Related Work Experience
The key to a compelling job description is to convey these three messages:
- The facts: your title, employer, location, dates of employment.
- Your job description: a clear sense of your role and responsibilities, including enough information about the work setting itself to allow the reader to grasp the nature of the organization and where you fit in.
- Your accomplishments: things you accomplished for your employer, and for yourself. Even if all you did was pump gas at Chevron, you should be able to articulate things you learned and gained from the experience, so the reader can see that it developed skill and capacity in you. (If you feel that it didn't, then why list it on your resume?)
First Technology Credit Union, Beaverton, Oregon | August 2019 to Present
Human Resources Assistant
Responsible for recruiting process, from initial interview through orientation. Also coordinate and administer benefit packages for 175 employees. Oversee and maintain Human Resource Information System. Assist with dispute resolution. Recently coordinated hiring and orientation process of 8 branches as credit union assets increased from $280 million to $520 million. Administered transition from defined benefit retirement plan to 401K plan. Developed 401K education program and increased participation by 7%. Organized first annual professional development conference among Portland area credit unions. Received 2003 Regional Achievement Award.
If you don't have much to list under the heading of Related Work Experience, then be sure to think broadly about what's "related." Think about s kills and accomplishments and how they relate to your objective —don't just think in terms of job titles. List related experiences of all sorts, not just paying jobs.
Employers like to gain a clear sense of your work history also to verify that you have been working and developing a set of references. If you have other work experiences that round out your background, but don't fit neatly under "Related Work Experience," consider adding an "Additional Experience" section:
Barista, Starbucks Coffee, Beaverton, OR, May 2019 – December 2019
Checker, Albertson's Grocery, Hillsboro, OR, May 2018 – September 2018
Resumes can include many other components, such as Related Courses, Research Experience, Project Experience, Honors and Awards, Committees and Memberships, etc. Visit the Career Development Center for assistance incorporating these elements into your resumes.
What's the difference between a resume and curriculum vitae?
A curriculum vitae (CV) or vita is a different sort of resume. For graduate school applications, it'll frequently be called a vita or vitae. Similar to a resume, you should write a CV with an eye toward putting your best foot forward, but it's expected that it'll be a bit more comprehensive than a typical resume. You'll want to include lots of the academic highlights of your college career that you might not necessarily mention in a resume for a job application. Be sure to get help from professors and career staff if working on a resume or vita for graduate school applications.
More Resources for Resume Writing
Writing a Cover Letter
Crafting a cover letter is another important step of the job-seeking process. We are happy to help guide you in this process — just make an appointment with a career advisor today.
Resources for Cover Letter Writing
Tips for Interviewing
Practice common questions you might receive in an interview with our Prepping for Interview Questions guide or the STAR Method. We've prepared a STAR Method Worksheet and Interview Readiness Worksheet.
We're here to help!
At any stage in your journey, our team is here to offer guidance and resources. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule an appointment online.