Career and Transfer Services
A college degree is not a guarantee for obtaining employment in your desired career field – it only allows you to enter the playing field with other applicants or candidates. To be successful in landing internships and full-time employment, you need to present yourself in a polished manner.
Presenting yourself well to employers means:
- On paper through applications and résumés;
- Verbally during interviews; and
- Visually by dressing appropriate to the setting and industry.
The ability to present yourself in writing is a critical part of the job search since your first impression will be a written one. If you don’t succeed in impressing the reader with your résumé, cover letter, or application that particular job search will be over.
A résumé is an advertisement for yourself that outlines your accomplishments and strengths that make you a unique individual. The purpose of a good résumé is to get an interview, so the picture you paint should highlight areas relevant to the kinds of positions that interest you! The employer’s point of view should be your guide. Most employers look for candidates who take initiative, demonstrate leadership, get the job done or motivate others to do it. Therefore, descriptions of any jobs or activities should reflect both the results you have achieved and your potential.
Your résumé should be concise, but complete. An employer spends an average of 15 to 20 seconds scanning a resume. Make your first impression a good one. The goal is to hone your résumé to one page. A one to two page résumé is usually sufficient, especially for someone just starting out.
Keep in mind that you must always be truthful. You’re creating a document that sells your virtues, but don’t get carried away. Truth in advertising is a must.
View the Résumé Guide-pdf for information on writing and formatting your résumé.
While a résumé is a summary of your qualifications, the cover letter gives you the opportunity to draw an employer’s attention to the skills and experience outlined in your résumé, expand upon information which particularly matches you to the position for which you wish to be considered, and highlight special achievements which might otherwise be overlooked. Simply put, the cover letter is your sales pitch to an employer. A well-written cover letter can make a significant difference in successfully arranging an interview or meeting with a potential employer.
A strong cover letter is one that can relate your experiences to the skills listed in the job description — what differentiates you from other candidates? What you decide to include will depend on the position you apply for, your qualifications, and your own preferences. Be yourself and let the employer know why you want the job and why they should want you. Each cover letter you send needs to be individualized for each employer. It may take more time, but it’s worth it. If you send a poor cover letter, you’ve wasted your time and the employer’s time.
View the Cover Letter Guide – pdf for a discussion of the parts of a cover letter and a sample cover letter.