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Documentation by L.

Fargo (Revised 2-27-09)

When youre looking for a job, its important to make a great first impression. Your resume and cover letter are usually a potential employers first look at you, and these simple documents can make or break your job search. Recruiters and hiring managers usually glance at a resume for just a few seconds before deciding whether to place it in the Yes pile or toss it in the trash, so its important to make sure yours stands out. This class will help you create polished, professional resumes and cover letters that advertise your qualifications and grab the attention of potential employers.

Resume Templates in Word


In this class, well be using Word templates to practice proper resume formatting. These templates are perfect for getting the hang of resume design, but you may not want to use them for your final product, at least not without some alteration. Human Resources personnel have seen so many resumes, it is easy for them to spot the ones that have been made with a standard template. You want to stand out, so make your resume your own by playing with the many formatting options available in Word. Word 2003 has just three basic resume templates: Contemporary, Elegant, and Professional. Word 2007 offers many more options, including job-specific resume templates for professions from teacher to corporate executive. NOTE: This class covers only standard resume elements; you should do some research to see if your field requires a specialized resume. The books and websites listed at the end of this handout are a great place to start.

To access templates in Word 2007, click on the Microsoft Office button in the upper lefthand corner of the screen. Choose New from the list. In the New Document dialog box, you can choose from Installed Templates or (under the Microsoft Office Online heading) Resumes & CVs. The Office Online section (which downloads templates from the Microsoft website) offers Basic Resumes, Job Specific Resumes, and Situation Specific Resumes. Pick a template that appeals to you and click Create (or Download if youre using one of the Office Online options). The images in this handout show the Chronological Resume (Traditional Design) template, which can be found in the Microsoft Office Online collection of basic resumes.

NOTE: If you choose one of the Office Online templates, you may have to click to validate your copy of Microsoft Office. Just click Continue to download the template. Patron PCs at the library may not let you download templates from the Microsoft website, but you can always use one of the installed templates.

Basic Parts of a Resume


Name and Contact Information

First things first: at the very top of your resume, you should write your name and your contact information. Write your name as you wish to use it professionally; no nicknames, unless that is how you are primarily addressed. You should include your full mailing address (with city, state, and ZIP code), phone number (with area code), and email address. Make sure the phone number you give is equipped with a professional-sounding outgoing voicemail message. Preferably this should be a personal phone line that only you will answer. For this reason, many people list their cell phone numbers, as opposed to a home or work number. Your email address should also be professional. Avoid cutesy usernames that reference hobbies or other personal details (like catlover13). It is best to use some form of your name as your email username, so it will be easily recognizable. You may want to start a separate email account just for professional purposes. Whatever email address you use, make sure you check the account regularly. Computer skills are very important in todays job market, and so not having an email account or even not responding promptly to email messages signals to an employer that you may not be technologically savvy. If you need an email account, you can sign up for one online with a free service like Gmail (www.gmail.com), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), or Hotmail (www.hotmail.com). Objective Also sometimes referred to as a Goal, this is the part of your resume where you state what you are looking for. This should not be just to get a job, but rather should say something about your long-term career aspirations and ideals. See the image on the next page for one example.

The objective is often considered an optional part of people recommend listing an objective or goal only career paths or just starting out in your chosen field, should always be listed. If you do choose to include an everything on your resume supports that objective. Experience

the resume. Some if you are changing while others think it objective, make sure

This is the section of the resume where you list your previous employment history. If you have had many different jobs, list only the ones that are relevant to the position for which you are currently applying. Write your list in reverse chronological order (that is, your most recent job first, then working backward).

Include the starting and ending date for each job (in M/YY format), as well as the employer name and location (city and state). Always include dates; if you dont, employers may assume that you are trying to disguise gaps in your employment history. If you do have significant gaps, it is fine to make provide a brief explanation of what you were doing during that time (traveling, staying at home to raise children or take care of a sick family member, etc.) in your cover letter. You can also include volunteer experience relevant to your field, either in this section of your resume or in a separate volunteer experience section. For each listed job, briefly describe your responsibilities. Some people like to use bullet points for this, but it is not necessary and may take up too much valuable space on your resume. It is usually recommended that you use past tense for previous positions and present tense for any position you hold currently.

Education

In this section, list schools you have attended (in reverse chronological order) and degrees\certificates you have earned. Include the name of the school, starting and ending dates (again, in M/YY format), and degree achieved. If you are still in school, write when you expect to complete your degree (degree expected M/YY). If you had an especially good GPA (or you graduated very recently), you may want to list that as well, along with any honors you achieved. If you have graduated or are attending college, you dont need to list your high school diploma, since employers will just assume that you have one. NOTE: If you recently graduated from school and are starting off on a new career path, you may wish to put your education section before your work experience on your resume. Otherwise, list your employment history first. Skills If you have special skills that are not highlighted by the job descriptions in the Experience section of your resume, you may want to create a separate Skills section. Computer skills are especially important, so list any operating systems (PC, Mac) and software programs (Word, Excel, Photoshop) that you have experience using, as well as you typing rate if it is particularly impressive (take a free test online at www.typingtest.com). You may also list foreign language skills or other special training\experience that you think might be relevant to the job for which you are applying. References Some people write References available upon request at the bottom of their resumes, but this is generally considered to be unnecessary. Any potential employer knows that they can ask you to provide references. Before submitting a resume, though, make sure you have at least three trusted professional references lined up and have taken note of their correct contact information. If you are being seriously considered for a position, you will be asked for references, so it is best to be ready.

What Else to Include Depending on your field and the job you are applying for, you may wish to include other accomplishments on your resume, such as publications, conference presentations, or memberships in professional organizations. Dont list everything: just pick and choose the most impressive accomplishments that you feel will illustrate your qualifications and make you stand out from other applicants. Resume Style Tips All document margins should be 1 inch. To check this in Word 2007, go to the Page Layout tab and click Margins. The Normal option should be selected. There should be no more than 2 font faces in the document. Choose standard fonts like Times New Roman or Garamond. No creative fonts! Also, dont use more than 2-3 font sizes in your resume: ideally, you should have one size for your name, one for the section headings, and one for everything else. Too many font changes will make your document appear cluttered and unprofessional. Use the Tab key on your keyboard or the Increase Indent button in Word (look for it in the Paragraph section of the Home tab in Word 2007) to make sure there is uniform spacing throughout your resume. No matter what, your resume should be only one page long (unless you are asked to submit a CV or curriculum vitae instead, which can cover multiple pages). You dont have to list every single one of your previous jobs and special skills; highlight only your most important abilities and experience which are relevant to the job in question. A few formatting tricks to save space: adjust the spacing between words (this is known as kerning) or the spacing between lines to condense text slightly. These settings can be changed using the Font and Paragraph groups of the Home tab in Word 2007. Always apply any altered formatting to the entire document, so it looks uniform.

Basic Parts of a Cover Letter


Your resume should always be accompanied by a cover letter, whether the employer requests it or not. Writing a cover letter is simply good business etiquette, and it gives you a chance to properly introduce yourself to your potential employer.

Cover letters should be written in business letter format. To practice the correct formatting, well use one of Words ready-made business letter templates. To access the templates, click on the Microsoft Office button and select New. You can choose a letter template from the Installed Templates section, or look at more options under Microsoft Office Online. The Office Online section has a Letters heading, and a specific category for Cover Letters. The images in this document show the Resume cover letter in response to technical position ad template.

Contact Information Include the same contact information on your cover letter that you listed on your resume, including phone number and email address. Follow this with the current date and then the contact information of the person to whom you are addressing the letter.

Always address your letter to someone. Hopefully the appropriate person (usually the hiring manager or human resources coordinator) will be identified in the job listing, but if not, take the time to do some homework. Call the company to ask who the letter should be sent to, or look around the company website to find the correct name and title. Avoid addressing your letter Dear Sir or Madam or To Whom It May Concern at all costs! When applying for several jobs at once, you can create a form letter to send to more than one potential employer. Just make sure that you change the name, address, job title, and any other identifiable details on each letter. Cover Letter Content Begin your letter with Dear Mr. or Dear Ms. and the recipients last name, followed by a colon. Keep your letter as brief and to the point as possible. You should never go over one page, and it is better if your letter is shorter than a page. In the first paragraph, identify yourself and what you want. Mention the position you are applying for and why you are applying (i.e. you are responding to an ad, a professional contact referred you, etc.).

In the middle paragraph (or paragraphs), explain what you have to offer that makes you ideal for the job in question. Use this area to highlight the strengths of your resume, but do not simply reiterate what you have already listed there. Make explicit ties between your skills and the requirements of the job in question. In the final paragraph, conclude with how you will follow up with the recipient (by phone or email, within a specified period of time). If you would like to request an interview or will be in town during a specific time, mention that here as well. List what you have included with your letter (resume, application, writing sample, portfolio, etc.) if applicable. Finally, thank the recipient for their time and consideration of you for the position. Your letter should end with a formal closing statement such as Sincerely, your signature in ink, and your full name in type.

More Resume and Cover Letter Tips


Dont lie, exaggerate, or embellish on your resume or cover letter! You should accentuate the positive (and leave off the negative), but never be dishonest. Proofread everything! One spelling error or awkward phrase can cause your application to be thrown out. Dont rely on Words spelling and grammar check feature; read and re-read your cover letter and resume to make sure everything is perfect. You may also want to consider allowing a trusted friend or family member (or several) to read your documents before you submit them. Dont use the word I on your resume, and limit its use in your cover letter. Focus on what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you. Customize your resume and cover letter for each position you apply for, so you can emphasize certain skills and experience. Only include what is relevant to the position in question.

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Avoid vague words like articulate, committed, hard-working, and organized, and so on when describing yourself and your accomplishments. Instead, use specific action statements that illustrate your qualities and stress your concrete accomplishments. Check out this website for a list of excellent action words to use: www.seekingsuccess.com/articles/art110.php. If you can afford it, print your resume and cover letter on higherquality paper (20 to 50 lb bond paper with 100% cotton fiber is most often recommended). However, dont use fancy stationary or colored inks; this will give the impression that you are not serious. Make sure your resume and cover letter are cohesive. Font, style, formatting, paper everything should match. If you are asked to submit your resume and cover letter electronically, make sure you do it in a compatible file format. Your best bet is to save your resume and cover letter as Word documents. Unless you are specifically directed to, do not cut and paste your resume into an email or online form, as all the formatting will be lost. Instead, attach the document to the email or form. NOTE: When using Word 2007, the default file format is .docx. These files cannot be read by computers without Word 2007, so always make sure to save your files in .doc format instead if you are planning to send them to someone else. To do this, go to the Microsoft Office button and click Save As, then select Word 97-2003 Document. Look at examples of other resumes and cover letters to get ideas for writing and refining yours. You can find many samples in the books and websites listed on the next page.

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Learn More About Resumes & Cover Letters


BOOKS: Bennett, Scott. The Elements of Resume Style. New York: American Management Association, 2005. (650.142 BENNE) Farr, Michael. The Quick Resume & Cover Letter Book. Indianapolis: JIST Publishing, 2008. (650.142 FARR) Schuman, Nancy. The Everything Resume Book. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2008. (650.142 SCHUM) Walsh, Richard, ed. The Only Resume and Cover Letter Book Youll Ever Need. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2007. Yate, Martin. Knock em Dead Cover Letters. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2008. (650.142 YATE) ONLINE: About.com: Job Searching http://jobsearch.about.com CareerLab: 200 Cover Letters for Job Hunters http://www.careerlab.com/letters/link002.htm Monster Career Advice http://career-advice.monster.com Purdue Online Writing Lab: Workplace Writers http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/681/01 The Riley Guide: Resumes & Cover Letters http://www.rileyguide.com/resprep.html

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What Should I Take Next?


This class is part of the Employment Series at the Heights Libraries. Check out the other classes in the series for more job hunting help, or take one of our basic computer classes to add some technology skills to your resume. Basic Computer Skills for Job Seekers Learn the basic computer skills vital for securing a position in todays job market. We will cover email, Internet browsing, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Getting Ready for the Interview Hear a professional career counselor present a session on preparing for an interview. This includes managing stress during the job seeking process and helping hints to get the interview. Online Job Applications Learn how to fill out online job applications and search the regions largest and most diverse companies online job postings. Searching for Jobs Online Explore popular job search engines and learn how professional networking websites like LinkedIn can help you market yourself to potential employers. Getting Started with Word Learn about toolbars, cutting and pasting, formatting, page set up, printing and saving your work, and much more. Getting Started with Excel Learn budgeting, inventories, survey results, and other financial applications.

Check the current issue of Check Us Out or visit the Heights Librarys homepage (http://www.heightslibrary.org) for specific dates and times.

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