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How to Make a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

We are almost at the end of the semester (Yay!) — but of course, that means it is time we start our search for summer jobs and internships. Undoubtedly, the first step in any application process is having a resume and cover letter. Here are some tips and tricks to help your documents stand out.

The resume

The resume is the key component to any application. It is a list of everything that makes you a good candidate for whatever you are applying to. Therefore, it requires a lot of time and effort to make it perfect.

1. Let it represent you

Your resume is essentially the first thing employers are going to see, and it must represent you. You must use your resume to create your image. It is totally okay to make your resume colorful and bubbly, as long as you keep it professional. Let it be a visual representation of the professional image you are trying to create for yourself.

2. Keep it one page

I know some of you probably have an extremely long list of accolades, experiences and skills that you want to include, but not all of that is necessary. Keep the information that is pertinent to the field that you are currently applying for and what makes you stand out from the rest. Also, be sure to note what they are looking for in an applicant, and make sure you note the skills that you have in common with what is being asked.

3. Be descriptive, but not excessive

It is very important to not only list your experience, but also describe what you did in those positions. However, it is also imperative that you keep it short. Include two to three bullet points per work experience. This way allows you to be more concise – you are giving the necessary information, but not overwhelming the reader.

The cover letter

The cover letter is not always asked for — but if it is, it’s a great way to express your interests in the position and the company as a whole.

1. Optional = mandatory

Many companies ask you to submit an optional cover letter. While seeing the word “optional” usually leads us to skipping over it, actually doing it can gain you major points. It shows that you are truly interested in the position, and that you are willing to go the extra mile. Plus, it gives you an extra opportunity to brag more about yourself and your abilities!

2. Personalize it

It is easy to have one generalized cover letter that you submit to every job you apply for. However, by personalizing it, you are speaking directly to the position and the company itself. Doing this allows you to show your interest all the more.

3. Don’t repeat your resume

Instead of repeating what you already said in your resume, highlight how your skills will make you a good asset to the company. Explain your personality traits, and how your experience has helped you grow. Also, if you can describe something unique about the industry, or the company itself, it would really help show your genuine interest in the field.  

4. Keep it short

Similar to the resume, it is important to keep your cover letter short. About three paragraphs should be enough to get in everything you want to say. Make every word count.

Overall tips

Here are some more general guidelines that can help you with any application.

1. Always send files as a PDF

A PDF can be viewed by almost every single computer. Word documents, or Pages, aren’t always easily viewable by an employer. Therefore, make everyone’s lives easier and send any document that you have to submit as a PDF.

2. Formatting

There’s no set format for a resume or cover letter. Take tips from all over, and make it your own. Your application is ultimately about you, so make sure it represents that.

3. Be confident

Yes, being humble is important. But right now, you are looking for a job. And in order to get it, you have to wow your future employer. Don’t be scared to brag about yourself. Be confident in yourself and your skills, and you will get it!

4. Have fun

Ultimately, your emotions and feelings come through in your writing. Have fun with it! Show your personality, your creativity and your abilities. Make sure that employer knows you are ready to work hard, but you will also be a fun addition to the group.

Good luck on those applications, Gators!

Alexis Howard is a first-year telecommunication student at the University of Florida. Ever since she can remember, she’s had a passion for communication and telling stories. She began her career in broadcast journalism back in high school and continues to pursue this passion at the collegiate level. Aside from being a features writer for Her Campus UFL, she is currently a writer/reporter for WUFT Noticias and is also involved with the Hispanic Student Association as part of their Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly’s marketing team. She is also part of the office staff for the Florida Scholastic Press Association. Alexis is very passionate about writing, storytelling and bringing light to issues underrepresented in current media.
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