Resumes (and Cover Letters)

The purpose of your resume (and also your cover letter) is to set you apart from the rest of the pack.  This doesn’t mean that you should write in flashy colors or submit a music video. It does mean that you should tailor the content to fit the specific job you want, and tailor the appearance to fit your own personality.  The resume and cover letter sell the applicant to the company and are supposed to prove your worthiness for the position.

Avoid the MS-Word resume templates -- in each class of 25 technical writing students, I typically get 5 who use the exact same template, which tends to squish the text over to the right.  I think it's probably better to have a plain resume than use a complex template without personalizing it and fixing the design flaw.  -DGJ

Resumes -- Top 5 Problems
I regularly ask my students to submit resumes early in the semester.  Here are the top 5 problems that typically cause stress for my students (and me) during this assignment.

Resumes -- Content
Employers read resumes in order to find evidence that a particular applicant is well qualified for a particular job.  Experience, education, training, and personal qualities relevant to the job are all important. The resume should describe what has led the applicant to where he or she is now.

Resumes -- Presentation
Many employers look for creativity and imagination when the job calls for it. However, it is best to aim for a professional, neat, and organized look for your resume.  If you are applying for a job that requires radical creativity, you can always include a portfolio of your wildest, most unbusinesslike work!

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