Resume and Interviewing Skills

Find Your Path. Take The Next Step.

Everything you need to get an interview and land the job.

Reving Up Your Resume
Read how to create the perfect résumé to apply for a job.
View Guidebook
Cover Letters

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.

Cover Letters

The cover letter, or letter of application, accompanies your résumé when applying for positions.

General Guidelines

  • 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.
Recommendation Letters

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.

Key Tips

  • 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.)

More Tips

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.

Thank-You Letters

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

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Empowering Paths: An Indigenous Woman’s Vision for Legacy and Leadership

 

Linette Factor, CMN, Director of Business Affairs, 2023-2024 Indigenous Visionaries Fellow

Linette Factor, CMN, Director of Business Affairs

By Linette Factor, CMN, Director of Business Affairs

2023-2024 Indigenous Visionaries Fellow

Hesci (hello)! I am Linette Factor (Muscogee [Creek]), an American Indian College Fund Indigenous Visionary Fellow and Director of Business Affairs at the College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

As an Indigenous woman and leader, I’ve come to understand the profound impact one’s journey and legacy can have on the youth in our Native American communities. I aim to inspire those who are grappling with finding their path, particularly amid the societal challenges of substance abuse and violence. My perspective centers on advocacy, awareness, and creating a positive legacy that heals and strengthens our future generations.

In our tribal communities, the shadows cast by drugs and alcohol often cloud the paths of our youth. It is here, in these shadows, that the role of advocacy and awareness becomes crucial. As Indigenous women leaders, we carry the mantle of our ancestors—a legacy of resilience and strength. Our advocacy goes beyond confronting injustices; it is about illuminating pathways of hope and opportunity for those who may feel lost. Our voices are not just expressions of protest but are also songs of possibility and promise for a brighter future.

Legacy is the mark we leave on the world and those who come after us. It encompasses our actions, our values, and the impact we have on our communities and beyond. As Native American women, our legacy is tied to our culture, stories, and collective struggles. It is a thread that weaves through our past, present, and future, carrying the wisdom and aspirations of our ancestors.

Creating a positive legacy is essential in the healing and empowerment of our youth. It shows them that, despite the prevalent challenges such as substance abuse, a life of purpose and pride in our identity is attainable. A positive legacy is a beacon that guides our youth to rise above their circumstances, encouraging them to forge paths of empowerment and success.

To our youth searching for their path: Your journey is a critical chapter in the grand narrative of our people. Each step you take is integral to crafting your legacy, one that can inspire and support those around you. Embrace your Indigenous identity, draw from the wisdom of our elders, and use your voice and actions for impactful change. Your legacy can initiate change, foster healing, and lay the groundwork for a united, resilient community.

As we navigate the complexities of life, especially in the face of challenges like substance abuse and violence, it’s crucial to remember the power of advocacy, the essence of legacy, and the transformative impact of a positive legacy. It’s about more than overcoming today’s challenges; it’s about paving a path for a stronger, brighter future for our youth and the generations that follow. Let us strive to build legacies that resonate with courage, resilience, and hope. These legacies are not just stories to be told; they are blueprints for the future we aspire to create.

Forging a Career through Education

Mariah Wanic, BMCC, Director of Charter Schools

Mariah Wanic, BMCC, Director of Charter Schools

By Mariah Wanic, BMCC, Director of Charter Schools

2023-2024 Indigenous Visionaries Fellow

After I graduated from high school, I decided to go to a four-year university. I was undecided on a major and was unsure of the career path I wanted to follow. At the end of my second year, I changed direction and decided to attend my tribal community college, Bay Mills Community College (BMCC). It proved to be a smaller, more personal experience where I was guided and supported by the wonderful faculty and staff. I was finally able to commit to a degree program in computer systems.

During my time studying at Bay Mills Community College, I obtained two associate degrees: one degree in computer information systems and the other in computer hardware systems. While attending BMCC, I participated in a work study program, which inspired me to pursue a career within BMCC upon graduation. After earning my degrees, I applied for a position as the Administrative Assistant to the President of BMCC. I was hired, and then transferred to the Bay Mills Community College Charter Schools Office as an administrative assistant.

With encouragement from my supervisor, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree through Central Michigan University (CMU). I graduated with a degree in community development and earned a promotion to Compliance Coordinator of the Charter Schools Office. After a short break from school, I decided to return to CMU to earn a Master of Science degree in Administration. I earned another promotion to Special Assistant to the President in Charge of Charter Schools. It was in this moment that I knew I wanted to continue furthering my education and my knowledge of education, which prompted me to enroll at CMU to complete a specialist in education degree.

I reached the top of my field when I was promoted to the position of director of charter schools. Since I had completed the specialist in education degree, it seemed like a natural transition to apply to the Central Michigan University’s Doctor of Educational Leadership program. I was admitted, completed the required course work, and am now in the dissertation process.

Pursuing higher education and working within my tribal community are extremely important to me. My goal is to defend my dissertation in 2025 and earn my doctoral degree, making me the first person in my immediate family to achieve this level of education.

As the Director of the Charter Schools Office at Bay Mills Community College, it is extremely important to me that students in the public school academies authorized by BMCC receive a meaningful education in a positive learning environment. Bay Mills Community College authorizes 45 public school academies around the state of Michigan. The Charter Schools Office at Bay Mills Community College provides oversight for these public school academies; our mission is to ensure a quality education to underserved population.

Through my 20 years of experience in the field of education, I am continually learning. Education is a continually changing field, especially public schools’ academies. It is essential for me to continue to grow and learn and give back to Bay Mills Indian Community for supporting me through my educational endeavors which led to finding a career that I am passionate about. Bay Mills Community College has been the foundation for my educational and career pathways.

American Indian College Fund Hosting Online Book Discussion with Indigenous Author Mona Susan Power

American Indian College Fund Hosting Online Book Discussion with Indigenous Author Mona Susan Power

Free Event Scheduled Tuesday, March 26th at 12:00 Noon MDT

February 20, 2024, Denver, Colo.— The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) is hosting a free, online book and author event for the public featuring the PEN Award–winning Native American author, Mona Susan Power, on March 26 from 12-1 Mountain Daylight Time. Power will discuss her new book, A Council of Dolls, with College Fund President, Cheryl Crazy Bull.

Mona Susan Power is the author of four books of fiction: The Grass Dancer (awarded the PEN/Hemingway prize), Roofwalker, Sacred Wilderness, and her most recent novel, A Council of Dolls (longlisted for the National Book Award). She has received numerous fellowships in support of her work, including an Iowa Arts Fellowship, James Michener Fellowship, Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship, Princeton Hodder Fellowship, USA Artists Fellowship, McKnight Fellowship, and Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship. Her short stories and essays have been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies, and her essay, “Bloodthread,” is forthcoming in The Georgia Review. Power was born and raised in Chicago, is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta), and currently lives in Minnesota.

The profoundly moving and unforgettable new novel spans three generations of Yanktonai Dakota women from the 19th century to the present day. Power takes the reader to the mid-century metropolis of Chicago, the windswept ancestral lands of the Dakota people, and bleak and brutal Indian boarding schools. A Council of Dolls is the story of three women, told in part through the stories of the dolls they carried.

Sissy, born in 1961, has a difficult relationship with her beautiful and volatile mother, but her life is also filled with beautiful things, including a new a doll called Ethel Sissy received for Christmas. Ethel whispers advice and kindness in Sissy’s ear, and in one especially terrifying moment, the doll maybe even saves Sissy’s life.

Lillian, born in 1925 in her ancestral lands during a time of terrible change, clings to her sister, Blanche, and her doll, Mae. When the sisters are forced to attend an “Indian school” far from their home, Blanche refuses to be cowed by the school’s abusive nuns. But when tragedy strikes the sisters, Mae finds a way to defend the sisters.

Cora, born in 1888 during the brutal legacy of the “Indian Wars,” is not afraid of the white men who remove her to a school across the country to be “civilized.” When teachers burn her beloved buckskin and beaded doll, Winona, Cora discovers the spirit of Winona may not be entirely lost.

A Council of Dolls is a modern masterpiece: gorgeous, quietly devastating, and hopeful. Mona Susan Power shines a light on the damage wrought by Indian boarding schools and historical massacres that echo throughout generations of Indigenous people. With stunning prose, she artfully weaves a spell of love and healing with her storytelling. To register for this free event, please visit www.collegefund.org/bookclub.

 PEN Award–winning author Mona Susan Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta), will discuss her latest novel, A Council of Dolls, March 26 at 12:00 noon Mountain Daylight Time with Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund. Registration is free and open to the public. To join the conversation visit https://bit.ly/monabookclubFB.

PEN Award–winning author Mona Susan Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta), will discuss her latest novel, A Council of Dolls, March 26 at 12:00 noon Mountain Daylight Time with Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund. Registration is free and open to the public. To join the conversation visit https://bit.ly/monabookclubFB.

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About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.