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A good resume is the most important thing to have when you begin your job or internship search. Before you ever meet a potential employer you will likely be judged by your resume.

Everyone knows the basics of what to put on a resume: job experience, skills, education, your name and contact information. It never feels that easy though. How does one make their retail experience coincide with a marketing position they are applying for? How do people get hired for a job or internship when they have only worked as a babysitter or mowing lawns?

UH Career Services exists to help with these problems. Not only do they offer templates and worksheets to help you write your resume, but also a Curriculum Vitae and a cover letter, a notoriously strenuous thing to write. These worksheets are accessible through their website, but you can also schedule time to talk about your resume with those at Career Services.

Using their resources, we are going to break down what makes a good resume, CV and cover letter.

Resumes

There are a lot of templates to follow for resumes, but it is quite easy to make your own in Word, Google Docs, Canva, literally any program you know how to navigate. If we follow the Career Services resume template we start with our name, contact information and a LinkedIn profile link.

After this, add your education experience. Once you have completed your first year in college the classes and activities you did in high school don’t really matter, so don’t include those in your resume. You also have the option of adding your GPA, but they only recommend doing so if you have a 3.0 or higher.

Next, you can add relevant courses and academic projects you’ve completed to your resume. This serves to show that outside of obtaining a degree, or working towards that, you have experience in the realm of your potential job, even if you haven’t worked in that sector yet.

When it comes to finally adding your experience, there are many types of experience you can include. Whether it be traditional work experience, research you’ve done, leadership positions you had, or just any relevant experience you can think of; put that next. For the bullet points that you put beneath your job title format them action verb + task + result, put your strongest selling point first. Lastly, focus on accomplishments and results, not just job duties.

After work experience, the template suggests that you go in order of skills, honors and then activities. When listing your skills, think of “hard skills” like technical skills and languages you know, not things like “team work” or “communication.”

For honors, it doesn’t just have to be an award you received, but also list scholarships you’ve had and when you received them. You can also include any times you have made Dean’s List with time frames attached.

Lastly, listing activities shows you can multitask. Any activities that fall under the umbrella of leadership, involvement, volunteering and professional development are great to add.

When you finish your resume you can go to the Career Services website and schedule a time to talk with someone about your resume, or you can submit your resume to VMock SMART Resume Platform and receive same day feedback.

Make sure that your resume passes the Cougar Pathway screening as well so you can apply for jobs on the portal.

Cover Letters

When you go to apply for jobs using your freshly polished resume you may think that’s the hardest part. Most people would disagree. Cover letters are required, or at least strongly suggested, for so many jobs today. When one sits down to write them though, they may become stumped by the careful juggle between convincing the employer they are right for the job and bragging to the point of sounding cocky.

Luckily, Career Services is there to help you with this task too. Along with a simple cover letter template, they also have a variety of worksheets to get you thinking about what to include in the cover letter.

The first step in the template is to add your address, phone number and email address, as if you were crafting a formal letter. Then, add the date. Next, write the name of the person you are sending it to, along with the company and street address.

Now, to the actual cover letter. Begin by addressing the hiring manager, if you know their name use it, otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager,” is fine. Make sure to look for their name on the website though, it shows you’re capable of some digging.

Overall, the cover letter should be no more than a few paragraphs. The first paragraph should introduce you. Say why you are writing, how you learned of the company or position and who you are. If you can name drop someone you know within the company or another mutual contact with their permission, do so.

The second paragraph is the hard stuff. This is where you have to detail to the hiring manager why you want the job, what qualifies you and generally convince them to take a look at your resume.

In the worksheet that Career Services recommends doing before you write your cover letter you are basically brainstorming and drafting ideas for this paragraph. Look back at the job posting. What skills did they say they were looking for? See if you can correspond those skills with things you have done in the past.

Focus on what you can contribute, not what they can give you. Make it sound like they are gaining an asset instead of the other way around. If they don’t hire you, they are the ones losing out, not you. Also elaborate on specific parts of your resume in this paragraph.

The final paragraph is simple closing statement to reiterate your interest. Say that you would like the opportunity to interview for this company or talk with someone about any future hiring plans within the company. Add how you will follow up (e.g. three weeks by email) and that you will provide the employer with any additional information as needed. Finish out this paragraph by thanking them for their time.

Finishing the cover letter is as easy as just saying “Sincerely, (your name)”.

Remember that you will have to tailor your cover letter for each job you apply to. Although this is recommended for resumes as well, often you can use the same resume multiple times.

Career Services also allows time to chat with a Peer Career Advisor virtually, and if you choose to do so you can absolutely use some of that time to ask questions about your cover letter and tips and tricks that have worked for them in the past, as they are your peers.

When it comes to resumes, cover letters and simply applying to jobs, it is important to note that you will likely be rejected, or never hear back from numerous employers and positions. This is normal. Few people get the first job they apply to. Keep up the good work and keep trying.

Graphic via Canva

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