August 1, 2016

Résumés & Cover Letters

When applying for an internship, summer employment, or your first position post-graduation, most employers anticipate that you will include in this process a cover letter as well as a professional résumé. Employers will often receive hundreds of applications for a single position, which means it is important that your professional written materials are both exceptionally well-written, and crafted and formatted to help you stand out.

Note that Clarkson University’s Career Center has an approval process of resumes as part of the Knightlink service. Our Writing Center likes to work hand-in-hand with the Career Center personnel and resources to ensure your professional collateral lands you the job you want.

R E S U M E S

 Résumés Require Use of the Writing Process, Too!

Points to remember when starting the process:

  • Recruiters read many résumés. Tailor the content to the position (you might need more than one rendition!).
  • Use the writing process to explore, analyze and select significant, relevant information.
  • Design a layout that makes the content easy to read.
  • Visit the Writing Center and work with a tutor to develop a résumé.

Working through the stages of the Writing Process will lead to an effective résumé:

Discovery – jot down on paper the following as part of the ideation or discovery phase

  • List your professional and personal strengths.
  • Consider all experiences. List academic, intern, work, volunteer experiences and significant course/research/extracurricular projects.
  • List transferrable skills from those experiences.

Organize & Draft

  • Assume the reader’s point of view
  • Select & categorize your information to highlight your strengths (Relevant Experience, Leadership).
  • Sub-titles are flexible. Use labels to reveal your capabilities (Research/Programming Languages).
  • Within each category prioritize according to significance/chronology.
  • For each entry, include your title, the firm or organization, location, dates and especially your skills, advancement, responsibilities.
  • Choose your priority for each entry. Start with firm or job title, club name or position?

Revise

  • Critique the resume from the reader’s point of view.
  • Is all relevant information present?
  • Add, delete or reorganize material.

Edit Format & Style

  • Clear objective and contact information
  • Sub-titles relevant to the content
  • Easy-to-locate information
  • Specific, significant responsibilities, skills
  • Active verbs & confident tone
  • Error-free entries
  • Consistent format

C O V E R  L E T T E R S

We encourage our writers to develop more than one rendition of their résumé if they are applying to a variety of positions that may cross sectors or focus on different skillsets. Tailoring cover letters is also a must! Your cover letter should be held to one page, and in addition to expressing interest, this introduction gives you an opportunity to expand on some of your accomplishments or highlights from your experiences.

Remember:

  1. The reader may read countless letters and statements.
  2. Avoid creating a generic application letter or personal statement.
  3. Use distinctive details to create a letter that no one else could write.
  4. Visit the Writing Center and work with a tutor to develop an effective letter or statement.

The Writing Process:

[1] List Your Strengths [2] Select, Analyze, & Draft [3] Organize & Revise [4] Check Format & Style

Explore and List Your Strengths

  1. List every good quality on paper/computer.
  2. Add academic, volunteer, summer, and other work experience/skills.
  3. Include terms that friends, professors, and employers would use to describe you.

Select, Analyze, & Draft

  1. Describe transferrable skills from past experience
  2. Discuss value of relevant previous or current research
  3. Explain usefulness of extra-curricular experience
  4. Describe short and long-term goals

Organize & Revise

  1. Assume the reader’s point of view and read your draft
  2. Delete least relevant information
  3. Have a lively first paragraph that introduces your purpose
  4. Arrange the paragraphs logically (chronological? categorical?)
  5. Check coherence of each paragraph. Does each sentence connect clearly to the next? Do all sentences relate to the paragraph topic? Include specific examples.
  6. Make the relationships between pargraphs obvious
  7. Conclude by requesting the next action, such as an interview or request for admission

Check Format & Style

With a Writing Center Consultant, check that your letter or statement has:

  1. Formal but personal “voice”
  2. Specific, relevant details
  3. Active, confident tone
  4. Clear purpose and contact information
  5. Error-free sentences