Marketable Skills Campaign
Resume & Cover Letter Writing
Because your resume is perhaps the most important part of your job search efforts, there are some points to be considered in making this tool as effective as possible. Be prepared to invest the time required to polish and update your resume. Other resume writing resources are available in the University Career Services Resource Library.
All information on your resume must be accurate and up to date. By sending or posting your resume, you are agreeing that all information disclosed is accurate and true.
THE FOLLOWING SUGGESTIONS WILL HOPEFULLY ASSIST YOU IN PREPARING YOUR RESUME:
Why have a resume?: Your resume is your greatest tool in acquiring an interview. Everyone needs a powerful resume to serve 2 main purposes:
- To present a snapshot of you when not present
- To help you get an interview.
Style The three styles of resumes are chronological, functional and a combination of the two. The chronological resume lists jobs and duties sequentially beginning with the current or most recent position. This style focuses on your growth in a specific profession. The functional resume emphasizes professional skills. The combination of the two styles incorporates the strengths of both the chronological and the functional. Your resume should be short, easy to read and use words that are familiar to the reader. The goal is to show off your achievements and minimize any weaknesses.
Length. You are encouraged to limit your resume to one page. Certainly, there are exceptions. A counselor will be happy to review your resume and help you in this process.
Identifying Information. There is no need to put the word "resume" or words "resume of" at the top of the page. This document has become recognizable and will speak for itself. Your name, address, phone number and e-mail address should be placed at the top of the page. If you have a school address and another address (parents, etc.), it is advisable to list those addresses where you might be reached. Be sure to update the address or phone number if changes occur.
Objective. Ideally, each resume will be specifically prepared for each employer. Because of this, use care in how you word your "career objective." If you are applying for positions in several different areas, the objective may be omitted from your resume. Education majors should replace "career objective" with "teaching field" because this is what they are certified for and it is not likely to change. To target a particular employer or career field, you may want to prepare individual resumes for the actual interview. Remember, cover letters can be used to serve the purpose of establishing why you are sending a resume and you will be the communicator of this information in the interview itself.
Education. Included in this section are undergraduate and graduate degrees earned. Most recent degrees are listed first (reverse chronological order). Include your major and minor if applicable. You may promote your marketability by putting other areas of academic emphasis; i.e., "15 hours computer science," "8 hours technical writing," etc. If space allows, you might even list some course titles. Grade point averages may be given in this section. Some students give their cumulative GPA or choose major GPA or junior/senior GPA, depending on which represents them most favorably.
Experience. This section may include part-time or full-time work. It may also include internships as well as volunteer experiences. Name, address of the organization, your title or position, and dates worked should be included. Describe your experiences in active, skill-related terms and emphasize accomplishments.
Extracurricular Activities. This section may be titled many different ways. What you want to emphasize is the name of the organization, leadership roles, accomplishments and dates. Involvement in activities can and should be presented in such a way to show that you can deal with others, motivate, problem-solve, and achieve goals.
Languages. State your foreign language skills and accurately indicate your fluency. Foreign studies and/or travel might be appropriately placed here.
Skills. A skills summary can be a strong section to add, particularly for a generalist or for someone with varied work experience.
Computer Languages/Literacy. State your language knowledge and application.
Interests. The addition of a section on personal hobbies can provide the interviewer with helpful information. However, you should rarely delete other, more useful information to allow space for this section.
Personal. Personal data such as age, sex, weight, and place of birth were, at one time, a standard listing on the resume. Since the passing of equal employment legislation, this material is usually omitted. Unless you believe this is truly beneficial to the job you are seeking, this information is now considered to have little impact on hiring decisions and is generally omitted.
Because relocation and willingness to travel are often a requirement for some career opportunities, University Career Services suggests that phrases such as "willing to travel," "willing to relocate" or "seek position in Southwest or Texas" be placed in the Personal Section or in another section of the resume. For international students, residency status and type of visa may be placed in the personal section or in its own section.
References. At some point during the hiring procedure you will be asked to furnish references. With few exceptions, your references will be contacted regarding your employability.
Though you may have written references in your file, we encourage you to list your references separately. Include each reference's name, title, address, phone number and e-mail address. Only list those persons who have given you permission to do so. For those students who will be certified to teach, student teaching evaluations will automatically be included in your file at University Career Services.
Cover Letter Tips
The letter of application, or cover letter, should accompany every resume you mail to prospective employers. A good letter introduces you to the employer, briefly states the purpose of communication, highlights pertinent information from your resume, and suggests a meeting or interview. It should not reiterate everything in the resume, but should complement and expand upon the resume and support a position as to why the applicant should be considered further. Remember that the main purpose of a cover letter is to get the reader interested enough in you to want to read your resume.
In the cover letter, remember to do the following
- Type it neatly on 8 1/2" x 11" bond paper to match your resume. Keep it clean and free of errors.
- Keep it brief (no more than four paragraphs). Cut to the chase - don't ramble.
- Never send a form letter. Each letter should be individually composed.
- Always address your letter to a specific person, and with his/her appropriate title.
- Talk about what you can do for them, and then take the initiative when closing by asking for an interview.
- Use your own style of writing.
- Use correct sentence structure and grammar.
- Always send an original and not a carbon copy; however, once a good letter has been developed, it may be used as a model many times with slight revisions.
- Avoid "I-itis"-excessive use of "I," "my," and "me"; blend the letter and the resume.
- Keep a copy of all correspondence sent for your own records. You'll be amazed how helpful this can be.
- When you complete a rough draft of your letter, show it to a career counselor, professor, experienced professional, or a friend for some helpful feedback.
Thank You Letter Tips
Job Interviews & Salary Negotiation
Job Fair Preparation
The interview is the single most important aspect in job hunting. Good grades, an excellent degree, lengthy experience, and a sharp-looking resume won't compensate for a poor impression made during an interview. You must be able to sell yourself effectively. More often than not, it is the small details such as appearance, handshake, etc., that spell the difference between being selected or rejected for a job. Be thorough in your preparation! Since each interview is unique, the more you interview the more confident and skillful you will become.
Conduct a Self-Assessment (Take an honest look at yourself focusing on such factors as:)
- Personality - What kind of person are you? Strengths? Weaknesses?
- Interests - What do you enjoy doing?
- Abilities/Skills - What do you do well?
- Values - Why do you want to work?
- Goals - Where would you like to be in five years?
- Experience - What have you accomplished?
Study the Organization
- Review company literature.
- Prepare important and relevant questions for the interview sessions.
- Ask others about the organization.
- Develop a clear understanding as to why you have selected them.
- Try and discover problems the organization may have and reflect on how you might be able to help them.
- If possible visit the organization..
- Notice how employees are dressed.
- Pay attention to grooming, styles, etc.
The Initial Interview
Be Yourself. Your attitude is going to influence the interviewer's evaluation. Don't try to be someone you aren't...just be yourself. Emphasize your strong points and remember that the recruiter is looking for inherent personal energy and enthusiasm. The interview is your opportunity to sell a product and that product is you.
Dwell on the Positive. Try always to dwell on the positive. While past failures and shortcomings need not be volunteered, don't try to cover them up or sidestep them. Should the recruiter ask about them, try to explain the circumstances rather than give excuses or blame others. Remember, the recruiter is human, too...and probably has made a few mistakes. You'll create a better impression by being honest and candid.
Ask Questions. When Indicated. If appropriate, ask meaningful questions, particularly if you're not clear about the details of the job, the training program, or other job-related concerns, but don't ask questions just because you think that's what is expected.
Some Do's and Don'ts in Successful Interviewing:
- Act natural
- Be prompt, neat, and courteous
- Bring copies of your resume
- Carry out promises
- Ask relevant questions
- Allow employer to express himself/herself
- Read company literature
- Examine company ratings
- Evaluate objectively
- Follow procedures
- Make yourself understood
- Listen to the other person
- Present informative credentials
- Keep an interview file with all the stuff you need in it. Take notes if you feel like you need to remember important info from the interview
- Follow up with personalized thank you letters
- Criticize yourself
- Be late for your interview
- Freeze or become tense
- Present an extremist appearance
- Become impatient
- Become emotional
- Talk too much or too little
- Oversell your case
- Draw out interview
- Make elaborate promises
- Come unprepared
- Try to be funny
- Unduly emphasize starting salary
- Linger over fringe benefits
Stages of an Interview
STAGE 1: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
- Introduction: light conversation about sports, weather, traffic, etc.
- Interviewer Expectations: Good, firm handshake; eye contact; proper interview attire/grooming.
STAGE 2: YOUR QUALIFICATIONS
- Education: grades, choice of school and major, special interests, and achievements.
- Work: Types of jobs held, level of responsibility experienced, tasks enjoyed most and least, what was gained.
- Which of your experiences has been most rewarding to you?
- What type of work environment appeals to you?
- What skills have you developed?
- Activities and Interests: Role in campus organizations, fraternities, sororities, extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports, cultural interests.
- Are you active in any organizations or clubs?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- What led you to choose your field of study?
- What subjects did you like best? Why?
- Do your grades accurately reflect your capabilities?
- Willingness to work
- Ability to handle responsibility
STAGE 3: CAREER GOALS
- Immediate and long-term objectives, interest in the company, geographical preferences.
- Immediate and long-term objectives, interest in the company, geographical preferences.
- What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
- When and why did you establish these goals?
- How are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
- What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort
- What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful?
- In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
- Realistic knowledge of strengths and weaknesses
- Knowledge of opportunities
- Interest in the company
- Serious interest in career
STAGE 4: THE COMPANY
- Company opportunities, training programs, corporate structure, benefits and educational opportunities, chances for promotion.
- Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are your geographical preferences?
- Will you relocate?
- Willing to travel?
- Informed and relevant questions
- Sincere interest in the company
- Appropriate but not undue interest in salary and benefits
STAGE 5: CONCLUSION
- What you should do next (fill out applications, send transcripts, forward references), further steps the company will take, when you will be notified of interview results, cordial farewell.
- Candidate's attention to information as a sign of continued interest.
Sample Interview Questions
Questions to ask the INTERVIEWER:
- What personality traits do you consider critical to success in this job?
- Describe typical first year assignments on the job?
- What is the best part about working for XYZ?
- What is the timetable for filling this position?
- What parts of your job are most challenging?
- What recent changes have forced your company to re-focus its efforts?
- What has the impact of these efforts been?
- What are the most important personal satisfactions connected with your job?
Example Graduate and Professional School Interview Questions:
Practice Interviewing with Optimal Resume
Salary negotiation takes tact, skill, and research. Don't forget that salary isn't the only factor in taking an offer. Benefits, cost-of-living, geographic location, work environment, and corporate culture also need to be considered. Make sure you look at the whole picture. While doing your research, you need to also figure out what you're worth before you start to negotiate.In addition to negotiating the salary you want, there are many non-salary perks you can consider
- Increased vacation time
- Comp time (time off for overtime worked)
- Participation in the company's 401(k) plan
- Immediate vesting in the company's savings plan
- Stock or equity in the company
- Paid life insurance
- Continuing education or tuition reimbursement
- Flexible work schedule
- Child care benefits
- Elder care benefits
- An expense account
- Parking reimbursement
- Personal use of frequent flyer miles
- Subscriptions to professional publications
- Dues for professional organizations
- A better office
Complete all required paperwork with both the University and your internship site
Determine the hours you will work each week with your internship coordinator
If a formal Orientation has not been set up for you at your site, make sure you know the following:
- How to use all of office equipment you will be required to use
- How to use the phone system
- Dress Code
- Confidentiality and Security Issues
- Safety Issues
- Parking Arrangements
- Normal hours of operation and lunch hours
Talk with your internship coordinator to see what will be expected of you and what projects, jobs, etc. you will be working on
Set goals for what you are hoping to learn and to achieve while doing your internship
Share your goals with your internship coordinator
Be prepared to work hard and to gain meaningful insight in your field of interest
An internship is a great way to gain meaningful experience, with a short term commitment. It provides a way to apply what you've learned to the workplace, creates the potential for references and supplies an avenue for networking. Take advantage of your opportunity to do an internship.
Searching for an Internship
What is an Internship? An internship is an opportunity for students to work in an industry which matches their career interests to balance schoolwork with practical experience. An internship can be done during a summer, a semester or even a year to provide "real work" experience with a short term commitment. It may be a paid or volunteer position with part-time or full time hours. It can be done for course credit (depending on your college department's requirements) or simply for the experience.
Brainstorm. What company would you like to work for someday? Begin with companies that you are interested in for future employment. Start researching companies early in your college career so you know which ones to target for your internship.
Use the University Career Center. Texas Tech University Career Center is located at the southeast corner of the Wiggins Complex. Make an appointment to meet with the internship coordinator by calling 742-2210. Also, by registering with University Career Center, you will have access to Hire Red Raiders, an online listing of jobs and internships, over 150 company links, the capacity to preview companies which are coming to campus to conduct interviews and the ability to upload your resume for potential employers to review.
Remember to use all your networks. What contacts do you already have through way of your family, friends, alumni, professors, previous teachers, coaches, etc. Use these contacts to your advantage.
Think outside the box. Not all accountants work for a Big Four Firm. What other companies need accountants? Teaching also occurs outside the traditional classroom setting. Where could you use your teaching skills in a different environment? Nurses are found in more areas than just doctors' offices and hospitals. Explore all your options. You never know what will be the best fit for you until you think creatively about your skills and where they could best be used.
Use the Internet. You can research companies and discover if they have an internship program by checking out their website.
Still not sure? Try conducting informational interviews. Set up a time to talk with several people who are working in your field of interest. This can be done either on the phone or in person.
- If you will meet in person, make sure to dress professionally(as if you were going to an interview).
- Remember to have well thought out questions (i.e. Why did you choose this field, What is a typical day like? What does it take to be successful in this field? ). You may even e-mail your questions in advance so the person has time to think about their answers.
- Ask if the company has an established internship program and what the parameters are of this program. If the company does not have an established internship program, ask if they are open to hosting intern students.
- Ask the person for a business card. Start a collection of business cards from everyone you meet. These will come in handy if you have any more questions or if you decide to pursue an internship with one of the companies you have explored through your informational interviews.
- Remember to respect the person's time. They are taking time out of their work schedule to answer your questions.
- Send a thank you note to show your appreciation for the person's time.
Course Credit? You will need to check with your specific department to see how many hours are required to receive course credit for doing your internship. Some programs may not offer course credit for an internship, however the experience you gain will be worth your time even if you do not receive course credit.
Plan ahead. Internships are usually done after the sophomore or junior year. They can be done during the summer or during the school year. Plan ahead so you can incorporate an internship into your schedule at a time that is appropriate for you.
Wherever...Internships can be done in Lubbock, Dallas, New York, or Tokyo. You can choose the location that is best for you. Investigate your possibilities in advance so if relocation is an option, you will be prepared.
Again, remember to use your contacts. Do you have relatives in another city who are willing to house you for a summer or a semester. Do you have a friend you could live with while doing your internship in another city? Are there some options of living with a classmate who is also doing an internship in another city or even another country? Investigate your options. You never know where the best internship for you may be until you explore the possibilities.
Experience. An increasing number of students are doing internships to balance their classroom learning with real life experience. An internship provides a springboard from college life to career life, strengthens your background in your field of choice, creates the potential for future work with the company, provides potential work-related references and creates an opportunity for networking.
Why not? Experience is never a waste of time. You will either learn that you will enjoy the field that you have decided to explore through an internship or that this field is definitely not something you would like to pursue. Either way you have learned some valuable things about career-life and have defined or redefined which direction you would like to head.
Selecting sites. Select two or three sites you think would meet your needs for a successful internship experience.
Preparation. Prepare and send a resume and a cover letter to the Internship Coordinator at each site. (This is good practice for when you start searching for a permanent position. Plus, you never know when an internship may lead to full time employment with the company. Start with your best foot forward. This preparation will also show the internship coordinator that you are serious about gaining meaningful experience.)
Making Contacts. Depending on the site, the Internship Coordinator may contact you for an interview or you may need to take the initiative in setting up an interview.
- Research the company in advance.
- Practice your interviewing skills. Be prepared to explain the University's requirements to complete your internship and ask if these things can be accommodated. List several goals you would like to accomplish throughout your internship, things that you would like to learn from the internship, days and hours you will be available to work, how many hours you will need to complete to meet your University requirements, when you will be available to start and when you will need to be finished in order to complete the University requirements.
- Make a dry run. Even if you know the company's location, it still would be wise to drive to the site in advance. You never know if there will be road construction, detours, or what the parking situation may be like.
- Arrive early. (In the rare event that you may run into a delay, (i.e. unexpected accident, road delays, etc.) always have the phone number of the person who will be conducting the interview. It is better to contact the person early to inform him/her of the delay instead of explaining your tardiness when you arrive.
- Take a copy of your resume, cover letter and list of professional references for quick access if these items are requested by the interviewer or in case your materials were not received in advance.
- Ask when you may expect to know a definitive answer about the internship.
After the interview...
- Remember to send a thank you letter. This is an important part of the process that many people do not take the time to do. A thank you letter shows you are courteous, that you are appreciative of the interviewer's time and that you take care of details. Write the thank you letter!
- If you have not heard from the Internship Coordinator in the agreed upon time, call to check on your status. Most likely you will need to start your internship at a designated time in order to complete your required hours in a timely fashion. Calling is appropriate at this point.
- Select the internship that will best serve your needs. Talk to the Internship Coordinator to establish your work schedule.
- Contact the sites you did not select to decline their offers. Speak to the specific person who interviewed you. Do not just leave a message. You never know when you are dealing with a future employer.
Applying to Graduate & Professional School
Tips for Applying to Graduate Schools
- Research which schools offer the program that interests you; use the Peterson’s Graduate & Professional Programs series found in the UCS library or visit the website here.
- You may want to also research the programs’ rankings and check on program accreditation.
- Learn which exam is required for admissions.
- Take the exam early in case you would like to retest.
- Visit TTU Academic Testing Services in Room 214 West Hall or visit the website here for the examination dates and locations.
- Be aware of each school’s requirements and application deadlines (some schools will require you to apply with the University in general as well as with the specific college department).
- Have a career counselor at University Career Center and/or the University Writing Center review essays/personal statements.
- If an interview is required, do a mock interview with a career counselor at University Career
- Center (call 742-2210 to set up an appointment).
- If you have any questions about the university, the individual program and/or application process, call the specific university department for the program of your choice.
- Possibly visit the school and talk to faculty and current students in the program.
Tips for Writing a Personal Statement
The personal statement distinguishes you from other candidates and gives the panel information on "who you are." This is your opportunity to “sell yourself” to the school. It is all about you, them, and where you both can go.
- Formal writing is expected. Be sure to always use proper grammar.
- Be creative and grab attention with your opening paragraph.
- Narrow the focus – not too many ideas.
- Make yourself stand out by being honest and stating your truth.
- Answer the questions exactly and carefully. Take some time for serious reflection.
- Be sure to include personality factors, history, successes, failure, and academics.
- Simple is sometimes best.
- Provide passion, but more importantly provide persuasiveness.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!
- Come into the UCC and/or the Writing Center to have your statement looked over.
Hours:Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.