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Resume and Cover Letter Workshop: 

Resume and Cover Letter Workshop A presentation brought to you by the Purdue University Writing Lab

What is a resume?: 

What is a resume? A resume is a personal summary of your professional history and qualifications. It includes information about your career goals, education, work experience, activities, honors, and any special skills you might have.

General Guidelines: 

General Guidelines Length: It is best to limit an entry-level resume to one typed page. Be as concise as possible in stating information in each section of your resume. Font: Avoid fonts smaller than 10 point and larger than 12 point. Paper: Use 8 1/2' x 11' 20 lb paper. Print your resume with a laser or high quality ink-jet printer.

Preliminary Research: 

Preliminary Research Find out * General job information * Desired qualifications and skills * Key values and words Check with * Placement office files * WWW * Trade journals, magazines, and newsletters * Directories * Professors * Company literature

Identifying Information: 

Identifying Information Put your name, permanent and campus addresses, permanent and campus phone numbers, and email address prominently at the top of your resume. Avoid using a nickname to identify yourself. Consider including your URL address or fax number if you have one. KIMBERLY ANN HURST 1305 Palmer Dr. #1276 West Lafayette, IN (765) 555-1706

Objective Statement: 

Objective Statement One to three sentence summary of your area of expertise and career interest. Write as complete sentences or as descriptive phrases with minimal punctuation. Relate your existing skills directly to the job you are seeking. Demonstrate what you can do for the company rather than what they can do for you.

Objective Statement: 

Objective Statement Avoid overgeneralized statements: A position allowing me to utilize my knowledge and expertise in different areas. Avoid statements that focus only on what a company can do for you: A position where I gain experience in working on biological problems. Make the statement as specific as possible: A position which allows me to apply my background in engineering and high performance computing to biological problems.


Education This is an important section for recent college graduates or students seeking internships or summer jobs. Beginning with the highest level of educational achievement, include information such as university attended, degrees earned, major, minors, grade point average, date of program completion, and so forth.

Education : 

Education Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN Graduation May 2000 Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering GPA: 3.2/4.0 Major GPA: 3.5/4.0 You do not have to include your GPA on the resume, but if it isn’t included, employers may assume that it is lower than it really is. Always state the grade point scale your school is using.

Relevant Courses: 

Relevant Courses List relevant courses that: Help you stand out from the crowd Have provided you with specific skills or knowledge Consider including this information in the education section of the resume. Spanish (4 semesters) Computer Science Business Writing Business Law Ethics Only include courses taken in addition to your major or minor. Refer to the course by name rather than by number.

Employment Experience: 

Employment Experience Include positions you have held which are related, in some way, to the job you are seeking. These might be both paid and volunteer positions. Be creative with this section of your resume by describing and emphasizing your experiences in the most relevant way possible.

Employment Experience: 

Employment Experience Hospitality Intern (May 1999-August 1999) Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant Include information such as company name and location, job title, dates, and duties performed. Make this section easy to read by using spacing and bullets. Use action phrases to highlight the duties you have performed.

Action Phrases: 

Action Phrases Action phrases will help you avoid being too brief and from understating your qualifications. Think about your qualifications as a professional would. Hospitality Intern (May 1999-August 1999) Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant

Parallel Phrases: 

Parallel Phrases Hospitality Intern (May 1999-August 1999) Mountain Jacks, Lafayette, IN Oversaw the planning, production, preparation and prompt delivery of food Assisted in training and retaining new and experienced employees Created a positive and healthy atmosphere in the restaurant Make your descriptions easy to read through parallel structure. Set up a pattern and stick with it. In the example, all the verbs are parallel: 'oversaw,' 'assisted,' and 'created' are all past tense verbs.

Activities and Honors: 

Activities and Honors Include relevant activities and honors that you could discuss with your prospective employer or that have given you valuable experience or skills.

Specialized Skills: 

Specialized Skills Include skills that make you unique, such as computer skills, foreign language skills, or military service. Be specific in describing your special skills; name computer programs you know, how long you studied a foreign language, or your dates of military service.


References In general, do not include the names and addresses of your references on your resume. It is enough to state that references are available upon request. Choose professional references rather than character references. Employers and professors who know you and your work are the best references.

Reference Sheet: 

Reference Sheet Dr. Mary Delinsky Heavilon Hall, Room 226 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-3723 Dr. Delinsky is my current academic advisor in the Creative Writing and Science Fiction Program. Include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your references. Always ask permission before you include any information on your reference sheet. Consider giving your references a copy of your resume so they will be prepared to talk to employers.

What Is a Cover Letter?: 

What Is a Cover Letter? A cover letter expresses your interest in and qualifications for a position to a prospective employer.

What Should My Cover Letter Accomplish?: 

What Should My Cover Letter Accomplish? Your cover letter should introduce the main points of your resume. It should also help you to 'sell' your qualifications to the prospective employer.


Header Emma Markley Human Resources Director St. Luke's Medical Center 729 S. Paulina Chicago, IL 60612 Dear Ms. Markley: Address your letter to a specific person, ideally to the person who will interview you. Look for the person’s name in company publications, or phone the organization and ask for the person’s name or for the personnel manager.

Introductory Paragraph: 

Introductory Paragraph Your first paragraph should: Get the reader’s attention, stimulate interest, and be appropriate for the job you are seeking. Make your goal clear to readers. Preview the rest of your letter. Highlight the qualifications you will discuss throughout the letter.

Solicited Application Letters : 

Solicited Application Letters Solicited application letters are letters written in response to an advertised job opening. It is appropriate to mention where you learned of the opening in the first paragraph. I believe that my knowledge of public relations and my proven communication and leadership skills make me a strong candidate for the position of Media Relations Coordinator that was posted by the Delta Airlines Job Opportunities Program.

Unsolicited Application Letters : 

Unsolicited Application Letters Unsolicited application letters are written to companies that have not posted a job opening. It is important to gain the reader’s attention and persuade them that you can contribute to the company’s goals. As a member of one of the fastest growing publishing houses in the world, do you have an opening in your acquisitions department for a recent college graduate with a major in English and publishing and editing experience?

Goals of the Body Paragraphs: 

Goals of the Body Paragraphs Highlight your strongest qualifications for the position for which you are applying. Demonstrate how these qualifications will benefit the employer. Refer employers to your enclosed resume.

Detailing Your Experience: 

Detailing Your Experience Show (don’t tell) employers your qualifications Include specific, credible examples of your qualifications for the position. Use numbers, names of equipment you've used, or features of a project that may apply to the job you want. As a banking representative at Bank One, I provided quality customer service while promoting the sale of products to customers. I also handled upwards of $20,000 a day and was responsible for balancing the bank’s ATM machine.

Using Active Language—Don’ts: 

Using Active Language—Don’ts Don’t be vague in your descriptions. Don’t use weak verbs such as endeavored, tried, hoped, and attempted. Don’t use sexist language such as chairman and manpower. Vague: I worked as a ramp agent at Comair. Weak: I attempted to attract customers.

Using Active Language—Do’s: 

Using Active Language—Do’s Use concrete words to describe your experience. Use present tense to discuss current activities and past tense for previous job duties or accomplishments. Be as specific as possible in descriptions; list dollar amounts and figures when you can. Vague: I worked as a ramp agent for COMAIR.  Specific: As a ramp agent, I assisted in loading baggage, oversaw fueling the aircraft, and stocked commissary items on the aircraft. Weak: I attempted to attract customers. Strong: I initiated a program to attract customers to Pizza Hut, which resulted in a 5% increase in sales for the month of June.

Organizing Your Letter: 

Organizing Your Letter In general, cover letters should be no longer than one typed page. Organize your body paragraphs to emphasize your strongest and most relevant qualifications. Only include the two or three strongest qualifications from your resume. Make it easy for readers to scan your letter by beginning each paragraph with a topic sentence.

Concluding Your Letter: 

Concluding Your Letter I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other qualifications with you. If you are interested, please contact me at (317) 555- 0118 any morning before 11:00 a.m., or feel free to leave a message. Conclude by asking for a personal interview. Be flexible regarding a date and time for the interview. Be specific about how the interviewer should contact you. Include a thank you.

Mailing Your Letter With Your Resume: 

Mailing Your Letter With Your Resume Coordinate the design of your letter with the design of your resume. Be sure to send both to prospective employers; they both reveal different kinds of information about you.

Key Points to Remember: 

Key Points to Remember Appeal to company values, attitudes, goals, projects, etc. Elaborate on the information in your resume. Provide evidence of your qualifications. Proofread carefully for grammatical and typographical errors. The letter should be error-free.

Where can you go to find extra help with your resume and cover letter?: 

Where can you go to find extra help with your resume and cover letter? Purdue University Writing Lab Heavilon 226 Grammar Hotline: (765) 494-3723 Check our web site: Email brief questions: Help with drafting, revising, and editing your resumes and cover letters

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