Cover Letter and Resume Tips from Online Chat

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.

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15 thoughts on “Cover Letter and Resume Tips from Online Chat

  1. This sounds like a great webinar, I’m disappointed I missed it.

    It’s difficult to find reliable resume/cover letter guidance right now because there are so many different resources for this information. I think what I need to do is just stick to one resource and follow his/her advice.

    After reading your blog post from JT and Heather’s online discussion, I think I will stick to their advice for now and see what happens.

    Great blog Madison 🙂

  2. I currently am a senior college student and they don’t teach/tell us advice on that, at least not that specific. These things are very important and determine whether or not you will land a job! There should be something like what Heather and JT did on every campus!

  3. Thanks for the heads up Madison. I’m graduating in May and in the process of revamping my resume. It’s so confusing to find a format that works and is commonly used. Also, I’m finding that cover letters are what grabs the attention of your potential employer, not necessarily your impressive resume. Thanks for the great tips, do you know where I can find more information on these online discussions?

  4. I agree with George, sounds like great advice! I am currently a junior in college and starting to apply for summer internships. It is definetly a struggle to find the right resource to guide you. I’ll definetly take the tips from Heather and Jt and make some corrections on my resume.

    Thanks for writing about these commonly asked questions Madison!

  5. Thank you for this helpful blog Madison! I am a Senior in college and I have been re-doing my resume constantly. Different people will look at my resume and give their own advice. I’ve been sent in many different directions that I was getting frustrated with the way I wanted my resume to look and how I thought it should look. I will definitely be taking Heather and JT’s advice!

  6. This is a great format for a resume. I have yet to make my own, and lately I have been researching as much as I can about this topic. there are many sites with templates that I have come across that are basically very similar to what JT and Heather talked about. What stuck out for me was the fact that they did this in a live chat form so anyone could ask questions. Looking at any old template or an example resume might not answer all of my questions and I’m wishing I knew about this before it happened! what were some of the questions that students asked that you also wondered about?

  7. This is terrific. Thank you for the helpful tips. I, myself am very far behind in the whole career thing. I have started to put together a resume and have not even thought about a cover letter. This is a great way for me to get started and get serious about my career. I especially like how this lists out step by step instructions. Thanks again.

    A.J.

  8. This is a real eye opener for all of us college students that overlook the cover letter. I personally never put much thought into the cover letter, always thinking that the resume was the keystone of the application process. JT and Heather lay out the basics for anyone to successfully write a cover letter. I have already bookmarked this page for future use. Thanks for the awesome blog!

  9. Thanks for the great coverletter and resume tips. JT and Heather lay out all of the essential tips for anyone to write a successful coverletter. I used to think that the resume was the keystone of the application process but now I understand how important the cover letter is. I will be bookmarking this page for future use. Keep the great blogs coming!

  10. Pingback: Past week in student blog posts « PRinciples

  11. Hey Madison,
    Thanks so much for the tips that came from two people who obviously know what they are talking about. There are so many different people out there who say so many different things and it’s hard to know what is right and wrong. This was definitely helpful. Thanks again!

  12. It’s always so helpful to hear from real employers what exactly they are looking for in resumes and cover letters. One thing I’m always unsure to includes are the objective statement and references, so I was happy to hear what they had to say. Good stuff Madison!

  13. Pingback: Resume and Cover Letter Tips « Meg Ried

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