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Cover Letters and Resumes

Cover letters and resumes should work together to sell yourself for the position that you are interested in. Use these guides and best practices to help guide you in your preparation for an interview or when you start applying for jobs. Contact our staff for more information.

Cover Letter Guide | Resume Guide | Resume Keywords | Employer Needs

Quick Guide: Cover Letters

Your cover letter should provide an introduction and guide the reader through your relevant skills related to a specific position. The sole purpose of the cover letter, paired with a resume, is to generate enough interest for an interview.

Format:
In order to generate enough interest from a perspective employer, you need to make sure you include the following elements in your cover letter:

Introduce yourself:
Clearly state who you are and the position you’re interested in:

  • I am interested in the Warehouse Manager position with your company. With 10 years of warehouse experience and knowledge of ISO9002/QS9000 procedures, I believe that my skills and experience are a perfect match for the position.

Highlight relevant skills and experience:
Use the employer’s job description to determine the skills and experience you need to highlight. A bulleted list with the key skills and how you posses them is a great way to guide the employer through your background. If a bank is looking for a software technology manager with the “ability to manage and train end users on a variety of software platforms,” then you need to highlight your knowledge of software programs and your experience in training others:

  • Software knowledge and training. Along with technical expertise in Windows, Linux, Java, HTTP and SMTP, I have 5 years of experience working on an IT team that supported and trained a staff of 100.

Don’t think you need to have experience in that particular field in order to have relevant experience. If you are applying for a nursing position, but have never been employed as a nurse, you still have valuable and relevant experience to offer. In addition to your clinical work, you can also look to past employment for other skills that are valuable to the nursing profession like attention to detail, ability to work under pressure, or customer service.

Again, the employer will tell what skills they value. You need to guide the employer through the highlights of your past experience to demonstrate that you have what they’re looking for.

Show that you’ve done your homework:
Include a statement or two that shows you know something about the company. One way is to tell the employer something that you admire about the company and explain why you want to work for them:

  • I admire your company’s dedication to delivering quality products and service that has resulted in a loyal customer following. As someone who also values and provides superior customer service, I believe that I can contribute to expanding your customer base.

Another way is to find a challenge and offer a solution:

  • I understand the challenges small businesses face in moving to electronic record keeping. For the past 5 years I have worked to create an organized and systemic approach to creating invoices, managing payables, completing payroll, and keeping tax related documents.

Request an interview:

  • I am excited to begin my career in human resources and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how I could contribute to the needs of your company. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your consideration.

The Other Side of the Desk: The Importance of Cover Letters to Employers
Unless a particular company has told you to forward only your resume (that rarely happens), every resume you send out should include a cover letter. Even in the case of applying online where a cover letter is often listed as optional, you should take the time and effort to submit one with your resume. Don’t miss an opportunity to guide the potential employer through your background and help them understand why you are the right person for the job. Not only that, the extra effort can set you apart from other applicants, and that, ultimately, is the goal.

Helpful Cover Letter Links

Quick Guide: Resumes

Your resume should be a one or two page summary of your skills and experience. The sole purpose of the resume, paired with the cover letter, is to generate enough interest for an interview.

Format:
Your resume should be set up in chronological order (newest to oldest information) with clearly divided categories:

  • Summary of skills (optional)
  • Education
  • Certifications (if necessary)
  • Work Experience (include relevant internships, volunteer work, clinical work, etc.)
    • You can also divide this into separate work categories. For example:
    • Accounting Experience and Other Work Experience

The order of the sections can vary, depending on how strongly they apply to the job. For example, if you are a recent graduate in a nursing program without any nursing work experience, you would put your education and certification first, then followed by any work experience you had in the past.

Do Don’t
Include contact information (name , address, phone, email) Include personal information (age, race, social security number, children, etc. )
Use professional email account name (jroberts@email.com) Use quirky email account name (poohbear@email.com; partygurl@email.com )
Use bullet points for easy scanning of information Use complete sentences
Start bullet points with a variety of active verbs in the same tense (managed, organized, created, maintained) Use passive verbs (people were managed; process has been organized; design is being created)
Make your past experience and education relevant to the job your are applying for Include irrelevant information or too much detail in your job descriptions
Include relevant internships, volunteer work, student organizations Include anything unless it helps show your expertise or ability to do the job
Include references or “references available on request”

The Other Side of the Desk: How Employers Use Resumes
Because employers can have MANY resumes for one job opening, they often use the first read of a resume to find reasons NOT to hire you. This is where tiny mistakes or irrelevant information work against you. So, make sure you proofread your resume! Employers see typos and spelling mistakes as a sign of sloppy work and an inability to pay attention to detail. As a result, you’ll never get that phone call inviting you to interview. Take the time to read it forwards and backwards, paying special attention to your contact information and dates for accuracy. Then, look to make sure you are consistent in your formatting: Are your fonts the same? Are they the same size? Then give it to someone else to look over.

Helpful Resume Links

Resume Keywords

Choose verbs from the following lists to add interest to your resume. Remember, each bullet point should start with a verb:

A-CD-HI-PQ-W
Accelerated
Accomplished
Achieved
Acquired
Acted
Activated
Adapted
Addressed
Adjusted
Administered
Advanced
Advertised
Advised
Advocated
Aided
Allocated
Analyzed
Answered
Anticipated
Applied
Appraised
Approved
Arbitrated
Arranged
Ascertained
Aspired
Assembled
Assessed
Assigned
Assisted
Attained
Audited
Augmented
Authored
Automated
Awarded
Balanced
Began
Boosted
Briefed
Budgeted
Built
Calculated
Captured
Catalogued
Centralized
Changed
Chaired
Charted
Checked
Clarified
Classified
Coached
Collaborated
Collected
Combined
Commanded
Communicated
Compared
Compiled
Completed
Composed
Computed
Conceptualized
Condensed
Conducted
Conferred
Conserved
Consolidated
Constructed
Consulted
Contacted
Contained
Continued
Contracted
Contributed
Controlled
Converted
Cooperated
Coordinated
Correlated
Corresponded
Counseled
Created
Critiqued
Cultivated
Customized
Cut
Debugged
Decided
Decreased
Defined
Delegated
Delivered
Demonstrated
Designated
Designed
Detected
Determined
Developed
Devised
Diagnosed
Directed
Discovered
Dispatched
Dispensed
Displayed
Dissected
Distinguished
Distributed
Diversified
Documented
Doubled
Drafted
Earned
Edited
Educated
Eliminated
Emphasized
Employed
Enabled
Enacted
Encouraged
Enforced
Engineered
Enhanced
Enlarged
Enlisted
Ensured
Entertained
Established
Estimated
Evaluated
Examined
Executed
Expanded
Expedited
Experimented
Explained
Explored
Expressed
Extended
Extracted
Fabricated
Facilitated
Familiarized
Fashioned
Finalized
Fixed
Focused
Forecasted
Formed
Formulated
Fostered
Found
Founded
Fulfilled
Furnished
Gained
Gathered
Generated
Governed
Guided
Handled
Headed
Heightened
Helped
Hired
Honed
Hypothesized
Identified
Illustrated
Imagined
Implemented
Improved
Improvised
Incorporated
Increased
Indexed
Indoctrinated
Influenced
Informed
Initiated
Innovated
Inspected
Inspired
Installed
Instituted
Instructed
Insured
Integrated
Interacted
Interpreted
Interviewed
Introduced
Invented
Investigated
Inventoried
Involved
Issued
Joined
Judged
Justified
Kept
Launched
Learned
Lectured
Led
Lifted
Located
Logged
Maintained
Managed
Marketed
Maximized
Measured
Mediated
Merged
Minimized
Mobilized
Moderated
Modified
Monitored
Motivated
Navigated
Negotiated
Netted
Observed
Obtained
Opened
Operated
Ordered
Orchestrated
Organized
Originated
Outlined
Overcame
Overhauled
Oversaw
Participated
Performed
Persuaded
Photographed
Pinpointed
Piloted
Pioneered
Placed
Planned
Predicted
Prepared
Prescribed
Presented
Presided
Prevented
Printed
Prioritized
Processed
Produced
Programmed
Projected
Promoted
Proofread
Proposed
Protected
Proved
Provided
Publicized
Published
Purchased
Qualified
Questioned
Raised
Ran
Rated
Reached
Realized
Reasoned
Received
Recommended
Reconciled
Recorded
Recruited
Reduced
Referred
Regulated
Rehabilitated
Related
Remodeled
Rendered
Reorganized
Repaired
Replaced
Reported
Represented
Researched
Reshaped
Resolved
Responded
Restored
Restructured
Retrieved
Reversed
Reviewed
Revised
Revitalized
Routed
Saved
Scheduled
Screened
Set
Searched
Secured
Selected
Separated
Served
Set up
Shaped
Shared
Simplified
Simulated
Sketched
Sold
Solidified
Solved
Sorted
Spearheaded
Specialized
Specified
Sponsored
Stabilized
Staffed
Standardized
Started
Stimulated
Stored
Streamlined
Strengthened
Structured
Studied
Summarized
Supervised
Supplied
Supplemented
Supported
Surpassed
Surveyed
Sustained
Synthesized
Systematized
Tabulated
Targeted
Taught
Terminated
Tested
Tightened
Totaled
Tracked
Traded
Trained
Transcribed
Transferred
Transformed
Translated
Transmitted
Traveled
Treated
Trimmed
Tutored
Typed
Uncovered
Undertook
Unified
United
Updated
Upgraded
Used
Utilized
Validated
Verbalized
Verified
Vitalized
Volunteered
Weighed
Widened
Won
Worked
Wrote

Needs Identified by Virginia Employers

Adopted, April 2010

Personal Qualities and People Skills

1. POSITIVE WORK ETHIC: Comes to work every day on time, is willing to take direction, and is motivated to accomplish the task at hand

2. INTEGRITY: Abides by workplace policies and laws and demonstrates honesty and reliability

3. TEAMWORK: Contributes to the success of the team, assists others, and requests help when needed

4. SELF-REPRESENTATION: Dresses appropriately and uses language and manners suitable for the workplace

5. DIVERSITY & AWARENESS: Works well with all customers and coworkers

6. CONFLICT RESOLUTION: Negotiates diplomatic solutions to interpersonal and workplace issues

7. CREATIVITY AND RESOURCEFULNESS: Contributes new ideas and works with initiative

Professional Knowledge and Skills

8. SPEAKING AND LISTENING: Follows directions and communicates effectively with customers and fellow employees

9. READING AND WRITING: Reads and interprets workplace documents and writes clearly

10. CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING: Analyzes and resolves problems that arise in completing assigned tasks

11. HEALTH AND SAFETY: Follows safety guidelines and manages personal health

12. ORGANIZATIONS, SYSTEMS, AND CLIMATES: Identifies “big picture” issues and his or her role in fulfilling the mission of the workplace

13. LIFELONG LEARNING: Continually acquires new industry-related information and improves professional skills

14. JOB ACQUISITION AND ADVANCEMENT: Prepares to apply for a job and to seek promotion

15. TIME, TASK, AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Organizes and implements a productive plan of work

16. MATHEMATICS: Uses mathematical reasoning to accomplish tasks

17. CUSTOMER SERVICE: Identifies and addresses the needs of all customers, providing helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable service

Technology Knowledge and Skills

18. JOB-SPECIFIC TECHNOLOGIES: Selects and safely uses technological resources to accomplish work responsibilities in a productive manner

19. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Uses computers, file management techniques, and software/programs effectively

20. INTERNET USE AND SECURITY: Uses the Internet appropriately for work

21. TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Selects and uses appropriate devices, services, and applications


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