Resumes, cover letters, and thank-you letters
What is a resume?
A resume is a personal advertisement about who you are and what you have to offer a prospective employer. Ideally, your resume will be targeted specifically to the job and/or industry you are applying for. For those who have multiple interests, it is recommended to create different versions of your resume targeted toward those areas.
Why is it important?
It is your own personal marketing tool. It summarizes how your education, work experiences, internships, activities, skills, honors, and affiliations qualify you for a job.
General resume tips
- Have your resume proofread by someone other than you! Typos are never acceptable and may get you removed from consideration from the job. 1 day Resume Critiquing is available in the Office of Career Services
- Highlight the skills and experience you have gained from extra-curricular activities.
- Use action verbs throughout the job description and internship sections.
- Emphasize accomplishments.
- If at all possible, keep your resume to one page. If using a second page, be sure to put your name at the top of page two.
- Duplicate your resume on good quality resume paper that can be purchased at most print shops. Appropriate colors include white, cream, and light gray.
- Use matching paper for your cover letters and envelopes.
- Create your own resume. Free for current Furman students.
1 Day resume critique
- Drop your resume off in our office. One of our counselors will make suggestions and critique it. Students may pick up their resume the following day.
Choose appropriate category headings for the information you want to present. Below are typical content sections of resumes. Include the ones that fit the information you want to present and exclude the ones that don't. Depending on the information you have to share, you may want to include additional headings such as Skills, Community Service, Research, Professional Organizations, Additional Training, etc.
Identification: Include name, address (both school and permanent, if appropriate), phone numbers, and e-mail address.
Career objective: In most cases, your resume should have an objective. This statement reflects your goals and direction. Be concise and specific. The rest of your resume should support your objective. If you are interested in more than one career field, it is acceptable to develop a version of your resume that has no objective; this resume can be used for general distribution when you are networking. However, when applying for a specific job, an objective should be included that is targeted toward that job or career field.
Personal summary (optional): A statement that highlights your strengths and skills for a particular profession. This section is optional, especially if length becomes an issue.
Education: Your institution, degree, major and graduation date should be included. Additional coursework and a concentration would also be indicated here. Include your cumulative and major grade point average if over a 3.0 and any foreign study experience. If you transferred from another college/university, you may want to present that information in this section. As a general rule, for most college graduates high school information is excluded.
Honors/Activities: Employers place more emphasis on this section than you might think. This section can help to set you apart from other applicants. Include all honors/awards such as scholarships and honorary organizations, as well as extracurricular activities, especially those where you held leadership roles. If you have enough information you may want to separate this into separate sections--one for Honors and one for Activities. Unless you are an underclass student, high school honors and activities are probably too far removed to be included.
Internship: This may be the most important piece of your resume. Employers give a priority to applicants who have completed internships in a field related to their area. Include your title ("Intern" if you didn't have a specific title), employer, dates, and job duties. If you have more than one internship, the most recent is listed first.
Work experience: If you have both relevant (related to career objective) and non-relevant work experience, you may want to develop two separate sections with the relevant experience presented first (this is optional). You will want to include your title, employer, dates of employment and job description for most jobs listed. Your most recent job is listed first.
Interests (optional): This section is optional, especially if length is an issue, but can be very important. Include something in this category that will be remembered, something that is unique about you and that sets you apart from the many others who might be interviewed for the same position.
References: Do not list your references on your resume. If space allows, simply mention that they are available upon request. Instead, you will want to develop a separate sheet for your references. Include the person's name, title, employer, address, phone, and e-mail. Be sure that you have secured permission from them to be included on the list. Choose professors, advisors, supervising teachers, job supervisors, etc.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter generally accompanies a resume that is sent in application for a specific job. WHY
Why is it important?
Cover letters are just as important as your resume because they are seen first and reflect your writing skills.
General cover letter tips
Cover letter construction
- Keep your cover letter short and to the point. Never write over four paragraphs.
- Be specific about qualifications and speak to why the employer should interview you.
- Remember that your cover letter is just as important as your resume and deserves the same amount of time and attention.
- Have your cover letter proofread by someone else. Typos are never acceptable. If you would like a cover letter critiqued, simply drop it by the Office of Career Services and pick it up the next day.
Salutation: It is important to address your cover letter to a person, rather than to a position. Oftentimes, you will have to call the company to get the appropriate name of the person who will be making the hiring decision.
Paragraph one: In this paragraph, indicate why you are writing, what position you are interested in and how you learned of the opening.
Paragraph two: This is the most important paragraph! This is where you put your education, skills and experience on the table and convince the employer to interview you. Try to draw parallels between your background and the job duties. Be specific about what you can do for the employer and don't rewrite your resume. Explain why you are the perfect candidate for the position. Be sure also to include some positive information about the company that is especially attractive to you.
Paragraph three: In the last paragraph, you ask the employer to take some action on your behalf. You may want to take the assertive approach and tell the employer that you will call during a certain week to see if a convenient meeting time can be arranged. It is also appropriate to close with the expectation of a positive response, such as "I look forward to speaking with you concerning my qualifications for this job."
Sample Cover Letters
Thank you letters
What is a thank you letter?
Thank you letters are an often-overlooked, yet very important aspect of the interview process.
Why are thank you letters important?
They have the potential to catch an employer's attention and add weight to your application. Thank you letters reflect good manners and are part of proper business etiquette. An e-mailed thank you note is not sufficient.
Thank you letter construction
Thank you notes can be hand written on a thank you card, or typed in a business letter format whichever you are the most comfortable with. If your handwriting is not completely legible, then opt for typing the note. The body of the letter/note should:
Be short and simple. Remember that the purpose of a thank you letter is express gratitude and not to rewrite your resume.
Thank the person or persons for the interview.
Restate your interest in the position and company.
Include something about your qualifications to remind the interviewer why you are a good candidate for the job. But don't overdo this part.
Sample thank you letter
Accepting a job offer
Even if you have received a job offer, nothing is final until there is written confirmation. You will want to confirm your new position with a brief, formal letter of acceptance. This letter should reflect appreciation for the company's decision and your enthusiasm for the new position. This type of attention to detail can be a reflection of your professional attitude and the ability to follow up. The letter should:
Accept the terms of the employer's offer.
Give a specific starting date.
Show confidence in your ability to meet your new employer's expectations.
Thank those involved in the hiring process.
Provide any additional information prior to the employment date.
Reiterate the terms of the employment agreement.
Declining a job offer
Should you decide to turn down a job offer, you must inform the employer with a formal letter. Even if you have previously spoke with the employer about the decision to decline, it is professional etiquette to confirm this decision in writing. Always express gratitude to the employer for taking the time to interview and consider you for the job. Giving a reason for your decision is optional. Always be positive, don't burn your bridges behind you. This letter should:
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Include a reason for your decision (optional).
Thank those involved in the hiring process.
Close with a positive note.