A resume is a professional introduction meant to encourage an interview – the opportunity for communication that can lead to a job offer. A resume establishes a first impression of a potential job candidate’s skills, background and hiring value. If written well, can offer the reader a sense of the candidate’s “fit” for the position and company. If your resume secures an interview, then it has given you a distinct advantage, and has gone beyond its job. Coupled with an effective cover letter, the resume can be a very strong marketing tool.
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Note: An employer will usually spend 15 to 20 seconds reviewing your resume, so the content of your resume must be clear, concise, and targeted to the type of job for which you are applying. See examples of resume formats below.
"Do I really need a cover letter"? YES! A cover letter is more than a way to dress up your resume. It has a genuine purpose. The cover letter acts as an introduction as to why you are the perfect candidate for this position at this company. It says, "You’ve got a job and I'm the perfect person to do it. Here's why…" A cover letter can take your resume information by showing the employer how your history and past achievements can be applied to meet the unique needs, concerns, missions, and goals of the company you're targeting.
For this reason it is desired that you customize each cover letter and not use a standard cover letter for each position you are applying for. The employer will pick up on a standard cover letter and will think you are lazy and you did not do your homework and the proper preparation before submitting your resume and cover letter.
See examples of cover letter formats below.
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Resume & Cover Letter FAQs
- Should I include my GPA?
Yes, all employers will want to know your GPA. Keep in mind some companies may have a minimum GPA requirement.
- How long should my resume be?
One page is ideal.
- Do I have to list an objective on my resume?
Yes and No. If you have an objective statement be specific. Your objective should complement the position you are applying for. Some employers like objective statement and others do not have a preference.
- Where do I list study abroad?
- Where do I list undergraduate research?
- Should I list my high school graduation, activities and achievements?
No, only your expected degree and graduation from Purdue. You should only include high school activities and achievements when you are freshmen or only if they complement the position you're applying for.
- What size font should I use?
10 or 12, you may use smaller to get everything on one page, but the reader needs to be able to read it easily. Do not use a font larger than 12 to fill the page, your reader will catch on to what you are doing.
- Is it important to have my resume reviewed by someone other than a peer?
YES, you need to have your Career Services Coordinator, CCO, Resume Blitz or advisor look over your resume for format, content, grammar and typos.
- Should I email my resume and cover letter?
- Before e-mailing a resume to an employer, check the employer's web site for instructions on how they would like your resume, or ask the employer for the preferred method.
- Send your resume and cover letter in a format that the employer is able to retrieve and open. (A PDF document can be troublesome for some employers to open or receive.)
- Name your attachment logically for the recipient. If you use the position or company name, make sure you are matching the right company up.
Following up after you have submitted a resume is as important as following up on an interview with a thank you note or letter. Sometimes, submitting your resume can seem like dropping it down a black hole. If you don't hear anything from the company, you wonder if they have received it. Keep in mind that large companies may be handling many resumes for many positions all at once. Be patient and courteous of the process and the Human Resources department. If you submit your resume but don't hear anything from the potential employer (one or two weeks from the position closing date), writing a follow-up letter or placing a phone call is a good idea. If you have been rejected for the position, a follow-up letter will make them tell you that instead of leaving you guessing.