Resume & Cover Letter Writing
INTRO VIDEO: About OptimalResume from optimalresume on Vimeo.
Because your resume is perhaps the most important document in 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.
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 your skills, abilities, experience, and knowledge.
- To help you get an interview.
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.
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.
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,phone number and e-mail address should be placed at the top of the page. If you choose to list your address and have a school address in addition to 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.
Ideally, a 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.
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 marketable skills by putting other areas of academic emphasis; "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. If you are not using the cumulative GPA, then label the GPA to explain it.
This section may include part-time or full-time work. It may also include internships and volunteer experiences. Name, city and state location of the organization, your title or position, and dates worked should be included. Describe your experiences in active, marketable skill-related terms and emphasize accomplishments.
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 interact with others, motivate, problem-solve, and achieve goals.
State your foreign language skills and accurately indicate your fluency. Foreign studies and/or travel might be appropriately placed here.
Study abroad can be listed in it's own section or in Education.
A skills summary can be a strong section to add, particularly for a generalist or for someone with varied work experience. Focus on objective marketable skills for the field you are targeting.
State your language knowledge and level of ability. For example: basic knowledge, conversational, or fluent.
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 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 Center suggests that phrases such as "willing to travel," "willing to relocate" or "seek position in Southwest or Texas" be placed in the near the top of your resume, either in the job objective or in a profile section or in another section of the resume.
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 application, we encourage you to list your references on a separate document. 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 credentialing file at University Career Center.
- Resume Checklist
- Chronological Resume
- Tech Teach Resume
- Health Professional Resume
- Student Athlete Resume
- Academic CV Template
- View over 500 professionally certified, configurable resume samples on Optimal Resume!
Cover Letter Tips
The letter of application, or cover letter, should accompany every resume you send 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. A good cover letter will provide solid reasons 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. It should be kept 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. Send an original letter 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.
- When possible 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.
- Avoid excessive use of I, me, my by using introductory phrases so the personal pronoun is buried within the sentence. Example: "In addition to interning, I..."
- Keep a copy of all correspondence sent for your own records. You'll be amazed how helpful this can be when interviews and meetings arise.
- 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 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
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.
- 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
Student Rights & Responsibilities During the On-Campus Recruiting Process
The University Career Center and employers develop connections and programs, such as Hire Red Raiders, on-campus recruiting, and career fairs, to help Texas Tech students obtain meaningful employment. As an internship or job seeker, you have various rights and responsibilities surrounding the interview process and acceptance of job offers.
The University Career Center is pleased to coordinate on-campus interview opportunities between employers and Texas Tech students.
To ensure the best quality experience for you and employers, please follow these guidelines when participating in on-campus interviews:
- Interview only with employers whose eligibility requirements you meet.
- Provide accurate information to employers during the application and interview processes.
- Prepare for your on-campus interview by reviewing these tips, the job description, company website and literature.
- Upon being accepted for an interview, you MUST accept or decline the interview invitation by the designated deadline.
- Once you have accepted an interview invitation, you are expected to keep your appointment. Not showing up for an interview reflects negatively on you and Texas Tech University. If you must miss an interview appointment due to an urgent situation, contact the recruiter who scheduled your interview or call the University Career Center at 806-742-2210 as soon as possible.
- Bring copies of your resume to the interview and transcripts, if applicable.
- Dress and conduct yourself in a professional manner during the interview.
University Career Center staff are available to advise you about your responsibilities in the recruitment process. Please review and follow these Recruiter and University Career Center expectations when considering an internship or job offer:
- Negotiate and accept an offer of employment in good faith.
- Notify employers in a timely manner of acceptance or non-acceptance of the offer.
- Refrain from further searching for internships or jobs once you have accepted an offer of employment.
- Request reimbursement of only reasonable and legitimate expenses incurred in the recruitment process.
Learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a job seeker.
If you have questions regarding the job search, on-campus recruiting process, or negotiating an offer, contact the University Career Center at 806-742-2210.
Reserve a Room for Interviews
Reserve a room with us for your next in-person, phone, or video conference interview! To reserve a room, just call the University Career Center at (806) 742-2210 and our front staff will be able to assist you.
Career Closet for Texas Tech Students
Are you a Texas Tech student in need of quality clothing for job and internship interviews? Is your budget tight? Make an appointment to visit the UCC Career Closet where gently worn, like new, professional clothing is donated on a regular basis. By utilizing a Career Center service, such as a meeting for a resume critique or mock interview or attending a job fair, you can choose one outfit per year while enrolled in Texas Tech. There is NO charge and you can keep the outfit!
Below is a list of the types of clothing that are routinely stocked in the Career
• Dress slacks
• Long sleeved dress shirts
• Dress shoes
• New, dark socks
• Ties, belts
If we don't have your size, please check back on a regular basis.
Together, we can help you dress for success and feel confident when interviewing. For more information please contact Toni Krebbs in the University Career Center at 806-742-2210.
Dos & Don'ts of Interview Etiquette
U.S. Dining Etiquette
International Dining Etiquette
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.
Searching for an Internship
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.
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.
Use the Online Job Boards. You can research companies and discover if they have an internship program by checking out their website.
Think Outside the Box. Not all accountants work for a major 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.
Consider an Informational Interview. 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.
Use the University Career Center. Texas Tech University Career Center is located at the southeast corner of the Wiggins Complex. Make an appointment by calling (806) 742-2210 to meet with a career counselor to discuss the internship search process. Through the University Career Center, you 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 for job fairs and the ability to upload your resume for potential employers to review
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.
You will need to check with your specific academic program to see what the requirements are to receive course credit for an internship. It is your responsibility to communicate the criteria and requirements set by your academic program to your intended employer. 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.
International Student Interns
To learn more about the requirements for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), please consult with your International Student Counselor at the Office of International Affair. For additional information, please see the link below:
Preparing for the Interview
Before the Interview
- Select two or three sites you think would meet your needs for a successful internship experience.
- Research the companies in advance.
- Prepare your resume and cover letter by having them critiqued by a career counselor at the University Career Center.
- Consider setting up a LinkedIn profile to highlight your skills and experiences.
- Practice your interviewing skills with a career counselor at the University Career Center.
- If the internship will be for course credit, be prepared to provide the employer information about the requirements set by your academic program.
- Drive by the location of the interview. 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.
Day of the Interview
- Arrive early. In the rare event that you may run into a delay, be sure to 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.
- If you have not heard from the company in the agreed upon time, call to check on your status.
- Select the internship that will best serve your needs.
- 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.
Internship Search Toolkit
LinkedIn Mentorship for Texas Tech Students
LinkedIn has launched Career Advice, a new feature that helps connect members across the LinkedIn network with one another for lightweight mentorship opportunities. Whether you need advice on your career path, are switching to a new industry or seeking best practices for a project you're working on, Career Advice can help you find and connect with the right person who can help.
Below are instructions on how to get connected to Career Advice:
1. Set up a LinkedIn account.
2. Go to the Dashboard on your LinkedIn Profile and click the Career Advice hub.
3. Click on Career Advice and turn on the advice platform.
4. Enter your preferences. To find Texas Tech alumni mentors, choose from my school.
5. Choose the job and industry sector.
6. Enter topics you would like to receive advice on.
7. Read Terms and Conditions and click agree, then click finish.
As soon as the preferences are entered, LinkedIn's matching algorithm will send recommendations for matches. If you have multiple requests out, you can swipe to see all the matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, use either LinkedIn's platform or take the conversation offline.
For more information please contact Toni Krebbs in the University Career Center at 806-742-2210.
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
- 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.
Marketable Skills Campaign
Marketable Skills by Career Cluster
Evaluate your marketable skills by your specific field below:
- Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
- Architecture & Construction
- Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
- Business Management & Administration
- Education & Training
- Government & Public Administration
- Health Science
- Hospitality & Tourism
- Human Services
- Information Technology
- Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
- Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
- Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
Career Readiness Competencies
Call (806) 742-2210 to set up an appointment.Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. View MapMeet the Staff The University Career Center encourages persons with disabilities to participate in our programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about accessibility, please call 806-742-2210 in advance of your participation or visit. Are you starting a full-time job? Have you been accepted into graduate school? Are you still deciding? The University Career Center (UCC) wants to know your post-grad plans! Report your Outcome!