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We continue to monitor and prepare for additional cases in Iowa and will adjust the university schedule or classes as needed. Please check our COVID-19 webpage for updates and other information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Resume Writing 101

THE RESUME

Your resume is a brief history of your accomplishments that you prepare for potential employers. a good resume is:

  • Clear. Effectively state your skills and experience in a concise, easy-to-read manner.
  • Well-Organized. Employers should see your strong points at a glance.
  • Dynamic. Content and action verbs should enliven your resume and engage the employer.
  • Sleek. Its appearance should say, “I’m proud of who i am and what I’ve done”

Your resume should be designed with one thing in mind – to get you job interviews.

RESUME BREAKDOWN

RESUME HEADER

  • Name as you want to be referred to professionally. Example: Grace Evelyn Goodwin. Grace E. Goodwin. Gracie Goodwin.
  • Current address and phone number with area code. Where you can be reached now.
  • Permanent address and phone number with area code. If you will be in different locations during your search, use an address of someone who will always know how to reach you. This could be a family address.
  • Email address. Use your school address (if a non-graduate), or create a new professional email. Example: firstname.lastname@gmail.com.

EDUCATION

For each degree-conferring institution

  • Degree/Certification and date obtained. Example: Bachelor of arts degree in education, May 2012. Check the Clarke University Academic Catalog for official degree titles.
  • Concentration/Emphasis and date obtained. Example: Reading endorsement, May 2012. Check the Clarke University Academic Catalog for official concentration titles.
  • Minors and date obtained. Institution, City, State and GPA (if above 3.0). Example: Clarke university; Dubuque, IA, GPA: 3.2/4.0.
  • Relevant coursework (optional)
  • Teaching Certificate (if applicable)
  • Specialized Instruction (if applicable)

EXPERIENCE

This part of your resume may include several sections such as work experience, volunteer experience (internships, community service, student teaching), campus leadership, and any area in which you may have significant experience, such as publications/presentations or knowledge. You may divide this between Career-Related Experience and Additional Work Experience.

Briefly describe each position:

  • Job Title, Organization Name, Location, Dates.
  • Bullet points: Use a variety of action words to describe situations and achievements – How did you stand out?
  • When possible, avoid little words like “a”, “an”, “the.”
  • Include scope of responsibility such as: Trained eight student workers.
  • Concretely outline outstanding results such as: Developed new computerized customer listing using MS Access software.

Think about who, what, where, when and why when creating bullet points.

ACTIVITIES AND DISTINCTIONS

Front load these with those most important or most pertinent to your career goal. You may want to use specific headings such as professional organizations, computer skills, and leadership positions. Include any honors, scholarships or recognition awards that you have received. if you were actively involved in any clubs, teams or committees while in college, those may be included also. the key to this section is keeping it brief. if you need more detail, use the guidelines from experience and make it a complete section.

INTERESTS

The trend is to keep away from any extraneous information that does not clearly connect to your career goal. However, if you are applying for a position in which you have experience through a hobby or leisure activity, you may want to consider adding it to your resume. for example, if you are applying for a forest ranger position and you enjoy hiking in the wilderness, include it by stating: skilled in all-terrain hiking, camping and navigating. What you need to ask yourself is, “Will this information help the potential employer learn more about how well i can do the job?”

POLISHING IT UP

Once you have all of your information down on paper, decide which experiences are directly related to your objective, which are not and which are questionable. the questionable information can be used only if there is room, otherwise stick with the directly related experiences.

THE COVER LETTER

The key to a successful job or graduate school search is to communicate with the person who has the ability to hire or admit. Therefore, your cover letter is extremely important.

Effective cover letters convey a sense of purpose, project enthusiasm for the position or program and demonstrate your knowledge of the employer or graduate program’s goals and needs.

Many times individuals will spend hours writing a “perfect” resume and very little time writing a quality cover letter. Remember that your cover letter not only accompanies your resume, it is typically the first to be seen. To make positive first impression, your resume should be neat, concise and error-proof in both spell and grammar.

NOTE: Each cover letter should be customized to fit the position for which you are applying.

COVER LETTER BREAKDOWN

HEADING AND SALUTATION

  • Your contact information (formatted like your resume)
  • Date cover letter is being sent
  • Recipient name, company name and address
  • Salutation to the recipient

FIRST PARAGRAPH

  • State purpose of letter
  • Indicate your interest in the position or company
  • Catch attention
  • Flatter your audience by using company/ program information found through research

SECOND PARAGRAPH

  • Explain how your background makes you qualified
  • Use specific achievements to show this
  • Highlight information found in the resume but do not simply repeat your resume

FINAL PARAGRAPH

  • Indicate your intentions for follow-up
  • Repeat a number where you may be reached

CLOSING

  • Closing
  • Signature

THE REFERENCE PAGE

The term reference refers to a person who may be asked to talk about your skills, experience and work ethic. a potential employer may call a reference and ask questions about you. A reference may be asked to write a letter of recommendation as well.

When choosing your references, ask individuals who will provide honest, candid, and positive recommendations.

CHOOSING YOUR REFERENCES

Select professional references. Unless requested, do not select friends to serve as “character” references. Choose people with whom you have worked, people who know your skills, abilities and career goals, and people whom you have asked in advance to serve as references.

When asking people to serve as references, give them a copy of your resume. Ask them for advice or feedback. Talk to them about your career goals. This way, they are more prepared to talk to a potential employer in a helpful way.

Remember that people have busy lives. If there are deadlines for writing letters or completing forms, be sure to tell your references. Check in with them if necessary. While doing so, be respectful and gracious of their other obligations.

Always follow up with your references when you have accepted a position. Send them a thank you note telling them about your new opportunity.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

Letters of recommendation are written evaluations of an individual’s performance, whether at work or in the classroom. This information is an integral part of the world of work and education. Communication of this information is necessary and appropriate. Often, references are requested to convey this information through a written document.

HANDLING REFERENCES AND LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

SELF-MANAGEMENT

The trend is moving towards self-management; that is, for prospective employees to send their letters of recommendation directly to potential employers. We, in Career services, support this practice as it provides the employee greater control over his/her file. Simply keep copies of your letters of recommendation and copy them as needed. ask letter writers to not address the letter to anyone in particular; simply put at the top, “letter of Recommendation for…” all letters should be signed and dated.

ALTERNATIVES

ReferenceNow is the premiere clearinghouse for reference information on the internet. For a fee, Clarke students can create a file of information which can be made available to potential employers and graduate schools. With an active file, your vital information is available instantly and online, eliminating mailings, faxing, delay, and hassle. By having more information available to employers and graduate schools, you can increase your chances of success!

Simply visit their site at www.ReferenceNow.com and create a file to organize your:

  • Official Transcript
  • Letters of Recommendation (confidential and open)
  • Examples of Work
  • Writing samples

Reference contact information and anything else which you want to present to recruiters or graduate schools.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Avoid using reference templates. They are generally restricting.

Use 10-12 point font. Anything smaller is hard to read and anything larger looks unprofessional.

List information in chronological order. Within each heading, from most recent to least.

Add hierarchy by bolding headers and job titles. It will focus the employer’s eyes to what you’ve done.

Spell check and grammar check. Have others look over your resume to be sure you have caught everything.