From College News
We all dream of having the perfect job, one that lets us make time for family, pays well and gives us the ability to live life comfortably. Resumes can be the backbone to landing a job and are your way of showing off your skills and experience. Without a resume, you’ll be unable to prove your ability to work for the company you’re interested in. It is important to have a resume that stands out from all the others.
Focus is vital to your resume. You should state what you want to do in your career and how exactly you can make a difference to the company. Having an objective section is what will set your resume apart from those without one.
“There are alternatives to stating an objective statement but you want your resume to be a stand-alone document,” said Sandy Marcus, career and educational service leader from the Illinois Institute of Technology, “You do not want to rely on a cover letter.” If you do this then the company may not even look at your resume. You can write an objective statement that is for your benefit, what you want to get out of the company and how you will contribute and use your skills. It is much more powerful and to the point.
“You want to make the objective how you intend to help the company. For example, to increase sales, to increase market shares, to improve quality, etc. So when the company looks at this, they will see what benefit they are going to get,” Marcus continued.
“What companies tend to look for immediately are the educational background, job titles you have obtained, what kinds of degrees/certificates you have received, training and a sense of things you have accomplished,” he added. “These are all very important parts of the resume and you want to make sure they stand out somehow. Now it is up to you how you want to lay it out. Keep in mind that color and font are bold ways of showing your accomplishments, but they can be overused. You want to be careful of not falling into the trap of emphasizing everything.”
A good resume tip to follow is to have someone review your resume for thirty seconds and then ask what parts jumped out the most. This will show you if you need to change the layout or add anything else that is important. Also, it is wise to stick to one page so the company does not have to flip through numerous pages. It is okay to go a little over a page if you have quite a bit of experience, but limit yourself to two maximum.
“The biggest mistake one could make is not showing what you can do for the company,” Marcus said. “One way to approach this is stating it directly through the objective statement. Another way to show this is through your expertise. Anything that you would like to do for the company that you have accomplished somewhere else is very important. Any way that you can show how you will help the company become more successful is key.”
Companies look for qualities of energy, reliability, maturity and commitment, Marcus added. If students don’t have much work experience, they can discuss activities or volunteer work within their resume to show the company that they do obtain these qualities.
The Cover Letter:
When applying for work, it is not enough to just have a great resume; you must also have an outstanding cover letter. You’ve only got one shot to score an interview, so you need to make it count. A few simple things to keep in mind can help you craft a truly impressive cover letter format.
Cover letters tend to be about three to four paragraphs long, but should never exceed a single page. However, a one-sentence cover letter is not going to convince anyone of anything. Catherine Carrigan, Career Advisor at Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center, said she’s seen students come in with one-sentence letters that can send employers the wrong message.
“If it’s not focused, it’s clear you don’t know anything about the employer,” Carrigan says. “There’s nothing special about that job to you.”
Carrigan also suggests you address a specific person, rather than a generic “To Whom It May Concern.”. If the name of the person reviewing applicants is not listed, call the company office and try to find out, and don’t be discouraged if you still can’t get a name.
“If you call Human Resources and they tell you to write ‘Dear Recruiter,’ that’s what you write,” she said. “That’s a heads-up that you were one of the people who tried to use the exact language they suggested.”
Your cover letter format ought to highlight why you are the person for the job, but should not be an autobiography. According to Monster.com resume expert Kim Isaacs, making it all about you is a common mistake. Instead, highlight your experiences and skills within the framework of the goals and needs of the company and the parameters of the job position you are seeking. Research the prospective company and convince the employers that you know what they need and that you can deliver.
Don’t rush with your application; proofread everything, have another person take a glance, and let it sit overnight so you can look at it again with a fresh eye.
“An error-free cover letter that also shows some focus beyond just the home page on the company’s website will stand out by that virtue alone,” Carrigan said. “It’s not about bells and whistles. It’s about focus, enthusiasm and showing that you’re ready to start the job and make an impact.”
By Candice Silva and Kamil Zawadzki