How often should I update my resume?
What’s a cover letter?
Where do I even start when creating these documents?
These are all excellent questions. Whether you have never written a cover letter in your life, or you are a seasoned resume writer, no one can deny that the resume/cover letter writing process is one of the most important parts of searching for jobs. Unfortunately, it can also be the most tedious.
This blog gives an overview of when and how to write a resume, as well as great tips to make the writing process easier.
Are you a resume amateur?
If you have never written a resume before, you may be at a loss of where to start the process. Thankfully, the St. Kate’s Career Development Office offers many resources to help you begin. Many students also use the internet as a starting point, but they must be conscientious of what they find.
In the Career Center, there are many paper and digital resources available to St. Kate’s students and alumni. These resources bring you through the step-by-step process of creating a resume or cover letter and even give you example documents to reference.
We also offer resume and cover letter review appointments with one of our career counselors. We prefer you have something started to show the counselor, but if you’re really stuck, asking a professional for help is always a great option.
Many students also create their resumes using online tools. Google searching for ideas is a good start, and websites such as indeed.com and wozber.com also have resume-building features.
Microsoft Word and Google Docs also offer many pre-built templates for resumes. These are good for familiarizing yourself with what to include in your own resume, but our career counselors advise applicants to shy away from templates.
“They are rigid and difficult to manipulate for later use,” says Violeta Lara, a St. Kate’s Career Counselor.
When creating your resume for the first time, Lara emphasizes that it is important to always include a skills section that will heighten the word count of your resume and indicate alignment to what is needed in the position of interest. You should add this because you want to create more opportunities for your resume to move past the Applicant Tracking System and into the hands of a person to review.
“However, do not simply add skills to move beyond [the system],” says Lara. “Employers want to see the skills that have been identified come through in the bullet statements throughout the resume. You need to do the work, because you cannot assume what the employer knows or does not know.”
After you have completed a significant experience
When you have a resume, it does not stop there! A good tip for reviewing resumes is to add to your resume as you complete significant life experiences. This will make your life so much easier.
“It is good to continue to add to your resume after completing an experience, accomplishing milestones, projects, or professional development,” Lara states. “I recommend having a Master Resume that holds ALL of your experiences and original writing you constructed for each experience. Then you will have something to reference as you begin drafting resumes for new opportunities.”
Experiences to add to your resume include completion of a diploma or degree; additional training or certifications; jobs or internships; volunteer opportunities; leadership experiences, and; any awards that you receive.
When applying for a job
Because you add to your resume as you go, altering your resume for a specific job should be a piece of cake. Each job is different, so it is important to craft your resume to fit the job that you are applying for. You want to include relevant past work experiences.
Relevance is very important for this reason:
“There is an applicant tracking system that scans submitted applications to search for relevance,” Lara says. “[This includes] keywords and phrases aligned with the initial job posting. Just about all employers use this system as a vetting process before putting the resume in the hands of HR or hiring managers.”
When you are planning to apply for a specific job, you should also craft a cover letter. The Career Center offers documentation on how to write a cover letter, as well as cover letter samples and professional career counselors’ help.
Lara mentions that a cover letter should include these basic “ingredients”: express your interest in the position, strive to make a connection with the employer, and write out the accomplishments that are the most important to what the employer is seeking in a candidate.
The cover letter writing process can be long and grueling, so when in doubt, get a career counselor’s help.
Get ‘em professionally reviewed in the Career Development Office
When creating a resume, an important step is to run the document by your mentors or career counselors to make sure it is professional and ready to submit. The resume should be visually appealing (look at your formatting, font style, and font size), easy to read, and show you in a good light.
“It is crucial that you receive feedback for personal growth and to make sure you are on track for submitting a successful application,” Lara says.
By using online and Career Center resources as well as the tips cited in this blog, you should have a good resume and cover letter prepared for your job search. However, before you apply to a job, ask a career counselor to look over it to make sure it is the best that it can be.
To make a resume/cover letter review appointment with the St. Kate’s Career Development Office, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (651) 690-8890.