Resume and Cover Letter Tips

Given the short turnaround for TRIP Resume Submissions, it is important that you follow the information below to prepare your documents for review and approval by your career center and then application to up to 3 TRIP Postings. The closer you can edit your work and remove any errors or unclear language, the faster it can be reviewed. Please read the information below carefully and use it as a guide to edit your resume and cover letters.

* Students who are abroad are eligible for the program but need to note their abroad location at the top of each cover letter. *

RESUME

Your resume is the foundation of everything and needs to be perfect. No mistakes. Read through all of the notes below and follow the directions as specifically as you can. Use one of the downloadable templates in this section to help guide your development. The goal is to get as much USEFUL information onto one page, not leaving any space unused, and not overfilling the page with unnecessary info. Common Resume enhancements by section include the below, and are based on the format provided in the resume templates you can download in this section.

Standard Resume
Download this template and input your content after reading all of the below tips and techniques.

No Mistakes: Employers are going to look for mistakes first, then content. Check everything. Most common mistakes are spacing between date hyphens, consistency in how you format your companies and titles, verb tenses aligning with current and previous positions, items being listed in chronological order (most recent at top), not including study abroad, not including academic achievements from high school or college, and you should make sure that if your GPA is over a 3.0, that it’s included.

Header Section

  • Double check that everything is perfectly centered and aligned
  • LinkedIn URL should be personalized and shortened like: linkedin/com/in/ByronKantrow. You can do this in the settings of your LinkedIn account.

Education Section

  • Include your GPA if over a 3.0
  • Use Double when referencing multiple minors or majors, gives more impact
  • Add Relevant Coursework only if it pertains to your general industries of interest
  • Ensure your study abroad is included if you have completed that. If you haven’t and you need to fill space, you can use your high school
  • See templates above that will show you how to enhance particular areas of study, scholarship received, etc.
  • Ensure all words are capitalized when listing Honors (IE Semesters, Annually, Per Year)

Experience Section

  • Active verbs at beginning of each bullet, details about what you did, how you did it, results achieved and any other layers of specifics that can help make someone understand how you added value
  • Ask yourself “who, what, why, when and how,” this should allow for another layer of detail to them to make them specific to your experiences
  • If you’re a junior or senior, your most recent internship bullets should be so specific that they wouldn’t make sense on someone else’s resume
  • Chronological order of experience is imperative
  • Always have a descriptive word before “Intern” in your title
  • First line of bullet should extend at least 3/4 across page, second line of bullet at least 1/2 (otherwise condense)
  • You need to use the same size space (the blank space) between sections/internships throughout

Activities Section

  • Only use 2 bullets if extremely significant, try to condense
  • If in multiple cities, mention city in parenthesis after title

Skills and Interests Section

  • Make sure your categories (Computer: etc) are bold, but not the colon
  • Lists should all be capitalized, no “ands”
  • Separate Computer from Technical if you have a good bit of Technical
  • Only list language if Proficient or Fluent

Best Ways to Condense Your Resume

  • Ensure your margins are narrow
  • Decrease font to 10.5
  • Make sure you’re not using a second line of a bullet for less than 5 words. You can typically condense content back to one line
  • Decrease the size of the space above and below each section header to anywhere between 5 and 8pt. Make sure that the space is before and after each header
  • Decrease the size of the space between internships and other inter-section entries to anywhere between 2 and 5pt. Make sure that space is consistently sized throughout

STAR Technique for your Bullets

  • S – Situation
  • T – Task
  • A – Action
  • R – Result
  • Example of a weak statement: “Analyzed survey data for multiple projects and found patterns in responses”
  • This can be turned to a STAR statement as follows: “Analyzed data for five major clients resulting in identifying real-time customer patterns; allowed clients to improve overall customer experience”

COVER LETTER

Salutation

Start your cover letter off on the right foot by addressing the hiring manager. If you can, find out the name of the hiring manager for the role you’re applying for. Reread the job description to see if it’s listed there or check the company website. It’s also an option to call the company and ask for the hiring manager’s name. Explain that you are applying for a job and would like to address your cover letter to the correct person. It’s not necessary to add Mr., Mrs. or Ms. since it may require some guesswork about gender and marital status on your part—just use their first and last name: “Dear Alex Johnson.” If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, stick with “Dear Hiring Manager.” Avoid outdated greetings such as “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.”

1st Paragraph

The opening paragraph is your chance to catch the hiring manager’s attention, introduce yourself and enthusiastically tell the employer why you’re applying for the job. You’ll want to make this paragraph specific to each job listing you apply for. Include why you’re excited about the job and the company, and how the job lines up with your career goals. Avoid making this paragraph sound formulaic by including keywords from the job posting and matching your skills to the employer’s requirements. Describe who you are, where you’re from (if applicable), what you’re studying in school, and how you found the position. If you were referred to this job by someone who knows the hiring manager or already works at this company, you may want to mention this referral in your opening paragraph.

Next 1-2 Paragraphs

Now that you’ve introduced yourself and established your enthusiasm, it’s time to dig into your most relevant experience and talk about the specific qualifications and skills that make you the perfect candidate. In one or two paragraphs, make the connection between your previous accomplishments and your readiness for this new role. Think of these paragraphs as a way to pitch yourself as the ideal match for the role. Employers will likely have read your resume already, so avoid repeating the bullet points. Instead, include details that more deeply illustrate those highlights.

Talk about why you’re interested in and qualified for the INDUSTRY. Mention classes, experiences and internships that have encouraged you to pursue a career in the industry. You can also note any networking you’ve done to confirm and learn more about your interest here.

Talk about your specific interests in the company, showing that you’ve done research into who they are and why they’re so impressive. Also look at the job description and give examples of how you are prepared the job – look at requisite skills etc and demonstrate how your background fits what they’re calling for most specifically.

Closing Paragraph

The main goal of your closing paragraph is to thank the employer for their time and consideration. You also have the option of making any clarifications. For example, you can justify any major gaps in your employment history. You can also use this space to sum up your qualifications for the role and express an interest in continuing to the next stage in the hiring process.