On Sunday, I attended an online discussion with Heather Huhman, Examiner.com’s entry-level career columnist and JT O’Donnell, founder of Careerealism, about craft winning cover letters and resumes. Heather and JT lead the discussion but allowed students and recent college graduates to ask questions. I really liked that people were allowed to ask questions as Heather and JT gave advice. Most of the questions that students asked were ones that I was wondering about as well.
The chat began with Heather and JT introducing themselves. First, they talked about cover letters. I wanted to share with you some of the main tips that were given on the topic of cover letters:
– Cover letters are arguably more important than your resume.
-Contact the company so that you can address your cover letter to a specific person instead of saying just Dear Sir or Madam.
– In the first paragraph, explain why you were drawn to the specific position and why you think you’re the best one for the job.
– In the second and third paragraphs, explain two accomplishments that relate to the job to show how valuable you would be in the position. You may use accomplishments from past internships and jobs or from a school organization in which you are involved.
-In the cover letter make sure that you show what you can do for the company. Be confident, but not cocky.
-For the closing of the letter, make sure you tell them where you can be reached.
-A cover letter should be no longer than one page.
Heather and JT then gave tips on resumes:
-Put “Education” at the top of your resume and do not include an objective statement.
-After “Education”, put the heading “Experience” and list leadership positions, class projects, volunteer positions etc. Under each position, briefly list what you did in the specific positions. It is better if you can use numbers to show your accomplishments.
-After “Experience”, label the next category “Additional Experience”. JT and Heather explained that mentioning that you are proficient in certain computer programs would be good to put in this section. They also recommended that if applicable, you should include that you can speak a different language.
-After additional experience, make a category labeled Accomplishments and explain briefly your accomplishments.
-When sending in an e-mail, make sure that you send your cover letter and resume in a pdf file so that they can be opened by any type of computer.
-Do not supply references until a possible employer asks for them.
I really appreciate the time and effort that Heather and JT took to give tips and advice to students and recent graduates. I think that I will be very comfortable writing cover letters now and because of this discussion, I have to move a few things around on my resume.