Resume & Interviewing Skills
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Everything you need to get an interview and land the job.
How to write a cover letter/application letter to accompany your resume.
Why Create a Résumé?
You must create a résumé to apply for a job. This document is crucial to landing an interview (and should be perfect before sending to a potential employer).
What to Include in Your Résumé (in order of appearance)
- Résumés should be no longer than one page document, but if you have been in the workforce before, think strategically about organizing information that may exceed that page limit.
- Basic information– Name, current address, phone number (optional), and email. You may also list your tribal affiliation in this section, placed on top of the page.
- Objective– A brief statement of why you are creating this document and what you hope to achieve by sharing it.
- Education– List schools attended. Recent high school grads should list high school. Recent college grads should list college or university, degree, major, and GPA (optional).
- Experience – List previous jobs and internships. Include name of employer, job title, dates of employment, location (city and state), and responsibilities/achievements.
- Honors/Awards– List the awards and honors you received in and out school.
- References– Most interested employers will want references, but you do not have to include here. You may just add the phrase “References provided upon request.”
New to the Workforce?
- Consider adding sections for your skills outside of your job experiences, such as speaking a second language or technology skills and activities, such as clubs or sports, and leadership roles in and out of the academic setting.
- Ask a career advisor, faculty member, or working professional to review it and give critical feedback. This document is crucial to landing an interview and should be perfect before sending to a possible employer.
Different occupations have different styles of résumés.
The cover letter, or letter of application, accompanies your résumé when applying for positions.
- Customize each cover letter; match your skills and experience to the position.
- Identify the name and title of the person to whom the letter should be addressed. For online postings, include the name of the contact person and/or title that are listed.
- Remember, a cover letter may NOT be required for ALL online postings.
- For ads with no contact information, attempt to identify the organization. Only address the letter to “Dear Hiring Manager” if you are unable to find the necessary contact information.
- If the employer asks for salary requirements, always state them in a range and add that you are open to negotiation. Research salary figures for the position and geographic area.
- If an employer asks you for salary history, he or she is looking for consistency. Explain gaps or salary cuts in general terms.
- Your letter must be well written, free of errors, and grammatically correct. Do not overuse the word “I.”
- Read your letter aloud to ensure that your ideas flow and to catch any awkward sentences or overuse of words or phrases.
- A cover letter is NOT needed when handing your resume directly to an employer.
Providing professional letters of recommendation allows trusted colleagues, faculty, or staff to testify to your skills, achievements, and character.
You will often be asked to provide professional letters of recommendation or a list of people to be contacted in the future by the prospective employer. These individuals should be able to testify to your skills, achievements, character, and more.
- Does the organization want letters of recommendation or a list of reference names to contact?
- Know how many letters of recommendation or reference names are requested.
- Update your references on the status of your employment search regularly.
- Keep references current (update every three-five years).
Choosing Your References
References should include people able to provide valuable input into your abilities based on the position for which you are applying. Customize your list based on their relationship to you and what they might share to advance your chances of landing your desired opportunity.
- Past and present supervisors who can speak to your professional abilities, work, internship, or volunteer experiences.
- Faculty members/professors (supervising teacher for student teachers) who can speak to your academic abilities and class involvement.
- Mentors and coaches.
- Do NOT use people who know you only in a social setting, such as family or friends.
- If multiple references are needed, select people based on their ability to showcase your different experiences.
Information to Provide to References
- Examples of information you would like highlighted (i.e. projects or strengths they have seen you display which are relevant for the position).
- Copy of the advertisement, including the name of the organization, position title, and position description.
- Current résumé.
- Person the letter should be addressed to and how to submit the reference letter (scanned online, mailed, etc.).
- Deadline for submission. Allow your reference plenty of time for the reference to write the letter by deadline (three-four weeks is suggested).
- If a list of reference names has been requested, include contact information. (This list is typically included as part of an application or as an additional sheet to the cover letter and résumé.)
1) Ask for the letter at least two weeks out AND send gentle reminders
2) Prepare a list of three items you’d like the writer to elaborate on – almost customizing the recommendation letter for the specific scholarship/internship/admittance
3) ALWAYS always ask for a hard copy of the letter. Yes, have them send it “signed and sealed,” but it’s a good idea to know what they wrote about you.
How to write a thank-you letter after your interview to help you stand out.
Writing a thank-you letter after a job interview will help you stand out from other candidates. Use the following guidelines to confirm your interest in the position after your interview:
- Address the letter to the person(s) with whom you interviewed. Ask for your interviewers’ business cards, or write down their titles and the proper spelling of their names before leaving the interview.
- Prepare your letter on high-quality paper using a business letter format.
- Mail your letter in a matching envelope within 24-48 hours following the interview.
- If your handwriting is legible, you may also choose to use a high quality, thank-you card and hand write your note.
- If you have previously corresponded with the employer by email, it is acceptable to send your note via email.
- Keep your letter brief and concise. Mention the date of your interview and your interest in the position and organization.
- Reiterate your most important skills and qualifications, how you expect to contribute to the organization, and any unique points of interest discussed during the interview.
- Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview, tour the facilities, meet other employees, and confirm follow-up procedures. Leave no doubt in the interviewer’s mind about your enthusiasm for the position.
- A few weeks after your interview, give the hiring manager a pleasant nudge to keep yourself top-of-mind. If you are connected to voicemail, leave the following information in your voicemail:
- Name (twice)
- Phone number (twice, slowly)
- Reminder that you recently interviewed and/or previously interacted
- Upbeat message
- A pleasant reiteration of your interest
- A graceful exit