Throughout the Career Help 101 Series, SPRB has helped you with your job search, shown you how to create an online portfolio, and stressed the importance of informational interviews and internships. Today, SPRB has 11 resume and cover letter tips to help you land that internship or full-time position.
6 Resume Tips
- Set aside some time to just sit and work on your resume. Whether you like it or not, this document will help land you the an interview or take you out of the running. This isn’t something that you want to just throw together at the last minute. Personally, I went step-by-step through The Complete Guide to Resume Writing, a great book by Louise Fletcher. She even has a free e-mail course to help people work on their resumes. Other people opt to turn to a professional resume writer, who will ask you the right questions and help you honestly word your resume to help you get that interview.
- Don’t include an objective. Not everyone will agree on this, but it’s no longer necessary to include an objective in your resume. What is an objective? It’s a statement about what you want to get out of this position. But a resume is supposed to show the prospective employer how you can help them. Instead of an objective statement, include a value statement.
- Have more than one version of your resume. You do not want to submit the exact same resume to every job opening that you apply to. Modify your resume each time so that you can best (but honestly) show how your past work experiences fit with the requirements and responsibilities of the position. For example, I have three “basic” resume templates: PR/media relations, community relations, and new media. All are obviously truthful, but I emphasize past work experiences differently based on the type of position I’m applying for.
- Make sure your resume stands out. You need to make sure that your resume will stand out enough to pass their initial 20-second inspection. Now I’m not suggesting that you go crazy and start inserting graphics and a ton of bright colors, but don’t just stick to the basic resume template in Word. Customize and tailor the resume to you and your personality. That being said, keep the text to Arial or Times New Roman because those are pretty much the only two fonts available on all Macs or PCs. Make sure there is enough white space that your resume won’t overwhelm the hiring manager.
- Don’t simply list your responsibilities, show your achievements. This tip can be harder for someone applying for an internship or their entry-level position, but you should be able to do this to some extent. By providing concrete examples of what you did in past experiences, you can show the prospective employer how you could help them. Be sure to use strong action verbs and numbers (if you can) to best describe these achievements. Did you pitch an idea that resulted in an article in a magazine, reaching 650,324 people? Say so. Did you play a role in helping the ticket office raise sales by 2% over six months? Write that down. Organized an event with 60 participants, resulting in coverage on the local TV stations? Put it in the resume.
- Use job descriptions to help you create your resume. I went through all of the job openings I have listed on SPRB since August and created a Word document that has pages of bullet points of what employers are looking for in positions in new media, PR, and community relations. If I knew that one of my likely responsibilities would be to update player bios, I would make sure I wrote in my resume that I did so. You also want to make sure that your resume fits with the job description of the position you are applying for and it doesn’t hurt to include relevant industry keywords when it makes sense to fit them in. Now I’m not saying you should copy and paste phrases of the description into your resume, but make sure you clearly show how your are qualified for this position.
5 Cover Letter Tips
- Address the letter to a specific person. Don’t send your cover letter to “To Whom It May Concern.” Show that you took the time to hunt down the appropriate person to send the letter to. Talk to the receptionist if you have to in order to obtain the name of the right person.
- The cover letter should complement the resume, not duplicate it (via Examiner.com). Hiring managers don’t want to read the exact same thing in two documents. The cover letter is a chance for you to explain why you’re such a great fit for this company and highlight your best achievements — not repeat what’s listed on the resume. I also recommend having the design of your cover letter and resume match — keep the color scheme (if there is one) and font type/size the same.
- Keep it short and simple. Definitely restrict your cover letter to one page and try to say everything in 3-4 short paragraphs or less. If you had to go through cover letters all day or had a lot of other responsibilities but had to sift through some cover letters first, you would not appreciate lengthy cover letters so don’t drag it on and on. As I mentioned above in the resume section, make sure there is enough white space so you don’t overwhelm the reader.
- Proofread. The last thing you want to do is spend all this time crafting the perfect resume and cover letter and then misspell one word and get your application thrown out. Daily Writing Tips has a post with some great proofreading techniques.
- Grab their attention. While you want to make it clear which position you are applying for, don’t simply state that as your opening sentence. Be a little more creative and come up with something that will stand out and grab their attention.