After a skim of a cover letter and a glance of a résumé, a possible employer will determine whether an applicant is worthy of an interview. However, companies at the Winter Career Fair are looking at more than just how many internships and awards are on the paper.
Using mainly words that are related to the position is a good way to express knowledge of one’s intended career field, College of Liberal Arts Career Counselor Charlotte Rinaldi said.
“It should be really obvious really quickly what you’re qualified to do and what you want to do,” Rinaldi said. “It’s best to include field-related terminology and personalize the résumé to the position.”
Related experience, clubs and extra-curriculars are basic requirements to include on a résumé, however, other categories are optional. Career Services Program Coordinator Carole Moore recommends putting an objective on a résumé because it gives the reader direct insight into the applicant’s goals.
“Be descriptive and interesting on a résumé because every word matters,” Moore said. “Include the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘for the benefit of who.’”
Business administration senior Kendra Roberts said she tries to only include the most relevant skills on her résumé and keep it to one page.
“I have a concentration in information systems and so I include computer technical skills,” she said. “I have a family member in human resources and she actually taught me how to use computer algorithms to search for the key words that potential employers want to hear.”
Leave off irrelevant high school work once you have more to put on your résumé. A summer job as a camp counselor will typically not look impressive on a résumé for a job at Cisco, Roberts said.
“A résumé is a brief snapshot of you and how you’re qualified,” she said.
Assume that people are busy and they’re not going to want to search through a lot, Moore said.
“Employers will look at your résumé for 10-15 seconds, skimming through qualifications,” Moore said.
A résumé is a potential employer’s first impression of an applicant. If you have questions about your résumé or want someone’s second opinion on it, have a counselor at Career Services to go over your résumé with you.
Career counselors work with each other and even though there is one counselor to represent each college, they are all equipped to help every major, Moore said.
Career Services also offers advice on how to approach writing a cover letter. The best cover letters are short and sweet. A cover letter should be a maximum of three paragraphs, Moore said, and never longer than one page.
“You need to make a believable connection with the company in the first paragraph, explain why you are good for the position in the second paragraph and then express interest in getting back in contact with the company again in the third paragraph,” Moore said.
Rinaldi said to approach the cover letter according to the field.
“If you’re going for a position in sales, you need to sell yourself,” Rinaldi said. “If you’re going for a job in the humanities or public service, you need to show overlap between passion and function.”
Roberts said she does not pass out cover letters when she attends career fairs.
“I go back and think about the position after the career fair and then write it according to what that employer said he wanted out of the applicant,” Roberts said.
She plans on getting copies of her résumé printed at Poly Prints so they will look more professional when she passes them out at the Winter Career Fair.
Moore said résumés and cover letters are more or less becoming the minimum requirement for what employers expect to see from applicants, however.
“Nowadays, students are making business cards at University Graphic Systems with QR (quick response) codes on them that link to their work portfolios,” Moore said. “At the least, students should include links on their résumé to their work.”
No matter what major you are or what position you want to apply for — network, network, network.
“After submitting a résumé or cover letter or simply talking with someone you meet at the career fair, there’s always an opportunity to follow up and thank for their time in an email,” Moore said.