Looking for a new job and need help formulating a resume or cover letter? Whether you are aiming to get a job over the summer, applying early for position beginning fall quarter, looking full-time employment after graduating, or just haven’t updated your resume in a while, it’s always good to be prepared.

If you have never written a resume or cover letter before, check out the Triton Career Guide: Finding Your True North. Pages 8 through 12 have resources on resume and cover letter best practices, how to include action words within your resume, and how to break down a job description for a cover letter. Whether you have or have not written a resume or cover letter before, you can get additional support by making an appointment with a career advisor on Handshake or by coming into the Career Center for walk-in advising with a Career Peer Educator, Monday through Friday from 10a-2p.

Once you have the basics down, here are some tips to make your resume stand out:

  1. Remove the “Resume Objective” statement. Not only does this take up valuable space, but it is more than likely obvious to the reader, after all the purpose of a resume is to get hired by that specific company or within its industry. Instead include a short description of who you are and why you think that you are the best fit for the job you are apply for.
  2. Change or add powerful action verbs to your experience section using the APR (Action + Project + Result) formula. Start by choosing an action verb and use it to describe the project you worked on. Finally, describe as specifically as possible the result of that project. For example: Coordinated social media channels resulting in a 45% increase in following over a six-month period. Giving specific examples helps employers get a better idea of your experience and accomplishments as it relates to what they are looking for. 
  3. If your resume is short, make sure to fill up the entire page. Consider adding projects related to the job or a qualifications section to highlight any specific skills you have that may not be apparent in your experience section. That being said, your resume shouldn’t be more than a page. If it is too long, consider making your margins half an inch, cutting down on unnecessary information, or formatting your resume differently to give you more space. Ultimately, you want your resume to be readable and clear, so limit it to one page and make sure it is scannable. 
  4. Lastly, make sure to use spell check, catch any formatting errors, and get a second opinion before hitting the send button. Errors on a resume will in most cases immediately disqualify you from the job. Ask a friend to read it over, make an appointment with a career advisor on Handshake, or come into the Career Center for walk-in advising with a Career Peer Educator, Monday through Friday from 10a-2p.

Bonus tip: Don’t like the layout or look of your resume? Use a free resume template.

Think of a cover letter as a prelude to your resume. You want to introduce yourself, what position you are applying for, why you are the best candidate for this position, and specific experience you have. For our tips, see below.

  1. A cover letter should be formatted like a formal business letter. If possible, always address the cover letter to the person who will be reading it. This is much more personal than “To Whom It May Concern” and shows you took the time and effort to research the company. If the gender of the person you are writing to is not clear, avoid any future awkwardness by using “Mr.” or “Ms.”, instead opt to use the person’d full name. 
  2. Start by explaining what position you are applying for, how you found the position, and a short description about yourself. This description should highlight why you are qualified for this position and why you want to work for this company. 
  3. In the body of your cover letter, give specific examples about your past experience or qualifications and relate it back to the job description or duties. 
  4. In your conclusion, restate your qualifications and why you are the best fit for the position. Make sure to emphasize your strongest skills, qualities, or experiences. Thank the reader for their time and express your interest in having the opportunity to further discuss your qualifications with them in an interview. 
  5. Lastly, to professionally close the letter use “Sincerely” followed by your full name.

Looking for additional support or tips? Check out the Career Center’s website, make an appointment with a career advisor on Handshake, or come into the Career Center for walk-in advising with a Career Peer Educator, Monday through Friday from 10a-2p.

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